The First Two Pages: “The Road to Hana” by R.T. Lawton

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’s post completes a series of essays penned by and celebrating this year’s finalists for the Edgar Awards for Best Short Story—and it’s an honor to be rounding out the series by hosting an old friend: R.T. Lawton. I first met R.T. in a grocery store (was it?) at the St. Louis Bouchercon (am I remembering right?) and he and I have continued to correspond since then and to serve together as contributors at the group blog SleuthSayers. It’s been great to follow his stories, many of them in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and terrific to see him honored this year for “The Road to Hana,” which appeared in AHMM‘s May/June 2021 issue. His essay below joins those published earlier here by the other finalists: Michael Bracken & James A. Hearn on their story “Blindsided” from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; V.M. Burns on “The Vermeer Conspiracy” and Tracy Clark on “Lucky Thirteen,” both from Midnight Hour: A Chilling Anthology of Crime Fiction from 20 Authors of Color. ; and Gigi Pandian on “The Locked Room Library” from Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. The final story on the slate is “The Dark Oblivion” by Cornell Woolrich, who died in 1968.

R.T. is a retired federal law enforcement agent, which he’s written about regularly at SleuthSayers, and his work includes more than 150 published short stories, nearly 50 of which have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. He currently has six short story collections in both paperback and e-format on Amazon with three more collections forthcoming in 2022. You can read more about him and his work at his website.

For a sample of his short fiction, his inspirations, and his approach, enjoy the essay below. And good luck to all of the finalists! I’m hoping to be there in April to help celebrate you all in person too.

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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