The First Two Pages: “The Brotherhood of Tricks and Treats” by Francelia Belton

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.

Thanksgiving is behind us, but the holiday season continues! …though in this week’s First Two Pages essay with a glance back a bit to other festivities and a different brand of mayhem. Francelia Belton‘s story in the new Festive Mayhem 2 anthology takes place on Halloween, as you might tell from the title: “The Brotherhood of Tricks and Treats.” And those brothers are the focus of the first two pages and of a good part of the focus of the essay as well, though Francelia talks about setting too, a place and its people tied together…. and the story’s time frame as well. Who knew Cocoa Krispies didn’t hit the market until 1958? And if you’re intrigued by that fact, do read on….

Edited and published by Marla Bradeen, Festive Mayhem 2 features “Seven Holiday Culinary Cozy Mysteries” by seven writers of color: Francelia Belton, Rhoda Berlin, Angela Henry, Barbara Howard, Stella Oni, Paige Sleuth (Bradeen’s pseudonym), and Carolyn Marie Wilkins. And the anthology does include recipes—Belton’s featuring Cocoa Krispies, as you may have guessed! (The first anthology in this series is no longer available, but you can find several of the stories—by Jennifer J. Chow, Delia C. Pitts, and Paige Sleuth—linked at Marla Bradeen/Paige Sleuth’s website.)

Francelia’s essay is below, and be sure to check out her website and follow her on Twitter while you’re at it! Do also check out Rhoda Berlin’s discussion of her Thanksgiving-themed story, “Last Bite,” in last week’s post. And stay tuned for next week’s essay by Stella Oni—on her Christmas cozy!

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.


10 thoughts on “The First Two Pages: “The Brotherhood of Tricks and Treats” by Francelia Belton

  1. Pingback: The First Two Pages: “The Jollof Rice and Crayfish Mystery” by Stella Oni – Art Taylor

  2. Rhoda Berlin

    Illuminating post, Francelia! Thanks for sharing your creative process. You gave us two terrific recipes to follow: the ingredients of your story blend as beautifully and deliciously as the ingredients for Vincent’s Halloween treats!

  3. Marla Bradeen

    I love how Cocoa Krispies helped to establish your story’s setting, Francelia! There are always so many little things to research that, as readers, we often don’t even think about. Thank you for this fun peek into “The Brotherhood of Tricks and Treats,” and thank you to Art for featuring more of Festive Mayhem 2!

    1. Francelia Belton

      Hi Marla! Thanks for coming by to “see” me today. Yes, it is interesting how the littlest things can shape a story. And I am so glad I stopped to research that little fact. Although Rice Krispies were around since 1928, it was interesting to know that the cocoa version didn’t come out until 30 years later! 🙂

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