Monday, January 21, 2008

Amanda Eyre Ward's "Forgive Me"

Amanda Eyre Ward is the award-winning author of How to Be Lost and Sleep Toward Heaven.

She applied the "Page 99 Test" to her latest novel Forgive Me, and reported the following:
Oh, man, this is hard. This reminds me of my college application essay where we had to write page 137 of our autobiography and I did my level best to make sure that was the page where I mentioned how much my parent’s divorce had strengthened me and how I was the only girl in AP Physics.

On page 99 of Forgive Me, a young boy who loves to sing Sinatra meets a creepy man named Malcon who tells him he’s going to be a star. Although much of the book takes place in South Africa, and involves murder and motherhood, I think this page does reflect the tone of the novel, which is both sad and hopeful. I think this is what I always write about: how the saddest thing in the world is a hopeful person, and vice-versa. To hope for joy takes so much courage.

Page 99 is in the first person voice of the little boy. I had written much of the novel before I heard his voice, and at first, I had no idea who he was. I was in a hotel room in San Francisco, and I heard this voice say, “Today I was discovered.” I started writing on the hotel pad with the hotel pen, and I didn’t stop for some time.

Richard Hugo writes about “the triggering town.” He says, “You found the town, and now you must start the poem. If the poem turns out good, the town will have become your hometown no matter what name it carries.”

On Page 93, I began writing about this boy, my “triggering boy.” By page 99, I loved him.
Read an excerpt from Forgive Me and learn more about the author and her writing at Amanda Eyre Ward's website.

--Marshal Zeringue