Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"Sea Creatures"

Susanna Daniel was born and raised in Miami, Florida, where she spent much of her childhood at her family’s stilt house in Biscayne Bay.

Her debut novel, Stiltsville, was awarded the PEN/Bingham prize for best debut work published in 2010. Stiltsville was also named a 2011 Summer Reading List pick by, a Best Debut of 2010 by, a Best Book of 2010 by the Huffington Post, and a Discover Great New Writers pick by Barnes & Noble. Daniel’s second novel, Sea Creatures, about a woman who ultimately must face the unthinkable choice between her husband and young son, is now available from HarperCollins. Abraham Verghese called Sea Creatures a “captivating, haunting novel.”

Daniel applied the Page 69 Test to Sea Creatures and reported the following:
At this point in the story, Georgia Quillian – failed business owner, wife of a parasomniac, and mother of a mute three-year-old named Frankie -- has found herself working as an errand runner and personal assistant to a reclusive artist, Charlie Hicks.

Charlie is older, attractive, and intense, and he lives full-time in a house built on stilts in the middle of Biscayne Bay. Georgia and Frankie cross the bay three times a week to bring him supplies and food. On page 69, it is Georgia’s second-ever trip to the stilt house, and Charlie submits to a little grilling from Georgia about his art: boxes and boxes full of intricately detailed drawings of sea life, which he’s tasked Georgia with organizing.

Answering her questions, not only about his art but about how he came to live alone at sea, is the price he pays for the unavoidable human contact -- and this isn’t the last time Charlie will overcome his own preference for solitude to give Georgia what she most craves from him: information, the road to intimacy.

From Page 69:
He cupped his face in one hand. It was the oddest gesture, one of compliant self-regard and introspection, almost feminine. Then his hand dropped and he looked away. “I’ve been doing it a long time,” he said. “To tell the truth, I don’t even remember how I started.”

I said, “I read once that when people say that – to tell the truth, or to be honest – they’re lying.”

“I read that, too.”

“You’ve been here ten years?”

“A little over ten, yes.”

“What did you do before?”

He sighed and sat down on one of the file boxes, facing me. He tugged at the hem of his jeans, baring his ankles, then rested his hands on his knees. “I was an engineer.”
Learn more about the book and author at Susanna Daniel's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Stiltsville.

Writers Read: Susanna Daniel.

My Book, The Movie: Sea Creatures.

--Marshal Zeringue