The First Two Pages: “Pieces of Everyone, Everywhere” by Cynthia Swanson

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.

Like many readers of short crime fiction, I’ve long been a fan of the Akashic Noir series, with volumes celebrating new stories set in specific places—cities, regions, countries. Next week brings a new edition to the series with Denver Noir, edited by Cynthia Swanson and featuring stories by Peter Heller, Barbara Nickless, Cynthia Swanson, Mario Acevedo, Francelia Belton, R. Alan Brooks, D.L. Cordero, Amy Drayer, Twanna LaTrice Hill, Manuel Ramos, Mark Stevens, Mathangi Subramanian, David Heska Wanbli Weiden, and Erika T. Wurth. The book will be published on May 3.

Several Denver Noir contributors have appeared at the First Two Pages before, including Francelia Belton, Mark Stevens, and David Heska Wanbli Weiden. When Francelia reached out to ask if I could help celebrate this new book with essays by a few contributors, I jumped at the chance, and I’m thrilled to be hosting her, Mario Acevedo, and editor Cynthia Swanson today and over the next two weeks.

First up, Cynthia Swanson shares a bit about the anthology generally and about her own story “Pieces of Everyone, Everywhere”—a title so chilling and thrilling I found myself drawn in even before the opening lines.

You’ll get more glimpses into the story in Cynthia’s essay below, but first an introduction to the author herself. Cynthia’s first novel, The Bookseller, was an Indie Next selection, became a New York Times bestseller, and won the 2016 WILLA Literary Award for Historical Fiction. Her follow-up, The Glass Forest, became a USA Today bestseller as well. You can find out more about each of these books at Cynthia’s website, and be sure to connect with her as well on Instagram (cynswanauthor), Twitter (cynswanauthor), Facebook (  

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.


2 thoughts on “The First Two Pages: “Pieces of Everyone, Everywhere” by Cynthia Swanson

  1. Pingback: The First Two Pages: “Dreaming of Ella” by Francelia Belton – Art Taylor

  2. Francelia Belton

    Hi Cynthia! I enjoyed your story in the anthology and your essay here. So glad that Denver Noir gets to join Akashic Books’ Noir series. I’ve almost read every one. 🙂

    And thank you, Art, for hosting us!

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