The First Two Pages: “Cardigans” by Wendy Hornsby

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.

Wendy Hornsby‘s Depression Era tale “Nine Sons” won the 1992 Edgar Award for Best Short Story, establishing her reputation as a writer of great skill and keen sensibilities; it later became the title story of her collection from Crippen & Landru in 2002. At the time of her Edgar win, Wendy had published two books in her Kate Teague Mystery Series, and her subsequent series featuring documentarian and amateur sleuth Maggie MacGowen now numbers 12 novels, including most recently 2019’s A Bouquet of Rue. Along the way, she also taught ancient and medieval history at Long Beach City College for many years—and has now claimed the title of professor emerita. More time for writing!

But though Wendy has focused on both novel writing and teaching, she hasn’t left behind short-form fiction. Her latest story, “Cardigans,” appears in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine‘s March/April 2022 issue, and I’m honored to welcome her here today to talk about it—with an essay that proves she’s as thoughtful and precise in her analysis and reflection as she is in her fine storytelling. (An added bonus: Wendy wrote an earlier First Two Pages essay for B.K. Stevens on her story “The Legacy” for Jewish Noir; you can find that here.)

Do check out the full story in EQMM before this current issue leaves newsstands—and check out Wendy’s website for more about her and her work. A joy hosting her this week!

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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