Saturday, March 15, 2008


Will Lavender's acclaimed debut novel is Obedience.

He applied the Page 69 Test to the book and reported the following:
When I first got to college, the stories we heard about the campus mostly had to do with murder. Years before I arrived, a jilted student walked into his ex-girlfriend's dorm and stabbed her multiple times along with her roommate. This story was often followed by a lecture about "safety" and "protection" and how we had to "always watch out for what was happening around us."

Every door I passed through during my college years was code-protected as a response to this crime. Often I forgot the code and had to wander around asking people if they knew the four digits that would get me in. Sometimes the student I asked would refuse me, no doubt thinking of that murderer and how he slipped into the girl's dorm so effortlessly. They would stare at me, and I watched their mind moving, saw their silent battle with whether or not they should give me the numbers. Sometimes they would just walk away without a word, leaving me there on the night-silent quad.

My book is a campus mystery about lies. Everyone in the book seems to have a precious secret, a hidden motive, an obsession to withhold information at all costs. They are people who would, if asked the code to a door, would give the wrong number only so they could sit back and watch the person struggle with the latch. They are people who enjoy playing games, who enjoy watching games played.

On page 69 of Obedience my main character slips through a door to a building (the door this time is uncoded, unprotected) and moves to the top floor, where she proceeds to tell a lie. The character she lies to is important, although the reader does not know it at this point—because I too am lying to the reader throughout much of the book. The conversation between the main character and this other person is veiled, charged with overt and covert meaning. But mostly it is all untrue, and this is what I wanted to get out of 69—that the information is flatly untrue. My main character says things that are untruthful, and the second character responds to her with an untruth, and so the code to this particular door is asked for and received without either of them knowing quite what the other is doing.
Read an excerpt from Obedience, and learn more about the author and his work at Will Lavender's website.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue