The First Two Pages: “Volcano” By Alison McMahan

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 the past few weeks, The First Two Pages has been hosting contributors to the new anthology The Great Filling Station Holdup: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Jimmy Buffett: Bruce Robert Coffin on his story “Incommunicado,” Laura Oles on her story “Everybody’s on the Run,” and Neil S. Plakcy on “Public Relations.” Concluding the series today is author and filmmaker Alison McMahan, reflecting on the origins of her story “Volcano”—some personal experience which, in fact, far predated the call for submissions for the new anthology. McMahan’s essay shows how numerous influences can join together to help inspire a writer’s creativity and contribute toward the final product.

Alison McMahan’s historical crime novel The Saffron Circus won the Rosemary Award and the Florida Writers Association’s Royal Palm Literary Award, and her short fiction has appeared in Scream and Scream Again, edited by R.L. Stine, and in anthologies published by Level Best Books, Wildside Press, and Down-and-Out Books. She’s also a screenwriter and filmmaker, whose most recent film was Bare Hands and Wooden Limbs. Find out more about her work at her website.

In addition to these four contributors to The First Two Pages, the full anthology, edited by Josh Pachter, also features stories by Leigh Lundin, Pachter himself, Rick Ollerman, Michael Bracken, Don Bruns, Lissa Marie Redmond, Elaine Viets, Robert J. Randisi, Isabella Maldonado, Jeffery Hess, John M. Floyd, and M.E. Browning.

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.