Skip to main content

Josh Pachter, 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.

Josh Pachter
Author and translator Josh Pachter's "The Two-Body Problem", from the October 2019 issue of Mystery Weekly, is up for Best Flash.

Describe your story in up to 20 words.

When two academics are up for the same one position, the "two-body problem" rears its ugly head.

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

The academics in this story really wanted to be scientists, and, although I am a college teacher, I'm not a scientist. So the most difficult part for me was getting the story's science right. Fortunately, my friends Malvika Talwar and Casey Dillman are married biologists who have themselves wrestled with the two-body problem, and they came to my rescue. I think the most enjoyable moment was when I told them I was looking for a biological metaphor for the tightness of the job market in academe and said, "I don't know, something like 'tighter than an unshucked oyster,' and Casey — who is in fact a marine biologist — told me that was the perfect metaphor right there.

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

Chuck and Kerry Carter are doing a great job with Mystery Weekly, and one of the things I really appreciate is how quickly they respond to submissions. SMFS members know that it can takes months to get either an acceptance or a rejection — I'm waiting now for decisions on stories I submitted as long ago as last August — and Kerry usually responds within a couple of weeks at most. That's not especially juicy, but I'm happy to take this opportunity to give them a shout-out for their kindness to their contributors.

How does it feel to be a Derringer finalist?

Like Rodney Dangerfield, short-story writers often don't get no respect. When we do, it feels extra specially good. So it feels extra specially good to have the selection committee pick my story as a finalist for this year's Derringer in the Flash category. Thanks to all involved!


Popular posts from this blog


Ace Atkins' ninth Spenser continuation novel was originally scheduled to be published November 17, but printing and distribution issues have delayed it to January 12, 2021. Fortunately, Putnam Books ' publicist Nicole Biton sent me an advance ebook to review. Book design by Katy Riegel Mattie Sullivan, introduced as the young client in Atkins' 2012 first Spenser ( Robert B. Parker's Lullaby ), returns as a 22-year-old apprentice, taking the case of 15-year-old Chloe Turner, molested by a much older man at Boston's posh Blackstone gentlemen's club. Mattie's investigation leads to hedge fund billionaire Peter Steiner, his British socialite companion Patricia "Poppy" Palmer, and their perverse, private pleasure island in the Bahamas. Steiner and Palmer are inspired by notorious sex offenders Jeffrey Epstein and his companion Ghislane Maxwell. Atkins has Mattie drive the investigation knowing she would better empathize with the couple's victims

Guest Essay by Paul D. Marks

On May 31, Down & Out Books published Shamus Award-winning author Paul D. Marks' latest novel, The Blues Don't Care . I've invited Paul to contribute the following essay: Time Tripping Back to the 1940s by Paul D. Marks I have a fascination for the 1940s. And, even though it’s before my time sometimes I think I must have been reincarnated from that era. There are several reasons. I like swing music. I like old black-and-white movies, especially film noir from the mid and later ’40s. The clothes are so cool, even men’s clothes, at least in the movies, trenchcoats and fedoras. Though here in Los Angeles I’m not sure how many men wore trenchcoats. But they did wear hats. In The Blues Don’t Care , my mystery-thriller set in the 1940s on the Los Angeles home front during World War II, Bobby Saxon is a young man with two major goals in life. One of them is to get a gig playing piano with the house band at the famous Club Alabam on Central Avenue. If he gets the gig, he

Richard Hawke

Sunday, August 26, 2007 Participants Tim Cockey (writing as Richard Hawke) Gerald So Brian Thornton