Wednesday, July 8, 2015

"What Doesn't Kill Her"

Carla Norton is a novelist, journalist, and true crime writer. Her debut fiction, The Edge of Normal, was a Thriller Award finalist and a Royal Palm Literary Award winner. The sequel, What Doesn't Kill Her, has just been released to rave reviews. Norton has also written two books of true crime, including Perfect Victim, which was put on the reading list for the FBI Behavioral Sciences Unit and became a #1 New York Times bestseller. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College in 2009. Besides writing books, she writes articles, essays, and really bad poetry.

Norton applied the Page 69 Test to What Doesn't Kill Her and reported the following:
From page 69:
“Did Flint express any resentment toward Dr. Moody?”


“Did he tell you he was planning an escape?”

“Of course not.”

“Has Daryl Wayne Flint communicated with you or shared his plans with you in any way?”

“That’s a ridiculous question.”

“What about his mother? Has she been in touch with you?”

Something snaps shut inside her. “I’m sorry, but I’ve told you all I know.”

“But we have more questions, and we’d like to interview you further. Would tomorrow be convenient?”

She blows out air and has a sudden vision of a tall, Nordic-looking man with a sweep of blond hair and crinkle lines around blue eyes. “Could I speak with Agent Bender?”


“Special Agent Milo Bender. Is he there?”

“Bender?” A pause, a muffled exchange, and then the voice comes back on, saying, “Uh, no, Agent Bender is no longer with the Bureau.”

“Well for god’s sake, he’s the one I need to talk to.”
What a quirky idea! Is page 69 representative of the rest of my book? Intrigued, I quickly retrieve a brand-new copy of What Doesn’t Kill Her, pausing to admire the embossed lettering on the jacket before turning to that page, and then let out a laugh.

I confess that I love this section of dialogue. (Actually, I’m preparing to teach a writers’ workshop on dialogue, so it occurs to me that I just might include this section as one of my examples because… but I digress.)

Okay, the book jacket copy explains that Reeve LeClaire, my protagonist, is a college student who has largely recovered from having been kidnapped and held captive for four years. But now Daryl Wayne Flint, her former captor, has escaped from the forensic unit of a psychiatric hospital. On page 69, Reeve is on the phone with an FBI agent who is investigating Flint’s escape.

Now you are the judge: Skimming this page, would you be inclined to read on?
Visit Carla Norton's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue