Thursday, August 16, 2012

"Devil’s Gate"

F.J. Lennon is a novelist, screenwriter, and veteran of the video game industry. In addition to his paranormal thrillers Soul Trapper and Devil’s Gate, he is the author of the 2001 business book, Every Mistake in the Book: A Business How-Not-To.

He applied the Page 69 Test to Devil’s Gate, the second novel in a series that follows the turbulent life and times of rogue ghost hunter and wannabe rock star, Kane Pryce. Lennon made the following observations:
Re-reading page 69, I’m pleased that, in my opinion, it’s representative of the book. And I’d like to believe that a reader skimming this page would be inclined to read on.

Page 69 opens Chapter 7. To summarize briefly, my protagonist, Kane Pryce, is awakened by a phone call from the client who recently hired Kane to conduct a paranormal investigation on her behalf. Reviewing the page now, I recognize that it foreshadows many of the themes of the novel as a whole.

First, page 69 says a lot about my protagonist Kane Pryce. Kane is wickedly hung over when the phone rings. He is trying to sleep off an epic night of partying with his band mate and a troupe of groupies. A coherent conversation is barely in the realm of possibility. Anyone who has read Soul Trapper or Devil’s Gate can recognize that Kane is a young man wrestling with substance abuse. Though he stubbornly thinks he has his drinking and drug use in check, Kane doesn’t. And it’s evident on this page.

Second, page 69 clearly demonstrates the inner conflict Kane wrestles with in the novel—his frustration and inability to truly change his life. At the end of the first novel, Soul Trapper, Kane swears off ghost hunting to focus on a music career. In Devil’s Gate, Kane is on the verge of success as the lead guitarist in a Hollywood band about to break out. But reluctantly, he is lured back to the realm of the paranormal with a lucrative offer to investigate a haunted bridge. The client who wakes up Kane from his drunken stupor is a demanding, controlling, impatient, and powerful billionaire heiress in her late nineties. She lets Kane know who’s boss; she informs him that she’s been snooping around and knows all about his music aspirations. She demands assurances that his music career won’t supersede the paranormal investigation she just hired him to conduct. The call unnerves Kane; it’s a clear reminder to him that he isn’t yet in control of his own destiny.

Lastly, page 69 gives us a good look at Millie Barrington, the rich and powerful old woman who lured Kane out of paranormal retirement. She’s a character that hopefully keeps readers on their toes. Is she good or bad? You won’t know until the end. On page 69, it’s impossible to predict if she’s a hero or villain, but it’s one of her more odd and darkly humorous moments in the book.

So I think page 69 actually accomplishes a lot. I hope readers of Devil’s Gate agree.
Learn more about the book and author at F. J. Lennon's website, blog, and Facebook fan page.

My Book, the Movie: Devil’s Gate.

--Marshal Zeringue