Friday, July 26, 2013

"The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane"

Kelly Harms is a former editor and literary agent who has worked with a wide array of bestselling and award-winning authors of commercial fiction. She traded New York City for the writing life in Madison, Wisconsin, where she lives with her adorable and sometimes imperious toddler Griffin.

Harms applied the Page 69 Test to The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane, her first novel, and reported the following:
The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane is the story of two women with the same name—and both become convinced they’ve won the Home Sweet Home million dollar house sweepstakes on their favorite cable network. On page 69, Janey (Janine Brown), Nean (also Janine Browne) and Janey’s cantankerous great Aunt Midge have all arrived at the house they all believe they own outright, and are negotiating the terms of their predicament.

Nean (narrating here) has gotten an idea into her head about how to manipulate her competition. And though she knows she’s wading in rather deep, she plummets ahead…
I look back and forth between them, pretending to weigh my options. “I just don’t know who to trust…”

“If you’re in some bad trouble, maybe you should talk to the police. They’ll help you,” Janey says.

“Or just tell us,” says Aunt Midge with a greedy expression. “We won’t tell a soul, will we, Janey?”

I look to Janey for confirmation. She looks at Aunt Midge. “I don’t know… Maybe it’s better if she goes to the authorities with whatever it is.”

“I could never do that,” I tell her. “It’s too, too… dangerous.” Then I purse my lips and look off into the distance as though I’m trying not to cry.

That does it for Aunt Midge. She is frothing at the mouth with curiosity. “Janey, tell her you won’t tell anyone. Swear it.” Her voice is authoritative enough that even I would obey—so I know reliable Janey will do as she says. She nods.

“Fine. I won’t tell anyone. But I still think you could go to the police.”

I wait another moment for the anticipation to build even more, then take another swig of cold coffee. When I’ve swallowed, I look straight at them and deliver the clincher.
And the excerpt must end there! I cannot deliver the clincher because that would spoil some of the surprise. And yes, this book was written with surprise in mind. In some ways it even surprised me as I was writing it—both main characters were so set in their incredibly dysfunctional ways that they were always going off and doing wild and unhelpful things when I was trying to herd them along into the routes of my plot.

Lucky for all of us, I eventually let them take over, and they had a good time of it. As you can see here, Janey’s skepticism—even cynicism at times-- gets right in her way throughout the story. And Nean never, ever once thinks before she acts. What you don’t see much of here is Aunt Midge, who is perhaps my favorite character. She is an instigator of mischief and a lover of life and a true friend through and through to all who meet her. She brings out the best in our two main characters, and it’s no spoiler to tell you that she also brings them together in a lasting, powerful friendship.

Also missing on this page—Maine and the wonderful local food my characters are always feasting on. For those morsels, you’ll have to read on…
Learn more about the book and author at the official Kelly Harms website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue