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2017 Derringer Finalist Hilde Vandermeeren

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.

The 2017 Derringers were open to works whose first English translations were published in 2016. Belgian children's, YA, and adult psychological thriller author Hilde Vandermeeren's Best Short Story (1,001–4,000 words) contender "The Lighthouse" was translated from Flemish by the SMFS's Josh Pachter, and appeared in the March/April 2016 Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. Josh also kindly translated this interview to and from Flemish.

Josh Pachter & Hilde Vandermeeren (photo from Josh)

Describe your story in up to 20 words.

In a lighthouse on an island far from shore, a man suspects that his wife is trying to kill him. (20 words!)

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

The hardest thing about writing any short story is misdirecting the reader. The most enjoyable thing is making the misdirection work.

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

My story was published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine thanks to Josh. He looks for stories by Dutch and Belgian authors for the magazine's "Passport to Crime" department and asked me to send him some of mine. He translated two of the stories I sent him, and they both appeared in EQMM in 2016. That made me very happy!

How does it feel to be a Derringer finalist?

I am so honored and grateful to be a Derringer finalist. Awards nominations are incredibly motivating. In addition to my psychological thrillers, I also enjoy writing suspenseful short stories, and I now certainly plan to write more of them.

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