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.
For our final First Two Pages essay of the year (yes, I know it’s still early December!), we’re celebrating Crippen & Landru‘s annual tradition of publishing a standalone holiday story for their subscribers and other friends of the press. (And if you’re not a subscriber, what a perfect seasonal gift for fans of short mystery and suspense fiction!) I was fortunate to contribute a story a couple of years ago: “Ornamental, My Dear Watson” (inspired by actual Sherlock and Watson ornaments on our Christmas tree). And I always look forward to the special treat myself. Who was picked for this year’s story? Will it be a traditional mystery? some dose of holiday noir? funny? dark?
This year, I got an even more special surprise when Richie Narvaez asked me to read an early draft of his story—and what a joy it was to read “Raúl and Rita in It’s a Wonderful Wife!” with its echoes of Nick and Nora Charles, of Frank Capra’s holiday favorite, of screwball comedy generally. I haven’t seen the final, published edition of the story yet, but even that early version promised to tickle most any reader’s tinsel. (Too suggestive? Just trying to get into the spirit of the festivities.)
Richie has become one of my favorite writers in the mystery world and a fine friend as well. I was fortunate to read a draft of another of his stories for Crippen & Landru this year: the equally playful “The Stolen Tent” from the anthology School of Hard Knox. And Richie and I spearheaded plans for a panel we’ll be leading at this year’s AWP Conference: “It’s a Crime! Genre Fiction’s (Bad) Rap Sheet in Academia’s Mean Streets” along with writers Edwin Hill and David Heska Wanbli Weiden.
If you’re not already a fan of Richie’s work, please do check out his collections Noiryorican and Roachkiller and Other Stories, his Agatha and Anthony Award-winning YA novel Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco, and his novel Hipster Death Rattle. You can find out about these books and more at his website here.
And in the meantime, mix up a coquito and dive into Richie’s essay below—a nice glimpse at a terrific new Christmas story.
Happy Holidays to all—and Happy New Year ahead too!
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.Narvaez.RR1_.TheFirstTwoPages