The First Two Pages: “The Rock Star” by Frances Aylor

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.

Malice Domestic has long been one of the highlights of the year for me and my family—including my wife Tara Laskowski, who has now won two Agatha Awards, and our son Dash, who listed it prominently in an assignment on “Family Traditions” for his third-grade class; Malice ranked just below Christmas. And recently, in the larger world, Malice ranked much higher: Just last week, Mystery Writers of America named Malice Domestic the winner of the 2021 Raven Award, honoring outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing. Congratulations for a much-deserved honor! (…as if ranking just below Christmas wasn’t already enough, I mean….)

Certainly 2020 has disrupted all of our lives in many, many ways more fundamental than “can’t attend mystery conventions,” but on top of everything else this year, we were particularly disheartened that we couldn’t get together with mystery readers and writers in Bethesda back in late April and early May—friends so much a part of our lives that they feel like family. Another disruption: the annual Malice Domestic anthology was pushed back as well—something that I’ve brought home in recent years as both souvenir and celebration of everything Malice.

The good news: Malice Domestic: Murder Most Theatrical came out in October from Wildside Press—hooray! The collection was presented by Ellen Hart, this year’s Malice Lifetime Achievement honoree, and edited by Verena Rose, Rita Owen, and Shawn Reilly Simmons, and the anthology features a great line-up of contributors—many friends among this list too: Frances Aylor, Anne Louise Bannon, Michele Bazan Reed, Cindy Brown, M. E. Browning,  Karen Cantwell,  R. M. Chastleton, Leone Ciporin, Carla Coupe, Susan Daly, Phillip DePoy, Margaret Dumas, Elizabeth Elwood, Daryl Wood Gerber, B. J. Graf, A. P. Jamison, Maureen Jennings, Margaret Lucke, Jaquelyn Lyman-Thomas, Sharon Lynn, Cheryl Marceau, Deborah Maxey, Adam Meyer, Raquel V. Reyes, Merrilee Robson, Lee Sauer, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Lynn Slaughter, C. M. Surrisi, Elaine Togneri, Arthur Vidro, Mo Walsh, James Lincoln Warren, and Carol L. Wright.

This week and in coming weeks, I’m honored to feature several contributors to Mystery Most Theatrical talking about their new stories here—beginning this week with Frances Aylor, author of the novel Money Grab, reflecting on craft choices in her short story “The Rock Star.”

Check out the essay below, and stay tuned for more essays in the weeks ahead. And if you’re missing Malice as much as we are, pick up a copy of the collection yourself—the next best thing to being there in person!

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.

Aylor-Rock-Star

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