by Dave Amaditz &
Welcome to March’s version of - First Friday - Five Favorite Things - Debut Novel Day. In this monthly series, we ask five simple questions about a debut novel that will hopefully entice anyone reading this post to pick up the novel and read it themselves, and/or give them at a glance some insight into the author's writing style and voice as well as how some of the characters might think or act. We do this by presenting, first, answers to our Five Favorite Things, followed by the author's answers in a follow-up post.
This month we're pleased to highlight debut novelist, Dawn Kurtagich and her novel, The Dead House. The novel is about two girls, Carly and Kaitlyn, who live in the same body. The doctors believe it’s a type of personality disorder, but other information suggests there are two souls living in one body. Carly comes out during the day and Kaitlyn at night. Then one day, Carly goes missing, and it may be something more sinister and supernatural than a simple integration of the two girls.
1) What is your favorite line or paragraph from the novel as it relates to the main character's development and/or growth?
Dave – I chose this particular passage because I believe it is the first time that Kaitlyn has come close to admitting what she had done, what happened, to her parents.
I pushed everyone away. Even Carly. I lived behind a veneer of Teflon that I worked hard to grow and then to maintain. I could blame it on the
accident murder accident death fact that our parents left us, left me,
but it would be unfair. Because the truth is… I was like this before they died.
I pushed them away too, and now nothing I do will ever change that.
They saw a drunk, when I was broken.
They saw sarcasm, when I was sobbing.
They saw me push them away, when I was screaming for their love.
Marcy – Kaitlyn grows tremendously throughout the novel. She wants more than anything to one day be able to share stories with her sister Carly without leaving entries for her to read. She tries desperately to see her sister inside herself.
I frowned, pulling faces at myself, making sure that my reflection followed suit and in perfect time. For a minute, I was stupid enough to think that maybe…if I looked really hard, I would see Carly in there, looking out at me. But it was just me, of course, and I felt like an idiot.
2) What is your favorite chapter ending or cliffhanger?
Dave - Marcy is right (see below her comments) about the number of fantastic cliffhangers in the novel. In fact, I believe that I probably could’ve picked any or all of them. In the end, however, I chose one particular section in the middle of a chapter because it totally floored me. I mean, I was shocked and blown away. This is toward the end of the novel when Naida is with Kaitlyn and her friends and they are preparing to enter the Dead House.
Naida sits with her mouth frozen open, her eyes huge in her face. Her eyes rotate towards Kaitlyn, and her expression is one of grief and horror.
“Katie,” she whispers, before her expression hardens and she reaches for the knife beside Ari’s bowler hat, grips her tongue between her left fingers, and with a violent, sickening motion, saws off her tongue.
Marcy – There were many chapter endings that will chill you in this novel. This was one of my favorites. If I were watching this as a movie, I would have had to shut my eyes.
Close analysis of the frames in this clip reveals two things. First, there is a sound, perhaps only static or something brushing against the microphone as Naida wipes the lens, or perhaps what it sounds like, whispering. Second a person is standing in the closet behind Naida, the dark form of someone looking out, two pinpricks of light glinting off their eyes.
3) Who is your favorite secondary character and why?
Dave – Scott is my favorite secondary character. He is Naida’s boyfriend and his love of her is what drew him in, and kept him involved with everything that is done to try to find Carly. Following is an interchange between he and Kaitlyn.
“Do you believe this stuff? The Mala stuff?”
Kaitlyn stares at him for a moment and then gives one sad laugh. “I… don’t know.”
“Kind of sounds…”
“I guess it fits me, then.”
Scott laughs, then notices Kaitlyn’s face. “I joined her Mala group last year because I thought she was hot. Now I’m up to my neck in it.”
Marcy – Since Kaitlyn is the girl of darkness, she is a loner. She roams the school at night and doesn’t have a set of girlfriends. Then one evening, she runs into Ari and her world changes. He encourages her and makes her feel like she exists.
Live a little, you weird – YES, WEIRD – secretive girl with no name and plenty of angst. Go to the party, drink a little, relax, and let go. No harm in that, right? I’ll be rooting for your teen-coming-out-into-the-world-of-living-actual-people moment.
PS – I’m CERTAIN one of the things keeping you up at night is me. ;)
4) What is your favorite line or paragraph of description?
Dave - There are so many fantastic scenes to choose from. I thought this one was particularly interesting because the side to what was going on inside Kaitlyn’s mind.
These are what my thoughts sounds like.
Have you ever heard glass? So beautiful. crystalline-it’s the sound you think should be relegated to the happiest places and the friendliest gestures.
I hear glass splintering… no, not even glass, really. It’s too soft for that. More like the glass equivalent of toffee… more like… a mirror. A mirror, squeaking and snapping as it splinters and begins to break. On and on.
Chip… crack… squeak…
A plastic sound, not quite real, but real enough to cut 50 grabbed too hard. And I always do, so I always bleed.
Marcy - This passage shows the love Kaitlyn has for her sister and the fact that she’ll do anything to get her back.
And I wish there were arms around me and words in my ear, breath on my neck…telling me that everything will be okay, that someone loves me, that I’m not a mistake, not a waste, not a nothing. Telling me that, no, I’m not a child of darkness, and there is a place for me in the light.
I want Carly to tell me.
But if she can’t – if she can’t tell me that can still be with me, then I’ll take the dark. I’ll take the dark gladly – if only she’ll come back to me. If she’ll come back and put me in the back room and take her place in the light.
I’m sorry I ever wanted it.
I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m so sorry –
5) What is your favorite line of dialogue?
Dave - This particular line of dialogue is spoken to Brett by Naida, who has a thing for Kaitlyn.
“Naida sighs. “Got trouble brewing.” She pauses for a moment, and though alone, she adds, “stay away from her, lad. I’m warning you. That one’s a magnet, and not for anything good.”
Marcy – Dr. Lansing acts as if she’s this perfect person with a perfect life. Kaitlyn makes a remark about Dr. Lansing’s daughter. The doctor’s response below caught me off guard and made me laugh.
Besides, Margo’s not perfect. [Pause] [Sigh] She was just suspended for mooning her English professor.