Saturday, January 19, 2013

"The Start of Everything"

Emily Winslow is an American living in Cambridge, England. She trained as an actor at Carnegie Mellon University’s prestigious drama conservatory and earned a master’s degree in museum studies from Seton Hall University. For six years she worked for Games magazine, creating increasingly elaborate and lavishly illustrated logic puzzles that were often issue centerpieces. The Whole World, her first novel, came out from Delacorte Press/Random House in 2010.

Winslow applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Start of Everything, and reported the following:
The Start of Everything's page 69 is a short half-page of text under a chapter heading. It's set shortly after an event that is supposed to be a surprise to the reader, and in referencing it gives away a major plot point.

So here's my cheat: instead of spoiling the book I'll give you a little of page 6 and of page 9. Between them, they introduce the alternating threads that structure the book.

Page six is a chapter end, and has only these words on it:

One of Trevor’s buttons had a wild thread unravelling through it. It was right in front of my face.

He backed up until there was space for him to move sideways, and he let me pass.
Mathilde is frightened of everything, and it's not clear what is actually a threat to her and what she merely perceives to be a threat. These chapters are in her point of view, and I hope for the reader to experience the unease of seeing the world through her eyes.

Page nine is an argument between detectives Morris Keene and Chloe Frohmann. They take turns narrating these present-tense chapters of investigation. Neither are at full strength. Morris has just returned from time off after a serious hand injury that continues to limit his abilities; Chloe discovers here how responsible she feels for that injury. Later, she discovers more to feel guilty about: that she doesn't trust him.
The white, bumpy scar across his fingers stands out in the daylight. It wasn’t so obvious in the hospital. The wound to his abdomen had seemed so much worse.... I get it over with. “Some people feel that I let you down. That you shouldn’t have been alone.”

He glances at me, indignant, then back at the road. “Who said that?”

“It doesn’t matter who said it. Everyone thinks it.”

“They think I can’t interview a witness on my own? Because that’s what I was doing, interviewing a witness.”

“I know, Keene, I— ”

“I didn’t know, and you didn’t know, what was going to happen. I don’t need a nanny, for fuck’s sake.”

“You do realise that this misplaced concern isn’t aimed at you but at me? I should have been there. Two of us, and it wouldn’t have happened the way that it did.”

“You can’t . . .” He shakes his head, eases into a roundabout, and continues once on the other side: “You can’t control everything. So my physiotherapist tells me, between exercises. You can’t control everything, or always know what you’re going to need, until you need it. You didn’t know; I didn’t know. The only person who did something wrong was the one with the knife.”

My muscles unclench. Relief blurs my eyes. All this time I thought I’d been feeling outrage at the accusation; I’d actually been feeling guilt.
Learn about the book and author at Emily Winslow's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Whole World.

--Marshal Zeringue