The First Two Pages: “Underpass” by Robert Lopresti

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.

Robert Lopresti was the first guest at the First Two Pages when I took over curating this series in November 2017 after Bonnie Stevens’ death; Rob wrote about his story “The Chair Thief” in the November/December 2017 issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and you can read that essay here. At the time, I cited a couple of nice coincidences for hosting Rob first. That same issue of AHMM includes one of Bonnie’s own stories, “Death Under Construction,” so it was good to celebrate that posthumous publication, and Rob was one of three SleuthSayers bloggers with stories in the issue—a blog where Bonnie was also a regular contributor. But even without those connections, Rob would have been the perfect person to kick off the new run of the First Two Pages. Not only is he an amazing short story writer, but his commitment to the genre is admirable. He’s a former president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society. In addition to his work at SleuthSayers, he celebrates a short story a week at his own blog, Little Big Crimes. And he wrote a terrific textbook with tips on writing—one I’ve pointed aspiring writers toward a number of times and turned to myself for advice.

It’s a joy to welcome Rob back to the blog today with a story that came out a few weeks ago in Black Cat Weekly—the cover story of that issue.

Congratulations to Rob on another great story, thanks to him for a terrific essay too—and thanks too for all he does for the world of short mystery fiction!

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.