Friday, October 06, 2006

Pg. 69: "Death Angel"

Martha Powers' Death Angel hits the bookstores this month.

Roxanne St. Clair, bestselling author of Kill Me Twice, praises the novel: "Like the talisman that fuels the evil and drives the story, Death Angel is irresistible, seductive and spellbinding. Martha Powers has created a complex maze of rich characters, constant suspicion and unexpected twists. Don’t start this one late at night!"

I asked Martha to apply the "page 69 test" to her novel. Here is what she reported:

Having never heard of the page 69 test I was intrigued. The pressure was on as I checked the page in Death Angel. Since my book is a thriller, in this section I tried to give a sense of the main character's fear as she is asked to identify pictures of people who might be suspects in the murder. Ordinary people rarely see the mundane details involved in the investigation of a crime so when they are asked to participate, they are usually intimidated. Kate is clearly frightened but the police are trying to help her relax so that she can help them.

My thrillers have always dealt with ordinary people caught up in a terrifying situation. Death Angel deals with the aftermath of a child’s murder where the parents become the suspects in their own daughter’s death. Despite our refusal to believe such things happen, we’ve seen the evidence in the headlines of newspapers and tabloids. The story taps into one such unimaginable nightmare.

One of the values as a writer of knowing the page 69 test is to be aware that every page counts. When you’re writing, there’s so much information that needs to be imparted without bogging down the narrative. You’re inventing a world for the reader to inhabit so you can’t afford to break the bond that holds them to the story.

Since writing is an emotional exercise for me, it’s difficult to look at my work objectively. I was pleased that the scene on page 69 didn’t seem overwritten and there were enough details to intrigue. I’d heard rumors that Martha Powers wrote a tight thriller (and was also a fine person although that might be a slightly biased opinion), and decided that I’d definitely buy the book. If you do, welcome to my world.
Many thanks to Martha for the input.

An excerpt from the beginning of Death Angel is here.

Martha Powers' other thrillers include Bleeding Heart and Sunflower. Of the latter, Janet Evanovich wrote:
In Sunflower, Martha Powers has created a world of terrifying suspense, as her heroine, a single mother and police detective, hunts for the identity of a brutal serial killer of young children -- only to discover that she herself has become the hunted. This is a marvelous debut: a wonderful small-town atmosphere, torn apart by fear of the killer, a very human and likable heroine, a group of suspects that includes some of the town's leading citizens, and, above all, a real roller-coaster of a plot with a surprise ending. This one is for reading with all the lights on and the door double locked!
Click here to watch a brief video trailer for Death Angel, and click here to read an interview with Martha.

Previous "page 69 tests":
N.M. Kelby, Whale Season
Mario Acevedo, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats
Dominic Smith, The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre
Simon Blackburn, Lust
Linda L. Richards, Calculated Loss
Kevin Guilfoile, Cast of Shadows
Ronlyn Domingue, The Mercy of Thin Air
Shari Caudron, Who Are You People?
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics
John Sutherland, How to Read a Novel
Steven Miles, Oath Betrayed
Alan Brown, Audrey Hepburn's Neck
Richard Dawkins, The Ancestor's Tale

--Marshal Zeringue