Monday, December 28, 2020

"Give Way to Night"

Cass Morris works as an educator in central Virginia and as a bookseller on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She holds a Master of Letters from Mary Baldwin University and a BA in English with a minor in history from the College of William and Mary. She reads voraciously, wears corsets voluntarily, and will beat you at MarioKart.

Morris applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Give Way to Night, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Give Way to Night is the first page of Chapter Seven, bringing the reader to Gades in southern Iberia (modern-day Cádiz, Spain). Lucretius Rabirus is arriving in the province with his legion, and he’s not terribly pleased about it:
Lucretius Rabirus disliked travel.

He had never seen the point in it. Oh, going to his various country estates dotted around Truscum was one thing. None were more than a few days from the great city of Aven, and he had many comfortable options for staying the night along the way, whether with friends or at posting houses of excellent reputation. Once arrived, he could enjoy the same comforts as he did in his domus in Aven: furniture he had chosen himself, his own clothes, his own books, food prepared by his own cooks, the attendance of his own docile slaves. His wife and son, if he desired their company; solitude, if he did not, for they could easily be left in Aven or packed off to a different estate.

Familiarity, in his consideration, was a vastly underrated concept.
As his ship approaches the shore, Rabirus muses on his prior military service, spent in “a city of decent, civilized people” and shudders to contemplate what life will be like “practically at the end of the world.”

This test would give a reader quite a good idea of my antagonist, who is not a very pleasant character -- though I suppose I would have to hope the reader realized that’s who they were being introduced to! I would certainly be dismayed if anyone mistook Rabirus’s voice as representative of the book’s overall tone and outlook. I think, then, that the test yields a mixed result for Give Way to Night: excellent for one character, but possibly misleading for the book as a whole.

The page sets up Rabirus’s worldview in a nutshell: what is known is good; what is unknown is dangerous. He likes a world he can control, and this page certainly reflects that. This page also hints at the broader conflict between him and my protagonists as they struggle for the soul of their nation, although it mentions none of the protags by name. Rabirus is of the Optimate faction: isolationist, conventional, valuing tradition over innovation. His opponents, my protagonists, are expansionist and egalitarian, curious about the broader world, eager to incorporate new ideas and influences. Rabirus took this posting in Gades mostly to spite one of his political foes, and I think that bitterness comes across on page 69, too! He made a choice he felt was necessary, but he resents it.
Visit Cass Morris's website.

My Book, The Movie: Give Way to Night.

Q&A with Cass Morris.

--Marshal Zeringue