Sunday, September 4, 2016

"Breath of Earth"

Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger series from Harper Voyager, which includes her Nebula-nominated novella Wings of Sorrow and Bone. Her newest novel is Breath of Earth. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat.

Cato applied the Page 69 Test to Breath of Earth and reported the following:
The Page 69 Test takes me to chapter 3 of Breath of Earth, when my heroine, Ingrid, visits the home of an earth warden and finds the place ransacked. She's surprised when another man arrives--one who she met briefly earlier in the day, right before an explosion obliterated the building she was in.

Part of my page 69:
[Ingrid] eyed the Tesla rod and considered the man again. He didn’t strike her as a hooligan. He looked like a teacher or an accountant—and not a very well-off one, at that. His leather coat had a few years of wear to it, with the edges fuzzed to white. The condition of the jacket and tie beneath looked similar, being tidy yet shabby.

Peculiar, though, how he showed up at the auxiliary so soon before it exploded. Ingrid lowered the pistol but kept it in her grip. No reason to trust the man, even if she wanted to admire him like a Remington bronze.

“This morning, I do believe you mentioned you were a secretary at the auxiliary?”

“Yes, I am, sir. Ingrid Carmichael. I work for Warden Sakaguchi, specifically, and assist the board.”

“Don’t see many secretaries toting about pistols.”

“Shooting is taught right along with coffee brewing, shorthand, and bookkeeping, though I haven’t taken the course in knife throwing yet. That’s next on the list.”
This excerpt is a good example of the light romance within the book. This is one of the first times that Ingrid and Cy speak, and it doesn't take long for the fun banter to begin. This is a brief interlude between tense scenes, a chance for the two to uneasily get to know each other even as she holds a pistol and he holds a Tesla rod, a weapon that causes an electric shock. I don't place a major emphasis on the romance within the book--my characters are pretty occupied with trying to stay alive--but I think moments like this are essential. Books with constant tension can be fun and fast to read through, but I appreciate a good ebb and flow, where the tension is broken by moments that make me grin or laugh out loud. I hope that's how readers will react as they read this page.
Visit Beth Cato's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Clockwork Dagger.

My Book, The Movie: The Clockwork Crown.

--Marshal Zeringue