Saturday, July 5, 2008

"The Timer Game"

Susan Arnout Smith is an award–winning playwright, scriptwriter, and novelist.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her thriller, The Timer Game, and reported the following:
This page 69 exercise is fascinating. The Timer Game is currently available in the UK, US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and is being translated into Italian, German and two versions of Chinese.

The UK version is published by Harper Perennial in a creepy red and black cover with a jangly alarm clock; the version in the US and Canada is St. Martin’s Minotaur—a sleek blue and black cover with a woman’s face and part of a time face, and in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa The Timer Game is a digital high-tech cover in pixeled blue, black and red.

I don’t know what the covers are yet in Italy, Germany and Taiwan.

I bring this up, because each of those versions has a different page 69.

So first what I did, since I’m a writer and I know how to delay—was line up all the versions I presently have and open them all to page 69.

Ta dah.

Okay, so here’s the amazing thing: In the US and Canada, my character, Grace, is talking about mutual cell assimilation.

Which makes me sound a whole lot smarter than I actually am.

And in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, my main character’s little kid, Katie, is practicing a show and tell for school that involves two gerbils, one of which has checkerboard fur (nothing bad happened to any gerbils used in the creation of this novel) from an operation demonstrating...wait for it... breaking the immune barrier.

What, you thought I was going to say mutual cell assimilation?


The UK version touches on the end of the breaking the immune barrier scene (get those gerbils back in the cage now), a pay-off for The Timer Game (a pink balloon) and Grace trying to explain to her daughter how she almost got herself killed at work, shooting a schizophrenic who’s just sliced up three crime lab guys. An important conversation since chances are, some other little kid is going to be bringing the front page of the Union Tribune that’s got the whole bloody story in it for his show and tell.

So. Do these page 69’s represent the book? In a startling way, yes. The Timer Game has high tech science and bloody carnage, a little girl and a mom that’s trying to balance her lives and protect her daughter. It’s also got a really cool game in it, The Timer Game, that’s used diabolically—with a far bigger pay-off than a pink balloon—Katie’s life, if Grace plays well.
Read an excerpt from The Timer Game.

Learn more about the author and her work at The Timer Game website, Susan Arnout Smith's website, her blog, and MySpace page.

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

--Marshal Zeringue