The First Two Pages: “Riviera Red” by Sarah M. Chen

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.

Sarah M. Chen joins us this week to continue a series of essays celebrating the release earlier this month of Low Down Dirty Vote, Volume 3. Edited by Mysti Berry, this new volume centers on the theme “The Color of My Vote” features 22 authors exploring, as Mysti says, “the terrifying reality of life at a global turning point: will we choose to be creatures ruled by law or by raw power? What happens to us when we measure the color of our votes?” A charity anthology, this volume of Low Down Dirty Vote benefits Democracy Docket, “an organization that is successfully fighting against voter suppression in the United States.” Proceeds from the two previous volumes benefited the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

I’ve been fortunate to work with Sarah M. Chen in a couple of ways in recent years. She co-edited with E.A. Aymar the novel-in-stories The Swamp Killers, which featured my story “A Close Shave,” and she also took part recently in a roundtable discussion of short stories I hosted for The Third Degree, the newsletter for Mystery Writers of America. Sarah’s novella Cleaning Up Finn was an Anthony finalist and IPPY Award winner, and she’s co-edited several anthologies, including Avenging Angelenos from the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahmchen and check out her website here.

In addition to Sarah’s essay this week, please do read Eric Beetner’s essay on “Pick a Color” from last week, and watch this space for another essay by James McCrone 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.


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