Sunday, August 10, 2008

"Matters of Faith"

Kristy Kiernan's first novel, Catching Genius, was published in March of 2007 and has become a book club favorite.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Matters of Faith, and reported the following:
Oddly enough, page 69 of Matters of Faith starts at the beginning of a sentence and ends at the end of a sentence. Serendipity? Or remarkable planning on the part of the author, who, hoping she would be asked to contribute to The Page 69 Test, worked out exactly what page of her manuscript would be page 69 of her finished novel? Oh yeah, I'm that brilliant.

Anyway, I'm more pleased with page 69 in Matters of Faith than I was in my first novel, Catching Genius. Here we have Marshall, a confused young man, in search of faith, in search of God, in search of love, in search of anything. He's just leaving the hospital where his little sister, Meghan, has been brought after going into anaphylactic shock from eating a cookie containing a bit of peanut, to which she is highly allergic.

Ada, the young woman he's with, has been the catalyst for this horrifying event, and convinced Marshall that they could pray for his sister's recovery, rather than seeking medical attention.

Page 69 shows Marshall's struggle to reconcile the feelings he has for Ada, both emotional and sexual, with the horror and guilt he feels over what happened to Meghan.

What we don't see on page 69, is the point of view of Marshall's mother, Chloe, who alternates chapters with Marshall throughout the book. Chloe has to figure out if she wants to hold her marriage to her husband, Cal, together through this crisis with Meghan, as well as work through her own feeling of guilt and confusion over how she raised a son who could harm his own sister so grievously.

This was a successful Page 69 Test for me. Aside from only showing one point of view, it does accurately represent the secondary protagonist's tone and main conflicts. Thanks for the opportunity to apply The Test again, and I hope you enjoy Page 69 of Matters of Faith:

He'd found Ada sitting in a chair in the corner of the emergency room waiting area, crutches leaning on the table beside her, her legs bandaged. When she saw him, he could do little more than shake his head at her before saying gruffly, his voice foreign to himself: "Let's go."

He'd allowed her to make her way alone across the parking lot on her crutches and started the car watching her hobble toward him in the rearview mirror, wishing he had the guts to put it in reverse and extinguish her from his view.

She worked her crutches into the backseat and got in the car, groaning as she bent her legs, and finally slammed the door shut with a sigh. She was clutching a sheaf of papers in her left hand and as they brushed the hairs of his arm he recoiled as if singed.

She didn't speak until they had pulled out of the parking lot. "Is she--is everything okay?"

He rolled to a stop at a red light and looked at her, really looked at her. Her tiny face was pinched in pain, her mouth drawn into a tight line, a mouth he'd placed his own lips on. The lines of her delicate shoulders he'd run his hands across, small, perfect breasts he'd caressed, the first he'd held, kissed, her slender hips tucked back into the seat cupping her perfect bottom that fit right in his hands as if sculpted just for them.

He hated her.

And he hated himself for wanting her so desperately at the same time, for feeling his cock stir while his sister lay dying. If he had the guts to cut it off right then he would have.

She glanced at him and then down at her lap. When the light turned green and he moved forward she reached over and placed her hand on his leg. He shifted gears and then gingerly, not trusting himself to touch any more of her skin than he had to, picked her hand up and dropped it back on her lap.
Read an excerpt from Matters of Faith, and learn more about the author and her work at Kristy Kiernan's website and her blog.

The Page 69 Test: Catching Genius.

My Book, The Movie: Catching Genius.

--Marshal Zeringue