The First Two Pages: “Old Soles” by Chris Dreith

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.

Despite not being able to get together with everyone in person, this year’s Bouchercon struck me as a great success! I loved the opening ceremonies, especially that opening to the opening ceremonies with a bookstore visit morphing into a visit with Holmes and Watson. The panels I sat in on were terrifically entertaining—fun both to hear from the authors on the panel and to connect with everyone in the chats too. And the Anthony Awards presentation was smoothly run. Kudos to everyone behind the scenes who helped bring all this together!

Chris Dreith, as it turned out, was one of those people, and she helped to celebrate Anthony Boucher and his work in an onscreen segment as part of the closing ceremonies.

But I didn’t know about Chris and her work with the conference when I first selected her story “Old Soles” for this year’s Bouchercon anthology, California Schemin’. In fact, because the stories were all submitted without names on them, I didn’t know who had written “Old Soles” at all until Chris’s name was revealed at the end of the process—my first introduction to her and her work.

As it turns out, this is Chris’s first published story, which gives me a special thrill as editor of the anthology—nothing better than helping an author get her first story published and helping to introduce her to the world. And what a story! While I loved all the stories I selected for the anthology—of course!—”Old Soles” may well be the most fun of them all. The characters here are a joy to spend time with, the plots twists are particularly delightful, and the storytelling is crisp and comical.

And the good news, as her bio on the essay below promises: This isn’t the last we’ll be hearing of these characters.

California Schemin’, available now from Wildside Press, features stories by the conference’s 2020 Guests of Honor: Cara Black, Anthony Horowitz, Catriona McPherson, Walter Mosley, Anne Perry, and Scott Turow. Chris’s story is one of thirteen others selected in a multi-tier judging process from more than 150 blind submissions. The other contributors are: Jennifer Berg, David Boop, Dixon Hill, Kim Keeline, R.J. Koreto, Joyce Kreig, Ellen Clair Lamb, Eileen Rendahl, Christopher Ryan, Linda Townsdin, Gabriel Valjan, and Carrie Voorhis. And two of those contributors have already submitted First Two Pages essays as well: Jennifer Berg on her story “Schemes in the Dark” and R.J. Koreto on “The Hollywood Gangster.”

Hope you’ll enjoy the essay below, check out the previous two essays, and then track down the anthology itself too!

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.


9 thoughts on “The First Two Pages: “Old Soles” by Chris Dreith

  1. Michele Drier

    Chris brings such a fresh voice and wry eye to her story-telling and writing. She’s a joy to read. She’s working on her debut novel and I expect that it, too, will give us a new and different way to view the world!

  2. Bj Davis

    I pre-read this story or Chris and I laughed through the whole story. I agree with you that it is well written and it was a delight to read.

  3. Karen Phillips

    I’ve had the pleasure of reading “Old Soles” and loved it! Chris has a true gift for writing. Her humor shows through and we certainly need more of that in this world. I look forward to more from her in the future.

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