Tuesday, February 1, 2022

"Parting the Veil"

Originally from the Ozarks, Paulette Kennedy now lives with her family and their menagerie of pets in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her tending her garden and trying to catch up with the looming stack of unread books next to her bed.

Kennedy applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Parting the Veil, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“I’ve been well—but I was even better upon receiving your note, Lord Havenwood,” Eliza said, dropping a quick curtsy as her lips tilted into a flirtatious smile. “Your talent is superb, and your rendering of my countenance too kind.”

“Yes, well. Only something I dabble in when I’m feeling inspired.” Malcolm offered his arm and they walked on for a bit, following the curve of the river. Townspeople craned their necks to watch as he led them to a gazebo overlooking the water.

“People are certainly paying attention, if that’s what you wanted,” Eliza said. “We’re quite the sideshow.”

“I don’t often make public appearances. It’s much easier for me that way.” Malcolm motioned to the wrought iron benches in the middle of the gazebo. “Please sit. The barmaids from the Rose come around with ale and cider, if you’d fancy a pint.”

They sat, Malcolm facing Eliza as Lydia sank down at her side. Below, children were splashing in the shallows of the river, screaming and laughing in their play. An unbidden memory flashed through Eliza’s mind and she closed her eyes briefly against it. She took a breath to center herself, focusing on Malcolm and the way his dark hair curled so becomingly around his face.
I find the page 69 test interesting, when applied to Parting the Veil, because if a reader were to judge the book on the basis of what is on this page, they might be confused about the premise and find this excerpt a little dry. It’s funny, because in my pre-publication drafts, page 69 was much more dramatic. The transition from manuscript to published novel can significantly alter pagination—it all depends on how the publisher formats things. However, even though this scene begins quietly, it is the catalyst for the first act climax. This scene also reveals Eliza’s primary wound—and hints at her suitor’s calculating side.

As a reader myself, I find it difficult to judge a book solely on an excerpt taken from the middle. I tend to be more easily hooked (or not) by whatever is on the first page. A reader browsing for their next read and using page 69 as a litmus test might not decide to read my book. Those readers who have questions about the significance of this scene, might! It’s all subjective and comes back to the reader and their preferences.

One of the most interesting bits of feedback I’ve received is how many readers return to the beginning to reread Parting the Veil and discover the “trail of breadcrumbs” I scattered throughout the first and second acts. While some of these moments may seem insignificant, they lead to the multiple twists within the novel—some more easily guessed than others. Page 69 has a smattering of clues for readerly sleuths to add to their notebooks. And who doesn’t love solving a mystery?
Visit Paulette Kennedy's website.

--Marshal Zeringue