Thursday, October 15, 2020

"Spindlefish and Stars"

Christiane M. Andrews grew up in rural New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine, on the edges of mountains and woods and fields and sometimes even the sea. A writing and literature instructor, she lives with her husband and son and a small clutch of animals on an old New Hampshire hilltop farm.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Spindlefish and Stars, her first novel, and reported the following:
Page 69 finds Clo, the main character of Spindlefish and Stars, walking down a village street “hemmed in on all sides by…little shacks, themselves crammed in a motley jumble of doors and walls and windows,” while people follow her, whispering and pointing, “Mrmrmrm! Mrmrmrm!” Alone and afraid, she is not sure where she is meant to go or what she is meant to do—“Clo, who had lived her whole life in the shadows, found here no shadows in which to hide”—but one of the villagers indicates a hut at the end of the street. When Clo questions, “Here?” all the crowd nods and points and murmurs in excitement. The page ends as she reaches the little house and raises her hand to knock on the door.

I think the page 69 test works fairly well here! While I’m not sure that readers, flipping to this page, would get a sense of the overall storyline, they would glimpse a key moment and gain a window into the main character’s vulnerability. Clo has been brought to this gray island village by a ticket of “half-paffage” that her father, now missing, left for her. Though the murmuring strangers on the island (including the old apple-faced woman who will open the door), seem to have been expecting her, she will unfortunately not find her father here. Instead, she will shortly be locked away and forced into gruesome chores with the island’s fish.

By this point in the story, Clo has—unknowingly—already entered into a different world, but this doorway presents another liminal moment, not dissimilar to the door-knocking moments in fairytales that mark the transition from the real to the magical. She will be crossing into the mythic realm, but also into a place that will propel her own—very human—transformation as she comes to re-evaluate and regret her isolated life “in shadows.”
Visit Christiane M. Andrews's website.

My Book, The Movie: Spindlefish and Stars.

--Marshal Zeringue