The First Two Pages: “The Cough” by Lynn Chandler Willis

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’ll admit it: As the coronavirus has upended everything about life in the United States and around the world, I’ve been finding it hard to do most anything—especially write. With that in mind, I’m doubly amazed at the writers who have not only kept writing but have written stories directly in response to this crisis—and amazed too at the editors who have already shepherded into print short story anthologies about COVID-19. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be featuring contributors to two such anthologies: Writers Crushing COVID-19: An Anthology for Coronavirus Relief, edited by Lawrence Kelter, and Lockdown: Stories of Crime, Terror, and Hope During a Pandemic, edited by Nick Kolakowski and Steve Weddle. Both are charity anthologies, with proceeds benefiting the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, and both feature stellar line-ups of writers—just click through the links above to see for yourself!

Today, Lynn Chandler Willis talks about her story “The Cough” from the first of these anthologies. Lynn is the author of the Ava Logan mystery series, which includes Tell Me No Lies, Tell Me No Secrets, and Tell Me You Love Me. Her tagline is “Small Towns, Big Characters”—and her essay on “The Cough” focuses on both sides of that slogan, as you’ll see below. Check out more of Lynn’s 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.

Willis-Cough

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