Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"Death of a Schoolgirl"

Joanna Campbell Slan’s first novel—Paper, Scissors, Death—was an Agatha Award finalist. It features Kiki Lowenstein, a spunky single mom who lives in St. Louis The sixth book in that series will be released Summer 2013.

The author applied the Page 69 Test to Death of a Schoolgirl, the first novel in her newest series—The Jane Eyre Chronicles, which features Charlotte Brontë’s classic heroine Jane Eyre as an amateur sleuth—and reported the following:
Here is Page 69 of Death of a Schoolgirl, almost in its entirety:
"Here." Cook poured from a teapot with a chipped spout, a delicate vessel on which pale roses had been painted, her chapped red hands thickly incongruous against the translucent white of the pot. She pressed a mug of lukewarm tea on me. I took a tentative sip. I wished it had milk and sugar, but I was grateful nonetheless.

I closed my eyes to savor the brew. One more image impressed itself on my brain-a flapping sheet, the spectral silhouette I'd witnessed from the walkway.

I squeezed the thick mug, trying to transfer its warmth. I was cold, and hungry and tired. When the senses are over-stimulated, the imagination naturally attempts mediation, doesn't it? I decided that my mind had taken my concern for Adèle, my guilt at not visiting, her fearful letter, my own memories of Lowood, and woven all these separate occurrences into a new and fantastical tale. Mixed together with the sight of a sheet flapping in the wind, I'd invented a dramatic intrigue. My mind had merely woven disparate visions together, hoping to create a narrative, even where none existed.

That couldn't have been a dead body that I had seen.

Taken in tandem with the threat to Adèle, it conjured up all sorts of wild imaginings.

Don't go there, Jane, I warned myself. Keep to your plan. Surely Adèle is fine!

Industry. I wanted motion and purpose to keep my emotions in check. I drained the mug. Before I could thank the cook, she took the cup from me and turned her back on me.

"Hamburg. That's a long way away, eh? You been running from someone. He done you harm, eh?"

She had confused me with someone else. I opened my mouth to correct her, but before I could, she said, "No matter. Miss Miller will be happy to see you. Especially after what happened this morning. She is going to need all the help she can get, I'll warrant."
I couldn't have chosen a better page if I'd skimmed through my book looking for a sample. This short excerpt captures Jane's cerebral nature. She's very internal, and she questions what she experiences. When I think of Jane Eyre, I think of how resolute she was in Brontë's classic. After all, Jane left Edward Rochester without any plan, any resources, but with a grim determination that she could not live in the same house with him after she learned he was a married man. Over and over again, Jane values what is right over what is expedient or easy.
Learn more about the author and her work at Joanna Slan's website and blog.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Joanna Slan & Rafferty and Victoria.

--Marshal Zeringue