I read a novel recently that I liked a lot, so I thought I’d do an FtQish review. I’ll give you the first page to flog, but first, I discovered when I made contact with the author that there’s a little bit of FtQ in his path to publication.
Clayton tells me that back in 2008, when he was working on this novel, he started reading Flogging the Quill, and what he got here on story questions influenced his storytelling to a large degree.
UPDATE: I almost forgot. Here's Clayton's submission to the Flogometer in 2008. It's the opening of another novel that's on the way, Tread.
I suggest you read Clayton not only for his storytelling, but for his extremely adept use of voice. The narrative is told from two first-person points of view, primarily, and one third-person point of view. I’ve always thought it could be difficult to separate two first-person POVs, but Clayton carries it off magically well. If for nothing else, read Cold Quiet Country for a lesson in using voice.
Below is his first chapter. From FtQ standards, it may not score high on story questions, but I would have given it a go because of the voice. He manages to create a character (and not a nice one) with that voice. Whether you would turn this page or not, I strongly recommend that you read the novel. It’s dark, violent, tragic, and yet still about the power of love.
Before that, though, I’ll give you two more things to chew on. First is that on December 25th Clayton is offering free Kindle downloads of his second novel, Nothing Save the Bones Inside Her. I read an excerpt, and I’ll be downloading the book.
Back to Cold Quiet Country, here’s a blurb from his website:
Gale G’Wain is in trouble. Nineteen, half-frozen, wounded, and fleeing the blizzard scene where murder victim Burt Haudesert lay with a pitch fork run through his neck, Gale holes up in a house left empty.
Sheriff Bittersmith stalks after two sets of footprints in the snow with deputies, hounds, and the fury of a forty-year sheriff who has one day to bring a murderer to justice, before his job is taken by an upstart with political connections.
Gwen, the victim’s seventeen year old daughter, is somewhere in the blizzard.
And nothing is as it seems. Gale fights the impossible good fight. Sheriff Bittersmith is the locus of evil that’s kept a sleepy town under spell for half a century, and Gwen knows when people are going to die because she hears what she calls “the bullfrog song.”
When she hears it for Gale, will she save him,,,
Now for the first page. The usual poll follows.
Got my eye on a purty waitress across the street named Jeanine; been telling myself for two years that one day I’d visit her on this desk.
Sonsabitches want to run me out? Sheriff Bittersmith, run out?
Only thing left to go in the box is my coffee mug. Soon as I dump the last cold swallow and run it under the sink, I’m going to prop my feet on the corner of my desk and wait for noon, walk over there for a wedge of cherry pie, see about Jeanine.
I’m grumbling out loud and Fenny watches from her desk. Women age twice as fast. Twenty woman-years ago, Fenny was something to look at. Now she’s got corcob thighs and tits that spread like loos flapjack batter.
“What’re you bitchin’ about?” She smiles, and she’s purty enough to bend over. Barely. “You got your health,” she says.
I rap a desk top that as empty as a liar’s stare. No time like the present. Grab my coffee cup.
“Where you going?” Fenny says.
Deputy Odum says, “We got coffee here.”
“I’ll be back in five minutes. Don’t think you can move your shit in my office.”
It’s colder’n a witch’s bippy outside, all snow and ice. Across the street, cattycorner, is the (snip)
Merry Christmas to all. I’ll be taking the 25th off from the blog, but I’ll see you next Friday.
© 2013 Ray Rhamey