The First Two Pages: “Rage Warehouse—Ire Proof” by Toni L.P. Kelner

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.

I keep wondering what’s the best way to introduce Toni L.P. Kelner here. Should I start with her first two terrific mystery series—the eight Laura Fleming mystery novels or the three “Where Are They Now?” books? Or should I begin closer to the present, with her delightful Family Skeleton Series under the name Leigh Perry (and should I add a mention of my own cameo in the latest novel, The Skeleton Stuffs a Stocking)? Or given the subject of this post, perhaps it would be best to focus on her commitment to short-form suspense fiction, both as a short story writer herself (and Agatha winner for “Sleeping with the Plush”) and as a co-editor with Charlaine Harris of a series of top-notch urban fantasy anthologies. Or hey, how about I start with a personal angle and note that Toni and I are both native North Carolinians and that both of us migrated northward and maybe in the process earned some additional perspectives on our home states?

Or maybe it’s better to start with the story that’s the subject of Toni’s essay here: “Rage Warehouse—Ire Proof,” which—as she points out in her essay—was more than two decades in the making and which also takes her back to those N.C. roots. (I’m feeling some resonance here as well, given one of my own recent stories….)

Check out the essay below and then the full story in the latest issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. And check out more of Toni’s work at her websites here and here. She’s a terrific storyteller and a fine friend too—not just to me but to so many of us throughout the mystery community.

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.


6 thoughts on “The First Two Pages: “Rage Warehouse—Ire Proof” by Toni L.P. Kelner

  1. Bobbi A. Chukran

    Hi Toni and Art,

    Enjoyed this! It’s a great lesson in not giving up on stories, and observing our surroundings. Using what you saw on that old building was genius. I just purchased this issue of EQMM for my Kindle and am looking forward to the story!

    1. Art Taylor Post author

      Thanks, Bobbi! And agreed on not giving up stories–you never know when you might get a fresh perspective or a new burst of enthusiasm for a work-in-progress.

  2. Jacqueline Seewald

    Hi Toni,

    A very interesting article. You remind me that we should always save drafts of early work. We might just want to come back and rework and re-edit in the future. By the way, I still appreciate the fact that you did the cover blurb for my 3rd Kim Reynolds mystery The Truth Sleuth. The 5th book in that series Blood Family is now published.

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