The First Two Pages: “Temptation is a Gun” by James D.F. Hannah

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.

Mark Westmoreland has assembled a terrific line-up of writers for the new anthology Trouble No More, released last week by Down & Out Books and featuring stories inspired by Southern rock and the blues. Contributors include Bill Baber, C.W. Blackwell, Jerry Bloomfield, S.A. Cosby, Nikki Dolson, Michel Lee Garrett, James D.F. Hannah, Curtis Ippolito, Jessica Laine, Brodie Lowe, Bobby Mathews, Brian Panowich, Rob Pierce, Joey R. Poole, Raquel V. Reyes, Michael Farris Smith, J.B. Stevens, Chris Swann, N.B. Turner and Joseph S. Walker—and I’m proud to have my own story, “Little Martha,” in the mix as well!

This week and next, I’m hosting First Two Essays by contributors to Trouble No More—beginning today with James D.F. Hannah on “Temptation is a Gun.” It’s a terrific essay, not only insightful about the story itself but also gesturing toward Southern literature generally—and Hannah’s prose is a joy always. I particularly loved the line about his writing process being “sketchier than convenience store sushi.”

Hannah won the Shamus Award for Best Original Private Eye Paperback for Behind the Wall of Sleep from his Henry Malone series, which also includes Midnight Lullaby, Complicated Shadows, She Talks to Angels, and Friend of the Devil. His short fiction has appeared in Rock and a Hard PlaceCrossed GenresShotgun HoneyThe Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Trouble No More, and Only the Good Die Young: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Billy Joel. Follow him on Twitter here.

And stay tuned for next week’s essay by J.B. Stevens!

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.


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  1. Pingback: The First Two Pages: “A Trailer on the Outskirts of Town” by J.B. Stevens – Art Taylor

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