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....
Set up page 69 for us. What are we about to read?
Page 69 starts with the questionable phrase, “hobbit with special needs.” Not an auspicious start, I know. But keep in mind that description is coming from a dubious character in his own right. On this page, a creepy media executive named Preston Price is staggering around in the middle of a national forest in a state of dehydration and fatigue on a cockeyed vision quest. A young man in a monster truck stops to help, and Preston behaves like a jerk calling the young man “Cletus.”
What is your book about?
At its twisted little turnip-shaped heart, this book is about body positivity. It explores why we sometimes feel bad about our shapes and sizes, and how media is so good at exploiting people who have been trained not to like their bodies. Part of the idea for this book came from watching a commercial for the reality TV show Fear Factor, where people were stuffing worms into their mouths for media attention. I thought, “Why would those people eat worms for media fame?” Then I thought, “What would I eat for media fame?” And then I started to imagine the people who think up and produce shows like Fear Factor and Naked and Afraid. What about their inner lives?
Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what the book is about? Does it align itself with the book’s overall theme?
I would say that page 69 of Ballad of Jasmine Wills gives us clues about our antagonist, Preston Price. It doesn’t introduce the reader to Jasmine, the full-bodied firebrand at the center of the action. It’s the tension between Preston and Jasmine that brings this novel to life.
BALLAD OF JASMINE WILLS
Lee Rozelle’s debut novel Ballad of Jasmine Wills released this past December with . Lee is the author of nonfiction books and . He has published short stories in , ‘ , by Dark Ink Books, , and the . Learn more on his .