Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Mourn the Living"

Henry Perez is the author of the critically acclaimed thrillers Killing Red and Mourn the Living, a number one Amazon Kindle bestseller about which Publishers Weekly said, “Keeps the adrenaline pumping right through to the ending.” He lives in the Chicago area where he is at work on his next two books.

He applied the Page 69 Test to Mourn the Living and reported the following:
I’m always fascinated by these sorts of “tests.” Even more so because there seems to be some validity to them. Anyone who has studied film or screenwriting knows about the 20 minute rule—the idea that something must happen around the 20 minute mark that represents a major turning point in the narrative.

A similar structure applies to novels, though it’s a bit more fluid than in film. In books, the catalyst event usually needs to happen before page 69. Still, it’s an intriguing and useful marker within each novel, a point at which several key story elements should be coming together. And that is exactly what I found when I considered where the events on page 69 of Mourn the Living fit into the overall plot.

In Mourn the Living, Chicago area newspaper reporter Alex Chapa discovers that a killer has worked his way into the business and political power structure of his home town. As Chapa gets closer to the truth some very powerful and dangerous people begin to invade and threaten his life and the lives of everyone he cares about.

All the while, Chapa is trying to rebuild a relationship with his young daughter. This is a thread that began in my first thriller, Killing Red. Page 69 of Mourn the Living is where chapter 18 begins, in which Chapa is starting to come to terms with how his life is far from ideal for a nine-year-old child. It’s not an action chapter, and unlike most of my chapters it does not end with any sort of cliffhanger. In fact, it’s not very long (three pages). But it is significant in the sense that it sets up a key bit of tension that runs throughout the book.

So I guess in that sense it does support the concept of the Page 69 Test.

Just for fun, I went back took a look at page 69 of Killing Red. It works there as well, but in a very different way. In that case, it’s the middle of a chase scene, one that represents a significant turning point for Alex Chapa.
Learn more about the book and author at Henry Perez's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Killing Red.

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

--Marshal Zeringue