The First Two Pages: “Mary, Merry, Marry” by Barbara DaCosta

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.

Today completes a series of essays by contributors to the anthology Minnesota Not-So-Nice with Barbara DaCosta reflecting on the real-life exchange that inspired her new story “Mary, Merry, Marry” and the craft choices she made getting the story down on the page. Along with the essays over the last couple of weeks—Marcia Adair on “For Love or Money” and Greg Dahlager on “Hell Week”—DaCosta’s contribution speaks to the range of fiction in the new anthology, which also includes stories by Karen Engstrom Anderson, C.N. Buchholz, Barbara Merritt Deese, Pat Dennis, Douglas Dorow, Thekla Fagerlie-Madsen, Steven G. Hoffmeyer, Carol Huss, Karl W. Jorgenson, Brian Lutterman, Michael Allan Mallory, Colin T. Nelson, T.S. Owen, Sherry Roberts, and C.M. Surrisi. The anthology was edited by Barbara Merritt Deese, Pat Dennis, Michael Allan Mallory, and Timya Owen and published by the Twin Cities Chapter of Sisters in Crime.

DaCosta is working on a novel featuring the main character of the short story here, and in addition to other mystery stories in publication, she has also written several children’s picture books, including Nighttime Ninja, Mighty Moby, and Night Shadows. You can find out more about her 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.