Saturday, October 14, 2023

"For Girls Who Walk through Fire"

Kim DeRose writes dark, magical stories about strong, magical girls.

She grew up in Santa Barbara, California, where she spent childhood summers reading books and writing stories (which she was convinced her local bookstore would publish). She now lives in New York City, where she spends all seasons reading books and writing stories.

DeRose earned her MFA in film directing from UCLA, and currently works in digital media.

When she’s not reading or writing she can be found listening to podcasts on long walks, drinking endless cups of coffee, and spending time with her family.

DeRose applied the Page 69 Test to For Girls Who Walk Through Fire, her debut novel, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“Which guy do you want to take?”

“I’ll take the one with the surfer hair,” Madeline answered, applying a final coat of lipstick before tucking the tube away in her dainty purse. “Trevor, or whatever.”

“Sweet, I’ll take the faux-hawk,” Elliott answered in a jokey frat boy voice. But Madeline didn’t react. Elliott could see she was visibly anxious but also trying to remain calm. “Do you know people here, or something?”

“What?” Madeline glanced over at her. “At the party? No. I mean, I don’t think so.” She ran a hand over her hair. “I don’t know.”

“Well, are you sure you’re cool with doing this? Because we could always get—”

“I’m fine,” Madeline assured her crisply, tossing back her hair.

“Hey.” Elliott put a hand on Madeline’s shoulder to make her stop. “Those people in there? Whatever you’re worried they’re thinking? Fuck them.”

Madeline rolled her eyes, like, Oh sure, because it’s that easy.

“No, seriously,” insisted Elliott, looking Madeline dead in the eye. “You are a goddamn witch now.” She held up her right palm as a reminder. “So. Fuck. Them.”

This time Madeline took in her words. She nodded, then shook herself out a little. “Okay. Let’s just get this over with as fast as possible.”

A sentiment Elliott fully agreed with; she had zero interest in sticking around at some lame-ass rich kid’s high school party.

Though if she was honest with herself? She was also a little nervous. And her pep talk hadn’t been solely for Madeline. Chloe was right, this wasn’t Elliott’s scene. Being around private school kids always made her self-conscious, like she wasn’t as good or as smart…
I think page 69 gives readers a fairly good sense of the book—though some key elements are missing.

In this scene we have our protagonist, Elliott, and her first coven recruit, Madeline, getting ready to enter a high school party on behalf of another coven member, Chloe. This scene makes clear that it’s a big deal for both Elliott and Madeline to be setting out on this endeavor, though they each have very different reasons for their anxiety.

This scene also makes clear that they’ve recently become witches, and that being part of a coven is going to give them a much-needed sense of comradery and belonging.

Lastly, the scene hints at the book’s core premise: that these girls are using witchcraft to take guys down. But that last part is truly just a hint. Which guy do you want to take? An echo of what our coven has undoubtedly heard many guys say about girls as they enter a party.

What this scene doesn’t reveal is that the coven is freshly formed, that the girls barely know one another—they’ve sat together in the same sexual assault support group but are virtual strangers—and that Elliott has brought them together to unlock the power within The Book of Reflection (a spell book she found in her late mother’s belongings) with the sole purpose of getting revenge.

Readers also won’t know that this scene is quite important; it’s the lead up to the coven performing their first spell.

And will the spell work? Will the coven find what they are seeking? And, if so, will there be any sort of karmic impact or ramifications, or will they skip away unscathed and guilt-free? You’ll just have to read the book to find out.
Visit Kim DeRose's website.

Q&A with Kim DeRose.

--Marshal Zeringue