Tuesday, March 19, 2019

"Pure Chocolate"

Amber Royer writes fun science fiction involving chocolate, aliens, lovesick AIs, time travel, and more. She teaches enrichment/continuing education creative writing classes for both teens and adults at UT Arlington.

Royer applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Pure Chocolate, and reported the following:
From page 69:
I am not dressed for diving. I can already feel myself walking in squishy shoes, chafing from wet jeans.

“Don’t look so nervous,” Mertex says. “We’re the shore crew.”

The helicopter hovers over one of the “teeth” and the guy sitting nearest the doorway throws out a nylon-looking ladder. He turns back to us, “Your turn.”

We climb down the ladder, and the helicopter moves on, leaving us in a wild, beautiful place, part beach, part riverbank, with stumpy lavender-barked trees and tangled yellow vines trailing down into the water, all decorated with driftwood and shells and tumbled bits of glass.

“Stay close, you guys. It would be embarrassing to lose part of our rescue party.” Mertex scans the area like Kaliel might appear if he looks hard enough. “If you see any mounds of dirt, or any giant green eggs, leave them alone.”

“What are they?” Brill asks.

Mertex shudders. “Yawds are vegetarians, and they’re shy, so as long as you don’t disturb their nests, they won’t stomp on you.”

“Good to know.” Brill takes a few steps down the shoreline, then hesitates, waiting to make sure we’re following him.

We walk for a couple of hours. I’m thirsty. I should have brought along some of Tawny’s bottled agua. Mertex didn’t bring any water either. Apparently Zantites can go longer without rehydrating.

“Babe.” Brill hands me a bottle of agua he had tucked in his jacket. I drink it greedily, while he sips at one of his own. An animal jumps in the channel, making a splash about ten feet out. Brill grabs my arm. I freeze, afraid I’m about to be Zandy-gater food.

Brill brings his face close to my ear, like he’s brushing my cheek with un beso. “Someone’s following us.”

In the stillness behind us, a twig snaps.
This page drops you into a big part of the book’s conflict and gives you a flavor of the first alien world Bo visits in the book. Kaliel is the pilot from the first book that Bo kissed – and after he shows back up and gets close to Bo on the dancefloor, Brill (Bo’s boyfriend) and Kaliel have a fight. So when Kaliel goes missing under mysterious circumstances, Brill becomes the prime suspect on a planet where it’s guilty until proven innocent.

Bo and Brill are the only non-Zantites in the search and rescue crew. They’re desperate to find Kaliel alive. The third character with them, Mertex, is a Zantite (if you didn’t read Book 1, picture a bald lemon-yellow giant with shark-teeth and whale-like eyes). In Free Chocolate, he’s the one who dumped Brill in that giant chocolate mold. (At this point, Mertex’s life has become bound to Bo’s, so obviously the relationships between all three characters have changed, but I won’t give spoilers as to how that happened.) Mertex is an important character this time around, so the fact that he shows up on this page is exceptionally cool.

You know that the foreshadowing on this page about not disturbing a yawd’s nest has to be followed up on. It’s going to be both comical and dangerous and a little gross – and drive the plot forward. And that gives you a true flavor of the book – comedy balanced with adventure.

Sadly, Bo doesn’t get any dialogue on this page ... which is not typical of the rest of the book. But the tone and pacing is about right.
Visit Amber Royer's website.

The Page 69 Test: Free Chocolate.

My Book, The Movie: Pure Chocolate.

--Marshal Zeringue