Thursday, January 19, 2017

"Nine of Stars"

Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology – Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs, also writing contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams. Her latest project is the Wildlands series, a contemporary weird west contemporary fantasy series for Harper Voyager.

Bickle applied the Page 69 Test to her first novel in the Wildlands series, Nine of Stars:
From page 69:
Chapter 5: The Alchemist in His Natural Habitat

The alchemist of Phoenix Village had set up a small lab to explore his art: bits of tin foil, straws, six packets of salt, a stone with a hole in the middle, a book of matches, a mirror, and various pills scavenged from the floor. Only a few of those pills were covered in lint, and he had recently found a roll of copper pennies to add to his collection. He usually kept his laboratory in his bedside drawer, but whenever it was discovered, the night nurses cleaned out the contraband, and he had to all start over again.

Petra had heard all about these great injustices—first, from the staff, and then from him. She listened and made sympathetic noises to both parties but refused to take a side.
I think page 69 of Nine of Stars is very representative of the rest of the book. Nine of Stars takes place in a small town in Wyoming that was founded by an alchemist. Once upon a time, an alchemist conjured gold from rocks, jump-starting an odd economy on the edge of Yellowstone National Park. The alchemist died under mysterious circumstances, but his influence is still felt in the present day. Many of his experiments still populate the backcountry: undead cowboys, basilisks, and even the alchemical Tree of Life.

An assortment of magical types has been drawn to Temperance over many years, including Petra Dee’s father, who is currently working his art at the Phoenix Village Retirement Home. There’s nothing magical at all about Petra. She’s a scientist through and through – think of Dana Scully from The X-Files. Part of her character’s challenges involve struggling to understand the supernatural happenings in her world that her father so fervently believes in.

Is her father caught in daydreams, chasing monsters in his head? Or is he really onto something? Can he provide some clues to a restless spirit that is hunting down the wolves of Yellowstone? Every hero along the Hero’s Journey consults a wizard archetype somewhere along the way. For Petra, her father is that man who can reach into the spirit world…at least, he can when he feels like it.
Learn more about the book and author at Laura Bickle's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: The Outside.

The Page 69 Test: Dark Alchemy.

--Marshal Zeringue