Thursday, November 17, 2022

"Never Name the Dead"

Like her protagonist Mud, D.M. Rowell (Koyh Mi O Boy Dah) comes from a long line of Kiowa Storytellers. After a thirty-two-year career spinning stories for Silicon Valley startups and corporations with a few escapes creating award-winning independent documentaries, Rowell started a new chapter writing mysteries that share information about her Plains Indian tribe, the Kiowas.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Never Name the Dead, and reported the following:
This was an interesting test. I’d heard of it in passing, but had never applied it to a book I was considering. I have to take a moment to enjoy the fact that I am applying the test to a novel I wrote—Surreal! Okay, back to page 69 and applying the test to my novel, Never Name the Dead.

A little background on the novel:

After ten years away and building a successful technology-driven marketing agency, my protagonist, Mud is called back to her childhood home in and around the former Kiowa, Comanche, Apache Reservation in Oklahoma by her Kiowa grandfather. He leaves a cryptic message that propels Mud into action. Expecting her grandfather at the airport, Mud is concerned when he cannot be contacted or found. Concern deepens when a tribe legislator and administrator shows up at the airport looking for her grandfather and hinting at something wrong. Taking an offered ride, Mud must later escape a tribe elder with evil intent before finally arriving at her grandfather’s house in the midst of a thunderstorm.

On page 69 Mud discovers a body in her grandfather’s work room. Browsers would read about Mud’s initial numb reaction to the discovery of the body, while also getting a hint of the Kiowa customs mixed within my mystery novel.

From the page:
Only then did I realize I was still holding what must be the murder weapon—Grandpa’s buffalo jawbone club. I threw it from me. It landed with a thump by the desk.

My hands shook.

Lightning flashed, drawing my gaze to the window’s rain-streaked pane. Without thought, I walked to the single-pane window, reached with still trembling hands to pull the lower sash upward, letting in the acrid sharp aroma of ozone while allowing the spirit of the dead man to escape. Rain splattered the window sill. I didn’t care.

Unseeing, I looked out the window, took a deep breath, mentally recited the Wind Walker prayer.
Reading just page 69, browsers would not get a sense of the story’s pace or depth. My novel is a brisk mystery. The story from beginning to end takes place in less than 24-hours. Once Mud arrives at Lawton, Oklahoma airport the adventure takes off at a rapid clip. Mud’s adventure is non-stop from her grandfather’s ominous phone call to the ending showdown at a Tribal Council meeting.

I believe that reading page 69 does give browsers a taste of the Native American mystery that awaits, just not a sampling of the pace of Mud’s adventure, or the twists and turns of the puzzle.
Visit D. M. Rowell's website.

My Book, The Movie: Never Name the Dead.

Q&A with D. M. Rowell.

--Marshal Zeringue