The First Two Pages: “Frozen Iguana” by Debra Lattanzi Shutika

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.

When I edited the Bouchercon anthology Murder Under the Oaks back in 2015, I was thrilled to be working with some of the biggest names in the business, including Edgar Award winner Tom Franklin and MWA Grand Master Margaret Maron, but I quickly found myself even more excited about including three writers making their debuts in the mystery genre: J.D. Allen, Kristin Kisska, and Karen E. Salyer. Serving some small role in introducing these writers to the world of crime fiction… well, few moments in my career have given me more pleasure or more pride.

And so I’m especially pleased this week to host Debra Lattanzi Shutika at the First Two Pages, talking about her first published short story, “Frozen Iguana,” debuting today in this year’s Bouchercon anthology, Florida Happens: Tales of Mystery, Mayhem, and Suspense from the Sunshine State, edited by Greg Herren. This is the fourth and final entry in a series of First Two Pages essays by contributors to the anthology; previous weeks have spotlighted Holly West, Paul D. Marks, and Alex Segura.

Debra is both a colleague and a friend; she’s the chair of the English Department at George Mason University where I teach (so basically my boss more than my colleague!), and it’s been great getting to know her more personally in recent years. Deb has been a tremendous supporter of me and my work, and it was an honor to be able to return the favor by reading an early draft of “Frozen Iguana” when she passed it my way in search of feedback—and then such a joy when the story was accepted for the collection. (And Deb earned a shout-out at Publishers Weekly as well—hooray!)

I hope you’ll join me in celebrating Deb’s milestone debut—and in meeting her and all the contributors to Florida Happens later this week at Bouchercon: a joint signing on Thursday, September 6, at 1 p.m. 

In the meantime, enjoy a preview of her work here. It’s quite a story!

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

Shutika Frozen Iguana