Sunday, March 16, 2014

"Never Ending"

Martyn Bedford is the author of Flip, his award-winning debut novel for teens, as well as five books for adults which have been translated into twelve languages, and numerous short stories. A former journalist, he now teaches on the English and Writing program at Leeds Trinity University College and has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia.

Bedford applied the Page 69 Test to Never Ending, his latest novel for teens, and reported the following:
From page 69:
She must’ve fallen asleep because the next thing she knew, Mum was tickling the sole of her foot and saying, ‘Wakey-wakey.’

She jerked her foot away. ‘Hm?’

‘We’re going for some lunch,’ Mum said.

‘I’m not really hungry.’

‘I’ll eat yours, then.’ This was Dad, his sun-hat too bright in the glare for her to look at him. He grinned, rubbed his belly. ‘I love it when you’re off your food.’

They sat at a table on the terrace of a taverna overlooking the spot where they’d spent the morning. Shiv saw that Dec had written his name in huge letters in the wet sand near the water’s edge.

The waiter took their order. When he’d gone, Mum asked Shiv if it might be a good idea to put a T-shirt on.

‘So the waiter can’t gawp at my boobs, you mean?’

‘Yes, exactly.’

‘Those are boobs?’ her brother said, helping himself to three chunks of bread. ‘Wow, they don’t look anything like the ones on the Internet.’

‘Declan, please.’

‘You’re the one talking about boobs, Mum.’

‘You think it’s my responsibility to cover up, then?’ Shiv said, addressing her mother. ‘A guy is perfectly entitled to stare at a girl if she’s wearing a bikini, yeah?’

‘You’re twelve,’ Mum said to Declan. ‘You shouldn’t be looking at porn.’

‘Yeah, right. And make sure to warn those bears about shitting in the woods.’

Mum turned to Dad. ‘I thought you’d set a filter on his PC?’
Never Ending switches back and forth between two narrative strands: the ‘before’ storyline of a family holiday in Greece that ends in tragedy, and the ‘after’ storyline in which the heroine, Shiv, has gone off the rails with guilt and grief and is sent away to a psychiatric clinic. On page 69, we are in the ‘before’ storyline.

In this part-scene, Shiv and her mother, father and younger brother, Declan, are at the beach on the fictional island of Kyritos. Shiv isn’t happy at this point. In the previous chapter from this strand of the novel, she met an attractive Greek guy, called Nikos, during a boat trip and told him where she was staying. Two days later, he hasn’t turned up and Shiv is moody and quarrelsome.

As you’ll have gathered from the brief summary of the two storylines, the novel has its darker moments. But there’s light relief, too, and much of that comes from Declan’s sarcasm and the verbal sparring which he and Shiv enjoy during the holiday. You get a flavour of Dec’s sense of humour in this scene and a good feel for the family dynamics.

I had enormous fun writing Declan’s dialogue on this page and, generally, throughout the ‘before’ strand of the novel. He says all the things I wish I’d had the nerve to say when I was 12 years old.

Further into this chapter, Shiv reluctantly goes off with her brother to explore the rocks at the end of the beach and – once they’ve finished trying to splash each other – we see their underlying fondness, rekindled by memories of past holidays at the seaside when they were little kids. But when they rejoin their parents at the sun loungers ... Nikos turns up. And the tragic events of the days that follow are set in motion.
Learn more about the book and author at Martyn Bedford's website.

--Marshal Zeringue