Wednesday, May 22, 2019

"Last Things"

Jacqueline West is the author of the New York Times-bestselling middle grade series The Books of Elsewhere, the YA novel Dreamers Often Lie, the middle grade fantasy The Collectors, and the new YA novel Last Things.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Last Things and reported the following:
From page 69:
I shift on the seat. “You’ve heard my stuff.”

“No. I mean, I don’t know how you write your songs. Where they come from. If you start with the melody, or with the words, or with the concept for the expensive music video you’ll make someday, or what.” She pauses again. I don’t speak. “So—this sounds totally corny, but where do you get your ideas?”

We’re heading past the park, along a road where the houses grow thinner and the trees grow thicker. Green walls surround us.

“I honestly don’t know.”

“Oh. So you are a mysterious musical genius.”

“No. I just—I can’t really explain it.” And then I tell her the truth. Partly. “I’m not controlling it. It just happens.”

“Hmm.” Frankie lifts that eyebrow at me again. “Maybe you have a muse.”


“You know, how people used to think that art came from some goddess coming to you and inspiring you. They all had weird names, like Euterpe and Calliope....”


“I don’t know why that one hasn’t caught on as a baby name.” Frankie shrugs with one shoulder. “So, maybe you have a muse. Maybe some force is coming in and giving you your songs.”

There’s a gust of wind around my unzipped heart.
Oh, Page 69 Test: You’ve clearly got some weird magic. I often describe my new YA thriller, Last Things, as a modern-day, metal, Minnesotan retelling of the legend of the musician who may have sold his soul to the devil—and that concept is spelled out in as-clear-as-it-gets dialogue on page 69.

A quick summary: Eighteen-year-old Anders Thorson has become famous in his small Minnesota town. His band, Last Things, is on the cusp of major musical success, and as the lead guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter, Anders is flooded with attention and acclaim. The trouble is that Anders isn’t sure his success is earned. New songs come to him all at once, in overwhelming flashes, and his guitar skills are advancing faster than seems possible. Even though Anders doesn’t fully understand his gifts, he’s starting to fear that some dark force is coming to collect what it is owed.

In this scene, Anders has just accepted a ride from Frankie Lynde. Frankie is another high school senior in his small town. She’s the girl everyone wants to be with—Anders included—but he’s not sure he deserves her interest. (On top of feeling like a fraud, he’s kind of a shy, thoughtful, metal nerd—not the type of guy who pursues confident, beautiful girls.) Without intending to, Frankie starts a conversation that forces Anders to confront some of his worst fears.
Learn more about the book and author at Jacqueline West's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Jacqueline West and Brom Bones (July 2011).

Coffee with a Canine: Jacqueline West and Brom Bones (July 2013).

--Marshal Zeringue