Skip to main content

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 most difficult part of writing “Inquiry and Assistance” was meeting the high (for me) word count that the original requesting editor required. I had never written a story longer than five to six thousand words, so at the time, those extra three thousand plus words seemed daunting. Fortunately, the most enjoyable part of writing the story was hanging out with Tommy and his cousin Luke. I had so much fun that the words did flow and the story ended at just over nine thousand words.

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

Why, yes, yes I do. Over time I had written several well-received stories set in the 1930s. More than a few years ago an editor invited me to write a Depression era story for an historical anthology. I submitted the story. It was accepted for the publication and then the project languished. And languished. And languished. Years passed. Finally, the editor moved on to another job but not before telling the authors that the anthology was never going to see the light of day. So I took “Inquiry and Assistance” back and am thrilled that it found a home in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.

How does it feel to be a Derringer finalist?

It is indescribably delightful. I should tell you I was a Derringer judge for the first time in, I think, 2007 and in various years thereafter. Each time I was awed by the quality of work Short Mystery Fiction Society members produced. With that experience behind me, I never seriously imagined that I would one day write a story that would receive a Derringer nomination. I am overjoyed.


Hi Gerald,

Thank you for this opportunity to chat.


Popular posts from this blog


Beauregard "Bug" Montage is a getaway driver turned honest mechanic settled in Shepherd's Corner, Virginia. When an old associate asks him to drive for a can't-miss jewelry store robbery, Bug is reluctant, but with his mother's longterm care bill due, his estranged daughter needing money for college, and his customers headed to a larger competitor, he has little choice but to accept.

Bug and crew pull off the robbery and split the money, and Bug splits his share between his mother's nursing home and his daughter. However, the jewelry store is also a front for a crime boss who comes after the crew one by one.

Blacktop Wasteland is a short book by today's standards. It is a slick contemporary caper in which every character, much like Bug, is pressured to participate. It's also breakneck violent and noir as noir can be. At the same time, Cosby's lyrical, figurative prose is to be savored, not skimmed.

Blacktop Wasteland will be published July 14 by Flat…

2020 Derringer Finalists

The Short Mystery Fiction Society's 2020 Derringer Awards voting ends April 29 and winners will be announced in May. The finalists' full publication information does not appear on the SMFS Blog as yet this year, but members Rob Lopresti and I have pieced it together below. Congratulations and good luck to all:

For Best Flash (stories up to 1,000 words)
Chris Chan, "The Six-Year Old Serial Killer", Akashic Books Mondays are Murder, December 16, 2019Trey Dowell, "Lucky", Close 2 the Bone, December 17, 2019Josh Pachter, "The Two-Body Problem", Mystery Weekly, October 2019Lissa Marie Redmond, "2 Percent", Mystery Tribune, December 31, 2019C.J. Verburg, "Birdbrain", Fault Lines, Sisters in Crime Northern California Chapter, March 2019
For Best Short Story (1,000–4,000 words)
Michael Bracken, "Love, Or Something Like It", Crime Travel ed. Barb Goffman, Wildside Press, December 2019John M. Floyd, "On the Road with Mary Jo&q…


Mitchel McCann may have lost a war, but he never lost his belief. The preacher kept his faith throughout all the blood and the dying; trading his pulpit for a saddle and delivering his sermons with a brace of Walker Colts. McCann still believes in God, but he is no longer sure that God believes in him. Now fate has given him a chance at redemption; the opportunity to save a life instead of taking one.

Justice Simpson was only seven years old when she lost father. She has been losing steadily ever since. The Yankee ball that did for Dan Simpson also killed his wife, Rosalee, although it took another nine years to do it. Alone and destitute on the unforgiving streets of Saint Joseph, Missouri, Justice knows that the sooner or later the bullet will find her too.

In the winter of 1872 the war is long over, but on the Kansas—Missouri border old wounds are slow to heal and they leave ugly scars. The past is something that neither the preacher nor the girl can escape.