The First Two Pages: “Rendering” by Sophia Lynch

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 one author’s debut in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine: James D.F. Hannah writing about “A Tear in His Hand.” This week, we host another debut: Sophia Lynch with her story “Rendering.” But there’s a significant difference. While Hannah has already distinguished himself with short fiction elsewhere, “Rendering” is Lynch’s first published story ever—appearing in EQMM’s Department of First Stories, a section of the magazine that has hosted an all-star group of writers over its history: the creators of Columbo and Murder, She Wrote (William Link & Richard Levinson), the father of Rambo (David Morrell), the author of The Body Snatcher (Jack Finney) and the current president England’s Detection Club (Martin Edwards) as well as Charles Ardai, Laura Benedict, David Dean, Brendan DuBois, Stanley Ellin, Harry Kemelman, Nancy Pickard, James Yaffe, and many others who’s gone on to great things. (I debuted there too, I should add.)

No pressure, Sophia…

…though honestly, both her story and her essay below show such confidence and such careful perceptiveness (about self, about storytelling, about people, about the world) that there’s no doubt that “Rendering” is the first step in a very promising career. You’ll find out more about Lynch in the essay itself, but as she writes in the bio at essay’s end, “keep an eye out. She’ll be around.”

While the Department of First Stories is regularly one of the first sections of EQMM I seek out, what also caught my here was the editor’s note that Lynch had written this story while a student of Scott Loring Sanders’ and that he’d recommended her EQMM‘s way. I’ve admired Scott’s work for many years and we’ve often corresponded, so it was good to see that connection, and I share his joy in recommending students’ work to magazines whenever I can help—a great feeling to see stories go from the classroom into publication. With EQMM in particular, I’ve been thrilled to have two of the students I’ve worked with get work accepted for this Department: Michael Hock, who wrote here about “The Artisan-Cheese Incident” and… oh, but I’m not sure that news has been announced yet. Stay tuned for another First Two Pages sometime ahead!

And in the meantime, congratulations to Sophia Lynch on the new story—the first of many for sure!

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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