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.
I’ve always been fascinated by writing pairs and teams—Maj Stöwall and Per Wahlöö, for example, or Richard Levinson and William Link, or more recently Charles and Caroline Todd. How does the collaboration succeed? How is work divided? What are the challenges? I’ve been fortunate to how a writing duo at the First Two Pages before: Emily Hockaday and Jackie Sherbow with their story “Talk to Me” in The Beat of Black Wings. And today I’m pleased to host another pair of fine writers: Michael Bracken and James A. Hearn talking about their story “Blindsided” in the new issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. (In the photo, James is the one in the Cowboys shirt, as you’ll learn in the essay.)
Both writers have previous appeared independently at the First Two Pages—Michael on his story “Dixie Quickies” in Black Cat Mystery Magazine and James on his story “Trip Among the Bluebonnets” in the anthology The Eyes of Texas, which Michael edited.
Michael Bracken is well-known as a short story master, with more than 1,300 published stories to his credit—and his work has been selected for both The Best American Mystery Stories 2018 and The Mysterious Bookshop Presents The Best Mystery Stories of the Year 2021. He’s a gifted editor as well, currently helming both Black Cat Mystery Magazine and the Guns + Tacos series, among other magazines and anthologies. Find out more at his website: CrimeFictionWriter.com.
James A. Hearn’s first professional short story sale was “Trip Among the Bluebonnets,” mentioned above, but his work has appeared widely since. In addition to AHMM, his stories have appeared in Black Cat Mystery Magazine and Monsters, Movies & Mayhem, as well as anthologies including Guns + Tacos, Mickey Finn, and Peace, Love, and Crime. Visit his website at JamesAHearn.com.
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.Bracken-Hearn-Blindsided
I love the thumbnail of what makes a successful collaboration, though different duos achieve it in different days. With the Todd, for example, one does the writing, the other the research. As for the first two pages of the story, I’m trying to decide if would still induce a feeling of dread in my inner feminist if the essay didn’t tell me the protagonist would be required to choose between his loyalties to family and team.