The First Two Pages: “The Interpreter and the Killer” by Jeff Soloway

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.

Jeff Soloway‘s short fiction career started out at a highpoint: His story “The Wentworth Letter” from the anthology Criminal Element’s Malfeasance Occasional: Girl Trouble won the 2014 Robert L. Fish Award, honoring the best first short story by an American author. Since then, he’s published short fiction in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, in two Mystery Writers of America anthologies, and elsewhere, and his latest story, “The Interpreter and the Killer,” appears in the Black Mask section of the latest issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine—and in the essay below, he discusses both his strategies for crafting the story and the background that inspired it, including family, friends, and news stories. (Find out more below.)

Jeff is also the author of the Travel Writer Mystery Series, the most recent of which is The Ex-President. Find out more at his Random House author page here.

On a side note, I want to add that part of what drew me to inviting Jeff to contribute to the First Two Pages was the heroine of his new story—a court interpreter. As many of you may know, B.K. Stevens, who founded the First Two Pages, also wrote about a courtroom interpreter, in her case someone translating sign language; her story “Interpretation of Murder” originally appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine in 2010 and won a Derringer Award in 2011, and Bonnie expanded the idea into a full novel by the same name, published in 2015.

Read more about Jeff Soloway’s court interpreter—in very different circumstances—below.

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.