Wednesday, November 15, 2023

"A Very Inconvenient Scandal"

Jacquelyn Mitchard is the New York Times bestselling author of 23 novels for adults and teenagers, and the recipient of Great Britain’s Talkabout prize, The Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson awards, and named to the short list for the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Her newest novel, A Very Inconvenient Scandal, the story of Frankie Attleboro, an acclaimed young underwater photographer reeling from her mother’s shocking death, whose famous marine biologist father shatters the family by marrying Frankie’s best friend, is out from Mira/HarperCollins.

Mitchard applied the Page 69 Test to A Very Inconvenient Scandal and reported the following:
From page 69:
“We’ve been talking that over,” Penn said.

“I know,” Ellabella said delightedly. “I was listening! I couldn’t bear to interrupt you!”

“And so?”

“I wanted to give this to Ariel.”

“That’s very nice,” Frankie said. “You can leave it with us.”

“I’ll just bring it to the wedding. Want to be my date, Penn? I’m currently single, as of May, the first divorced kid on the block. But you’ll have official duties, I suppose. I’ll just have to be a wallflower at the beach club. I’m a journalist now,” she said as she turned to Frankie, “as you may know. I work for the Coast Chronicle. The magazine. Do you read it?”

“I was in Scotland. Before that, Egypt. I don’t think they stock it at Al-Mahmal.”

“I’ll be the editor soon, when Liesel retires. If I can bear that. For my sins. Then The Atlantic…right? But right now, she wants me to do a feature about you and your art…well, your photos.”

About to cut this off gambit without an explanation, Frankie reconsidered. Publicity was publicity. In a wildly competitive media marketplace, the more people who saw her pictures, the better. How much of a scandal could Ellabella cause, even with her pen dipped in curare, writing a story about someone who took pictures of fish? A couple of months from now, the scandal of Mack’s marriage, if scandal it was, would be stale gossip. Still, Mack was who he was, and his influence on her own career was undeniable.
The test worked well! From page 69 of A Very Inconvenient Scandal, you do get a pretty decent idea of what the story is about. The major players are in action and the central conflict, the imminent marriage of Frankie’s widowed 60-year-old father Mack to her best friend, Ariel, is in plain sight.

The reader learns about Frankie, recently returned from the far-flung destinations where her job takes her and that her job is underwater photography. The location, while never stated, is Frankie’s family home, where her younger brother, Penn, still lives with their father.

There’s also a peripheral character, Ellabella, Frankie’s high-school nemesis, doing a magazine story. Ellabella is a mean girl who is really a vulnerable girl with a moat around her emotions. She becomes a force as Frankie digs into the mysteries that surround the past, particularly about Ariel’s deadbeat mother, Carlotta, back after a ten-year absence and possibly up to no good. Frankie’s character, a mixture of paranoid and practical, is clearly evident.

My agent loves to say that the DNA of the story has to be on every single page of a novel; and I think that this page illustrates that rule!
Visit Jacquelyn Mitchard's website.

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The Page 69 Test: Two If by Sea.

The Page 69 Test: The Good Son.

Q&A with Jacquelyn Mitchard.

My Book, The Movie: The Good Son.

Writers Read: Jacquelyn Mitchard.

--Marshal Zeringue