Tuesday, July 9, 2019

"Secret Soldiers"

Keely Hutton is a novelist, educational journalist, and former teacher. She is the recipient of the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop scholarship at Chautauqua. She has worked closely with Ricky Richard Anywar to tell his story in her first novel, Soldier Boy.

Hutton applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Secret Soldiers, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Chapter 8

Bagger led the boys back to their dugout, where the three men they’d left sleeping now sat around their makeshift table, drinking tea, smoking, and playing cards.

“’Bout time you got back, Bagger,” said a large man. He had long auburn sideburns, a scattering of teeth, and no neck said. His voice grated through his throat like a spade against gravel. “Where’s Max?”

“He’s running messages,” Bagger replied.

“Command better not wear him out. We need him well rested for later.”

“Don’t you worry about Max. He’ll be ready.”

“He better be.” The large man motioned to the empty chair beside him. “We’re getting ready to play Pontoon. You in?”

“No chance, Mole. You chaps took all my earnings last time we played. I’ve got nothin’ to wager.”
Page 69 of Secret Soldiers kicks off Chapter 8 and Thomas and the boys’ introduction to the clay kickers, a specialized crew of soldiers, whom the boys will be shadowing on a secret mission in the tunnels beneath no man’s land. On page 69, the crew leader, Bagger, takes the boys into the crew’s dugout, where they will sleep and eat between shifts hauling spoil out of the tunnels. In the dugout, they meet the crew’s kicker, Mole, a “rough-around-the-edges” tunneller who dug sewers beneath Manchester before he and Bagger were recruited by the British Army to dig secret tunnels under the Western Front. Page 69 captures the camaraderie between Bagger and Mole, a bond of trust which Thomas and the boys will have to form in order to survive their mission and the war. The dialogue between Bagger and Mole on page 69 also sets the stage for readers and the boys to meet Max. The mystery of the valuable, yet unseen crew member is solved a couple chapters later when Thomas and the boys finally meet Max and discover the many roles he plays for the British Army and the crew both in and under the Allied trenches.
Visit Keely Hutton's website.

The Page 69 Test: Soldier Boy.

My Book, The Movie: Soldier Boy.

--Marshal Zeringue