The First Two Pages: “The Very Last Time” by Juliet Grames

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 September/October 2021 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine celebrates the publication’s 80th year. As editor Janet Hutchings wrote in her “Letter from the Editor” in the new issue, EQMM was founded as “a new type of publication, intended to bring all of the different types of mystery, from the whodunit to noir fiction, from the mean-streets private eye tale to psychological suspense, from the police procedural to ‘literary’ stories, together between common covers. Founding editor Frederick Dannay described the venture as ‘frankly experimental’.”

EQMM‘s continued success is a testament to that diversity of genre, form, and style—and it’s with those qualities in mind that I’m particularly pleased to welcome Juliet Grames to The First Two Pages today to discuss her story “The Very Last Time” from this latest issue of the magazine. Already a tremendous success in the literary world, thanks to her debut novel The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna, Grames is also the curator of the Soho Crime imprint at Soho Books, and “The Very Last Time” marks her first published crime fiction—though as she explains in the essay below, the story draws equally on her love of speculative fiction too.

Many different types of genre in one? A bit of the “frankly experimental” in the process?

I hope you’ll enjoy Grames’ essay below, and the story itself in the new issue of EQMM, which also features short fiction by Jerome Charyn, Hilary Davidson, David Dean, Trey Dowell, William Burton McCormick, Bill Pronzini, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and more.

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.