Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Margaret Fortune wrote her first story at the age of six and has been writing ever since.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Nova, and reported the following:
I turned to page 69, and I immediately laughed. Every book has a little back story here and there, and what do you know? This is where I put mine!

Nova is the story of Lia Johansen, a genetically engineered human bomb sent to strike a blow in an ongoing galactic war by slipping onto a rival space station and exploding. However, her mission goes awry when her countdown clock freezes two minutes from detonation. Page 69 is where we find out a bit about this war:
By the time the Celestians caught up, Telluria already had a warship in range, ready to blow them out of space if they even attempted to go planetside. Back-up quickly massed for both sides, and the stand-off began. Of course, a battle over the planet itself is out of the question. Can’t risk hurting the very merchandise they’re fighting over. So both sides kept ships stationed around the planet to keep their rival from sending anyone else down, and took their territorial war back into the inhabited universe, each side trying to inflict enough damage to make the other cry uncle. Just business as usual.
Page 69 is half prose and half dialogue, as the characters discuss the war, its causes, and whether they think the current ceasefire will last. Lia is a silent observer, listening as the others debate the war even as she knows the ceasefire is a sham. After all, people who want peace don’t send human bombs to blow up space stations.
“All I’m saying is, maybe the Tellurians are really serious about peace this time. I mean, if they’re willing to free prisoners and open the negotiations over New Earth—”

“Seriously, Michael?” Teal snorts. “That’s what you think is going on? Everyone has decided to play nice?”

“Why not? They’ve made plenty of peace treaties in the past.”

“Yeah, and how long have those ever lasted?”
While this page contains important information, it isn’t particularly representative of the book. Nova is written in first person, present tense, and as such the prose is immediate and intimate, giving the reader a front row seat to Lia’s thoughts and feelings. Yet this page gives us nothing of the main character, instead focusing on back story and the byplay between two side characters. While I stand behind everything I write, if I had to give out one page to a potential reader, this isn’t the one I’d choose. (Maybe page 134...?)
Visit Margaret Fortune's website.

--Marshal Zeringue