Friday, December 29, 2006

Pg. 69: "You Kill Me"

Alison Gaylin is a journalist who has covered the arts and entertainment for more than ten years. Her first novel, Hide Your Eyes, debuted in March, 2005 with nearly a quarter of a million copies in print. Its sequel, You Kill Me, was published last December.

I asked Alison to apply the "page 69 test" to her book; here is her reply:
Interestingly, page 69 of You Kill Me is almost all dialogue. It includes some information – seemingly unimportant – that winds up playing a key role in suspense toward the end of the book.

You Kill Me is the sequel to Hide Your Eyes, a novel in which pre-school teacher/off-off Broadway box office worker Samantha Leiffer witnesses the aftermath of a brutal murder and kills a serial killer. YKM takes place a year later, in fall, 2002. She’s moved in with Det. John Krull, and their relationship leaves a lot to be desired. Deeply affected by 9/11, the 6th precinct detective has become laconic and remote. They don’t communicate the way they used to, and Krull’s frequent, mysterious disappearances are making Sam distrust him. They’re rarely alone together and, true to form, they’re not alone on page 69. Instead, Sam and Krull are watching a Yankees game in their Stuyvessant Town apartment with Zachary Pierce, a very short, gym-addicted, shaved-headed detective friend of Krull’s who defines the term “overcompensation.”

Though not much happens in terms of action on this page, Pierce’s sudden explosion over a bad play changes the direction of the previously calm scene. It also includes my editor’s favorite metaphor in the book. (FYI, they’ve been discussing ‘All About Me’ collages, a magazine-picture project Sam has been doing with her pre-schoolers):

“Did you have Playboy?” said Pierce.

Krull sighed. “No, Zach, she didn’t get Playboy for the four-year-olds.”

“Because if I was going to make an ‘All About Me,’ collage, I’d need Playboy,” he said. Then, “Fucking Wells!” at the top of his lungs, without warning. Like some kind of testosterone bomb, detonating in the middle of our apartment.

Jake thudded to the floor and scurried out of the room.

“Jesus,” said Krull. “It was only ball one.”

In a book where a character winds up behaving in the ultimate unexpected way – committing horrible murders – Pierce’s overreaction contributes to the theme… and ultimately, to the plot.

And my editor really liked the testosterone bomb.
Many thanks to Alison for the input.

For excerpts from You Kill Me, click here.

Among the praise for the novel:
"Post-9/11 Manhattan is the ominous setting for Gaylin's deliciously chilling second thriller (after Hide Your Eyes), in which preschool teacher Samantha Leiffer is still recovering from her brush with a murderer a year earlier. Her live-in cop boyfriend, John Krull, has suddenly gone emotionally (and sometimes physically) AWOL, so after a mysterious visitor leaves Samantha a series of warning notes about her safety, she's forced to grapple alone with what they could mean, if anything at all. As if on cue, people around Samantha start to die, beginning with the woman who lived in Samantha's old apartment, gorily murdered. If the signs point where Samantha thinks they're pointing, maybe she'd rather be in the dark. Though the novel has some trappings of generic chick lit--a loudmouth mother, a gay best friend and kooky secondary characters--Gaylin casts them all in a fresh light. Sparing use of clever inner monologue paints Samantha as the hero we all hope we'd be."
--Publisher's Weekly
Click here to visit the group blog powered by Alison and a few other mystery writers.

Learn more about Edgar-nominee Hide Your Eyes here.

Curious about what an articles editor at In Touch magazine does? Click here to find out.

Previous "page 69 tests:"
Gayle Lynds, The Last Spymaster
Jim Lehrer, The Phony Marine
Julie Phillips, James Tiptree, Jr.
Debra Ginsberg, Blind Submission
Sarah Katherine Lewis, Indecent
Peter Orner, The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo
William Easterly, The White Man's Burden
Danielle Trussoni, Falling Through the Earth
Andrew Blechman, Pigeons
Anne Perry, A Christmas Secret
Elaine Showalter, Faculty Towers
Kat Richardson, Greywalker
Michael Bess, Choices Under Fire
Masha Hamilton, The Camel Bookmobile
Alex Beam, Gracefully Insane
Nicholas Lemann, Redemption
Jason Sokol, There Goes My Everything
Wendy Steiner, Venus in Exile
Josh Chafetz, Democracy’s Privileged Few
Anne Frasier, Pale Immortal
Michael Lewis, The Blind Side
David A. Bell, The First Total War
Brett Ellen Block, The Lightning Rule
Rosanna Hertz, Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice
Jason Starr, Lights Out
Robert Vitalis, America's Kingdom
Stephen Elliott, My Girlfriend Comes To The City And Beats Me Up
Colin McGinn, The Power of Movies
Sean Chercover, Big City, Bad Blood
Sigrid Nunez, The Last of Her Kind
Stanley Fish, How Milton Works
James Longenbach, The Resistance to Poetry
Margaret Lowrie Robertson, Season of Betrayal
Sy Montgomery, The Good Good Pig
Allison Burnett, The House Beautiful
Stephanie Coontz, Marriage, A History
Ed Lynskey, The Dirt-Brown Derby
Cindy Dyson, And She Was
Simon Blackburn, Truth
Brian Freeman, Stripped
Alyson M. Cole, The Cult of True Victimhood
Jeff Biggers, In the Sierra Madre
Jeff Broadwater, George Mason, Forgotten Founder
Alicia Steimberg, Andrea Labinger (trans.), The Rainforest
Michael Grunwald, The Swamp
Darrin McMahon, Happiness: A History
Leo Braudy, From Chivalry to Terrorism
David Nasaw, Andrew Carnegie
Leah Hager Cohen, Train Go Sorry
Chris Grabenstein, Slay Ride
David Helvarg, Blue Frontier
Marina Warner, Phantasmagoria
Bill Crider, A Mammoth Murder
Robert W. Bennett, Taming the Electoral College
Nicholas Stern et al, Stern Review Report
Kerry Emanuel, Divine Wind
Adam Langer, The Washington Story
Michael Scott Moore, Too Much of Nothing
Frank Schaeffer, Baby Jack
Wyn Cooper, Postcards from the Interior
Ivan Goncharov, Oblomov
Maureen Ogle, Ambitious Brew
Cass Sunstein, Infotopia
Paul W. Kahn, Out of Eden
Paul Lewis, Cracking Up
Pagan Kennedy, Confessions of a Memory Eater
David Greenberg, Nixon's Shadow
Duane Swierczynski, The Wheelman
George Levine, Darwin Loves You
John Barlow, Intoxicated
Alicia Steimberg, The Rainforest
Alan Wolfe, Does American Democracy Still Work?
John Dickerson, On Her Trail
Marcus Sakey, The Blade Itself
Randy Boyagoda, Governor of the Northern Province
John Gittings, The Changing Face of China
Rachel Kadish, Tolstoy Lied
Eric Rauchway, Blessed Among Nations
Tim Brookes, Guitar and other books
Ruth Padel, Tigers in Red Weather
William Haywood Henderson, Augusta Locke
Jed Horne, Breach of Faith
Robert Greer, The Fourth Perspective
David Plotz, The Genius Factory
Michael Allen Dymmoch, White Tiger
Patrick Thaddeus Jackson, Civilizing the Enemy
Tom Lutz, Doing Nothing
Libby Fischer Hellmann, A Shot To Die For
Nelson Algren, The Man With the Golden Arm
Bob Harris, Prisoner of Trebekistan
Elaine Flinn, Deadly Collection
Louise Welsh, The Bullet Trick
Gregg Hurwitz, Last Shot
Martha Powers, Death Angel
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