Friday, May 27, 2022

"Exit Strategy"

Linda L. Richards is a journalist, photographer and the author of numerous books, including three series of novels featuring strong female protagonists. She is the former publisher of Self-Counsel Press and the founder and publisher of January Magazine.

Richards applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Exit Strategy, and reported the following:
From page 69:
There was more of this: bullshit words intended to help people who feel they are missing essential pieces find the parts of themselves they don’t have easy access to. “Everything you have dreamed about is possible. Everything desired can be yours.”

I sit there for a minute, letting the words sink in.

Everything desired can be yours.

Not everything.

Inexplicably, I feel an old sadness choke my heart, but it doesn’t last long. Then I push it aside. It’s a feeling that can drown you if you let it. I know. I’ve nearly drowned here before.
I’m so disappointed this time! It has been my honor on several occasions in the past to do the Page 69 Test and it has always provided a magically accurate snapshot of the book under discussion. This time? Nada. On page 69 of Exit Strategy we’re basically (metaphorically) in traffic: we’re at one place and heading another. If you read it in isolation (and don’t feel you need to) it doesn’t give any real insight to the rest of the book.

Except. When I think about it, it hints at the darkness of spirit we find the protagonist in this time. The sort of hopelessness that has come to her when she thinks about what has happened to her; when she considers her past and tries to get a hint about what’s ahead. Or even, is anything ahead? There are times in Exit Strategy when she contemplates that, as well. She thinks maybe she’s come too far. That there might not be a future for her at all.

I think Exit Strategy might be my darkest book yet. A lot of early readers have described the book as cerebral, and I guess that’s true. The action in the book focuses on a new kind of assignment: she’s supposed to protect, not kill the brilliant and beautiful CTO of a unicorn company. So that’s the main thread. Subplots focus on our protagonist, where she is spiritually. The book fills in a bit more of her backstory, too. And some of that backstory fills in the darkness. In a very beautiful review, the novelist Clea Simon described Exit Strategy’s main character as “wounded, laconic, and utterly irresistible.” Wounded and laconic? Yes. And nearly broken. And that’s just book two!
Visit Linda L. Richards's website.

My Book, The Movie: Endings.

The Page 69 Test: Endings.

Q&A with Linda L. Richards.

Writers Read: Linda L. Richards.

--Marshal Zeringue