Friday, September 9, 2016

"The Wedding Shop"

Rachel Hauck is the New York Times bestselling author of The Wedding Dress and other books.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Wedding Shop, and reported the following:
This is a tough test. I'm going to have to flip to page 69 to see how I fare!
She passed it on to her great-niece, Cora, who ran the shop for over fifty years.” Keith turned the lock and shoved the door open.

“Fifty-five years.” Haley remembered the details of her sixth-grade paper, which she typed on the kids’ computer, propping the picture she’d found when she was ten, hiding from the rain in the shop, against the desk lamp.

“Perfect. You already know more than I do. The historical society might have some intel, but you can bet there’s some little old blue hair in town who bought her wedding trousseau here.” Keith mimed sipping from a cup of tea with his pinky in the air, then stepped aside, as Haley entered the foyer. “Well, what do you think?”

Haley wrinkled her nose. “What’s that smell?”

She stood in the narrow foyer with Keith, pinned in by walls that hadn’t been there when she was playing brides with Tammy.

“Hey, sorry I’m late.” Cole cut between them, stepping into the foyer, dusting the snow from his dark brown hair, his blue eyes bright against his red-tinged cheeks.

“This was as far as we got,” Haley said.

“Look at this place.” Cole kicked one of the dividing walls, grabbing the edge and giving it a shake. “This is not up to code. Probably wasn’t permitted.”

“It’s not part of the design.” Haley slipped a document from her messenger bag. “Drummond Branson gave me a copy of the original plans. He said the historical society would give me a lot of room as long as we stick to the main structure.”

Cole reached for it, studying the lines, then scanning the shop. “All of this should be open.”

“Exactly.” Haley cut through the doorway on her right. The walls cut off all the light coming through the front display windows. “This was the grand salon, I think. It’s the biggest room. Not sure what Miss Cora did here.” She exited back into the foyer. “This is the staircase and over here”—she slipped through the doorway on the left—“is the small salon.”

The smaller salon had a stained carpet covering the floor replete with a near black pathway from the front door to the back. “This is nasty.”

“Yeah, the last business in here,” Keith said, “was a computer repair shop, Microfix or something, and the guy was a slob.”

Cole disappeared into what looked like a butler’s pantry, made some kind of racket, then reappeared. “The wall is wet. Probably a leak in the roof, which means mold.”
Okay, I'm back. Page 69 in The Wedding Shop is a key page. Who knew? When we move from page 68, Haley, our contemporary heroine is scouting out the old wedding shop with a realtor, Keith, and contractor, Cole​—who is the about to become the love of her life. But she doesn't know, of course.

Since the shop is a character in the story, it's critical for the reader to see, feel and smell the shop. To touch it. To walk through the rooms and get a vision for what it was and what it could be. Closed for almost 30 years, Haley plans to bring it back to bridal-life. But she's inexperienced and broke.

We also learn a bit of the shop's history on this page. Who founded it. Its importance to fictional Heart's Bend, TN. Delivering the back story of an inanimate object can be tricky. You don't want the characters just parroting details but the shop can't speak for itself. So little by little, Haley, Keith and Cole present the shop to the reader.

Could the story work without this page? I don't think so. Because somewhere, somehow, the reader must "see" the shop. This is that page.
Visit Rachel Hauck's website.

--Marshal Zeringue