Wednesday, February 10, 2021

"A Tip for the Hangman"

Allison Epstein earned her M.F.A. in fiction from Northwestern University and a B.A. in creative writing and Renaissance literature from the University of Michigan. A Michigan native, she now lives in Chicago, where she works as a copywriter. When not writing, she enjoys good theater, bad puns, and fancy jackets.

Epstein applied the Page 69 Test to A Tip for the Hangman, her first novel, and reported the following:
Page 69 of A Tip for the Hangman finds Kit, our protagonist and brand-new spy, passing his first report to his supervisor. Kit has just gotten wind that two people with no great love for Queen Elizabeth—Mary Stuart and King Philip of Spain—may be plotting together to unseat her. However, Kit accidentally reveals that his cover might not be as strong as he hoped, which doesn’t exactly thrill his supervisor.

I’d say this page is a pretty accurate representation of the novel! It’s a lovely coincidence that page 69 contains Kit’s summation of his findings to this point. The conspiracy between Mary and Philip is the driving threat through the first half of the book, so a skimmer would definitely know what they were in for.

It’s also a good illustration of how much growth Kit has to do as a character and a spy. He’s been in the profession just weeks at this stage, and while he’s proud of the information he has to report, he’s much more at risk than he knows. Throughout the book, the reader will see Kit evolve from the brash, overconfident young man we see here to a more experienced spy, one who knows what even the smallest mistake can cost.

Finally this page is representative of another aspect of the book that I love dearly: Kit’s utter inability to keep his mouth shut. Kit’s report is equal parts useful information and petty sniping, and even in this critical interaction with his superiors he chooses to pick a fight. This hotheadedness is, of course, a terrible quality in a spy, but Kit wouldn’t be Kit without it.
Visit Allison Epstein's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Tip for the Hangman.

--Marshal Zeringue