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.
It’s such an honor for the First Two Pages to be hosting more of this year’s Edgar Award finalists for Best Short Story—this week welcoming Tracy Clark, author of “Lucky Thirteen” from Midnight Hour: A Chilling Anthology of Crime Fiction from 20 Authors of Color. Last week, V.M. (Valerie) Burns discussed her story “The Vermeer Conspiracy” from the same anthology, and the authors of two other stories contributed essays last year—well before the nominations were announced: Michael Bracken & James A. Hearn on their story “Blindsided” from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Gigi Pandian on “The Locked Room Library” from Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Next week, R.T. Lawton, author of “The Road to Hana” from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, will round out this series of essays. (Despite some best efforts, I’ve been unable to arrange an essay on the the last story on the slate, “The Dark Oblivion” by Cornell Woolrich, who died in 1968.)
Today’s essay by Tracy Clark starts out with a frank admission: “I don’t write short stories”—and then proceeds to explain how this one, a tense and twisty thriller, came to be written.
While Tracy says she finds short form fiction a challenge, she’s firmly established herself as a terrific novelist. Her Cass Raines Chicago Mystery series earned the 2020 G.P. Putnam’s Sons Sue Grafton Memorial Award, and in addition to the Edgar nomination for short story, she’s also a finalist for this year’s Sue Grafton Award as well. She’s also been nominated for the Anthony, Lefty and Shamus Awards. Her latest book, Runner, released in June 2021, and you find out more about her work at her website.
Enjoy Tracy’s essay below, and do check out Midnight Hour to read the full story. Hope you’ll also go back to the previously published essays by the other finalists too, and stay tuned for R.T. Lawton’s essay ahead.
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.Clark-Thirteen