Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Page 69: Driven

Disclaimer: The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....

In this installment of Page 69, 

we put Dane Cobain's Driven to the test

Set up page 69 for us (what are we about to read):

This is page 69 of my current work-in-progress, Driven. In this scene, private detective James Leipfold and his assistant, Maile O’Hara, are discussing the case that they’ve taken on. They’re just about to find out something unusual about the accident that killed Donna Thompson – there was no-one behind the wheel of the car!

What is Driven about?

It’s the first book in a series of detective novels that I’m working on. It follows the story of private detective James Leipfold and his assistant Maile O’Hara as they investigate the bizarre circumstances around a young woman’s death after she’s killed in a hit and run accident. The catch? There was no-one behind the wheel. I haven’t proofread or edited this at all, and so it’s a pure first draft!

Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what the book is about? Does it align itself with the books overall theme?

I’m actually surprised by how much it worked, so absolutely! There are lots of different aspects to the investigation that it could have landed on, but it turned out that page 69 is all about the thing that gives the novel its name – the car wasn’t being Driven! 


…loop of hair absentmindedly and avoiding Leipfold’s piercing eyes. “It’s just that not all cars need a driver.”

“Yeah,” Leipfold said, “I know. I’ve watched the TV shows, you can put a weight on the accelerator. But I hardly think that’s likely.”

“That’s not the only way to do it, boss. Haven’t you heard of Google? Tesla?”

“I’ve heard of the first,” Leipfold said. “But not the second. So what?”

“What do the two of them have in common?”

“I have no idea,” Leipfold admitted, “but I’m sure you’re about to tell me.”

“Both of them are working on autonomous cars,” Maile explained. “And so are some of the bigger manufacturers, the ones who’ve got a good hold on the market and can afford to invest in research and development.”


“So maybe we’re looking at this the wrong way,” Maile said. “I don’t know about you, but I was working on the basis that there was someone in the car, and that they were crouched behind the wheel. That’s why you can’t see a driver in the CCTV footage.”

“That’s one theory,” Leipfold admitted.

“But what if there’s another explanation?” Maile continued. “What if there was no-one in the car at all? What if it was just following orders? Orders contained within its programming? Orders that told it to kill Donna Thompson?”

Leipfold considered this for a moment and then shook his head. “It seems a little far-fetched,” he said. “Too far-fetched. There must be a simpler explanation.”

“It would explain why no-one’s been able to find the driver,” Maile pointed out. “And that’s not all. I checked a couple of social networks and it turns out that these cars are more common than you might think, especially around here.”


Dane Cobain (High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, UK) is an independent poet, musician and storyteller with a passion for language and learning. When he’s not in front of a screen writing stories and poetry, he can be found working on his book review blog or developing his website, www.danecobain.com. His debut novella, No Rest for the Wicked, was released in the summer of 2015.

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