The First Two Pages: “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” by Kate Ellis

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.

Today and over the next few weeks, we’ll be celebrating the latest music-themed anthology from editor Josh Pachter—and this one is a big one: Happiness Is a Warm Gun: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of the Beatles, coming October 16 from Down & Out Books. The book features a (dare I say it?) “rock-star” line-up of writer; as the promotional copy explains: “Many of the contributors, like the Beatles themselves, come from England—including award winners Martin Edwards, Paul Charles, Vaseem Khan, Christine Poulson, Marilyn Todd, Kate Ellis, and Tom Mead—while the American authors include such popular crime writers as John Copenhaver, Michael Bracken, John M. Floyd, David Dean, Joseph S. Walker, and Robert Lopresti.”

We’re kicking off our series of First Two Pages essays with Kate Ellis’s story—for a couple of key reasons. First, Kate contributed the title story to the collection: “Happiness Is a Warm Gun,” inspired in part by an event from her own youth, as she explains in the essay below. Second, as she also explains, Kate is a Liverpool native herself, brought up in the same neighborhood as Lennon and McCartney. What better person to get things going here, right?

Kate is the author of twenty-seven novels featuring DI Wesley Peterson, five supernatural crime novels featuring DI Joe Plantagenet, and a trilogy set just after the First World War featuring Scotland Yard detective DI Albert Lincoln. Her latest Wesley Peterson mystery is The Killing Place, published in August. In addition to having two short stories shortlisted for the CWA Short Story Dagger, she was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library in 2019. Find out more about Kate and her work at her website.

In addition to Kate’s essay below, we’ll also be hosting Anjili Babbar, Dru Ann Love and Kristopher Zgorski (co-writing their story!), and Vaseem Khan in the weeks ahead. Stay tuned!

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.


2 thoughts on “The First Two Pages: “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” by Kate Ellis

  1. Pingback: The First Two Pages: “Can’t Buy Me Love” by Vaseem Khan – Art Taylor

  2. Pingback: The First Two Pages: “Ticket to Ride” by Dru Ann Love and Kristopher Zgorski – Art Taylor

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