The First Two Pages: “The Case of the Vanishing Professor” by Tara Laskowski

In April 2015, B.K. Stevens debuted the blog series “The First Two Pages,” hosting craft essays by short story writers and novelists analyzing the openings of their own work. The series continued until just after her death in August 2017, and the full archive of those essays can be found at Bonnie’s website. In November 2017, the blog series relocated to my website, and the archive of this second stage of the series can be found here.

Our good friend Josh Pachter gave a shout-out to my wife, Tara Laskowski, when he posted the May/June issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine on Facebook: Her story “The Case of the Vanishing Professor” was on the cover! Tara was out for a couple of hours and likely not checking Facebook, so I sent it her way in a direct message. Her first reaction? She thought someone had made it up. How could she be on the cover so prominently???

Well, the short answer is that it’s a great story—and beyond the cover mention, the issue was also distributed to all the attendees at Malice Domestic a couple of weekends back, and several folks read it right then and there, passing along approval to Tara in the hallways throughout the conference.

Tara has published extensively in literary journals, particularly in the world of flash fiction, but she’s recently been seeing her work published in mystery venues too. Already stories have appeared in both Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen, and her previous story for EQMM, “States of Matter,” was also selected for the anthology Best Small Fictions 2017, edited by Amy Hempel. Tara is the author of two short story collections, Modern Manners For Your Inner Demons and Bystanders, which won the Balcones Fiction Award and was named by Jennifer Egan as one of the top books of 2017 in The Guardian. She has been the editor of the flash fiction journal SmokeLong Quarterly since 2010. Find out more about her work at her website.

Just a quick note: B.K. Stevens, who began the First Two Pages blog here, also has a story, “One-Day Pass,” in this latest issue of AHMM. Tara and I were good friends with Bonnie and her husband Dennis, and I appreciate Tara’s shout-out to Bonnie’s fine blog post on “Camouflaging Clues” at SleuthSayers. You can find that post here.

Please use the arrows and controls at the bottom of the embedded PDF to navigate through the essay. You can also download the essay here to read off-line.

First Two Pages Tara_final

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