Saturday, January 5, 2019

"The Lost Puzzler"

Eyal Kless is a classical violinist who enjoys an international career both as a performer and a teacher. Born in Israel, he has travelled the world extensively, living several years in Dublin, London, Manchester, and Vienna, before returning to Tel Aviv. Kless's first novel, Rocca's Violin, was published in Hebrew in 2008 by Korim Publishers. He currently teaches violin in the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music at Tel Aviv University, and performs with the Israel Haydn String Quartet, which he founded.

Kless applied the Page 69 Test to the first of his sci fi/fantasy novel series, The Lost Puzzler, and reported the following:
The Lost Puzzler is a mixture of a swashbuckling adventure, a mystery involving the fate and future of mankind and a much darker story thread of love and betrayal. Page 69 of the novel definitely deals with the darkness part.
“Sadre Banishra’s expression was one of deep concern, barely held in check, as he entered the barn. He turned ashen when he saw the expressions on the faces of his wife and eldest son.

Young Rafik was standing in the center of the barn, he shouted “Papa” and ran towards him.

Sadre laid a heavy hand on his son’s small head. He looked uncertainly at his wife and older son. Fahid bit his lip and lowered his head. Rafik’s mother shook hers but held his gaze, tears trailing down her face.

“Fahid, go to the house and make sure the other children do not talk to anyone.”

“But father, he said Eithan saw—”

“Just do it!” Sadre snapped.

“Father,” cried Rafik, “I didn’t do it. It’s not my fault. It’s the medicine, right? It’s only very small, look,” he held up his hand to his father’s face.

Sadre gasped and took a step back, “Blessed Prophet,” he mumbled.
And so begins one of the most difficult chapters I had to write in The Lost Puzzler. I admit I struggled with it greatly, especially because I am a father to a young daughter. While working on it, I found myself needing to move to another room instead of my usual place, which is next to my sleeping daughter’s bed. The question of a hard, impossible decision a parent might need to make under these circumstances kept me awake at night and through countless of rewrites: What would I do if I found out my child had been cursed? What would I do if his/her fate, as well as the future of my entire family is in jeopardy because of that curse? How far would I go? What would I do?

The grim answer I came up with was “I’ll do whatever the hell it takes.” That might be the right answer any loving parent would give, but the consequences of following it through could be destructive as well.

Part of the Lost Puzzler’s story deals with what happened to Rafik, a young boy whose life changed forever when mysterious small tattoos appeared on his fingertips, marking him as a Puzzler, the most powerful and rare of ‘the marked’. His ordeals and fate are tracked down many years later by a definitely ‘unheroic’ scribe of the Guild of Historians and a mutant mercenary bodyguard. While trying to dodge relentless, powerful pursuers, the pair slowly piece together the story and fate of the young Puzzler, who disappeared after changing the world but was about to change it yet again.
Visit Eyal Kless's website.

--Marshal Zeringue