Sunday, October 15, 2017

"The Prague Sonata"

Bradford Morrow is the author of nine books of fiction, including the novels Trinity Fields, Giovanni’s Gift, The Forgers, and most recently, The Prague Sonata. The founding editor of Conjunctions, he teaches at Bard College and lives in New York City.

Morrow applied the Page 69 Test to The Prague Sonata and reported the following:
The Page 69 Test never worked better for any of my novels than it does for The Prague Sonata. On this page my protagonist, Meta Taverner, must make a decision that will dramatically affect the rest of her life. The year is 2000 and Meta has just turned thirty. As a birthday present—an admittedly unusual one—Meta’s best friend who works as a hospice nurse puts her in touch with Irena, a dying Czech who left war-ravaged Prague after World War II and resettled in Queens, New York. With her she brought one part of an anonymous eighteenth-century piano sonata in three movements, a manuscript her friend Otylie BartoŇ°ov√° had broken up in order to make it worthless to the Nazis who were confiscating—read: stealing—any cultural artifacts they could get their hands on. As Irena explained when Meta visited the old woman in Queens, Otylie kept one part for herself; gave another part to her husband, who disappeared into the underground resistance; and placed the remaining pages into Irena’s hands. Otylie’s assumption was that when the war was over they would all reunite and the sonata would be restored as well. But they never saw each other again.

After Irena passes the manuscript along to Meta, an aspiring musicologist who had to abandon her promising concert piano career due to an accident that injured her hand, the young woman must decide whether to leave behind her settled life with her lawyer boyfriend, Jonathan, and go to Prague in search of the missing movements. Page 69 is the portrait of her working through these questions toward a resolution:
The new, strange Meta went surreptitiously to the Cooper Station post office to renew her passport without a concrete travel date in mind. The normal, familiar Meta made sure that when Jonathan’s case was thrown out of court, she organized a private victory party for the younger attorneys in the firm at a local bar managed by a friend. Between giving piano lessons, she spent two days in her small kitchen preparing platters of hors d’oeuvres and elaborate finger foods for the celebration. After Jonathan left for work, the new Meta set about meticulously copying the sonata manuscript at her desk like some secular sofer writing out the Torah. And though she also had a friend make high-resolution scans of each page, which she then printed out on art paper that approximated the weight and color of the original, and even went to the unnecessary length of typing the composition into a Sibelius computer program, she knew that by writing it out in her own hand she would forge a more intimate connection with the heart and mind of its maker. Just as painters often honed their art by copying the masters, many composers copied out works of their mentors as a means of getting closer to the music, note by note, measure by measure. So why not she?
Further along on this page, the reader sees Meta devouring books on sonata theory and poring over unrecorded scores from the period, as neither she nor her mentor recognize the undeniably masterful and beautiful music set down in the manuscript. Simply put, she becomes obsessed with the task of trying to locate the other movements. The pivotal action that happens on page 69 shows our protagonist at the very beginning of a quest that will take her to Prague, Vienna, London, and eventually back to America’s midwest as she attempts to discover the rest of the Prague sonata, as well as her deeper self.
Learn more about the book and author at Bradford Morrow's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Diviner’s Tale.

The Page 69 Test: The Forgers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 13, 2017

"Gray Wolf Island"

Tracey Neithercott’s first book was written by hand and illustrated with some really fancy colored pencils. It was highly acclaimed by her mother. Now she spends her days as a magazine editor and her nights writing stories about friendship, love, murder, and magic. (None of which she illustrates—you’re welcome.) She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, who suggests improving her novels by adding lightsabers.

Neithercott applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Gray Wolf Island, and reported the following:
Gray Wolf Island’s about a treasure hunt, but it’s not about a treasure hunt. It’s about friendship and guilt and grief—and I’m so pleased to see all of that (plus a hint at the plot) is on page 69.

In this scene, main character Ruby is asking her parents for permission to go on a treasure hunt on nearby Gray Wolf Island. It starts with Ruby’s mom acknowledging Ruby’s grief over losing her twin sister:
“I know how much she wanted this for you. I want this for you.”
From there, the scene moves on to Ruby’s guilt over [insert spoilery thing]:
I can’t look at her with all that love just spilling over, everything I don’t deserve puddling in the space between us.
And then it tackles the friendship—and the fact that at first Ruby is resistant to it:
My mom leans forward, squeezes my hand. “I would have hated to see you miss out simply because you can’t go alone.”

“I can go alone,” I say.

“No, you can’t.” I open my mouth, but she cuts me off before I can respond. “That was an order, not a challenge.”
In the final line, the page touches on what the book is about:
“We’re not camping,” I say. “We’re going to find the Gray Wolf Island treasure.”
I hope anyone who randomly flips to that page gets a feel for some of the themes and is intrigued by the plot—and whether they’ll find a treasure at all.
Visit Tracey Neithercott's website.

My Book, The Movie: Gray Wolf Island.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"Death on Tap"

Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. She is the author of the popular Bakeshop Mysteries.

Alexander applied the Page 69 Test to Death on Tap, her first Sloan Krause Mystery, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“Mac. Don’t do this.” I put my hands on my hips. “You know exactly who I’m talking about. I can’t believe you would bring her here—tonight. That’s low. Even for you.”

“Who, Hayley?” He pulled a silver lighter with his initials monogramed on the front from his back pocket and flicked it on and off.  “You look smoking hot tonight, Sloan.”

“Don’t use her name.” I folded my arms over my chest. “You’re smoking again?”

“No!” Mac flipped the lighter off and stuffed it back in his pocket. He moved closer, and lowered his voice. “I didn’t bring her. She followed me here. I made a mistake, but I promise I didn’t bring her. I’m trying to shake her.”

We both turned as Eddie’s voice became louder in the bar. “You’ve got some nerve showing your face here you little cheat.”

I brushed past Mac into the doorway to see what was going on.

Garrett and a staggering Bruin were holding Eddie. He reminded me of an overly carbonated bottle of beer about to blow its cap.

Hayley, the beer wench, chewed on an unlit cigarette. Eddie puffed out his chest like he was about to break free. She cowered and inched her way toward the door.

“That’s right, keep backing up. No one wants you here.” Eddie heckled her. His posture, like a boxer waiting to throw the first punch, baffled me. Why was he suddenly my protector? Or was there more to it? Could he have had a fling with her, too? There had to be something else between them.

As Hayley backed her way out of the pub, Bruin tried to pull Eddie away, but Eddie threw him off.  The motion made Bruin lose his footing. He swayed. The crowd gasped. Garrett caught him with his free hand. This was more drama than Leavenworth had seen in years. Everyone was completely captivated.
I have to admit that my palms were a bit sweaty as I turned to page 69. I love the concept of one page being able to capture the spirit of an entire book. But what if it didn’t? What if page 69 was a total dud, with sentence after sentence of rambling prose? What if there wasn’t a sliver of plot on page 69. Or worse, what if I hated it?

Side note—I’m not sure if this is true of all writers or just me, but sometimes reading my words months or years later tends to make me cringe. I fall down the rabbit hole of thoughts like, “Why did I say that?” or spiral through regrets on word choice and sentence structure.

Fortunately, as I timidly flipped to page 69 my fears were unfounded. Surprisingly I think this one small section gives the reader a solid sense of Sloan and her need to keep up her game face at opening night of her new pub, while internally seething that her soon-to-be ex-husband and the beer wench have crashed the party.

Cheers to that!
Visit Ellie Alexander's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 9, 2017

"Mr. Rochester"

Sarah Shoemaker is a former university librarian and currently lives in northern Michigan.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Mr. Rochester, and reported the following:
Page 69 is an interesting one in relation to Mr. Rochester, because it deals with Edward Rochester’s first attempt to return to his beloved Thornfield Hall after having been absent from there for several years, and, as well, after having been told by his father that the place would never again be his home. The pull of Thornfield Hall becomes a constant throughout the novel, and it is, finally, the test of what he would be willing to give up to win Jane Eyre.

This recurring theme underlies many of Rochester’s decisions. What makes this page particularly interesting is that up until this point, Edward (who is now close to seventeen years of age) has pretty much followed his father’s directing of his life, distant though it may be. It is his first step in becoming his own man. Henceforth he more and more often chooses his own way, though in general it is another five or six years before he fully turns his back on his father after a devastating discovery of how his father has misused him. It is as representative of the book as nearly any other page would be, because Mr. Rochester follows his coming-of-age and coming into his own as a full adult. By the time Jane Eyre meets him, he has become the product of this years-long development.
Visit Sarah Shoemaker's website.

My Book, The Movie: Mr. Rochester.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 7, 2017

"The Dark Lake"

Sarah Bailey lives in Melbourne, Australia and has two young sons. She has fifteen years experience in the advertising industry and is currently a director at creative projects company Mr Smith.

Bailey applied the Page 69 Test to The Dark Lake, her first novel, and reported the following:
By page 69 of The Dark Lake, DS Gemma Woodstock is completely entangled in Rosalind Ryan’s homicide investigation. She is in deep, both personally and professionally, and is trying desperately to manage the emotions that Rosalind’s murder has unearthed. The entire town of Smithson, located in regional Australia, is on edge in the wake of Rose’s murder.

Rose was Gemma’s high school classmate and always had a sense of mystery about her. At the time of her death, Rose was a popular teacher at the same school they attended a decade earlier. She was attacked after the opening night of the school play and there is a lot of pressure on the small regional homicide squad to solve the case. Who could possibly have wanted Rose dead?

Page 69 opens in the middle of one of the book’s flashback scenes and Gemma is reflecting on a three-year-old murder case that she solved. Being a young female in a male dominated work environment, this previous case saw Gemma’s professional challenges brought to the fore but ultimately enabled her to establish herself as a credible detective.

Gemma questioning her abilities is a constant theme in The Dark Lake and looking back on the old case is a good way for her to remember that she has a strong record and needs to back herself.
I don’t know whether Robbie would have killed her that night but I know the part of me that had been dormant for a long time came alive as I stood in that room with my arm out, heavy with the weight of the gun, my body burning with the ability to make the badness stop. It felt incredible.
Solving the Robbie murder case introduced Gemma to Candy Fyfe, the local journalist who becomes the bane of Gemma’s existence. Candy and Gemma are very different and Candy forces a lot of Gemma’s insecurities about her femininity to the surface.
When I was sitting across from Candy in her boss’s office, her perfect dark skin glowing, she was all sisterhood and girl power, and I know I came across as cold and prickly. She was not a good enemy to make but I felt sick and anxious, increasingly panicked about what the last few weeks of my Robbie obsession had allowed me to ignore.
The Robbie murder case coincided with Gemma being pregnant with her son Ben. Falling pregnant was a huge disruption to Gemma’s career and put a strain on her relationship with boyfriend Scott. It also caused a lot of her colleagues to question her ability to continue as a detective.

Over two years later, Gemma is a still a detective and also a mother to two-year-old Ben.
At page 69, the investigation into Rosalind Ryan’s murder is only just getting started, but already Gemma is struggling to manage her intense feelings for Felix, alongside guilt about her faltering relationship with Ben’s dad, all while keeping her reputation intact and her past in the past, as old high school secrets linked to the case begin to bubble to the surface.
Visit Sarah Bailey's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 5, 2017

"A Hive of Homicides"

Meera Lester is the author of nearly two dozen nonfiction books and the proprietress of the real Henny Penny Farmette, located in the San Francisco Bay area. Raising chickens and honeybees, she draws on her life at her farmette as the basis of her Henny Penny Farmette mysteries.

Lester applied the Page 69 Test to her latest mystery, A Hive of Homicides, and reported the following:
On page 69 in A Hive of Homicides, the third novel in my Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries, two sisters of Paola Varela, who has recently been shot and whose husband was killed in the same shooting, ask for help from ex-cop and farmette owner Abigail Mackenzie. The police have questioned Emilio Varela, Paola’s brother who is being followed and is under a cloud of suspicion, but Emilio is taciturn. The sisters need Abby—Paola’s good friend--to help them convince Emilio to tell cops the whole truth.

Emilio Varela hates the way his brother-in-law Jake Winston (now deceased) has treated Paola. But Emilio is a keeper of secrets, and one of those secrets is keeping him from being forthright with the cops. His sisters believe he could extricate himself from the legal trouble but if he will just come clean about where he was at the time of the shooting.

It is on page 69 that the sisters first arrive at Abby’s farmhouse to beg for Abby’s help. The scene is both an emotional scene and an important juncture in the story since Abby’s response to the women results in drawing her deeper into the web of lies and deceptions that she must sort through to solve the mystery.

If a reader skips to page 69 to begin reading, I think he or she would continue reading to discover what Emilio is holding back and why he’s keeping a secret at great risk to himself. I believe the reader would also be curious about whether or not Abby is successful in drawing out the truth that either clears Emilio or makes him culpable in the death of his brother-in-law and the wounding of his sister.
Visit Meera Lester's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Murder of a Queen Bee.

The Page 69 Test: The Murder of a Queen Bee.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

"A Beautiful Poison"

Lydia Kang is an author of young adult fiction, poetry, and narrative non-fiction. She graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine, completing her residency and chief residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. She is a practicing physician who has gained a reputation for helping fellow writers achieve medical accuracy in fiction.

Kang's novels include Control and Catalyst.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, A Beautiful Poison, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“But I already read those,” Jasper protested.

“When?” Gettler asked, incredulous.

“I’ve been working here for over two years. I read them during my ... erm ... breaks.”

“While you were in college? A bit early for someone your age, eh?”

Jasper shrugged. “I’m impatient.”

“I see. And you’re a terrible janitor, if you were spending all your time reading.”

“Yes sir, I was.”

Gettler laughed. “Well, I worked”—(woiked—Lord, that accent!)—“the night shift at the ferry while I finished my PhD. Who am I to talk?” He pushed the books aside and waggled his finger. “One other thing.”


“That dead girl.”

The grin on Jasper’s face melted away. “Yes?”

“Charles showed me the police file while you were dicing up that liver. Our office was not called for an autopsy. Dr. Norris can make a request to open the case, but it’s the police that have the final say.”

“Which means?”

“Which means our department can’t touch that body. And since you’re in our department now, you can’t either.”

Jasper wilted under his steady, icy gaze. What was the point of being here if he couldn’t find out what really happened to Florence? Or show the world that a kid from the Bowery could solve a Fifth Avenue crime?
The book is told in the POV of three characters—Jasper Jones, a poor man who was once rich; Allene Cutter, a debutante on the verge of an unhappy marriage, and Birdie Dreyer, gorgeous and slowly being poisoned to death by the radium she works with in her factory job. They each need each other for various reasons, and together, they are trying to solve murders even as people close to them begin to die unexpectedly.

I love this exchange between Alexander Gettler (a real historical figure—a toxicologist in the first Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in New York, which opened in 1918) and Jasper Jones, who is desperate to get his foot in the door and prove himself. Bringing Gettler and Charles Norris alive in the story was both humbling and quite exciting, and watching them interact with my fictional characters was delightful. Here, we get to see the parallels of Gettler’s life and Jasper’s, and the point at which they diverge in theirs goals and motives. Jasper is still ruminating about the cause of death of the first murder that appears on page one of the book.

It’s in the next page that we see Jasper’s choice—and you’ll have to read the book to see what it is!
Learn more about the book and author at Lydia Kang's website, blog, Facebook page and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Control.

The Page 69 Test: Catalyst.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 1, 2017

"Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore"

Matthew Sullivan received his B.A. from the University of San Francisco, his M.F.A. from the University of Idaho, and has been a resident writer at Yaddo, Centrum, and the Vermont Studio Center. His writing has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and other awards, and has won the Florida Review Editor's Prize and the Robert Olen Butler Fiction Prize. In addition to working for years at Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver and at Brookline Booksmith in Boston, he has taught writing and literature at colleges in Boston, Idaho, and Poland, and currently teaches writing, literature, and film at Big Bend Community College in the high desert of Washington State.

Sullivan applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, and reported the following:
I love that this scene from page 69 dives right into one of the main threads of the novel! In it, Lydia and David—the protagonist and her beau—are discussing the crate of books that Lydia inherited after one of her customers, a troubled young BookFrog named Joey, committed suicide in the bookstore where she works:
In her kitchen, Lydia nibbled the crust from her honey toast and waited impatiently for her overworked coffeemaker to finish gurgling. When she looked up, David was there in his towel, red from his shower, smelling of menthol shaving cream. He peered into Joey’s milk crate, which sat in the center of their breakfast table, where Lydia had left it the night before.

“More books?” he said, picking up Joey’s dusty Victorian story primer and turning it over in his hands.

“Can’t ever have too many,” she said lightly.

“Seriously. I like your whole book thing. Just having them around makes me feel smarter.”

“Now, if we could just get you to read them.”

“No need. It’s like free IQ points in every room. On every conceivable surface.”

“Glad to help.”

“Some would call you a hoarder,” he said. “But not me. I call you a collector.”

“That’s the spirit,” she said.

Lydia looked up the length of David’s arm and saw his clean, damp hair and the remnant glow of his shower, and felt the desire to rest her hand on his.
Lydia and David are meant to have a loving banter and a good chemistry as a couple. But as we see here, for all of his kindness, David doesn’t share or particularly understand Lydia’s bibliophilia.

Throughout much of this novel, I was attempting to raise a glass to books and book lovers, but also to use this particular passion as a glimpse into Lydia’s psyche. Beyond acting as her escape, books also act as reminders of her childhood, especially of the happiness she experienced with her librarian father in the years before The Hammerman murders derailed the trajectory of their life. Her early childhood acts as a perpetual Eden to which she is always trying to return. The Bright Ideas Bookstore is as close as she comes to finding that sanctuary again.

Spoiler alert: At the very end of the novel, Lydia ends up feeling more connected to her old friend Raj than to her boyfriend, David… something that has caused some discussion among readers (“Team David or Team Raj?”). The rationale here is that Raj was part of that bookish childhood bliss Lydia has spent her adult life trying to recapture, so he, inevitably, would be the guy who makes her happiest—and who she ends up with. In many ways, David may be a better fit for her, and Raj may be part of an unhealthy nostalgia, but to me there is an emotional truth in Lydia and Raj, in the end, arriving at some approximation of their peaceful life before The Hammerman.
Visit Matthew Sullivan's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 29, 2017

"A Conspiracy of Ravens"

Terrence P. McCauley is an award-winning writer of crime fiction and thrillers.

He applied the Page 69 Test to the third novel in his University Series, A Conspiracy of Ravens, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“But I thought you said Scott would spell him if—”

“I’ve got other plans for Scott. And I need you here while I’m in the field.”

“Understood,” Jason said. “In the meantime, the Trustee contacted me a few minutes ago. She said she needs to speak to you. It’s urgent.”

Of course it is.

He groaned as he ran his hand over his face. The hand was rock-steady now.

Normally, he could picture his Carousel of Concern spinning at an orderly pace, each priority clearly presenting itself to be dealt with in an orderly fashion.

Now the goddamned thing had been blown to bits and he didn’t have the time to try to put it back together again. Now wasn’t the time for contemplation. It was the time for action.

But contemplation edged its way in anyway. He’d only been concerned about the attack. He hadn’t the time to think about why it happened until that very moment.

The facts began coming into focus on their own.

Roger had given him a lead on a Russian thug who called himself Boris.

OMNI showed Boris was tied to a mysterious thug named Wilhelm/Willus Tessmer.

Hicks had called Tayeb to start digging into Tessmer.

Tayeb’s facility went CROATOAN hours after that.

Then someone dropped a missile on his facility. A Russian squad had lased his building for it.

All of it was related. Only question was if the Vanguard or Russian contractors were working for Demerest.

Jason snapped him out of it. “Are you still there? The Trustee is waiting.”

“I’ll call her in a minute. In the meantime, find out what happened to Tayeb and his men. Look at media accounts, police channels, everything. I know OMNI’s reach is weak in that part of the world, but try it anyway. Call me if you get something definitive. Send me a report in an hour no matter what.”

“God,” Jason said. “You think all of this is related, don’t you?”

“I don’t know, and that’s what bothers me. And by the way, sorry for snapping at you just now. You saved my ass today.”

“No need to thank me. It’s my job.”
I think this test is a good representation of my novel, A Conspiracy of Ravens. It shows the constant turmoil Hicks faces as the University attempts to recover from a devastating surprise attack.
Visit Terrence McCauley's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Conspiracy of Ravens.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

"Lie to Me"

J.T. Ellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of eighteen critically acclaimed novels, including the newly released Lie to Me.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Lie to Me and reported the following:
From page 69:
Sutton loved Dashiell. Carried him with her everywhere. He’d outgrown the withy basket she kept by her desk and spent his out-of-arms time in a car seat stationed within five feet of her at all times.

Ethan had finally won the battle to let the tyke sleep in his crib in his nursery instead of in their bed a month earlier. It had been hard for Sutton, even harder for him. It was impossible to sleep well knowing Sutton was getting up to check on the baby every hour.

He’d told her because he knew she’d gotten used to it. To being a mother. To having a child. To being a family.

He knew she loved Dashiell.

But when he admitted what he’d done, it was like something inside her snapped.
Page 69 of Lie to Me is the very end of a hugely pivotal chapter in the novel. The basic premise of the book is the perfect family loses their baby to SIDS and their world goes off the rails. They blame each other for his death – but remember, this is a mystery novel at heart. So, without any more clues…

This chapter is a flashback to the evening Ethan and Sutton find their son dead in his crib. It’s powerful and heartbreaking and inserts doubt as to the situation they find themselves in. But you can hear Ethan’s unspoken thoughts loud and clear – and also realize Ethan has done something to Sutton that makes him think she’s capable of killing their child.

And important chapter, and an important page. It establishes the basic question of this entire book: What is really going on here?
Visit J.T. Ellison's website, or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 25, 2017


Jacob Stone is the byline chosen by award-winning author Dave Zeltserman for his new Morris Brick series of serial-killer thrillers. His crime, mystery and horror fiction has won top praise and has been translated into six languages.

His novels Small Crimes and Pariah were both named by the Washington Post as best books of the year. Small Crimes topped National Public Radio's list of best crime and mystery novels of 2008 and is being made into a feature film.

Stone applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel Crazed, the second Morris Black thriller, and reported the following:
Page 69 falls at the end of a chapter and only has 6 lines, so I'll make this a Page 68 test instead. Serial killer Griffin Bolling has traveled from Seattle to LA cutting a bloody path along the way. On page 68 he's alone with Sheila Proops, my wheelchair-bound serial killer from Deranged who escaped prosecution. Griffin has always killed in the shadows, and he has taken offense at the publicity Sheila has generated and he had traveled to LA to kill her. Now that he's alone with her, he's beginning to feel enough of an affinity to her that he plans to kill Sheila's caregiver when the woman returns before turning his attentions to Sheila so that Sheila can enjoy one final kill. But Sheila is able to convince Griffin that he had a very different reason for seeking her out. The twisted nature of this page, along with the hints of violence and suspense, make this highly representative of the rest of the book. I'd think a crime thriller reader would be hooked if they read this page.
Visit Dave Zeltserman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Deranged.

The Page 69 Test: Deranged.

My Book, The Movie: Crazed.

Writers Read: Jacob Stone.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 23, 2017

"Magicians Impossible"

Brad Abraham is the author of Magicians Impossible, creator of the Mixtape comic book series, screenwriter of the films Fresh Meat and Stonehenge Apocalypse, writer on the television series The Canada Crew, Now You Know, I Love Mummy, and RoboCop Prime Directives, and a journalist whose work has appeared in Rue Morgue, Dreamwatch, Starburst, and Fangoria.

He applied the Page 69 Test to Magicians Impossible and reported the following:
Magicians Impossible is many things. It’s a fantasy, it’s a thriller, it’s a mystery. But at its heart it’s the story of someone who, for much of his life, felt he was unexceptional. Then he discovers he’s much more than that. Page 69 in the book is where Jason Bishop first finally gazes upon The Spire – the training facility for the Invisible Hand; a cabal of magic-wielding spies locked in a centuries-old conflict against forces of chaos and darkness. The Spire is is as much a physical representation of the difficult road that lies ahead for Jason Bishop, as it is an Escher-esque training facility.
Below them lay an immense arena, but calling it immense sold it short. On first glance he thought you could fit the old and new Yankee stadiums into it, and still have room for Storm King Mountain in the cheap seats. As Jason focused on one corner of the arena, the view seemed to get closer even though the room didn’t move; like everywhere he focused the viewing window magnified to see every last detail. To call the effect disorienting was as great a disservice as calling the arena immense.

On the ground, a large racing track surrounded a patch of green Astroturf that was covered with obstacles set up its length and around it. But the track seemed to undulate, looping in and around itself like the coils of a snake, and Jason felt dizzy just trying to figure out where it began and where it ended. Heavy-looking crates rested on the field and more floated in the air, stretching all the way up to the ceiling hundreds of feet above. There were people visible, too, all dressed in red-and-black training uniforms. He saw a girl leap gracefully onto the stack of crates and vanish in a puff of smoke. She reappeared midway up, balanced on one of the floating crates. She disappeared again, then reappeared again balanced on the edge of the highest one. She held there for a moment, peered over the edge, like a child contemplating the distance from the high board at the local pool. Then she stepped off, plummeting like a rock. Jason sucked air as she fell. Midway down, she disappeared in a thunderclap of smoke, and reappeared back on the ground, light as a feather.
What I like about this page and this sequence is how it gives Jason (and us) a sense of scale by comparison; a technique I return to throughout the book, especially when describing the fantastical world of the Invisible Hand. Describing it as something that would fit two baseball stadiums and a mountain and still have room left over gives the reader a sense of what he’s seeing. I wanted Magicians Impossible to move with a good amount of momentum, while still giving you a chance to envision everything in your head. This is especially important with The Spire, which comes into play in the climax in a big way.
Visit Brad Abraham's website.

--Marshal Zeringue