The First Two Pages: “Talk to Me” by Emily Hockaday and Jackie Sherbow

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.

“Talk to Me” in the anthology The Beat of Black Wings: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Joni Mitchell marks the first short fiction collaboration by Emily Hockaday and Jackie Sherbow, though the two have worked together in a couple of other capacities before. Both women are managing editors for Dell Magazines—Emily for Analog Science Fiction and Fact and Asimov’s Science Fiction and Jackie for Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine—and together they co-edited the anthology Terror at the Crossroads. But while the emphasis in each case there is on editing duties, both of them are writers as well—poets, in fact. Emily is the author of five chapbooks: Space on Earth, Ophelia: A Botanist’s Guide, What We Love & Will Not Give Up, and Starting a Life, as well as the forthcoming Beach Vocabulary. Jackie is the author of the chapbook Harbinger. So “Talk to Me” takes them into fresh territory not only in terms of collaboration but from poetry to fiction too.

In addition to Emily and Jackie’s story, The Beat of Black Wings, edited by Josh Pachter, features stories by a great line-up of 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, and Stacy Woodson—and one other collaboration as well, with my wife, Tara Laskowski, and I working together on a story for the first time too.

Over the past two weeks, the First Two Pages has featured essays by Greg Herren on his story “The Silky Veils of Ardor” and by Abby Bardi on “Help Me,” and one final contributor will be discussing her story next week. In the meantime, enjoy Emily and Jackie’s essay below on “Talk to Me.”

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.

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  1. Pingback: The First Two Pages: “Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire” by Donna Andrews – Art Taylor

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