Wednesday, September 21, 2022

"Never Go Home"

Christopher Swann is a novelist and high school English teacher. A graduate of Woodberry Forest School in Virginia, he earned his Ph.D. in creative writing from Georgia State University. He has been a Townsend Prize finalist, longlisted for the Southern Book Prize, and a winner of the Georgia Author of the Year award. He lives with his wife and two sons in Atlanta, where he is the English department chair at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School.

Swann applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Never Go Home, and reported the following:
On page 69 of Never Go Home—the start of Chapter Seven—my protagonist Suzie Faulkner is waking up on her brother Ethan’s couch. She has had hard, fragmented dreams, and the clearest remaining image from her dreams is of her kneeling in a garden, pulling dead flowers out of the dirt. The dream leaves her oddly comforted; gardening is one of the few things she did with her father when she was a little girl, before her father and mother were killed in a home invasion. Suzie’s brother’s house is the closest thing to home that she knows, and page 69 is a relatively quiet moment for her in a book where a lot of dangerous things happen. While most of the book is not like this page, the scene on page 69 tells you a lot about Suzie and how she views her family.

Suzie is haunted by her parents’ deaths, and when she was a teenager she swore to find the man who killed them. Her Uncle Gavin, her sole surviving relative and an Atlanta underworld figure, raises her and helps her learn the skills she will need to find the killer. Suzie does eventually find that man. Now, in Never Go Home, with that matter resolved, Suzie has been trying to figure out what to do next, how to put her particular skill set to use, and she has decided to help find missing people, particularly children. But no matter where she travels or who she has to deal with—private contractors running child detention facilities, gangbangers, kidnappers—she always imagines the safe haven of her brother’s house, with his mini dachshund Wilson and his couch.
Visit Christopher Swann's website.

--Marshal Zeringue