The First Two Pages: “The Dark House Down the Street” by Richard Helms

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.

For a second week at the First Two Pages, I’m welcoming a contributor to the new anthology Writers Crushing COVID-19: An Anthology for Coronavirus Relief, edited by Lawrence Kelter, with proceeds benefitting the Book Industry Charitable Foundation. Last week, Lynn Chandler Willis introduced her story “The Cough,” and this week, Richard Helms talks about “The Dark House Down the Street.” I didn’t realize when I scheduled these posts, but both writers live in my own home state of North Carolina—and in fact, another writer with NC ties (I won’t name who) confused me with Rick several years ago, long enough ago that I don’t remember the details about how we got confused.

But no worries about that confusion, given Rick’s fine resume as a writer, including twenty novels, a Thriller Award, two Derringer Awards, and numerous other nominations for those awards and other prizes. His latest successes? His new novel, Brittle Karma, comes out in October, and that same month will see the publication of this year’s Best American Mystery Stories, which includes Rick’s story “See Humble and Die” from The Eyes of Texas.

Enjoy Rick’s essay below on his story for Writers Crushing COVID-19, and stay tuned next week for Scott Adlerberg’s essay on his story for another COVID-19 anthology, Lockdown: Stories of Crime, Terror, and Hope During a Pandemic, edited by Nick Kolakowski and Steve Weddle.

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.


2 thoughts on “The First Two Pages: “The Dark House Down the Street” by Richard Helms

  1. Charles Brownman


    There’s no essay here, and the one last week didn’t have the usual download link either. Can you check to see if there’s a tech glitch at your end?


Comments are closed.