Friday, November 1, 2019

"Run, Hide, Fight Back"

New York Times-bestselling author April Henry knows how to kill you in a two-dozen different ways. She makes up for a peaceful childhood in an intact home by killing off fictional characters. There was one detour on April's path to destruction: when she was 12 she sent a short story about a six-foot tall frog who loved peanut butter to noted children's author Roald Dahl. He liked it so much he showed it to his editor, who asked if she could publish it in an international children's magazine. By the time she was in her 30s, Henry had started writing about hit men, kidnappers, and drug dealers. She has published 24 mysteries and thrillers for teens and adults, with more to come. She is known for meticulously researching her novels to get the details right.

Henry applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Run, Hide, Fight Back, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“I just want to find my sister. She’s seven and wearing a red coat.”

The other man shrugs one shoulder. His expressionless face gleams with sweat. “Haven’t seen her.” He gestures with his chin. “What’s going on out there?”

“We’re all trapped between the doors and that security gate they pulled across. One of them is inside the gate and two are outside. All of them have automatic rifles. They made some people press up against the doors, facing out. It’s supposed to make the police think twice about coming in.” Parker looks at the guy’s gleaming head and the jacket straining against his biceps. “Are you a cop?”

“No.” He doesn’t offer any other explanation.

“What’re you going to do? You have to stop them before they kill anyone else.”

The other man answers through gritted teeth. “Be realistic. If I go out there, I’ll just get mowed down. I might get one or maybe, if I’m really lucky, two, but there’s at least three of them.” He shakes his head. “I’m going to stay put. This way, I control the space, not them. And if anyone comes in, I’ll be the one who decides who lives or dies.” He nudges the back of Parker’s head with the side of the gun. “So go on, get out of here. And good luck finding your sister. If I were you, once you do, I would try and find your own space to hide. Out there, you’re just one of the herd. And they’re looking for animals to cull.”
What if the high-stakes drama of Die Hard met the varied cast of Breakfast Club? That idea and real-life events like the 2013 attack on Kenya’s Westgate Shopping Mall were the inspiration behind Run, Hide, Fight Back. In it, six teens end up trapped in a shopping mall after a mass shooting.

In real life, such shootings often end quickly. Since Columbine, police have been trained to confront shooters as soon as possible. But I needed time for my fictional teens—which include a jock, an addict, a Muslim, a cancer patient, an undocumented immigrant and a teen from a military family—to decide whether to run, hide or fight back. Spoiler alert: they do all three.

In this scene, Parker, a state champion wrestler, is desperately searching for his seven-year-old sister. The part about making hostages press up against the window is actually something that really happened in a robbery and hostage taking in 1991.

The book explores how much people will pull together and how they will pull apart under stress.
Learn more about the book and author at April Henry's website.

--Marshal Zeringue