The First Two Pages: “The Jollof Rice and Crayfish Mystery” by Stella Oni

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.

Today, The First Two Pages hosts Stella Oni—the third of three writers reflecting on their contributions to the holiday-themed anthology Festive Mayhem 2. After Francelia Belton talking about her story “The Brotherhood of Tricks and Treats” (Halloween) and Rhoda Berlin reflecting on “Last Bite” (Thanksgiving), Stella’s story—”The Jollof Rice and Crayfish Mystery”—brings us up to Christmas. Happy holidays indeed! Edited and published by Marla Bradeen, the anthology’s “Seven Holiday Culinary Cozy Mysteries” also include stories—and recipes!—by Angela Henry, Barbara Howard, Paige Sleuth (Bradeen’s pseudonym), and Carolyn Marie Wilkins. 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.

Stella’s story follows the character she introduced in “The Stranger in the House” in the first Festive Mayhem: Nigerian British housekeeper Elizabeth Ojo. Stella is working on a novel featuring this character too—the first of a new London House Mystery series. Stay tuned! And in the meanwhile, do check out Stella’s debut crime novel, the police procedural Deadly Sacrifice, and find out more about her work at her website. You can also connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Thanks to Francelia, Rhoda, and Stella for their essays over the last few weeks—and happy holidays again to all!

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.


6 thoughts on “The First Two Pages: “The Jollof Rice and Crayfish Mystery” by Stella Oni

  1. Francelia Belton

    Hi Stella! I loved the behind the scenes knowledge in how Elizabeth and your story came to be! I was certainly swept into wanting to know more. 🙂

    And thank you, Art, for hosting Festive Mayhem 2 these past 3 weeks. It was fun and I’m glad to be a part of it. 🙂

  2. Rhoda Berlin

    Thanks for the fun and helpful post, Stella! I love stories with strong cultural elements, and Elizabeth’s adventures fit that bill. You were aiming for “something light, fresh, and different”? Bullseye!

    Art, thank you for providing such a welcoming venue for this series. The essays are illuminating and encouraging from both reader’s and writer’s perspectives. Exploring the archives has become a favorite pastime.

  3. Marla Bradeen

    Thank you for sharing this peek into how you crafted your main character and the world she lives in, Stella! I love that readers have the chance to visit with Elizabeth again after your first Festive Mayhem story. And thank you, Art, for featuring our collection for the third week running. Happy holidays, all!

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