Thursday, March 31, 2016


Brian Doyle edits Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, in Oregon. He is the author of over one dozen books, including six collections of essays, two nonfiction books, two collections of “proems,” the short story collection Bin Laden’s Bald Spot, the novella Cat’s Foot, and the novels Mink River and The Plover. He is also the editor of several anthologies, including Ho`olaule`a, a collection of writing about the Pacific islands.

Doyle applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Chicago, and reported the following:
I am startled and delighted to find that page 69 of Chicago is a lovely passage about Chicagoness, which is a lot of what the book is about, seems to me; but what do I know? I find, oddly, that I write my novels and then think about them clearly and sensibly afterward; while I am in them, dreaming them, absorbed by them, puzzled by them, piecing my way along through the shadowed forests of them, I am not sure quite what’s going on; I have an idea, but I have learned not to be so arrogant as to inflict the idea on the characters. When I tried that, in my first novel, Mink River, the characters froze and refused to be anything but puppets; so I learned to let go, and tiptoe along curiously, listening to the characters, and being open to odd and sidelong directions and plot swerves and nutty adventures. The people are real in a good novel; and you must let the story write itself – or I must, anyway; I suppose there are writers who plot the whole thing out. In this passage the narrator (never named) is speaking with real wonder and affection of “the geometry of the city, its squares and rectangles, its vaulting perpendicularity, its congested arithmetic,” and the cityness of Chicago, its idiosyncratic shapes and speeches and sentient beings, is a lot of what the book is about, I think. It’s also about a wise and discerning dog, and a young man learning to be a witness to grace under duress in other people, and about the one year when the White Sox had the best outfield in baseball; but again, what do I know? On the other hand, I do know that page 69 is a pretty good sip of what the whole bowl of the book is like.
My Book, The Movie: Doyle's Bin Laden’s Bald Spot.

The Page 69 Test: Mink River.

My Book, The Movie: The Plover.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


James Gunn is Emeritus Professor of English at K.U.and has published more than a dozen novels and half a dozen collections of stories, and has edited more than a dozen and a half books. His novels include The Immortals, The Dreamers, The Listeners, Kampus and The Joy Makers.

Gunn applied the Page 69 Test to Transgalactic, the middle book of the Transcendental trilogy, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Transgalactic is an anomaly—an interlude in the narrative of Riley and Asha struggling to be reunited after the Transcendental Machine of Transcendental has flung them to scattered regions of the galaxy. At the same time, page 69 represents the kind of science-fiction thinking that the Transcendental trilogy celebrates: it offers the thoughts of an alien on the thoughts and behaviors of humans, just as eight chapters in Transcendental offer an insight into the lives, cultures, and motivations of different aliens who have joined the search for the Transcendental Machine. It is the special way that science fiction offers to see ourselves and our assumptions as others—quintessentially others—see us, and to compare our beliefs with those that are alien in the largest sense.

Page 69, then, reveals the thoughts of the representative of the Squeal people, whose name translates as Solomon, reflecting on a truly alien and shattering experience. He and his people have evolved with a fear of the night and a compulsion not to look at the sky because their world was drawn toward the cataclysmic galactic center. All of his assumptions about his world have crashed around him and now he is hurtling with Asha through terrifying space toward an unknown destination and an uncertain future in which, if he survives, he is faced with the challenge of being the savior of his people and his world. The reader may admire Solomon’s philosophical acceptance of his situation and compare it with how the reader would feel in similar circumstances.

Sharing Solomon’s perspective allows the reader to consider the ways in which environment shapes us and how we have the ability to understand that fact and make choices to do otherwise, which is what the Transcendental trilogy—and a good part of science fiction—is all about.
Learn more about Transgalactic at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

"Death Sits Down to Dinner"

Tessa Arlen, the daughter of a British diplomat, had lived in or visited her parents in Singapore, Cairo, Berlin, the Persian Gulf, Beijing, Delhi and Warsaw by the time she was sixteen. She came to the U.S. in 1980 and worked as an H.R. recruiter for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee for the 1984 Olympic Games, where she interviewed her future husband for a job. She lives in Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Arlen is the author of Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman and the newly released Death Sits Down to Dinner.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Death Sits Down to Dinner and reported the following:
On Page 69 a conversation takes place between our amateur sleuth, Clementine Talbot, Countess of Montfort, and the Scotland Yard detective investigating the murder of a guest at a dinner party at which Winston Churchill, who holds a very senior position in government, was also present. The police investigation is being conducted on a very hush-hush basis.

What did Clementine witness about the murder? During the evening one of the gentleman did not leave the dining table to join the ladies upstairs in the salon after port – but remained at the table, head meekly down among the walnut shells littering the cloth with a knife between his ribs. While Clementine works hard to give the Inspector Hillary clear answers to his questions, she is also taking the opportunity to carefully pump him for information for her own use. She is piqued by events, curious as to why this particular man – a very dull individual and the pinnacle of propriety - has been murdered. She is an adept at the art of the innocuously phrased question that hopefully prompts a useful answer, and she is being careful not to alert the inspector in her interest, as she fully intends to conduct her own clandestine investigation into the murder with the help of her redoubtable housekeeper, Mrs. Jackson. There is one moment when her enthusiasm leads her to be a little too outright and she worries that the inspector might guess what she is up to.

This page neatly represents the clearly defined rules in society in 1913. An aristocrat’s wife did not collude with her housekeeper in covert murder inquiries; her friends and family would consider this sort of behavior as certainly “letting down the side.” Clementine and Mrs. Jackson’s inquiries are always conducted with tremendous tact and the most scrupulous discretion: Clementine moves among the close knit circles of high society to find out what is ‘known’ and her housekeeper familiarizes herself with the servants’ hall and all the gossip that is available there.
Visit Tessa Arlen's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Tessa Arlen & Daphne.

The Page 69 Test: Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman.

My Book, The Movie: Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 28, 2016

"No One Knows"

New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes dark psychological thrillers starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the Nicholas Drummond series with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter.

Ellison applied the Page 69 Test to her first standalone novel, the newly released No One Knows, and reported the following:
From page 69:


Twenty-One Years Ago

Aubrey is allowed one toy. She has no idea which to choose—how to choose. They are all dear to her. And they will all be gone, just like the rest of her world. The teddy bear will be the best; he works as an extra pillow. She sleeps with him at night, her head resting on his, her curly hair mimicking his own curly fur. Yes, the bear is the right choice. Especially if there is no bed, no pillows, wherever she is going.

She looks to the dark-haired woman sent from the bad place, who is tapping her foot in impatience. She wants to ask if she may have permission to take two, but she is afraid. She reaches for Bear, careful not to meet the inquisitive button eyes of the rest of her brood. She knows they feel she is abandoning them. She understands their concern completely.

“All set?”

Aubrey looks at the walls of her room, painted a rosy pink. There is a picture of her parents next to her bed. She is too frightened to ask if she may take it with her, stow it inside her bag, her tiny little bag with three changes of clothes and one worn bear. When the woman glances away, she shoves the frame under Bear, trusting him to protect her secret.

“Aubrey? You hear me?”


“Are you all set?”

She nods. What other choice does she have?

“Good girl.”

The dark-haired woman stops at McDonald’s, buys Aubrey a Happy Meal. The car smells of fake evergreen and grease and cigarettes, and Aubrey can barely choke down the sandwich and fries. She leaves the small movie cowboy in the paper box. The woman said only one toy.
I love taking this “test”. I never know how the book is going to be formatted and printed, so page 69 could be completely innocuous, or devastating, it could have a murder, or a phone call. But in No One Knows, page 69 is a seminal chapter start. It is one of the few chapters that looks back at a young Aubrey, helping explain the woman she has become. It is written in present tense from Aubrey’s point of view. And it is truly devastating. Her life has just been upended. She has just lost her parents, is now an orphan. This scene starts with the woman from Department of Children Services coming to take young Aubrey to a foster home. It shows a young child who has been forced to become an adult overnight. It absolutely gutted me to write, to imagine what she must be going through. Still waters run deep, right?
Visit J.T. Ellison's website, or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

The Page 69 Test: Edge of Black.

The Page 69 Test: When Shadows Fall.

My Book, The Movie: When Shadows Fall.

My Book, The Movie: What Lies Behind.

The Page 69 Test: What Lies Behind.

Writers Read: J. T. Ellison.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 27, 2016

"Kernel of Truth"

Kristi Abbott, who also writes as both Eileen Rendahl and Eileen Carr, lives in northern California, although she was born in Ohio like the heroine of her new novel, Kernel of Truth. She loves snack food, crocheting, her kids, and her man, not necessarily in that order.

Abbott applied the Page 69 Test to Kernel of Truth and reported the following:
Page 69 is relatively representative of the rest of Kernel of Truth. On page 69, Rebecca Anderson (my heroine) stops by the scene of a crime that occurred the night before. The Sheriff sent her packing the night before and she’s curious and concerned. This was the second attack on a woman shop owner in her little town. She’s just satisfying her own curiosity, but manages to do something that will come back and cause her trouble later.
That’s when I froze. It was kind of a long reach from that windowpane to the doorknob. I walked up onto Barbara’s porch. Someone had taped cardboard over the broken pane, for what good that would do. It was a matter of a couple of seconds’ work to peel that back. I reached my arm through and reached for the knob.

I couldn’t reach it. It was on the opposite side of the door. I pulled my arm back out, snagging my favorite blue sweater as I did it. “Damn it,” I muttered. I tried to inspect my elbow, not exactly the easiest thing on the planet to do. It would have to wait until I got to the shop and could take it off to see how much damage I’d really done. I glanced at my watch and realized how late I was running.
Of course, the yarn that snags on the broken window comes back to bite her squarely on the butt later. I wish that section was funnier, but I guess Rebecca can’t be funny on every page.
Visit Kristi Abbott's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 25, 2016

"I Woke Up Dead at the Mall"

Judy Sheehan is one of the original cast members and creators of the long-running stage hit Tony ’n’ Tina’s Wedding. She was the playwright-in-residence at New York City’s prestigious Looking Glass Theatre and has had plays produced there and at regional theaters around the country.

Sheehan applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, I Woke Up Dead at the Mall, and reported the following:
Dear Reader Who Opened My Book On Page 69,

If you start here, I truly hope that you’ll stay with me, because the tone and voice you find on page 69 are true to the rest of the book. (Though some pages are lighter and, perhaps, funnier than this one.) The page opens with Nick urging, “Tell me your story, Sarah.” The fact that he uses her name, pushes her over the edge. What does it feel like when someone you barely know calls you by name?

This page might be a confusing place to start the book, as we’re already digging into the main character’s back story. If you’re skimming, flip back for a second. Start on page one. Understand that Sarah is dead. At the Mall. And that she’s not the only dead teenager there. On page 69, she’s telling her Death Story. Six characters get to tell their Death Stories, and this can be a painful, cathartic moment for all involved. The Death Stories are so important, Sarah hands off the narrative voice to the character telling the tale. Imagine telling the very last story of your life.

If you’re opening the book to page 69, you hear Sarah say, “That was the story I told myself. And I repeated that story all the time.” Think about that. It matters and will resonate throughout the book. What stories do you tell yourself? How do they shape your life?
We are the stories we tell ourselves. More will be revealed. Starting on page one.
Visit Judy Sheehan's website.

Writers Read: Judy Sheehan.

My Book, The Movie: I Woke Up Dead at the Mall.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 24, 2016

"The Charm Bracelet"

Viola Shipman is a pen name for Wade Rouse, a popular, award-winning memoirist. Rouse chose his grandmother’s name to honor the woman whose charm bracelet and family stories inspired him to write his debut novel, The Charm Bracelet, which is a tribute to all of our elders. Rouse lives in Michigan and writes regularly for People and Coastal Living, among other places, and is a contributor to All Things Considered. To date, The Charm Bracelet has been translated into nine languages. He is at work on his second “heirloom novel,” which will be published in 2017.

Rouse applied the Page 69 Test to The Charm Bracelet and reported the following:
When I was in journalism grad school at Northwestern University, I learned in my magazine publishing class that there were three types of readers: One group started at the beginning of a magazine with the first page, others started at the back reading the last page, while others flipped to the middle and read a random page. I was surprised to learn those three groups of readers were fairly equally divided. I was also surprised to learn – after six books and countless events – that book readers followed that same pattern when buying a book. I have always started at the beginning, so The Page 69 Test fascinated me, as it forced me to become another type of reader for once.

I was surprised to discover that page 69 of The Charm Bracelet is a pivotal page in the midst of a pivotal chapter. It comes in the midst of Part Three of the novel titled "The Sewing Machine Charm: To A Life Bound By Family," which tells the backstory of how the first charm came into the Lindsey family and was passed along to Lolly, the grandmother in the novel who uses her charms and their stories as a way to reconnect with her daughter and granddaughter.

On page 69, Mary – who emigrated from Ireland, leaving her family behind – finds work as a seamstress in New York, after begging the owner for a chance to make a baptismal gown for a woman who had just entered his shop. Her work – which she learned from her mother – impresses the shopkeeper as well as an elderly Polish woman working there, who ends up giving Mary a worn, silver charm of a sewing machine, telling her, "You are like me. You come here from another place. You have left your family. This is to a life bound by family, no matter how far away they may be. As long as you wear this, they will always be near."

Lolly eventually inherited that charm – and her love of sewing – from Mary, her mother.

I have a feeling I will forever start a book on the first page but quickly turn to page 69 for a peek.
Visit Viola Shipman's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Charm Bracelet.

Writers Read: Wade Rouse.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"Diamond Head"

Cecily Wong’s work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Review of Books, Self magazine, Bustle, and elsewhere. She is a graduate of Barnard College, and lives and writes in New York.

Wong applied the Page 69 Test to her debut novel, Diamond Head, and reported the following:
The year is 1914 and the Leongs are newly settled in Hawaii. Five year old Bohai, the only son to the illustrious shipping family, is under deep scrutiny. His mother, Lin, is determined to rid her son of his young introversion; as the heir to his father’s company and fortune, Bohai’s shy disposition is a growing disappointment. But what the reader doesn’t know yet is that Lin is channeling her own insecurities into her efforts. If Bohai doesn’t manage to please his father, Lin fears that the failure will be largely her own.
I began to take Bohai to the beach every morning. I woke him early before school and dressed him as the sun rose. I coaxed him onto the sand, allowing him careful steps into the gentle waves, his tiny body silvery and frail. Within seconds, the water would knock Bohai from his feet. Get up, I would yell, so determined to right my son, you can do it; but even weeks into our exercise, my son could not find his balance. I held his hand, day after day, as he panicked in the water and fell to the sand, his difficult breath expanding beneath exposed ribs. As much as we practiced, he made no progress, but still I forced him. I didn’t know what else to do.
Page 69 is riddled with a family’s disappointment and struggle with their legacy, which is a sentiment that pervades the entire novel. In Hawaii, Lin sees a second chance for her young family, guiding her son to an alternate future and hoping to find herself along the way. Balance is an important word on this page, and in the book: losing it, finding it, and learning how to sustain it.
Visit Cecily Wong's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

"Maybe a Fox"

Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book Award finalist, PEN USA Literary Award–winning, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award finalist The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Keeper, and many picture books including Counting Crows. Alison McGhee is the New York Times bestselling author of Someday, as well as Firefly Hollow, Little Boy, So Many Days, Bye-Bye Crib, Always, A Very Brave Witch, and the Bink and Gollie books. Her other children’s books include All Rivers Flow to the Sea, Countdown to Kindergarten, and Snap. McGhee is also the author of the Pulitzer Prize–nominated adult novel Shadowbaby, which was also a Today show book club selection.

They applied the Page 69 Test to their new novel, Maybe a Fox, and reported the following:
From page 69:
The sheriff sat down at their kitchen table. “There’s nothing, Chess,” he said. There was not a single article of her clothing, either. No boots. No headband. No single orange mitten. No pajamas. Nothing.

“We’ll keep looking,” Jules heard the sheriff say.

A small bead of hope filled Jules’s chest. They’d dragged the river. They hadn’t found anything. They hadn’t. As long as they hadn’t found Sylvie in the river, she could still be alive, couldn’t she?

But where? And what about the hounds? Wouldn’t they be able to track her? As if in answer, the sheriff said, “Hard to track on snow, especially after it’s melted.”
As it turns out, this small section on page 69 of Maybe a Fox shines a light on everything that Jules, one of the main characters, wants to believe. As long as her missing sister, Sylvie, remains unfound, then she can hold onto a shimmery hope that maybe, just maybe, she’s still out there, that maybe the worst hasn’t happened, that maybe there’s something that has been overlooked.

Of course, the worst has happened. We can see it in the demeanor of the sheriff, in his unwillingness to offer up any possibilities for a different outcome. We know for certain that Sylvie is gone when he answers Jules’s unasked question about the hounds, as if he’s reading her mind.

And yet, this piece is also filled up with “maybe’s.” And that’s at least one of the primary points of this book—in the maybe’s there are possibilities. This story is filled up with questions that have no real answers. And yet, it’s also filled with possibilities, and that’s what we see in Jules here. As long as she has questions, there are surely answers, even if they’re not the ones we were expecting.
Visit Kathi Appelt's website and Alison McGhee's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 21, 2016


Elizabeth Marro is former journalist and the author of Casualties, the first novel to explore the homecoming of an Iraq-war veteran from the perspective of a mother and a civilian whose successful business career depends entirely on the defense industry. Marro wrote the novel in San Diego where she has lived since March 2002.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Casualties and reported the following:
From page 69:
A little over an hour later, Ruth sat back in her chair, stunned. “You’re telling me that our people filed their medical claims and the insurance company still hasn’t paid out? None of them?”

“These have been paid,” Sylvia said, pushing a page across the desk. “Partially. The company has denied payment for the rest of the claims. It’s standard operating procedure. Most will eventually be paid once reviews have been completed.”

Ruth looked from the names on the single page in front of her to the eleven-inch stack of files Sylvia had dumped on her desk. The “pending” files. Some of the claims had been “pending” for eleven months. Some longer. Ruth had opened the files before she stopped, rattled by the juxtaposition of ordinary job descriptions and extraordinary injuries: interpreter, double amputee; truck driver, quadriplegic; medical technician, brain trauma. She tried not to read the names but they were right there, on the first page, their stories crammed into small boxes below: Ahmed Hazazi, born in Detroit, fluent in Arabic, IED blast. Marissa Albertson, age twenty-seven, caught when a newly built clinic she was working in collapsed after a nearby explosion; the truck driver, Clayton Massey, spinal cord severed after his caravan was ambushed.

By the tenth file, she’d had to stop looking. They knew the risks, she told herself, just as she’d told Robbie. We told them there would be risks. Still, she grabbed the top folder and shook it at Sylvia.

“We’re paying out huge premiums. There’s no reason to sit on these.”

Sylvia’s shoulders, straining the seams of her black blazer, rose in a shrug. “As I said, standard procedure. Out of our hands.”
When I applied the page 69 test to Casualties, I found the passage in the book where my protagonist Ruth first confronts the human consequences of some of her firm’s actions, and her own. She’s had to leave a reunion with her son, Robbie, a Marine home only hours from his second deployment, to deal with the lawsuit triggered by failure to pay insurance premiums for the contractors hired by her firm to work in war zones.

It’s actually the moment when everything Ruth has worked for is about to unravel. This scene also contains information Ruth will use when she tries to take her first steps towards healing after she loses her job, and much more.
Visit Elizabeth Marro's website.

My Book, The Movie: Casualties.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 19, 2016

"Two If By Sea"

Jacquelyn Mitchard is the number one New York Times bestselling author of twelve novels for adults, including The Deep End of the Ocean, which was the inaugural selection of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club and also made into a major feature film.

Mitchard applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Two If by Sea, and reported the following:
I really didn’t want to put Two if By Sea to the “page 69” test because, in any book that’s halfway worth its salt, page 69 is neither here nor there. It’s not part of the big beginning. It’s not anywhere near the first big reveal. It’s not the big anything, in fact, it’s the beginning of the mushy middle. (For the record, Two if By Sea does not have any mushy in it at all!) So I was surprised that page 69 was a really, really good page in terms of advancing this story. It’s the first place in the novel at which the incredible nature of what the little boy Ian can do – the “Ian effect,” if you will. It’s a very dramatic section, and it really put me to the test as a writer to see if I could create magical realism in a way that was more realism than magic. You’ll have to judge, but I think it did it!
Visit Jacquelyn Mitchard's website.

My Book, the Movie: Two If by Sea.

Writers Read: Jacquelyn Mitchard.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 18, 2016

"Welcome Thieves"

Sean Beaudoin is the author of seven novels--including Wise Young Fool--and the new short story collection, Welcome Thieves.

He applied the Page 69 Test to Welcome Thieves and reported the following:
From page 69:
"What about Terrance?"

"He runs a dozen websites. Guess which kind."

"But we went to his agency. He gave us Moet."

Cher stands, drops three dollars on the table, leans close enough that I can smell myself on her.

"I mean seriously, Dillard. Who in fuck ever heard of a school for models?"
A man's adopted sister admits to him in a donut shop that after running away from home she did not, in fact, go to modeling school, but was basically a web-cam girl. This is very representative of the rest of the book, which is often about that place where self-deception meets the longing for intimacy.
Visit Sean Beaudoin's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Welcome Thieves.

Writers Read: Sean Beaudoin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 17, 2016

"Piece of Mind"

Michelle Adelman has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University, and BS and MS degrees in Journalism from Northwestern University. She has worked as a magazine writer and editor, a university instructor, and a high school English teacher and dean. She grew up in Connecticut and has lived in New York, San Diego, and the Bay Area, where she currently resides.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Piece of Mind, her first novel, and reported the following:
On page 69 of my novel, Lucy, the protagonist, contemplates some of the primary questions she revisits throughout the book. The most pressing issue revolves around the idea of her finding and keeping a potential job. Beyond the practical challenges she faces when contemplating this idea (since she has a brain injury that puts a crippling dent in her ability to carry out simple executive functions), she must also consider the limits a job would place on her ability to obtain disability checks.

On this page, Lucy’s recollection of an earlier and often repeated conversation with her father is an echo of one of the first scenes of the book and serves as a reminder of the dysfunctional, yet co-dependent ways they enable each other.
“Then why do you care about me working?” I asked once.

“Why do I care?” he said. “Why don’t you care?”

“For Dad, it wasn’t about money. It was about normalcy…it was also about purpose.”
The conversation demonstrates the push-pull in their relationship. The frustration Lucy feels when she hears her father talking “in fantasies” is coupled with her desire to depend on him as an unconditional source of support.

On an even more fundamental level, this page gets to the central core of the question: What does Lucy really want?

“The problem was I hadn’t figured out what my fantasy was, and in the meantime, we hadn’t determined a realistic alternative.”

At this stage of the book, Lucy is confronting that basic question of desire in a real way for perhaps the first time, and it’s both terrifying and frustrating not to have an immediate answer. Her journey throughout the rest of the novel is in many ways an attempt to seek a viable answer to that very question.
Visit Michelle Adelman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Piece of Mind.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

"Ways to Disappear"

Idra Novey is the author of the debut novel Ways to Disappear. Born in western Pennsylvania, she has since lived in Chile, Brazil and New York. Her poetry collections include Exit, Civilian, selected by Patri­cia Smith for the 2011 National Poetry Series, The Next Coun­try, a final­ist for the 2008 Fore­word Book of the Year Award, and Clarice: The Visitor, a collaboration with the artist Erica Baum.

Novey applied the Page 69 Test to Ways to Disappear and reported the following:
Page 69 reveals one of the turning points in Ways to Disappear. Raquel, the missing author’s daughter opens a document on her mother’s computer that contains a story that seems like it could be autobiographical. As Raquel reads the story, she starts to question how much she really knows about her mother’s life before her birth and also why she resisted reading her mother’s work before now. It was a scene I wrote a few months after having my second child when I began to wonder what my writing might reveal someday to my children not only about my life but also about their own.

The first scene Raquel reads in the document takes place outside a popular artsy cinema in Rio de Janeiro in the 1970’s during the military dictatorship. Raquel has heard about this cinema from her mother and knows her mother went there often in the seventies when her mother was in college. I don’t want to give away what happens next as it shapes the rest of the novel. But it was curious to open Ways to Disappear to page 69 and discover it was the start of a pivotal scene, and one I have a vivid memory of writing, wondering as I wrote it about how little any of us knows about the moments our parents never speak of, but return to in their minds over and over.
Visit Idra Novey's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

"The Thing about Jellyfish"

Ali Benjamin's debut novel, The Thing about Jellyfish, is a New York Times bestseller, as well as a finalist for the National Book Award.

She applied the Page 69 Test to the book and reported the following:
On page 69 of The Thing About Jellyfish, Suzy Swanson is sitting in a Chinese restaurant with her father -- their weekly ritual since her parents' divorce. Tonight's dinner, though, is different: Suzy's estranged best friend recently died unexpectedly, and this is the first time Suzy and her dad have gotten together since the funeral. She's just started seventh grade, and as the page begins, Suzy's father has just asked about her first week of school.

She doesn't answer him. This is Suzy’s first conscious moment of "not-talking" -- refusing to say anything unless it feels important. She continues this "not-talking" for the rest of this night, and indeed for the rest of the book.

Instead of answering her father, she thinks about science class, her favorite subject. She reflects on a fact that her science teacher told students: that each of us has billions atoms inside of us that were once inside of William Shakespeare. Suzy realizes that if Shakespeare’s atoms are inside of her, then Adolf Hitler’s atoms probably are, too — a thought too horrible to contemplate. So she turns her thoughts to science itself. Science, Mrs. Turton has told the class, is learning what others have discovered about the world and then -- when you bump up a question that no one has ever answered before -- figuring out how to get the answer you need. Those words ring in Suzy's head as she listens to the sounds of the restaurant around her -- the rumble of ice from the drink machine, the murmur of voices and the occasional burst of laughter from nearby diners.

Here, we have Suzy in a nutshell. We see her self-imposed silence, a reflection of her deep grief. We see her profound alienation from the world around her. We understand that she herself has bumped up against a question no one can answer — how could this have happened to someone I loved? — and we see her yearning for a scientific explanation. Finally, we see her dawning awareness of both the goodness and the cruelty that lurk inside of her. Readers will discover that both of things, good and evil, are there in abundance, as they are for all of us.

So, yes, I’d say that it’s a fairly accurate representation of the book as a whole!
Visit Ali Benjamin's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 14, 2016

"Clash of Eagles"

Alan Smale writes science fiction and fantasy, currently focusing on alternate history and historical fantasy. His novella of a Roman invasion of ancient America, "A Clash of Eagles," won the 2010 Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He applied the Page 69 Test to Clash of Eagles, the first book in a trilogy set in the same universe, and reported the following:
As we arrive on page 69 of Clash of Eagles, the 33rd Hesperian Legion is in the midst of a pitched battle with the warriors of Cahokia, the great mound city on the banks of the Mizipi River. And my Roman hero is about to realize that he’s getting a whole lot more than he bargained for.
Something had become abundantly clear to Praetor Gaius Marcellinus: these people were not neophytes at war. The Cahokiani were a tribe – a nation – that had faced large-scale armed assault before, from the savage Iroqua, perhaps, or from even fiercer tribes that the Romans had not yet encountered.
Maybe I should back up a bit. It’s 1218 A.D., and we’re in a world where the Roman Empire never fell. The Norse have sailed the Atlantic and discovered a new continent, and Gaius Marcellinus is the veteran general tasked by the Emperor with spearheading an invasion of this strange new land.

Marcellinus has been sent to search for gold. He doesn’t think he’s going to find any. But he does find trouble. In the thirteenth century the Mississippian Culture is at its zenith, and its greatest city is Cahokia, a metropolis of tens of thousands of people and hundreds of giant mounds, on the Mississippi where St Louis currently stands.
A flaming arrow hit a hut that so far had remained unexploded, and it lit up like a torch. Greek fire, thought Marcellinus. [The Cahokians] had independently discovered Greek fire hundreds of years after the secret was lost on the Roman side of the Atlanticus[…]
Marcellinus has come a long way already, but he still has a lot to learn about Nova Hesperia, its incredible landscapes and its many peoples. Ultimately, the future of his whole world will depend on what he discovers, and the actions he takes. On a much more personal level he will also learn many things about himself, and about family and community. But at this precise moment, he has more pressing problems:
The infantry at Marcellinus’s end of the line was now within bow range of the enemy. This time the Cahokians loosed a salvo of arrows first, a ragged torrent of sticks that scattered harmlessly off the tall Roman shields. The men of the First and Third cohorts jeered, drew, and sent a focused wave of metal-tipped death into the midst of the Cahokiani…

But then, with a titanic roar the world changed again.
And now we’re on page 70.
Visit Alan Smale's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 13, 2016


Reece Hirsch is the author of four thrillers that draw upon his background as a privacy and cybersecurity attorney. The Insider was a finalist for a Thriller Award for Best First Novel. His next three books, The Adversary, Intrusion and Surveillance, all feature former cybercrimes prosecutor Chris Bruen.

Hirsch is a partner in the San Francisco office of an international law firm and co-chair of the firm’s Privacy and Cybersecurity practice. In Surveillance, Chris Bruen and ex-hacker Zoey Doucet discover the existence of a clandestine government agency that is carrying on the domestic surveillance that has become more difficult for the NSA in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations. That knowledge puts Chris, Zoey and their new client “ethical hacker” Ian Ayres in danger, sending them on the run from California to Ecuador to Mexico.

But how do you escape an adversary who has access to every email, every phone call, every video feed?

Here are the results when Hirsch applied the Page 69 Test to Surveillance:
From page 69:
Five years ago Sam had led the rundown of Sheila Capaldi, an NSA office manager who had been turned by Russia’s SVR. Sheila had been a slightly pudgy, jovial woman who liked to talk about Survivor and her fixation with the actor Colin Firth. She baked cookies for the office every other Friday. Sam could tell that her friendly demeanor was not an act. He had worked among spooks long enough to believe that he could spot them. Even when they were wearing the mask of an ordinary person, there was usually a bit of the performer to them, a quick, self-congratulatory shift of the eyes that revealed how much they enjoyed the game. It wasn’t much, but Sam had come to know it when he saw it. And he had learned that lesson the hard way.

A week after Sam located Sheila, which had been all too easy, he ran an Internet search from his home computer to see if he could find out what had happened to her. He found an obituary that said she’d committed suicide. Sam knew that he wasn’t supposed to take his work home and that the NSA was probably monitoring the Internet searches of its data analysts, but his curiosity had grown overpowering.

After learning of Sheila’s death, Sam had become much more disciplined about keeping his curiosity in check. Knowing the outcome didn’t help him do his job.

Losing sleep rarely did.
This passage is written from the point of view of Sam Reston, a lifer NSA data analyst who has been read into a new off-the-books operation know as The Working Group, which is carrying on the domestic bulk metadata collection that the NSA conducted until the passage of the USA Freedom Act.

When Edward Snowden first anonymously contacted Glenn Greenwald and the journalist was beginning to get a sense of the magnitude of the story, he imagined that the whistleblower was some middle-aged, disenchanted lifetime NSA analyst. The baby-faced Snowden defied Greenwald’s expectations. Sam Reston is the type of character that Greenwald expected to meet in that hotel in Hong Kong.

In Surveillance, I wanted to explore our current surveillance state from three perspectives: someone on the run from an all-seeing government agency (Chris Bruen), someone attempting to hide off-the-grid (Zoey Doucet), and someone who was part of the machinery of surveillance -- the increasingly conflicted data analyst Sam Reston.
Visit Reece Hirsch's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Insider.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 11, 2016

"The Serpent King"

Jeff Zentner lives in Nashville, Tennessee. He came to writing through music, starting his creative life as a guitarist and eventually becoming a songwriter. He’s released five albums and appeared on recordings with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Thurston Moore, Debbie Harry, Mark Lanegan, and Lydia Lunch, among others.

Now he writes novels for young adults.

Zentner applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Serpent King, and reported the following:
My page 69 is actually a quite momentous page in the book. It’s the key moment in a story that Lamar Burns, an old man who works at a lumberyard with one of my main characters, Travis, is recounting about the history of my protagonist’s family. My protagonist, Dillard Early (he goes by Dill), is named for his father and grandfather. According to Lamar’s story, Dill’s great aunt died by snakebite when she was young. She was the apple of Dill’s grandfather’s eye. In grief, Dill’s grandfather began slaughtering snakes and wearing their skins and bones on his clothing, gradually descending into darkness and finally taking his own life. During his descent, townsfolk in their rural Tennessee town of Forrestville began calling him The Serpent King. As Lamar tells it, they weren’t trying to be cruel or funny. They were trying to make sense of a grief so great that it ate a man from the inside out. “Folks is afraid of grief. Think it’s catching, like a disease,” Lamar says.

Dill has grown up under this shadow, and the shadow of his preacher father, who started a snakehandling church based on a scripture from Mark, before going to prison for a heinous crime. Dill has come to believe, with some evidence, that he bears a cursed name.

The Serpent King is all about three misfit friends breaking cycles, lifting the curses of the past, and overcoming the ties that bind you to a life they don’t want. So page 69 gives us the whole genesis for the story.

Page 69 also contains a hidden bit of my history as an artist. Before I ever put pen to paper as a novelist, I was a songwriter, writing songs in the blues and Americana vein. One of the songs I wrote was called “The Serpent King” and it was essentially the story of Dill’s grandfather. When I started writing, I went to my well of ideas and grabbed two songs “The Serpent King” and another, and I asked myself if there was a larger story there I could tell; something I could expand out into book form.

There was.
Visit Jeff Zentner's website.

Writers Read: Jeff Zentner.

My Book, The Movie: The Serpent King.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

"North of Here"

Laurel Saville has a BA in English Literature from New York University and an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from the Writing Seminars at Bennington College.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her newest novel, North of Here, and reported the following:
From page 69:
To Darius, this wasn’t much money. Typical of his frugal grandfather. Enough to assist, but not enough for financial independence. However, Darius was beginning to think his material needs were far fewer and less ambitious than he had once thought. In fact, he was beginning to think that the expensive materialism he had seen all around him growing up—$16 cocktails, $50,000 cars, $250 shoes—wasn’t for him at all. He liked his $3 premade submarine sandwiches and the coffee he could buy for pocket change.

In two months at the camp, he plowed through every paperback. Some he read twice. He began to seek out books at the little library in town. Then he drove to a bookstore in Plattsburgh. He read about Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism. He read apocalyptic, speculative, and science fiction titles. He read back-to-nature treatises. For the first time in his life, he considered the degradations of mankind and the abuse humans had heaped on the planet. As the summer slipped away and the days became crisp, when the day approached that he was supposed to be sitting in a college seminar, he cut up the credit cards his parents had supplied him with as a buffer against the bruising uncertainties of the world and mailed them the pieces in an envelope with no return address.

~ ~ ~
The weathered FOR SALE sign was tipped over, sticking from the ground as if it had been struck by a plow the winter before. Or maybe several winters before. A vine had wrapped itself around the post, and a tendril hanging over the board waved at him in a vaguely lascivious way, like a woman at a window.
The excerpt above is from the hardcover version of North of Here. It describes a rather pivotal moment in Darius’s self-conscious re-invention from preppy college dropout to commune guru. He has been lost and wandering for some months, vaguely trying to figure out what to do with himself. A small, unexpected inheritance and a bored perusal of an unhappy woman’s books has given him just enough money and information about alternative culture to be dangerous. Now he has the freedom to find a piece of property so he can enact the inchoate plan forming in his mind. While at this stage, he still seems a lightweight doomed to fail, as the story progresses, we see that the danger he poses is much more literal than we expected.
Visit Laurel Saville's website.

Writers Read: Laurel Saville.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

"The Travelers"

Chris Pavone is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Accident and The Expats, which won both the Edgar and Anthony awards, has been translated into twenty languages, and is being developed for film, and the brand-new thriller The Travelers, which is already under option at DreamWorks. Pavone was a book editor for nearly two decades before moving to Luxembourg, where he started writing The Expats. He now lives again in New York City with his wife and kids.

He applied the Page 69 Test to The Travelers and reported the following:
On page 69, two very different things are happening on opposite sides of the planet. Both scenes are excellent representations of The Travelers:

In Capri, a woman who’s going by the name of Marina—we know this isn’t her real name, but we won’t learn her true identity for a long time yet—is lounging in the sunshine on a terrace perched high above the sea,
just another scantily clad woman reading fashion magazines and smoking cigarettes on a chaise longue at a fancy hotel. Noticeable, but also ordinary. There are always people like her in places like this.
She’s observing the other guests, obviously waiting for someone in particular, a man:
Marina feels her pulse accelerating while she delays looking directly at the newcomer, until she can’t help herself anymore, and then from the safety of her sunglasses she redirects her eyes to examine his face—

But no.
We don’t really know what’s going on here, but we can’t help but suspect from her secretive behavior and racing heart that it’s something nefarious. Plus there’s ominous foreshadowing via a pair of middle-aged women, “talking in hushed tones, exchanging bits of gossip, mortifying anecdotes about other teenage girls, their bad choices and predictable outcomes.” All the characters in this novel make bad choices with predictable outcomes—which later prove to be something else entirely, something completely unpredictable. In The Travelers, what you think is going on is almost never what’s really going on.

The other scene takes place in Argentina, where the protagonist Will Rhodes is exploring the pampas, writing an article for his job as an international correspondent for Travelers magazine. As with the Capri passage, there’s oblique action whose purpose is to suggest something about the main story—mortal violence:
He looks the lamb in the eye before the farmer slits its throat and hangs the carcass from the rafters, draining blood into a dented tin bucket. The next night they grill the lamb on an iron spit over a wood fire in an open pit, and eat big chunks, hewn by a machete.
Will is participating in the slaughter of the lamb, trying to be dispassionate about the inevitability of the animal’s fate, while at the same time kidding himself about his own:
Will can now go an entire day without thinking about Elle, who’s fading into his past, dragging his guilt out with her receding tide. He’ll be fine.
I hope readers understand that the opposite is true: Elle isn’t really fading away, and Will won’t be fine.
Visit Chris Pavone's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Expats.

The Page 69 Test: The Accident.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 7, 2016

"The Two-Family House"

Lynda Cohen Loigman grew up in Longmeadow, MA. She received a B.A. in English and American Literature from Harvard College and a J.D. from Columbia Law School.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her debut novel, The Two-Family House, and reported the following:
I was super excited for The Page 69 Test – that is, until I turned to the actual 69th page of my novel, The Two-Family House. Here’s what it says: “Part Two.” The rest of the page is blank.

At first, I was disappointed to have so little to go on. I stared at those two little words, wracking my brain for something to say about them. Part One of my novel ends with the highly anticipated birth of two babies in the middle of a blizzard. The husbands of the mothers are away, and only a nameless midwife is there to witness what occurs. When the words “Part Two” appear, the storm has passed and the reader is about to discover how the choices made during that evening will affect the characters for the rest of their lives.

I suppose I could have written my Page 69 Test entry about the structure of my novel and about the use of time throughout the story, but, honestly, that didn’t sound so appealing. Then I looked at the words again. “Part Two.” It felt like the book was trying to tell me something.

You see, writing The Two-Family House is my Part Two.

Like many of my fellow English majors, I went to law school right after college. As a summer associate, it became clear to me that trusts and estates law was the only kind of law I wanted to practice. The reason for that was simple: trusts and estates law revolves around people’s individual stories. Births, deaths, marriages, divorce – all the drama of everyday life. For a while I enjoyed it. I worked with some very nice people on some very interesting projects. But the clients themselves were more compelling to me than the tax issues I was supposed to be researching. After several years, I gave it up.

I got married, I had children, I dabbled in this and that. But all the while, in the back of my mind, I knew I had a story to tell, and I hoped I had more than one.

After I turned forty, the need to write overwhelmed me. I joined a writing class and began the task of putting what was in my head down on the page. I wrote and I deleted, I wrote and I cringed, I wrote and I cried, and then I kept writing.

The publication of The Two-Family House is dream-come-true stuff for me. I am well into my forties now, and I feel like one of those people on television who says, “If I can do it at my age, anyone can.” It’s a cliché, I know, but that’s how I feel. I am where I want to be professionally and creatively. I feel fulfilled in a way I didn’t think was possible, and I am extremely grateful. Writing is my first love, but my second career.

It is my Part Two.
Visit Lynda Cohen Loigman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 5, 2016

"I'll See You in Paris"

Michelle Gable is the author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling novel The Paris Apartment.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, I'll See You in Paris, and reported the following:
“Stepping gingerly toward the front gate, she could almost feel Mrs. Spencer—and Pru—on the other side of it.”

Page 69 is a turning point in I’ll See You in Paris. It’s the first time the modern-day protagonist, Annie Haley, encounters the Grange—a crumbling manse once owned by the fiery, infamous Gladys Deacon, the Duchess of Marlborough. The Grange is in shambles when Annie steps foot/breaks into it, though it was just as battered 30 years before when the tempestuous Duchess stormed its grounds.

Annie is rule-abiding, sweet, and naïve, even at age twenty-two. But her quest to uncover the secrets in a small English hamlet, and those in her own life, causes her to act with mettle and defiance. On page 69, Annie trespasses onto the abandoned property for the first time. She breaks this rule and so begins the journey away from her pleasant, cloistered life.

“Annie shook her head. It’d been thirty years. Those people were long gone.”

Or were they? From page 69 onward, the ghosts of the Grange—and of Annie’s past—take hold. She is suddenly determined to yank back every hidden panel in her meticulously constructed life.
Visit Michelle Gable's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Paris Apartment.

My Book, The Movie: A Paris Apartment.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 4, 2016

"Daughter of Blood"

Helen Lowe is a fantasy novelist and winner of the Gemmell Morningstar Award in 2012.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Daughter of Blood: The Wall of Night Book Three, and reported the following:
When considering the Page 69 test, I was instantly intrigued – even more intriguingly, I do believe Daughter of Blood passes the test: page 69 is indeed representative of the whole.

Here readers first encounter Kalan, one of the two main characters in The Wall of Night series (the other is Malian, the Heir of Night) charting the course that he will pursue through the book: not passing by on the other side, but stepping up on behalf of those caught in difficult circumstances and in need of either a champion or captain.

Page 69 also illuminates another key aspect of his character, that an early reader picked up on from the The Heir of Night (The Wall of Night Book One): “The thing I really like about … Kalan is that [despite considerable adversity] he … still has hope and kindness in his heart.”

And it is Kalan – as champion, captain, and yes, an innately kind individual – whose arc drives the Daughter of Blood story.

The other part of the Page 69 test is whether a reader would be inclined to read on – but I’m going to leave that decision to readers. Here’s page 69 in full, to help you decide.
Orth surged to his feet, roaring, as a small thief seized the half-eaten pastry from his plate, while the server and other patrons cursed and grabbed at darting bodies. Those who sat further back, or had already eaten, laughed and called encouragement to either side, only swiping out if any urchin came too near. The vagabonds twisted and dodged clear, racing away with their booty.

Safety, Kalan saw, was a tangle of godowns at the town end of the dock, and the raiders took full advantage of wharf traffic to make their escape. All, that is, except the ragged lad who had snatched Orth’s pastry. His swerve to avoid one of the alejack drinkers brought him too close to Tawrin, who stuck out a foot and brought him down flat. The boy sprang up again immediately, the pastry still clutched in his hand—but it was too late. Orth’s giant hand had closed on the tattered tunic and now hoisted the thief high, his other fist poised to smash into the dirty, terrified face.

“Stand!” Kalan ordered the horses—one of Jarna’s painstakingly inculcated commands—and sprang forward, intercepting Orth’s blow. The giant snarled and tried to hammer the fist into Kalan’s face instead. Checking the strike’s momentum felt like trying to prevent a mountain toppling, and Kalan called on the combined strength of five years working in the Normarch forge, and training in full Emerian armor with sword and lance, battle-axe and mace. His arm and shoulders were rock, his mind cool as his eyes met Orth’s. “He’s just a child,” he said, keeping his voice level.

The Sword giant’s expression was almost comical as he glared from Kalan’s hand, locked on his wrist, into his face. “He’s a sniveling Haarth thief!”

“He’s hungry,” Kalan answered, countering Orth’s shift in weight and alert for a head butt, or knee to the groin. “Look at him.”

Orth glared, his head lowered. “A thief!” he roared, and shook his captive so violently that the boy’s head snapped back, his teeth jarring together. But the threadbare tunic, unequal to such treatment, tore apart—and the boy’s body dropped clear, leaving Orth with a handful of fabric.
Visit Helen Lowe's website and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 3, 2016

"Rough Justice"

Brad Smith was born and raised in southern Ontario. He has worked as a farmer, signalman, insulator, truck driver, bartender, schoolteacher, maintenance mechanic, roofer, and carpenter. His novels include Shoot the Dog and other Virgil Cain mysteries, All Hat, which was made into a major feature film, and One-Eyed Jacks, which was shortlisted for the Dashiell Hammett Award.

Smith applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Rough Justice, and reported the following:
Page 69 is not, in my opinion, representative of what happens in this book. However, it does show a bit of the dark side. It’s a scene featuring Bud Stephens, a slippery city councilor who is trying to persuade his wife to service him sexually. The wife, whose moral fiber is roughly as deficient as that of her hubby, isn’t going for it. But she does suggest that she will oblige him if he takes her to Italy. Of such alliances are dreams made.
Learn more about the book and author at Brad Smith's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Shoot the Dog.

My Book, The Movie: Shoot the Dog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

"Quantum Night"

Robert J. Sawyer is one of only eight writers in history — and the only Canadian — to win all three of the world's top Science Fiction awards for best novel of the year: the Hugo, the Nebula, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Quantum Night, and reported the following:
I define science fiction as the literature of intriguing juxtapositions, and in Quantum Night, I smack quantum physics up against experimental psychology to see what sparks fly. Page 69 of the book has two very bright people — University of Manitoba psychology professor Jim Marchuk and Dr. Kayla Huron, a quantum physicist — discussing Kayla’s work over dinner:
After we’d ordered, I said, “So, at lunch you were talking about the quantum physics of consciousness.”

She took a sip of wine. “That’s right. My research partner is a woman named Victoria Chen. As I said earlier, she’s developed a system that can detect quantum superposition in neural tissue.”

“I’m no physicist, but I thought you couldn’t have quantum effects like that in living things.”

“Oh, it definitely happens in some biological systems. We’ve known since 2007 that there’s superposition in chlorophyll, for instance. Photosynthesis has a ninety-five percent energy-transfer efficiency rate, which is better than anything we can engineer. Plants achieve that by using superposition to simultaneously try all the possible pathways between their light-collecting molecules and their reaction-center proteins so that energy is always sent down the most-efficient route; it’s a form of biological quantum computing. Vic was curious about how plants manage that at room temperature while we have to chill our quantum computers to a fraction above absolute zero to get superposition. And, well, as I mentioned at lunch, I’ve long been interested in the Penrose-Hameroff model that says quantum superposition in the microtubules of neuronal tissue is what gives rise to consciousness. So I convinced Vic to let me try her technique on people, to see if there really is superposition in human brains.”


“And, oh my God, yes, there is.”
As Kayla says, her research is based on the real-life work by Oxford physicist Sir Roger Penrose, and his collaborator Stuart Hameroff, the director of the University of Arizona’s Center for Consciousness Studies.

I’ve long been fascinated by that work (it also figured prominently in my John W. Campbell Memorial Award-winning novel Mindscan), and I’ve grown to count Stuart — who read Quantum Night in manuscript for me — as a friend; he’s having me in to speak about my extrapolations of his work at the Science of Consciousness Conference in Tucson this April.

Page 69 of Quantum Night gives us three things that are hallmarks of my work: intelligent people having intelligent conversation; a deep connection with real science; and extrapolating that science forward into new — but plausible and reasonable — discoveries.

Although there’s a punch or two thrown in Quantum Night, I don’t think fiction has to be about action; I don’t think talking heads are a bad thing (my favorite evening out is a night of clever conversation at a restaurant with friends); and I don’t think all fiction is about conflict. I believe ideas are intrinsically interesting, and science is as captivating as any sport. If you share my tastes, you might indeed enjoy Quantum Night.
Learn more about the book and author at Robert J. Sawyer's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue