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2018 Derringer Finalist Earl Staggs

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 15, the Society announced the finalists for its 2018 Derringer Awards. Members are voting to determine the winners, to be announced May 15.

In the meantime, as I did last year, I'm inviting the finalists for interviews. If you'd like to participate, email me your answers to the same following questions.

Past SMFS president and two-time Derringer winner Earl Staggs returns to the finals with "Fishing for an Alibi" (Flash Bang Mysteries, Fall 2017) contending for Best Flash.

Describe your story in up to 20 words.

A career criminal thinks he can outsmart Sheriff Mollie Goodall, but he's in for a big surprise.

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

I've written a number of stories featuring Mollie Goodall, fictional sheriff of a fictional Texas county, and it's always fun spending time with her. The toughest part with this one was telling a story within the lengths of flash fiction. Usually, her stories run in the 3000 to 4000 range. I'm happy to say I was pleased when this one came out with a beginning, middle, and end in such a shortened space.

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

While I wouldn't call it “juicy,” there is a bit of history with this one, It began as an attempt at a you-solve-it story for Woman's World, but I wasn't happy with it that way. I filed it away until I saw the terrific job BJ Bourg and his son Brandon are doing with their Flash Bang Mysteries. I reworked the ending a bit and felt it was a good fit. Happily, they must have thought so, too, since they made it an Editor's Choice for the October 2017 issue.

How does it feel to be a Derringer finalist?

It feels great. No matter how many failures (aka Rejections) there may be during the year, they pale to insignificance if you make the Derringer Finals.

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