The First Two Pages: “The Pearl of the Antilles” by Carolina Garcia-Aguilera

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.

Thanks to Doug Allyn (“The Dead Snitch”), Brendan DuBois (““Scars of Love“), Lia Matera (“The Party”), and now Carolina Garcia-Aguilera for penning delightful First Two Pages essays this month on their stories the anthology Edgar and Shamus Go Golden: Twelve Tales of Murder, Mystery, and Master Detection From the Golden Age of Mystery and Beyond, co-edited by Gay Toltl Kinman and Andrew McAleer. Carolina’s essay on her story “The Pearl of the Antilles” rounds out this series and explores how history and geography both can help both inspired and determine a story—in this case, the setting of 1940s Havana.

These four contributors are part of a stellar line-up for the anthology, which also includes Lori Armstrong, O’Neil De Noux, Martin Edwards, John Floyd, Kristen Lepionka, and P.J. Parrish. (Oh, and me too!) The centerpiece of the collection is John McAleer’s “The Case of the Illustrious Banker,” first written in 1937, only recently rediscovered, and now being published for the first time—a true cause for celebration.

As Carolina writes in her essay, she has less trepidation about writing long than about writing short: “For me, writing a 100,000-word manuscript was easier than an 8,000-word short story… I was much more comfortable taking my time to lay out a story—structure, pacing, dialogue, descriptions, etc.—and condensing it into just a few thousand words would take a great deal of planning.”

While Carolina’s short story is the order of the day—and hopefully you’ll find it comes together nicely!—she’s also a novelist, and I’ll encourage you to check out one of her ten books, perhaps especially the Shamus Award-winning novel Havana Heat.

And stay tuned next week for something entirely different!

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.