The First Two Pages: Lowdown Road by Scott Von Doviak

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.

What could be better than having Stephen King call your debut novel “terrific”? How about having him call your next novel “A great f—— story”? I can’t help wondering if those dashes were King’s own or some bit of discretion by Hard Case Crime, but in any case, that’s some emphatic back-to-back praise for Scott Von Doviak’s two novels: Charlesgate Confidential (2018) and Lowdown Road, with the latter officially burning rubber toward a bookstore near you today. (That’s my attempt at being more clever than writing “published today.”) And for readers who don’t trust blurbs, how about critics? In her column last week in the New York Times, Sarah Weinman offered her own enthusiasm about the book; check out that review here.

When Scott reached out to me about penning a First Two Pages essay on the new novel, I was enthusiastic myself—for several personal reasons. First, the book is set in 1974, and it uses Evel Knievel’s attempt to jump Snake River Canyon as part of the backdrop—a year and a cultural milestone central to my own story “The Boy Detective & The Summer of ’74” (which has nearly nothing else in common with Lowdown Road, I should add). Second, as a kid, I loved the kinds of shows and movies that helped inspire and inform Scott’s book: Smokey and the Bandit and The Dukes of Hazzard, for example. And then there’s the fact that we recently watched Smokey and the Bandit with our son—who loved it too. (And did you know it was a favorite of Alfred Hitchcock’s as well? I’ll let you Google that one yourself.)

Long stories short: I’m thrilled to welcome Scott here to talk about the new novel and to celebrate Lowdown Road on its official pub day—and can’t wait to take a spin with the book myself!

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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