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S.E. Greco, 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.

Steve Greco
S.E. Greco's "I Called to Say You're Dead", from the September 2019 issue of The Society of Misfit Stories Presents, is up for Best Novelette.

Describe your story in up to 20 words.

After careful consideration, Danny decides that the best way to resolve his urgent problem is to buy a dead body.

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

The most enjoyable part by far was writing the opening scene, in which the main character tries to purchase a corpse. I often start stories based only on a vivid idea for an opening scene, which is easily written (it usually pours out of me, as this one did). But as I wrote the opening scene I had no idea where the story would go. The difficult part came next — figuring out the details of the plot (it’s a fairly complex one) before getting into writing the next scene.

Do you have a juicy story about how "I Called to Say You're Dead" came to be published?

I would call it interesting rather than “juicy.” The story I’m nominated for is about 15,300 words. I truly enjoy writing longer stories because I can do more character development. But it can be more challenging to find good places (magazines, e-zines, anthologies, whatever) that are willing to publish longer pieces. I think that many editors can appreciate longer pieces but are reluctant to publish them because they don’t fit easily into their formats or they fear that readers are less likely to start a long piece written by an unfamiliar author. Luckily, I found a journal called “The Society of Misfit Stories” by Bards and Sages Publishing which exists specifically to publish longer pieces (5K to 20K). Prior to publishing my nominated story, they had published another long piece of mine called “The Protector,” which was about 13,000 words.

How does it feel to be a Derringer finalist?

Fantastic! I feel so honored to be in the company of such excellent writers, and also thrilled that hundreds of people who appreciate mysteries will be reading my story. I write to entertain people. I hope I’ll achieve that goal for many of them.


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