Saturday, April 23, 2022

"Last Dance on the Starlight Pier"

Sarah Bird is the author of eleven novels. Her latest, Last Dance on the Starlight Pier, is out this month from St. Martin’s Press. Set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on one woman—and a nation—struggling to be reborn from the ashes.

Bird applied the Page 69 Test to Last Dance on the Starlight Pier and reported the following:
Oh, this is fun! Except that, oop, Page 69 has exactly one word on it: “Houston.” Let me cheat and move on to page 71 where we find actual text and discover that this is a fabulous place to slice into the story since it covers a major pivot point.

My protagonist, Evie Grace Devlin, arrives at the Houston train depot “still in shock” after the short trip train she was forced to take from Galveston. She has just been expelled from her nursing school in Galveston right before she attained her dream of becoming a nurse.

This return to Houston is a huge defeat for Evie since the city represents everything she’d hoped to leave behind: a voracious, narcissistic, stage mother and the grim life and even grimmer future she would have in her slummy Houston neighborhood, Vinegar Hill.

I love that on this page, we also get a sense of the times when Evie scans a few headlines. “13 Million Out Of Work: Hoover Orders Wages/House Cut for Employed.” “Funeral Planned for Lindbergh Baby.” “German Nazis Assault Journalists.”

Obviously, I think the Page 69 Test works superbly for my novel. It catches my protagonist at just the moment when her world has crumbled and she must either accept her defeat or keep struggling for a better life free of her suffocating mother.

Page 69 is where Evie Grace begins her journey through the astonishing world of the dance marathons. It is in Houston that she connects with a marathon promoter, is hired as a nurse, and meets the world of vivid characters who will, eventually help her find what she thinks she needs: her nursing degree. Along the way, they will also give her what she truly needs most in life: her family of choice.
Visit Sarah Bird's website.

Q&A with Sarah Bird.

--Marshal Zeringue