Friday, August 25, 2017


Paula Stokes writes stories about flawed characters with good hearts. She’s the author of several novels, most recently Ferocious and This is How it Happened. Her writing has been translated into eleven foreign languages. Stokes loves kayaking, hiking, reading, and seeking out new adventures in faraway lands.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Ferocious and reported the following:
From page 69:
Tucking the bath towel around my body as best I can, I open the bathroom door a crack and look out. Light filters through the open window, but there’s no movement. I press my ear to the crack. No sounds. I open the door a little wider. That’s when I see the feet.

They’re connected to a body. Shit, shit, shit. A man with bright-blond hair.

I bend down and test for a pulse, even though I can tell right away that he’s dead. One of my throwing knives lies next to his stomach, the blade crusted over with dried blood. Stepping past the body, I check the deadbolt and the chain on the door—both secure. At least there’s no danger of a maid stumbling in here before I can figure out what to do. But then how did the men get in? I glance around the room and find the open window, one pane broken in order to undo the lock. Balmy air wraps around me as I pull the window shut. If anyone had heard the commotion, they would have been banging on the door by now. Still, there’s no way to fix it. I can’t stay here. I’m not safe.

My suitcase is empty, the contents strewn across the floor. I grab a clean set of clothes and get dressed, noticing that it’s after eight in the morning. I have no idea what happened since the men broke in, probably around one or two a.m.

I sit on the edge of the bed and try to calm myself. But it’s hard to be calm when a dead body lurks in your peripheral vision.
This scene takes place in a guesthouse in the Koreatown district of Los Angeles. Winter has traveled to L.A. to find the man who is responsible for her sister’s death. Readers learn in Vicarious (the first book in this two-book series) that Winter has gaps of missing time, and here she has awakened in the shower and she’s not sure how she got there. She finds the body of a blond man in her guesthouse room and doesn’t know how he died, but she’s pretty sure she’s responsible since one of her knives is covered with blood. Winter remembers two men breaking into her room, but she doesn’t remember what happened after that or what happened to the second man.

I think this page is a good representation of the novel because it captures the dark tone of the book along with highlighting Winter’s deteriorating mental state. One thing she really struggles with is how to live while not being completely in control of her actions. The story returns to this theme multiple times as Winter comes to grips with who she is and what that means for her future . . . or whether she should even have a future.
Learn more about the book and author at Paula Stokes's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Vicarious.

--Marshal Zeringue