Thursday, July 3, 2014

"Eyes on You"

Kate White, the former editor in chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, is the New York Times bestselling author the stand-alone novels Hush and The Sixes and the Bailey Weggins mystery series. White is also the author of popular career books for women including I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This: How to Ask for the Money, Snag the Promotion, and Create the Career You Deserve. Before her fourteen-year stint at Cosmo, she was editor-in-chief of Redbook and McCall’s. White has also been a monthly guest on the Today Show and has done a regular turn on CBS This Morning.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Eyes on You, and reported the following:
About ten years ago someone gave me an interesting strategy for those moments when you feel that your creativity is sagging—for instance, if you’re stumped over a plot turn in the novel you’re writing or you can’t come up with a title to save your life. You’re supposed to open a book or newspaper to a random page and drop your finger onto a line. And then let that line inspire you.

I’ve used this trick and it’s worked on more than a couple of occasions. And that’s why I loved being asked to take The Page 69 Test. I was eager to see if a “random” page of my new suspense novel, Eyes on You, actually represented the entire book. My novel has lots of twists and scary moments and I was hoping one of them would turn up on that page.

But no such luck. In fact, there’s a little bit of a lull in the action on page 69. The protagonist of the novel, Robin Trainer, is a TV host who’s finally back on the air again after having lost her job two years ago—and fortunately the show’s a hit. Not so nice is the fact she has a secret enemy who wants to make a mess of things for her. Or at least that’s how it seems. There are still moments when Robin wonders if it’s all weird coincidences or just her imagination playing tricks with her.

On page 69 Robin is still reeling from having found a huge, butt-ugly cockroach in her coffee the night before—while she was drinking the coffee on the air. Not a pretty moment. At a staff meeting the next day, she doesn’t want anyone to realize that the incident totally rattled her.
“You recover from last night?” asked Lamar, one of the senior producers.

“I’m fine,” I said, smiling. “Except if you look closely at my forehead, you’ll see two antennas have started to sprout.”

People laughed. Carter did, too. It was the kind of comment I knew he would have made, and it seemed to do the trick, demonstrating to my co-workers I wasn’t flummoxed by the experience.
And yet I’m not sorry that page 69 is all about a brief lull in the action. Those are just as critical in suspense novels as the utterly terrifying parts. If the main character doesn’t have the occasional chance to relax and let down her guard down a little, the next time everything goes to hell—and it will—won’t scare her half to death. And it won’t scare the reader enough either.
Visit Kate White's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue