Sunday, June 21, 2020

"The Mountains Wild"

Sarah Stewart Taylor is the author of the Sweeney St. George series and the Maggie D'arcy series. She grew up on Long Island, and was educated at Middlebury College in Vermont and Trinity College, Dublin, where she studied Irish Literature. She has worked as a journalist and writing teacher and now lives with her family on a farm in Vermont where they raise sheep and grow blueberries.

Taylor applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Mountains Wild, and reported the following:
Readers opening The Mountains Wild to page 69 will find a description of the first meeting between my main character, Maggie D'arcy, and an Irish Garda detective named Roly Byrne who will help Maggie try to track down her cousin Erin, who has gone missing after a last-minute trip to the Wicklow Mountains. Erin, an American like Maggie, has been living in Dublin and disappeared more than a week before this scene takes place.
The door slammed open and a young guy, only a few years older than me, with a thatch of blond hair and a sharp, hawky face, burst through it as though he'd been at a full run on the other side. He was wearing a dark suit that fit him well and he stopped in front of me. There was so much energy behind him that when he stopped, he swayed a bit on his black leather wingtips.
This scene is actually a great window into the novel, since the relationship -- a working partnership and eventually a close friendship -- between Maggie and Roly will be one of the most important of the book, and of what I hope will be a long series. The Mountains Wild is told in two time periods. The above excerpt is from 1993, when Maggie first goes to Ireland to try to find Erin. Her efforts bear no fruit, but twenty three years later, in 2016, Roly and his team find new evidence in Erin's case while looking for a newly missing woman, and Maggie, now a homicide detective, returns to see if she can find out once and for all what happened to Erin. Her friendship with Roly, who is now head of a Garda cold case squad, will both offer her unusual access to the investigation and also cause problems for them both.

When I was writing this scene, I knew that I needed to pin down Roly's energy in this first meeting. He is restless, sometimes, abrupt, cheerful, a bit vain. I wanted all of these things to come across to Maggie. She is assessing him here as the professional who will either find or not find her beloved cousin, but even though she's not a detective yet, she has a detective's mind and she's trying to learn all she can about him at this first impression.

So, as it turns out, page 69 is an excellent window into my book, and in particular, this essential personal and professional twosome.
Visit Sarah Stewart Taylor's website.

--Marshal Zeringue