The First Two Pages: “Dzintra’s Tale” by V.S. Kemanis

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.

On the heels of a series featuring essays by contributors to the new anthology The Best Laid Plans, I’m pleased to welcome one more of that collection’s authors—V.S. Kemanis—but in this case, she’s not writing about her anthology story but about her latest short fiction in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, one that builds a bit on her own personal history, as you’ll see below.

In addition to her work for EQMM and in The Best Laid Plans, Vija’s short fiction has appeared in the anthology The Crooked Road, Vol. 3 (EQMM) and in five of her own story collections, most recently Your Pick: Selected Stories, and is forthcoming in Me Too: Short Stories (Level Best Books). She is also the author of the Dana Hargrove legal suspense novels. You can find out more about that series and about all her work at

In the meantime, please enjoy the essay here—and check out the full story in EQMM‘s new issue, which features a terrific line-up of other contributors, including Michael Bracken, Brendan DuBois, Chris Holm, Richard Helms, Tara Laskowski, Twist Phelan, R.J. Rozan, Marilyn Todd, Peter Turnbull, Vicki Weisfeld, and more.

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.