The First Two Pages: “Soul Mates” by Christine Otten

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.

In addition to being a first-class short story writer, Josh Pachter is also a distinguished translator whose work in that direction appears frequently in the “Passport to Crime” section of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.

In January, Akashic Books published Amsterdam Noir, headed up by Josh and his co-editor René Appel and bringing 14 of The Netherlands’ best authors to U.S. audiences—with a 15th story by Josh and his co-editor rounding out the set. The collection has already garnered overwhelmingly positive reviews. As CrimeReads wrote, “The latest in Akashic’s popular city Noir series heads to Amsterdam, a city whose ambivalence is on full display in the stories collected by editors Rene Appel and Josh Pachter. At once, Amsterdam is an idyllic city of orderly cafes, canals, relative abundance and safety; on the other, it’s a place that has long dealt in sex, drugs, and other activities traditionally categorized as vice. It’s a sometimes combustible combination, and the stories in Amsterdam Noir go a long way to probing the everyday noirs of Amsterdam’s many and diverse residents.”

In today’s First Two Pages, contributor Christine Otten reflects on her story “Soul Mates.” In addition to her fiction—her book The Last Poets was nominated for the prestigious Dutch Libris Literature Prize—she’s also a journalist and performer, regularly appearing at literary festivals and in theaters.

As an added bonus for readers in the Northern Virginia area, where Josh lives, there are two opportunities to meet with him this coming weekend:

  • On Saturday, February 16, Josh will be part of the My Bloody Valentine event at One More Pages Books, a meet-and-greet featuring members of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of Mystery Writers of America—5-7 p.m. at 2200 N. Westmoreland Avenue, Arlington, VA.
  • On Sunday, February 17, Josh will host the North American launch of Amsterdam Noir, featuring local writers and performers reading selections from the anthology—6-8 p.m. at the Shirlington Busboys & Poets, 4251 Campbell Avenue, Arlington, VA.

I hope folks in our area will come out for these events! And in the meantime, enjoy this introduction to the anthology, courtesy of contributor Christine Otten.

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.