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Genre - Contemporary / Literary Fiction
Rating - PG
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Of course, it would be this page.
My page 99 is a strange one.
It is a page that I do think draws the reader into the story, but a page that at the same time, has the reader thinking ‘what the (expletive)?’ or seriously wondering if I had been smoking some cheap weed when I wrote this page.
To recap: My novel is “Ten Thousand New Year’s Eves,” and it follows eight people (each with his/her own chapter in his/ her point of view.) from December 31 to January 1. These characters are all connected (though many of them do not realize it.) The main character has synesthesia, a condition where the senses are mixed, meaning letters are not only in specific colors, but they may also have tastes and sounds.
Wait, eight people? That’s not entirely true. It’s more like seven people…and one bomb-sniffing dog.
And that’s page 99---a chapter from a former K-9 cop’s point of view.
Yeah. Page 99 is seen through the dog’s eyes.
Kelso was a bomb-sniffing dog until he was in a near explosion that nearly killed him and left him totally neurotic. As a part of his therapy, he is teamed with a New York Police Academy drop out. They do not get along.
Dogs are also reputed to be clairvoyant, and while I’m leaving the debate on whether the supernatural/ghosts are real to others more well-versed in the endeavor, Kelso can see ghosts. And squirrels.
……and Hudson River Park in New York City is full of both.
The challenge here was basically trying to get inside a dog’s mind. What does he see? How does he think? What draws his attention?
While I tried to work in some humor ( “…squirrel. Eat squirrel. SQUIRREL!” ) it was also obvious that I was going to have to use some “third person” narration, because as a writer, I wanted the reader to really see what Kelso was seeing, and I wasn’t sure how eloquently a neurotic German Shepherd could convey that. I was also fascinated with the legends of ghosts that used to haunt New York’s Hell’s Kitchen when it really WAS Hell’s Kitchen and not a gentrified, sanitized version of the city.
Here is an excerpt:
Kelso smells everything in the park. The scent of the past and the present, the grass and the pavement, the smell from the soles of every visitor’s shoes, the musk of an obnoxious squirrel five feet out of his reach, and the stench of a bowel movement from a terrier.
Want to eat… squirrel… eat squirrel…
Then, in front of the squirrel, Kelso sees a gray man in a soldier’s uniform. The man is clutching his abdomen and he smells like forgotten memories and regret. Blood is flowing from his wound, but there is no color. Kelso thinks it’s blood because it smells like blood—but a softer smell, metallic and faded, just like the man looks. Kelso’s owner doesn’t notice the transparent soldier. Kelso can see through the soldier, see through him to the Hudson River and the squirrel behind him.
“Help me,” the man says. “I was in a fight…no one else sees.”
Kelso doesn’t like the transparent gray-man. Strange scent. The man reaches out to pet Kelso. His hand disintegrates into wispy smoke.
Tad yanks on the leash. “Calm down, you neurotic mutt.”
The soldier man is gone. Kelso watches the squirrel. Kelso sees a bug. Kelso smells the bug. Kelso smells the edge of the park bench and catches a whiff of urine from a Great Dane. Kelso wanders behind the park bench, lifts his leg and marks his territory.
Screw you, Dane. Bench is Kelso’s! Mine, mine!
Then he sees the woman, leaning on the trash can, teetering on unsteady feet, as if she were injured. She has no smell. Kelso sees right through her. She is wearing a lot of makeup and a skimpy chemise. She is smoking a cigarette, but Kelso smells nothing from her cigarette—not like the fat, stinky cigars Tad puffs. She is not wearing a coat. She is not cold.
“Is your master looking for a good time?” She smiles at Kelso.
“I got a place down the street. He can wear his socks. I don’t care.”
She is gray, like the gray man. Kelso sees right through her. She is wispy and smoky, like the cigarette.
“Don’t be that way, baby. No one sees me anymore. Can you see me? Can he see me? Why can’t someone see me?”
As you can see, out of context, my page 99 is a bit awkward, but I’m hope that it is still awkwardly interesting.
By the way, mark your calendars, as a part of this Orangeberry Tour, this book will be FREE on Kindle for THREE SATURDAYS in AUGUST (the 11th, 18th and 25th) . Tell your friends. I’m also making two of my short stories FREE for those Saturdays as well. Those short stories are a part of my short story collection “Welcome to Shangri-La, North Carolina,” so you can sample them and see if you like my writing style (which has been described as somewhat quirky, the secret love child of Flannery O’ Connor and Rod Serling)
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