Friday, October 24, 2014

"Beware the Wild"

Natalie C. Parker grew up in a navy family in which having adventures was as common as reading fairy tales. Though the roots of her family are buried deep in southern Mississippi, she currently lives in Kansas with her partner in a house of monsters. 

Parker applied the Page 69 Test to Beware the Wild, her first novel, and reported the following:
How could I pass up an opportunity called ‘The Page 69 Test’? I couldn’t. Neither could Beware the Wild, so here we go. Most of page 69 in which two girls have just climbed over a fence and brazenly entered the swamp they’re supposed to avoid.
The Wasting Shine glimmers at their approach. Pine branches bob in the breeze like a great gaping maw. A nightmare descends. They can’t really be in the swamp.

“Candy, c’mon,” I urge, “this isn’t funny. Please, come back.”

“Why?” She moves deeper into the woods. “This whole town thinks there’s something horrible hiding in here, but it’s just a swamp, Saucier. Louisiana is lousy with them. They smell like shit and they’re full of gators and ducks, but you know what they’re not full off? Demons and ghosts.”

She smacks her palm against the trunk of a skinny black gum tree and swings around it until she’s facing me again. Shine skitters away, avoiding her touch as if she were a negatively charged magnet.

“Hey!” She shouts. “Demons of this sweltering mud pit, if you exist, come forth, I summon thee!”
When nothing happens, Candy splays her hands as if that’s proof of anything.
If someone has asked me to find a passage of BTW that perfectly encapsulated the central thrust of the novel, I don’t think I could have done better than page 69. Here we have the protagonist Sterling being at once slightly irritated and slightly terrified. We have her best friend Candy being at once slightly irritating and slightly terrifying. And we have the swamp being highly swampy and strange.

I think this sample makes promises the rest of the novel can easily keep. The magic will be menacing, the town will be debilitated by superstition, and there will be smart girls at the center of it all.

Plus gatorboys. There will also be gatorboys.
Visit Natalie C. Parker's website.

--Marshal Zeringue