Friday, May 8, 2009

"The Pilo Family Circus"

Will Elliott's debut novel The Pilo Family Circus was published after winning the ABC fiction award, beating 900 entries from across Australia.

Once published, it co-won the Aurealis award for best horror, won the Golden Aurealis for best novel, the Australian Shadows Award, the Ditmar, the Sydney Morning Herald "Best Young Novelist Award" for 2007, and was short-listed for the 2007 International Horror Guild Award, up against, among others, Stephen King.

He applied the “Page 69 Test” to The Pilo Family Circus and reported the following:
'And this sad critter is the apprentice,' said Gonko. 'Now he's basically meat with eyeballs, and not for long, mark my words. And guess what sport? You got his job, in case you're wondering where that piece of the jigsaw puzzle goes.'

Jamie stared down and tried not to envisage his own face beatan as badly out of shape as the one oozing at his feet.

On page 69, Jamie has just been dragged into the circus and told he's the newest clown recruit. No one directly threatens him, but as you can see, lessons abound about the nature of his new home and career. Such as, Gonko is the clown boss, and you may laugh at him, but it's not wise to dispute the fact.

I'm not sure how representative this snapshot can be said to be of the story as a whole. It probably reveals what kind of ride the character (and ideally the reader) is in for: expect the unexpected, as long as someone gets hurt. Come get your chuckles...

Of course on page 69 we don't meet Jamie's alter-ego JJ the clown, who will be brought to life (in Jamie's body) via use of the magic clown facepaint. (The same process made clowns out of all the others we meet on this page.) Aside from his friendship with Winston, that's the most important thing that happens to Jamie: the Jekyll-Hyde effect as a clown version of himself steps into his shoes.

But page 69 does include the very important moral: slapstick has consquences. As do sack beatings. Alas, all too true.
Read excerpts from The Pilo Family Circus, and learn more about the author and his work at Will Elliott's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue