Tuesday, September 8, 2015

"Idyll Threats"

Stephanie Gayle’s fascination with crime stories began when she first met a policeman at the age of 4 and outsmarted him. After flirting with the idea of becoming a defense attorney and then suffering through a few years as a paralegal, she decided writing crime fiction would be a lot more satisfying -- and fun. Gayle’s first novel, My Summer of Southern Discomfort, released in 2008 (William Morrow). By day, she's a financial assistant at MIT’s Media Lab.

Gayle applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Idyll Threats, and reported the following:
Page 69 is a little different from the rest of Idyll Threats. It includes the following scene:
I’d call later to explain I couldn’t make it home. I wouldn’t mention what had happened the last time I showed up for a last-minute dinner invitation.

The table setting should’ve tipped me off. My family didn’t use the china except for holidays and dinners with deans. My brother, John, and his wife, Marie, exchanged furtive looks over their glasses. Were they having another child? Bit late, for both of them. And should Marie be drinking wine? The doorbell rang.

“I’ll get it!” my mother said. A minute later, she brought in a man wearing a velvet jacket with a paisley pocket square. Slender and smiling. Chris Danforth. My mother knew him through her charity work with the New York Foundation for the Arts.
This is one of the few flashbacks in the novel, and the longest. In it, the reader learns a lot more about protagonist Thomas Lynch. We see that his family not only knows he’s gay, but that his mother has tried to set him up with a date and it doesn’t go well. Thomas doesn’t like being blindsided and he doesn’t like the prospective date, Chris Danforth. Chris is a loud-and-proudly-out actor. Thomas isn’t, and he doesn’t need any “how to be gay lessons” from Chris.

In creating police chief Thomas Lynch, it was important to me that he not be a token or stereotype, and that he would have strong feeling about what it means to be gay and to be a cop. Much of the book explores this tension, as Thomas is withholding evidence in a murder investigation because it threatens to out him. But page 69 and the ensuing scene is the only place the reader sees Thomas interact with his family directly. It shows that although they love him, they don’t understand him very well. And the reader begins to understand the depth of Thomas’s loneliness.
Visit Stephanie Gayle's website.

My Book, The Movie: Idyll Threats.

--Marshal Zeringue