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.
Last week, the First Two Pages hosted Kate Ellis, the author of twenty-seven novels and of short stories which have been named finalists for the CWA Short Story Dagger. This week, we’re hosting Dru Ann Love and Kristopher Zgorski, two authors whose combined published fiction so far is one short story—the one, in fact, that they’re discussing today: “Ticket to Ride” from the anthology Happiness Is a Warm Gun: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of the Beatles. At one point in the essay below, Kristopher writes, “The fact that we have been asked to give some insight into our process is an honor, but we also realize we have no business giving advice at this stage in our creative writing ‘careers.'” While I understand the reason for the disclaimer, Dru Ann and Kris have such distinguished backgrounds in reading and reviewing and blogging and more that they’ve definitely had a leg up (um, two legs? four legs? the saying falls apart) in working toward this first published foray into fiction—enhanced perspectives which reveal themselves both in the essay they’ve co-written below and in the story itself.
Both Dru Ann and Kris have been recipients of the Raven Award from Mystery Writers of America—Dru Ann in 2017 for her blog Dru’s Book Musings and Kris in 2018 for his work at BOLO Books, two blogs I’ve followed, treasured, and learned from over many years now. On a personal note, I’ve been grateful to call each of them friends for those many years too, and I’ve been grateful to Kris for visiting with my Reviewing classes at George Mason University—sharing insights about his work with my students. It’s a real joy to see them venturing into the world of fiction-writing, and I hope “Ticket to Ride” is just the first of many stories ahead for them—whether collaborating in the future or working each on their own.
Happiness Is a Warm Gun: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of the Beatles has officially been released this week by Down & Out Books (the link to the publisher’s website also takes you to buy links in various spots). The anthology is edited by Josh Pachter—the latest in his series of collections inspired by Jimmy Buffett, Billy Joel, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, and more.
In addition to “Ticket to Ride” and Kate Ellis’ title story (find her essay from last week here), Happiness Is a Warm Gun features a star-studded line-up of contributors including Michael Bracken, Paul Charles, John Copenhaver, David Dean, Martin Edwards, John M. Floyd, Robert Lopresti, Tom Mead, Christine Poulson, Marilyn Todd, and Joseph S. Walker—as well as two more writers we’ll be hosting at the First Two Pages ahead: Anjili Babbar and Vaseem Khan.
Stay tuned for those essays ahead, and in the meantime, enjoy Dru Ann and Kris’s glimpse below into their shared writing process for their “Ticket to Ride.”
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.DRU-ANN-and-KRIS-essay-for-THE-FIRST-TWO-PAGES