Sunday, September 22, 2013


Jeff Somers was born in Jersey City, New Jersey and regrets nothing. He is the author of the Avery Cates series of novels published by Orbit Books and The Ustari Cycle books Trickster and Fabricator (Pocket Books). He sold his first novel at age 16 to a tiny publisher in California which quickly went out of business and has spent the last two decades assuring potential publishers that this was a coincidence. Somers publishes a zine called The Inner Swine and has also published a few dozen short stories; his story “Ringing the Changes” was selected for Best American Mystery Stories 2006, edited by Scott Turow and his story “Sift, Almost Invisible, Through” appeared in the anthology Crimes by Moonlight, published by Berkley Hardcover and edited by Charlaine Harris.

Somers applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Chum, and reported the following:
Page 69 is deceptive in Chum. If you land there and just read you get a page of a few people at a party making slightly off-kilter small talk. You’ll get the sense that not all is right. Some of the people on the page are straining too hard to appear cheerful. But you might not pick up on it right away. It opens with this line, of which I am quite fond:

“I licked my lips. She was looking for a response from me, but I felt made of tinder, dry and spidery. I opened my mouth and small, white spiders came out.”

On the other hand, page 69 has what 95% of the other pages have: People killing themselves with booze. In that sense, page 69 is actually a microcosm of the story: People get drunk, make mistakes, and never seem to make a connection between those two things. That’s not the entirety of the theme of Chum, but it’s a good part of it.

Also: Page 69 in Chum is kind of a great litmus test to see if you and I are going to be friends, drinking partners, the kind of people who wake each other up in the middle of the night to go bury treasure out on the beach, or if we’re instead the sort of people who glance up from newspapers on the subway and our eyes meet and we hate each other instantly, with a primitive primal rage we can neither articulate or understand.

In other words, if you read the banter on page 69 and don’t walk away thinking I’m a total jackass, you might actually enjoy the novel!
Learn more about the book and author at Jeff Somers's website.

My Book, The Movie: Chum.

--Marshal Zeringue