Wednesday, July 29, 2020

"Marah Chase and the Fountain of Youth"

Jay Stringer was born in 1980, and he’s not dead yet. He’s the author of crime fiction, action thrillers, and dark comedies. Stringer’s work has been shortlisted for two Anthonys, the McIlvanney Prize, and a Derringer award. He is dyslexic and learned the sound of storytelling long before he could read the words.

Stringer applied the Page 69 Test to his latest book, Marah Chase and the Fountain of Youth, and reported the following:
In Marah Chase and the Fountain of Youth, rogue archaeologist Marah Chase is in a race to find the mythical Fountain before a group of modern Nazis, who want the water to further their eugenics plan.

Page 69 takes up mid-conversation, between Marah Chase and soda billionaire Lauren Stanford, who has summoned Chase to a meeting to talk about the Fountain of Youth. On page 68 they discuss the myth that Ponce de León went in search of the fountain…
“Except he didn’t. Historians have found no genuine mention of the fountain, or the pool, in any of de León’s writings, or any other documents from the time. There’s nothing at all to suggest he’d even heard of it. The best we can figure, the next generation of politicians, wanting to consolidate their own power, created the story to make him look like a gullible fool who’d been tricked by natives. It’s just an old political smear job, passed into myth.”

Lauren nodded. She sipped her drink, looking like she was processing everything Chase had said. “That’s all good so far. But where did they get the myth from? These politicians, when they were looking to make Ponce de León look like an idiot, why did they choose the Fountain of Youth? How would it resonate as a fool’s errand if it wasn’t already a legend?”

Chase blinked. Once, twice. She’d underestimated Lauren.

“Good question,” she said. “The idea of some kind of magical well, or water, is a lot older than the settling of America. Lots of cultures have a version of it. Europe, Africa, Asia. It’s a pretty basic idea. One of the first things we learned as a species was to equate water with life. But by de León’s time, it was already known to be a myth. It would be like if one of our politicians now suddenly went all-out searching for Atlantis.”

Lauren’s I-don’t-believe-you smile returned. “Or the Ark of the Covenant?”

Caught off guard, Chase fumbled as she said, “Exactly.” How much did they know?
This is an interesting page to look at, very revealing of the book, while also not being representative. There’s no action here. No jokes. Chase’s attitude doesn’t come through. We don’t see Chase’s main rival, August Nash, and there’s no mention of her partner in the mission, Hass, who is trans, Muslim, and happy to kick Nazi butt.

At the same time, this is the “mission briefing” chapter. If this were a Bond film, it’s the point where Bond sits down to be given his new task by M. Any reader turning to page 69 would see the plot of the novel being set up, the overt goal being set in place, and some of the underlying tensions and mysteries that drive the story.

My book opens with a mini-mission. Chase and her rival, August Nash, compete to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant from its hiding place. Following that, Nash is recruited by a shadowy black market fixer for a new job, and Chase heads home to New York, where she is summoned to meet with soda billionaire Lauren Stanford. In this chapter, Lauren is hiring Chase to go after the Fountain of Youth, which Chase doesn’t believe is real. But beneath the surface of this conversation are other secrets, both characters are holding back, and we see what they are withholding as the story unfolds.
Visit Jay Stringer's website.

Q&A with Jay Stringer.

My Book, The Movie: Marah Chase and the Fountain of Youth.

--Marshal Zeringue