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Sandra Murphy, 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.

St. Louis, Missouri author Sandra Murphy's "Lucy's Tree", from Down & Out Books' The Eyes of Texas: Private Eyes from the Panhandle to the Piney Woods, is up for Best Long Story.

Sandra also edited Darkhouse Books anthology A Murder of Crows, which yielded 2020 Best Short Story finalist "Grist for the Mill" by Kaye George. SMFS member Jacqueline Seewald previously interviewed Sandra about her editing experience.

Describe "Lucy's Tree" in up to 20 words.

Buddy has to find Lucy's killer. Will the storm of the century and a kitten give him what he needs?

What were the most difficult and most enjoyable parts of writing "Lucy's Tree"?

Killing Lucy was the hardest part. I liked her and hated to see her go. Adding the cats was fun because it was so unlike Buddy to get attached to them.

Do you have a juicy story about how "Lucy's Tree" came to be published?

I thought long and hard about what to write. With Michael Bracken selecting the stories for the anthology, I felt extra pressure to get all the details right. When imaginary friends Buddy and Lucy auditioned for the lead roles, I knew I had a good cast of characters to work with. Thanks to Michael for agreeing.

How does it feel to be a Derringer finalist?

I'm still stunned. And very appreciative.


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