Sunday, November 14, 2010

"The Severance"

Elliott Sawyer was an officer in the 101st Airborne Division. He saw action as a combat patrol leader in Iraq in 2005 and 2006 and during a second deployment in Afghanistan in 2008 and 2009. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and an Army Commendation Medal. Now, back in the United States, he commands a training company of up to 240 soldiers.

He applied the Page 69 Test to The Severance, his first novel, and reported the following:
Page 69? I’m so glad you asked because that’s the best page of my new book, The Severance. You couldn’t have picked a better page.

Page 69 Is the start of Chapter 8. It offers a transition between a flashback sequence and the present narrative. The flashback is that of a tragic death scene and I wanted to transition back to the present with a little dark comedy. That’s where one of my favorite characters, Wesley Parker, gets introduced. I like Wesley, I actually see a lot of myself in him. He represents the establishment, but not in an “evil corporate lawyer” kind of way. He’s a nice person and kind of a dullard. Just a guy plugging away at his daily grind. Writing his dialogue is just a stick for me because whenever I read a line back I like to imitate what I think he sounds like. Kind of a Frank Hill meets Eeyore. Wesley sleeps like a baby every night because he stays on the straight and narrow without question. For all these reasons, Wesley Parker is the polar opposite of my main character, Jake Roberts. I use him as my story’s punching bag, and, again, I think it’s hilarious.

What I also find funny is that on Page 69 the diligent, hardworking Wesley Parker has to come and present the rapscallion Jake with award paperwork. I really like the irony of this situation (almost as much as I like the word “rapscallion.” Try reading it aloud, it’s fun! Rapscallion!) This is theme in the book manifesting itself and that theme is: “Crime pays, well… sort of.” In some way, Wesley is my way of injecting myself directly into the story as I’m nothing like Jake Roberts.

In fact, I liked Wesley so much that I made a special place for him when I was writing The Severance’s prequel The Burnout. If I ever write a third book I might make Wesley the hero and give him someone else to kick around.
Visit Elliott Sawyer's website.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue