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2017 Derringer Finalist Hilary Davidson

I'm a member of the Short Mystery Fiction Society, an informal association of writers, publishers, and fans that has kept mystery & crime short stories in the public eye since 1996. On April 1, the Society announced the finalists for its 2017 Derringer Awards, and I had the idea to promote the finalists with interviews.

Hilary photographed
by Travis Richardson
2015 Best Long Story (8,001–20,000 words) Derringer winner Hilary Davidson is a finalist in the same category this year with "Swan Song" from Down & Out Books' April 2016 anti-gun violence anthology Unloaded: Crime Writers Writing Without Guns, edited by the SMFS's Eric Beetner. Hilary's debut novel, The Damage Done, won Bouchercon 2011's Best First Novel Anthony Award. Along with the Derringer, her short stories have won a Spinetingler Award, and two Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Reader's Choice Awards.

Describe your story in up to 20 words.

"Swan Song" is about two friends who've chosen different paths; together they take down a man who's harmed a lot of women.

What were the most difficult and most enjoyable parts of writing the story?

It's always exciting to hear a new voice in my head, a character demanding that I tell their story. I love that part — it's like getting to know a friend. Alice, the narrator, has plenty of secrets, in spite of her easy manner. The tough part was getting her to reveal them. I literally lost sleep because I was trying to figure out the plot. (That's true of most of my stories.)

Do you have a (juicy) story about how the story came to be published?

"Swan Song" had a long road to publication. Eric Beetner asked me to write a story for Unloaded, and I did...in 2014. The collection had trouble finding a publisher, though, because the subject matter made some people skittish. We were thrilled when Down & Out Books took on the project; it finally came out in 2016.

How does it feel to be a Derringer finalist?

Amazing! Short stories are my first love, and it's a huge honor to be recognized by people who share that love.

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