Friday, September 30, 2022

"The Flock"

J. Todd Scott was born in rural Kentucky and attended college and law school in Virginia, where he set aside an early ambition to write to pursue a career as a federal agent. His assignments have taken him all over the U.S and the world, but a gun and a badge never replaced his passion for stories and writing.

His previous books include The Far Empty, High White Sun, and This Side of Night in the Chris Cherry/Big Bend Series, as well as the Appalachian crime novel, Lost River.

Scott applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Flock, and reported the following:
When you open The Flock to page 69, you’re thrown right into a fictional movie “script:” supposed script pages from Fires at Dawn, a premium cable series made about the Ark of Lazarus cult. I think any casual reader would find that bewildering, but that’s part of the point, and I think an accurate reflection of the test and the book itself.

The script pages show a tense scene between Billie Laure, the book’s protagonist, and her now long-dead sister, Becca Laure.

The Flock is a collage, a traditional crime/mystery supplemented with a bevy of background epistolary material, including script pages, magazine articles, newspaper headlines, FBI reports, even a birth certificate (and a coroner’s report as well). I wanted the “history” of my fictional cult to be just as complicated and varied and nuanced and opaque as the cult itself, a puzzle rife with clues for the reader to sift through. Since Billie Laure’s story is about belief and faith, about mysteries and conspiracies, I thought turning the book’s narrative structure itself into a mystery was a unique way of weaving those ideas in thematically and organically. What is real? What can we prove? What do we believe? I knew going into it the complicated structure might prove polarizing and challenging, but for those readers willing to engage in the “hunt,” they would be rewarded with experiencing The Flock on a whole new level. As a writer, I was challenged too, trying to write in all these distinctive styles and voices, and I think The Flock “leveled up” my craft as well.

Is the Fires at Dawn script the “real” story of what happened at the Ark of Lazarus compound in March of 2015? Or is it just one more version, one more possibility, one more plausible story? What is real anyway, after the long passage of time…and the shading and changing of memories when you’re dealing with grief and trauma? These are central questions in The Flock, and I expect the answers are as varied as its readers…
Visit J. Todd Scott's website.

The Page 69 Test: High White Sun.

The Page 69 Test: This Side of Night.

The Page 69 Test: Lost River.

Q&A with J. Todd Scott.

--Marshal Zeringue