Sunday, February 26, 2017

"The Possessions"

Sara Flannery Murphy grew up in Arkansas, where she divided her time between Little Rock and Eureka Springs, a small artists’ community in the Ozark Mountains. She received her MFA in creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis and studied library science in British Columbia. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband and son.

Murphy applied the Page 69 Test to The Possessions, her first novel, and reported the following:
From page 69:
When I turn back, Patrick has stopped. He’s looking at me. In the diffused light of the street lamps, his face is as indistinct as if I’m viewing him on a grainy screen. I must glow through the darkness. My white dress, my colorless hair. I can’t move. His eyes on me shove me backward, hold me in place like a physical restraint. Hands on my shoulders…

In the motel mirror, I scrubbed my face pink and pulled my hair into a damp ponytail. My outfit was the best I could do with what I’d salvaged from my life. White T-shirt, tea-colored skirt. Approaching the Elysian Society building for the first time with my naked face, I was embarrassed. Back then, it was rare for me to leave the house without makeup.
This page isn’t necessarily the first one I’d select to give someone a perfect feel for the book. But I’m pleasantly surprised at how much it manages to capture of the novel’s larger atmosphere. It reassures me that the heartbeat of the book pulses through different pages.

In the first scene, Edie has started crossing the boundaries that separate the professional and personal realms. She’s making risky, uncomfortable choices. In this moment, she’s questioning her role in Patrick’s life, uncertain whether he likes her for herself or for her ability to reconnect him with his lost wife. I like that Edie is a little ominous and a little vulnerable at the same time in this scene; that’s a quality I wanted to explore in her character. I love the idea that quietness and blankness can hide a real darkness.

Also on page 69, the perspective shifts to one of Edie’s memories: the first time she came to the Elysian Society for an interview. This moment begins to unpeel the layers, revealing why Edie would end up at the Elysian Society, why she’d be drawn to this strange line of work. It feels really fitting that this page straddles Edie’s present and her backstory simultaneously, the past beginning to leak into the pages.
Visit Sara Flannery Murphy's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Possessions.

--Marshal Zeringue