The First Two Pages: “Billy’s Plan” by James L’Etoile

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.

Last week brought the publication of The Eviction of Hope, an anthology edited by Colin Conway and featuring stories by Hector Acosta, Mark Bergin, Joe Clifford, Paul J. Garth, Carmen Jaramillo, Dana King, James L’Etoile, Gary Phillips, Matt Phillips, Tom Pitts, Travis Richardson, John Shepphird, Holly West and Frank Zafiro. The collection centers on The Hope Apartments, once a hotel, possibly once again a hotel if the new owners’ plans come through, but in the meantime home to “drug addicts, petty criminals, and those hiding from others”—all of whom need to be evicted today. And these are their stories.

I’m grateful to have two contributors to the anthology talk about their stories this week and next—beginning with James L’Etoile, who draws on his two decades’ experience in the criminal justice system and on a specific story from his work at Folsom Prison for his story “Billy’s Plan.”

L’Etoile is the author of three novels, At What Cost, Bury the Past, and Little River: The Other Side of Paradise, with a new novel coming up this summer from Level Best Books: Black Label, about a pharmaceutical executive Jillian Cooper accused of murdering her boss. His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies, including “Birthright” in the Shattering Glass anthology from Nasty Woman’s Press, recently named a finalist for the Anthony Award for Best Anthology. Find out more about these novels and stories at L’Etoile’s website.

In the meantime, enjoy a preview of “Billy’s Plan” below, and stay tuned next week for an essay by Hector Acosta!

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.

Billys-Plan-James-LEtoile

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