Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"Children of the Waters"

Carleen Brice was named 2008 “Breakout Author of the Year” by The African American Literary Awards Show for her debut novel Orange Mint and Honey, which was also a selection of the Essence Book Club. She is also the author of Walk Tall: Affirmations for People of Color, and Lead Me Home: An African American’s Guide Through the Grief Journey and edited the anthology Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife.

She applied the “Page 69 Test” to her new novel, Children of the Waters, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Children of the Waters is fairly representative of one of the themes of the book, which is the importance of family. This part of the book finds one of the protagonists, Billie, (whom Zenobia calls by her full name Wilhelmina) in a discussion with her mother Zenobia about Billie's significant other.

Since the book has two protagonists, Billie and her half-sister Trish, a page from a chapter that only features one of them is only partially representative. And the way the book is structured, each chapter alternates between Billie's and Trish's points of view, so Page 69 doesn't tell us much about Trish, but I think it's still fairly representative of the book. It's certainly representative of my writing style.

Zenobia proved that right away. "Wilhelmina, my love, what is going on?" she asked as soon as the spinach lasagna was served and the blessing given.

"I told you Nick had a gig tonight," Billie said to her plate, though she knew her mother hadn't believed her the first time she said it.

Why did she even try? She was a pitiful liar, and lying to her mother never got you anywhere anyway. Ask the city manager who was forced to resign after Zenobia discovered he was turning in fake time sheets for temporary employees who did no work and splitting the paychecks with them. The poor fool was lying right into the camera when she pulled out a time sheet he had signed for a worker who happened to have spent that week in jail on domestic violence charges, and, therefore, couldn't have worked. To add insult to injury? Zenobia and her cameraman had cornered him in a strip club parking lot during the workday.

Of course that was back in the day when Zenobia was on the evening news. Nowadays, she didn't do any investigative reporting.

If Zenobia was less refined, she would have sucked her teeth to show her disapproval, but instead she made a tiny ladylike noise in her throat. "I'm going to let that one go because you know I'm talking about more than this evening."
Read an excerpt from Children of the Waters, and learn more about the author and her work at Carleen Brice's website and her blogs, White Readers Meet Black Authors and The Pajama Gardener.

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

--Marshal Zeringue