The First Two Pages: “The Artisan-Cheese Incident” by Michael Hock

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.

The men who created Columbo and Murder, She Wrote. The writer of The Body Snatcher, adapted four times on the big screen. The father of Rambo. These writers and more than 800 more have been part of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine‘s Department of First Stories since the feature debuted in 1949—a history that also includes Charles Ardai, Laura Benedict, David Dean, Brendan DuBois, Martin Edwards, Stanley Ellin, Harry Kemelman, Nancy Pickard, and James Yaffe, among many others. I was honored to make my own mystery debut as part of this series, and I’m thrilled now to welcome a good friend into these ranks: Michael Hock, whose story “The Artisan-Cheese Incident” debuts today in EQMM‘s November/December issue. And thrilled to welcome him to the First Two Pages as well to introduce the new story!

I’ve been fortunate to have worked with Michael in a number of capacities: as a colleague at George Mason, as part of his thesis committee as he pursued his MFA in Fiction at Mason (one of several degrees he’s earned!), and as a reader of an earlier draft of the story here. I loved the energy and imagination of “The Artisan-Cheese Incident”—the interweaving storylines, Michael’s inimitable style, the humor of it all—and I actually encouraged Michael to submit the story to EQMM. I thought it would be a great fit for the magazine—and so glad to hear I was right.

While “The Artisan-Cheese Incident” is Michael’s first published fiction, he’s had comic essays published at Cracked and at Case in Point. And you can continue to follow Michael and his success as Bad Shakespeare at Twitter.

In the meantime, check out his essay below and pick up the new issue of EQMM to read the full story—a joy start to finish!

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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