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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 difficult and most enjoyable parts of writing each story?

The difficulty in writing “A Just Reward” was keeping it a flash story with a decent plot. It was enjoyable writing it, then cutting and cutting, making it leaner and leaner until it was a good flash story.

The only difficulty in writing “Effect on Men” was keeping it from becoming a novel. My characters tend to take over my stories and most of the time, I run alongside and write down what they say and do. I struggled to keep it a short story. Most enjoyable—writing a good femme fatale story and giving my main character a genuine dilemma at the end.

Do you have a (juicy) story about how both/either story came to be published?

Nothing juicy but I’d like to remind everyone how long it takes. Not the writing but the acceptance and publication. Be patient. This is not the 20th century anymore. It takes a lot longer for an editor to make up her or his mind on a story.

How does it feel to be a Derringer finalist?

Feels great. It isn’t easy making the cut into the final five. Each year we seem to get more submissions and so many are excellent. Shows the Derringer Awards are as important as many of us have felt for a long time.

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