Wednesday, June 30, 2021

"Walking Through Needles"

Heather Levy is a born and bred Oklahoman and graduate of Oklahoma City University's Red Earth MFA program for creative writing. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including NAILED Magazine, Crab Fat Magazine, Prick of the Spindle, and Dragon Poet Review. She authored a nonfiction series on human sexuality, including “Welcome to the Dungeon: BDSM in the Bible Belt,” for Literati Press.

Levy applied the Page 69 Test to her debut novel, Walking Through Needles, and reported the following:
On page 69 of Walking Through Needles, Eric Walker, one of my protagonists, is thinking about a recent road trip he took with my other protagonist, Eric’s stepsister Sam Mayfair, to try to track down his missing abusive father through his father’s old friend:
Four days since the drive to Sapulpa and seeing Les, and Eric still couldn’t shake the knee-drop sensation he’d experienced when Les said Vickie’s name. His mom would’ve called the sinking sensation “a knowing,” something she swore his grandmother had too.

His mom was always having knowings when he was young. There was the time she dreamed a giant crow plucked Eric from the playground and tore him in half. The next day, he fell from the monkey bars at school and split his ulna in two. The doctor said it was the cleanest break he’d ever seen. His mom had other knowings, ones that kept Eric awake at night, like her vision of her swallowing a black storm cloud. No matter how much she coughed and coughed, nothing came out until a tornado of blood ripped from her lungs and swept her away.
I can’t say that this test works to give readers a good idea of the whole work, but it’s certainly pivotal to the larger story and it gives readers a taste of the unease I wanted to create throughout the mystery part of the novel.

This page is also a good example of the subtle southern gothic elements I wanted to incorporate in the story. I was born and raised in Oklahoma, and my mom grew up believing in many superstitions. Like Eric’s mother, my mom had prophetic dreams, some of which scared the hell out of me when they came true, such as when she predicted the San Francisco earthquake of 1989.

The rest of the page not listed above shows Eric’s kindness to an older woman whose house he’s working on. The woman reminds him of Sam’s Grandma Haylin, who watched out for Eric when he was a teen.
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My Book, The Movie: Walking Through Needles.

--Marshal Zeringue