The First Two Pages: “Wisest, Swiftest, Kindest” by Paula Gail Benson

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.

Looking back, I find myself struggling to remember when I first met Paula Gail Benson. At Malice Domestic almost certainly, but exactly when? exactly where? Paula has seemed so much a part of our lives for so long that it’s difficult to imagine a time before we knew her! We always look forward to seeing one another at Malice—chats, drinks, dinners—and we also try to join one another for the Agatha Awards Banquet each year, almost a tradition now. We get together at Bouchercon too (or try to, this year was a blur), we correspond throughout the year as well, and along the way, it’s been wonderful not only to see our friendship grow but also to watch Paula’s own career develop in so many directions too.

In addition to being a fine writer of short fiction herself—as you’ll see below with a preview of her story “Wisest, Swiftest Kindest” in which she steps into a new genre—Paula is a devoted reader of crime fiction, an enthusiastic supporter of the mystery community, and a regular blogger at both The Stiletto Gang and Writers Who Kill in addition to her own blog. And beyond short fiction, she contributes to productions at a local theater in Columbia, SC, and she’s been working on a novel which I’ve been fortunate to read excerpts of—and I hope that others will soon be able to read the whole book. I’m ready for the rest myself!

In the meantime, enjoy this glimpse at Paula’s short fiction below. And check out more of her work at her website 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 to read off-line.