Sunday, May 2, 2021

"Girl, 11"

Amy Suiter Clarke is a writer and communications specialist. Originally from a small town in Minnesota, she completed an undergraduate in theater in the Twin Cities. She then moved to London and earned an MFA in Creative Writing with Publishing at Kingston University. She currently works for a university library in Melbourne, Australia.

Clarke applied the Page 69 Test to Girl, 11, her debut novel, and reported the following:
Girl, 11 is a story told through a mix of prose and podcast transcripts. Page 69 is partway through a podcast transcript where the main character, Elle, is interviewing the mother of a victim in the serial killer cold case she’s investigating. While it might be confusing to readers to get dropped in halfway through a transcript, I think it gives a great flavor of the novel and offers enough context that the reader could understand what the scene is about.

Here’s an excerpt:
All he did for weeks after was ask for his sister. For the first month or so, I couldn’t stop worrying about how upset he was, how devastated that she wasn’t coming home. Then, when he finally accepted it, I became terrified he would forget her entirely. Somehow, that broke my heart just as much. I had to make sure he remembered his sister, how much she loved him. So yes, we talked about her. We made sure he knew she didn’t leave him on purpose.


You took care of your son, even when no one could have blamed you for falling apart about your daughter.


Of course. We couldn’t stop being parents.


I can’t imagine the decision to speak to me was an easy one. I want you to know I’m really grateful for it. You’re the first parent who’s talked to me about their child, and even though I completely understand why no one else was able to, it’s invaluable to hear from you.
While I do love this part of the novel, and this interview in particular, I think page 69 probably isn’t the absolute best place for a browser to drop in. However, I also don’t think it’s half bad! From this, you get an idea of Elle and her interview style, you understand she’s investigating crimes against children, and you know that part of the book is told in transcript form.

One thing this page lacks is mention of the Countdown Killer, who’s the primary antagonist of the novel and the focus of Elle’s current investigation. Girl, 11 is about Elle’s obsessive chase after this notorious serial killer, whose victims were each a year younger than the last, before he abruptly stopped with an eleven-year-old victim. When she begins to publish episodes covering his case, a listener tries to tip her off about his identity, only to wind up dead before he can convey the message. Within days, a new girl is kidnapped, leading Elle to fear she has brought the killer out of hiding.

All in all, I think the page 69 test isn’t a perfect fit for my book, but it could inspire some readers to pick up their copy of Girl, 11.
Visit Amy Suiter Clarke's website.

--Marshal Zeringue