The First Two Pages: “Behind the Magic 8-Ball” by Marcia Talley

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 latest Chesapeake Crimes anthology, Magic Is Murder, is the tenth in a series which has established itself as one of the best in the world of mystery fiction—though I’ll admit I’m biased a bit, since the contributors have generally been drawn from my local area here in Virginia, Maryland, and DC (and I’m fortunate that my own stories have appeared in several previous volumes as well). But beyond personal connections, the series has also established its bona fides in more objective ways: Stories from various volumes have regularly been nominated for or won the Agatha Award and other honors. And here’s hoping that similar attention and acclaim awaits this new book—featuring stories by Donna Andrews, Pam Clark, Greg Herren, Smita Harish Jain, Eleanor Cawood Jones, Tara Laskowski, Jaquelyn Lyman-Thomas, Adam Meyer, Alan Orloff, Shari Randall, KM Rockwood, Rosalie Spielman, Marcia Talley, Robin Templeton, Cathy Wiley, and Stacy Woodson.

Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman, and Marcia Talley are the long-time co-editors of the series. (I should stress that everyone—editors included—submits their story anonymously to an independent editorial panel, and the editors have sometimes had their own stories declined for inclusion.) Marcia’s story—”Behind the Magic 8-Ball”—did make the cut this year, and it’s a real thrill to have her chat about it and in the process give us an introduction to the series, its history, and the behind-the-scenes of some of the decision-making involved.

While her short stories are terrific (including “Driven to Distraction” from Chesapeake Crimes 2, which won the Agatha Award), Marcia is best-known as a novelist—author of the Hannah Ives mystery series, most recently the novel Disco Dead, released earlier this month! You can find out more about Marcia and her work at her website here.

Enjoy Marcia’s introduction to the Chesapeake Crimes series and her reflections on her own story in the essay below. And stay tuned for more Magic Is Murder contributors in this space 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.


1 thoughts on “The First Two Pages: “Behind the Magic 8-Ball” by Marcia Talley

  1. Pingback: The First Two Pages: “Pyewackett” by KM Rockwood – Art Taylor

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