Friday, July 29, 2022

"Wake of War"

Zac Topping grew up in Eastern Connecticut where, contrary to popular belief, it's not all trust funds and yacht clubs. He spent his formative years on the move, as some do, and it was in the fifth grade where he found an outlet for his active imagination through writing. After high school he joined the United States Army where he served in an artillery unit out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina for four and a half years with two tours in Iraq. He eventually found his way home to New England where he attended college and rediscovered his love of writing. To call it an obsession would be an understatement.

Topping currently lives with his wife in a quiet farm town in Connecticut, and is a fire fighter for the city he grew up in.

He applied the Page 69 Test to Wake of War, his first novel, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“Sir, you might want to come see this.”

Ned Sellers pinched the bridge of his nose, then begrudgingly closed the laptop in front of him. “I’m not accustomed to being interrupted in my office.”

“We need you at the gate, sir,” Markus said. “There’s someone here.”

“Who is it?”

“The RF, sir.”

Sellers’ mouth opened then snapped shut. For a moment, a look of growing panic tried to command his features, but it was gone and in its place the arrogant confidence of a corporate executive.

Markus escorted Sellers to the Prowler parked outside the headquarters building and drove him across the compound to the gate that opened onto New Bingham Highway. Reyes was already there in the guard tower with a few of his men, rifles at the low ready.

As Markus pulled to a stop, Reyes split off from his men and came over to help Sellers out. He ignored Markus.

Sellers was cinching his tie and looking around. “Where are they?”

“They’re outside,” Markus said. “We didn’t want to let them in for security reasons.”

“How many?” Sellers asked.

“Just one truck,” Reyes said. “An envoy. They want to talk. Figured we’d wait for you.”

“Very well,” Sellers said straightening his suit jacket.

Markus unlocked the pistol in his drop holster and wrenched the access door open. Reyes flashed some hand signals to his guys on the wall and joined Markus and Sellers. They stepped through.

Barren fields stretched out before them toward the Copperton slums in the distance. A warm breeze carried the stench of rot and smoke from the city. The eastern mountains reached up from the horizon and Markus couldn’t help but feel boxed in, like the entire valley was some kind of stage. Or arena.
I have to say, the Page 69 Test for Wake of War works really well. This page is the opening of Chapter 10, where a representative of the rebel army has come down out of the mountains to try and make a deal with the CEO of a valuable mining complex as the government military closes in. Markus, a private security contractor tasked with protecting the CEO, must escort the naive corporate executive during this potentially explosive meeting outside the gates of their secured compound.

This scene encapsulates the rising tension that lives at the core of the book. It hints at danger, and the coming fight, and showcases a few different characters with conflicting personalities.
Visit Zac Topping's website.

--Marshal Zeringue