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C.J. Verburg, 2020 Derringer Finalist

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. The SMFS's 2020 Derringer Awards voting ends April 29 and winners will be announced in May. In the meantime, I've invited the finalists for interviews.

C.J. Verburg
San Francisco writer C.J. Verburg's "Birdbrain", from Fault Lines, a March 2019 anthology published by Sisters in Crime's Northern California chapter, is up for Best Flash.

Describe your story in up to 20 words.

To pull off a heist, three small-time Florida entrepreneurs need trust — and a parrot.

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

Most difficult for me as a novelist was squeezing a whole story into the nutshell size of flash fiction. (My sonnet-writing background helped.) Most enjoyable was bringing together my parrot pals on San Francisco's Telegraph Hill and my human buddies in the Tampa Bay area.

How does it feel to be a Derringer finalist?

Cheering and inspiring! Like so many of us, I’ve dithered through the pandemic, unable to focus, much less buckle down and write. This nomination reminded me that our community of individualists shares a mission to use our storytelling ability to find order in chaos, right wrongs, celebrate humanity’s vagaries, and entertain each other. It won't cure deadly diseases, but it helps keep our heads above water.


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