Skip to main content

2017 Derringer Finalist Libby Cudmore

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.

Up for Best Short Story (1,001–4,000 words) with "YOLO", which appeared in May 2016 on BEAT to a PULP, Libby Cudmore is a reporter for The Freeman's Journal and Hometown Oneonta newspapers. Her debut novel, The Big Rewind, was published by William Morrow in February 2016. I've known her since my days as fiction editor at Thrilling Detective.

Describe your story in up to 20 words.

A woman proves her love for her friend by helping him enact vengeance after his brother is killed.

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

My friend Jason and I have this little game we play over text messages; one of us will say something innocuous, like "Today was miserable, my darling," and 15 messages later, we're describing the ache of our arms as we're digging a grave for this imaginary person who pissed us off at this imaginary bar where we're having imaginary drinks. It's always a fun little reveal because we never know where the story is going to go, we just trust that the other person will uphold their end and keep it moving -- that's a bit what writing "YOLO" was like.

For months, all I had was the opening line, "The room was spinning the night Lennox asked me to marry him" in a Word document. I didn't know anything about this story or these characters, I went in without even the faintest hint of a plan. But little by little by little, things revealed themselves to me, like what happened to Xander. I remember writing that line and thinking "What have I gotten these two into?"

It wasn't easy. "YOLO" took about six months to write, which is about five months longer than I usually spend on a short story. But when it finally clicked into place what had to happen, I knew I had written something incredible, something unlike anything else I had ever written. It was such a rush.

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

"YOLO" took a LOT of rejection. I had more or less given up on it getting published and had moved onto other things when David Cranmer, editor of BEAT to a PULP, asked if I would submit something. I sent it along, fully expecting him to politely pass—but he didn't! This story means a lot to me, it's one I'm especially proud of, and I'm glad it found a good home.

How does it feel to be a Derringer finalist?

It feels awesome! I'm really honored to be considered among such fantastic stories. My story "Spare Change" was nominated several years back, and it was a thrill then—now it feels a bit like coming home to find an amazing party waiting in the dark.

Comments

Art Taylor said…
Congratulations on the story--and enjoyed the interview too!
jrlindermuth said…
Always interesting to read how someone develops a story. Congratulations.
Catherine Dilts said…
Nice to learn how much time and effort went into your Derringer nominated story. Congratulations!
Earl Staggs said…

I'm always amazed when a story is rejected over and over again, as you said YOLO had been, and then is finally published and goes on to be nominated for a prestigious award as YOLO has been. That's a good reminder to all of us to not give up after a rejection but to suck it up and submit it again. And again...and again...and again...

Good luck in the Derringer voting, Libby.

Popular posts from this blog

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.


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 writi…

2017 Derringer Finalist O'Neil De Noux

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.

A 2009 Derringer winner, O'Neil De Noux is a five-time finalist after his stories contending in two categories this year, for Best Flash (Up to 1,000 words), published in Flash Bang Mysteries, "A Just Reward", and for Best Long Story (4,001–8,000 words), published in The Strand Magazine, "Effect on Men".

Describe your stories in up to 20 words each.

"A Just Reward": A man tries to pull a fast one to collect a reward. He underestimates the police and there’s a reckoning.

“Effect on Men”: Patricia has "this effect on men" and draws a private detective into a murder plot, leaving him with a hard choice.

What were the most d…

2017 Derringer Finalist Terrie Farley Moran

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.

Terrie Farley Moran won Best Novelette (8,001–20,000 words) with the Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine story, "Inquiry and Assistance". Terrie also writes a Florida cozy novel series whose protagonists own the Read 'Em and Eat bookstore cafe, "where murder and sweet tea are always on the menu." The first in the series, Well Read, Then Dead, won Malice Domestic's 2014 Best First Novel Agatha Award.

Describe your story in up to 20 words.

Tommy Flood, down on his luck but high on self-confidence, invents a career, deflects a beating, and solves a crime.

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

The m…