The First Two Pages: “Perfect Strangers” by Tilia Klebenov Jacobs

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.

The First Two Pages blog series challenges writers to illuminate the strategies, intentions, and hopes behind their craft choices in the opening of their manuscripts—as the series title suggest, usually within the opening two pages. Occasionally, a writer has set a bigger challenge—the first two paragraphs perhaps, or even the first two sentences. And today, Tilia Klebenov Jacobs goes a step further: How does the opening sentence draw the reader in? What does it tell us explicitly? What more does it suggest about the main character, the story ahead, or the larger world of each?

Jacobs’ story “Perfect Strangers” appears in the new Mystery Writers of America anthology When A Stranger Comes to Town, edited by Michael Koryta, released Tuesday, April 20, and featuring a stellar line-up of contributors, including Paul A. Barra, Alafair Burke, Michael Connelly, S.A. Cosby, Tina deBellegarde, Jacqueline Freimor, Steve Hamilton, Joe Hill, Smita Harish Jain, Michael Koryta, Joe R. Lansdale, Emilya Naymark, Bryon Quertermous, Lori Roy, Jonathan Stone, Elaine Togneri, Lisa Unger, and Amanda Witt.

Jacobs is the bestselling author of two crime novels—Wrong Place, Wrong Time and Second Helpings at the Serve You Right Café—and a middle-grade fantasy novel—Casper and Jasper and the Terrible Tyrant—in addition to numerous short stories. She is a judge in San Francisco’s Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition and a board member of Mystery Writers of America-New England. Find out more about her and her work at her website.

After reading the first sentence of Tilia’s story “Perfect Strangers” in her essay below, do read the rest of the story in the full collection here! And do check out the previous two essays in this series: Lisa Unger on “A Six-Letter Word for Neighbor” and Smita Harish Jain on “Kohinoor.”

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.


Share this:

2 thoughts on “The First Two Pages: “Perfect Strangers” by Tilia Klebenov Jacobs

  1. Chuck Brownman

    Hi Art,

    I just wanted to let you know that the link to read Tilia’s essay offline is broken … it takes you to a blank page.

    Thanks as always for keeping Bonnie’s great tradition alive. For those of us toiling on short stories, your site serves as a great combination of inspiration, learning and publicity!

    Chuck Brownman

Comments are closed.