The First Two Pages: River of Secrets by Roger Johns

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.

I first got to know Roger Johns at the Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival last month in Suffolk, VA. We ended up sitting together at lunch before the festivities began and then picked up our conversation again at dinner afterward and bonded both as writers and as college professors (former college professor in his case). Roger is as fun and engaging in person as he is on the page—and you’ll get a sample of his prose here as well as a glimpse into his careful process as he dissects the first two pages of his latest Wallace Hartman mystery, River of Secrets, released at the end of August.

Roger’s debut novel, Dark River Rising, was a finalist for the Silver Falchion Award and the Readers’ Choice Award at Killer Nashville, and he was named the 2018 Georgia Author of the Year this year in the mystery category. Check out more about his work—his novels, his blogs, and more—at his website here. And enjoy this preview of his latest novel below.

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.

Johns River of Secrets