Friday, February 15, 2019

"Rapid Falls"

Amber Cowie is a graduate of the University of Victoria and was short-listed for the 2017 Whistler Book Award. She lives in the mountains in a small West Coast town. Cowie is a mother of two, wife of one, and a debut novelist who enjoys skiing, running, and creating stories that make her browser search history highly suspicious.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Rapid Falls, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Maggie wakes up early, stirring around five thirty. Rick is snoring beside me, and for a few moments, I listen to Maggie’s quiet chatter to the stuffed dog she sleep with every night. She is an early riser, but she often wakes slowly, gently sliding between dreams and consciousness rather than abruptly jumping awake, like me. Lately I jerk out of sleep before my dreams are finished, gasping as if the bed beneath me is a sheet of ice-cold water, then wait for an hour or so for Maggie to wake up. I can never fall asleep again after I dream of the river. When her murmurs turn into a call, I slip out of bed and cross the hallway. In the half light of dawn, I see her sweet smile as I walk into the room.

Rick comes out of the bedroom about an hour later. His hair is tousled and his eyes look soft with sleep.

“Let’s go away tonight.”

“What?” I look up from the tower of blocks I am building with Maggie. Only the night before we’d been arguing about my mom’s new plan for Anna. “Where would we go?”

“Griffith Hot Springs? I’m sure your mom could stay over. Maggie, do you want to have a sleepover with Grandma?”

Does page 69 in my hardcover represent Rapid Falls as a whole? I’d like to think that I had planted a small seed of what’s to come on every page, but I knew that was probably not the case as I opened my book to the selected page. Sure enough, as I began to re-read this page I got a bit worried since it was short (the beginning of a chapter) and focused a lot on the sleep habits of a small child. Rapid Falls is not a self-help book for parents seeking more slumber, so I was starting to think that I’d have to say that my skills as a writer had fallen short here, but then, I found this line. I can never fall asleep after I dream of the river. I remember writing that and rewriting that and thinking to myself once I had finished it: this sentence works. It says something about Cara in that moment and hints at something else about her that the reader does not yet know.

So, yes (yay!). Page 69 has a line that evokes everything I hope readers carry with them as they read my novel: a sense of curiosity and dread about the river and why Cara’s dreams are as they are.
Visit Amber Cowie's website.

--Marshal Zeringue