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.
Last week brought the release of the new anthology The Beat of Black Wings: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Joni Mitchell, edited by Josh Pachter and featuring an exciting line-up of short story writers, including Donna Andrews, Abby Bardi, Michael Bracken, Carol Anne Davis, David Dean, Brendan DuBois, John Floyd, Barb Goffman, Sherry Harris, Greg Herren, Matthew Iden, Edith Maxwell, Alison McMahan, Adam Meyer, Kathryn O’Sullivan, Alan Orloff, Josh Pachter, Christine Poulson, Mindy Quigley, Amber Sparks, Ricki Thomas, Marilyn Todd, Elaine Viets, Stacy Woodson. The collection also features two collaborations: one story by Emily Hockaday and Jackie Sherbow, and a second by my wife Tara Laskowski and me—our first time working together on a piece of fiction!
I’m pleased to host several of these contributors for a short series of essays here at the First Two Pages, beginning today with Greg Herren on his story “The Silky Veils of Ardor,” based on a song from Mitchell’s 1977 album Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter.
I’ve admired Greg and his work for many years now, and given his prolific output as a novelist and short story writer (and editor and blogger too!), I’m surprised that it’s taken me so long to invite him to the First Two Pages. In addition to being a fine writer, Greg is also an amazing person in any number of ways. He’s a leader in terms of giving back to the mystery community, supporting and celebrating other writers, his time to editing recent Bouchercon anthologies, and currently serving as Executive Vice President of Mystery Writers of America. He’s well read, not only in our genre but far beyond it, and conversations with him about books and writing are always entertaining and illuminating. And he’s inspiring in other ways as well—level-headed and always with the bigger-picture perspective. I’m lucky to have him as a friend—a sentiment I know many others in the mystery community surely share.
If you haven’t read Greg’s work before, enjoy this introduction to his fiction below. And stay tuned for more contributors to The Beat of Black Wings in the weeks ahead.
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.Herren-Silky-Veils