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.
In February of last year, Smita Harish Jain emailed me with a great bit of news: Her story “Kohinoor” had been accepted for the next Mystery Writers of American anthology, When A Stranger Comes to Town, and would I be willing to share it in our MWA Mid-Atlantic Chapter newsletter? I was thrilled to hear the news then and thrilled to help celebrate Smita’s story again today on the official pub date—and celebrate all the contributors too! Edited by Michael Koryta, When a Stranger Comes to Town also features stories by Paul A. Barra, Alafair Burke, Michael Connelly, S.A. Cosby, Tina deBellegarde, Jacqueline Freimor, Steve Hamilton, Joe Hill, Tilia Klebenov Jacobs, Michael Koryta, Joe R. Lansdale, Emilya Naymark, Bryon Quertermous, Lori Roy, Jonathan Stone, Elaine Togneri, Lisa Unger, and Amanda Witt. Collectively the stories explore both the allure and the uneasiness of “the uninvited guest, the unacquainted neighbor, the fish out of water,” as the collection’s description explains.
Smita is a long-time friend, thanks to our shared membership in our local chapters of both MWA and Sisters in Crime, and she’s established herself as a great writer of short mystery fiction. The first of her stories I knew were “An Education in Murder” in Chesapeake Crimes: This Job Is Murder from our SinC chapter and “The Body in the Gali” in Mumbai Noir from Akashic Books, but she’s also been published in other Sisters in Crime anthologies and has stories forthcoming in both Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and in Malice Domestic’s Murder Most Diabolical. And another bit of great news: She’s recently finished a novel, the first in a series, also set in Mumbai—so more great fiction ahead!
Smita’s essay below is the second in a series featuring contributors to the anthology. Last week, Lisa Unger introduced her story “A Six-Letter Word for Neighbor,” and next week, Tilia Klebenov Jacobs will discuss “Perfect Strangers.” Stay tuned for that essay, and to read all the stories, check out the full collection 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.Jain-Kohinoor