Sunday, June 14, 2020

"The Sight of You"

Holly Miller works as a copywriter and lives in Norfolk, England.

She applied the Page 69 Test to The Sight of You, her American debut, and reported the following:
On page 69 of the US version of The Sight Of You, it’s Halloween, and my protagonist Joel is talking to Melissa, a girl he’s been seeing on and off. They are heading to the corner shop together to buy sweets for trick-or-treaters, and Melissa is teasing Joel about being uptight because she’s dressed up for the occasion, and Joel is not.

Once at the corner shop, Melissa heads off to locate the confectionery, and Joel takes the opportunity to stock up on some essentials, whereupon he bumps into Callie, the girl he’s met recently and can’t stop thinking about.

I think this test works very well for The Sight Of You! All his life till now, Joel has kept love at arm’s length, which I think could be gleaned from his interaction with Melissa on this page. The reader gets a decent snapshot of Joel via their conversation here – he is reserved and slightly aloof (albeit with a dry sense of humour). Contrast this with his reaction when he sees Callie further down the page – “a voice, gentle as a breeze” and “a smile that still hasn’t left my head” – and the reader can begin to detect how much he likes Callie, that this relationship is wholly different to the one he has with Melissa.

There is also a useful insight into how well Joel looks after himself at the start of the novel from the contents of his hand basket – “cans and things in packets suit me fine”, an issue which becomes more significant as the book progresses.

I definitely think this test would give a reader an overall flavour of the tone and style of The Sight Of You, and is a pretty good example of what they can expect from the rest of the novel. I wanted to weave in touches of humour throughout, so the heavier sections don’t overshadow the story. (There are definitely some sad, more heart-breaking passages in this book, but I think page 69 is a fair reflection of the lighter segments.) Ultimately, The Sight Of You is a story about true love, and the bravery it sometimes takes to love another person, and though this page isn’t one of the defining scenes of the story, I think it does give a good impression of the way Callie turns Joel’s head – and of the person he is before he meets her. Without giving too much away, Joel changes as a person by the end of the book, and this page is an excellent reflection of who he was ‘before’.
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Q&A with Holly Miller.

--Marshal Zeringue