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Trey Dowell, 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.

Trey Dowell
Trey Dowell's December 2019 Close 2 the Bone story "Lucky" is up for Best Flash.

Describe your story in up to 20 words.

Everything a successful criminal needs—stealth, cunning, ambition, intelligence—the Ragazzo brothers lack. Well, almost everything.

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

Most difficult: “Lucky” started out as a draft I wrote for a 48-hour flash fiction contest. I was tasked with writing a crime caper that incorporated a gift shop and a candle. Writing anything on such a tight deadline is a tough-enough task as is, but incorporating disparate genre/location/object prompts takes pressure to whole new level. After the contest, I thought what I’d come up with had a really entertaining core to it, so I spent more time WITHOUT a ticking grandfather clock suspended above my head to write "Lucky” exactly the way I had envisioned the story in my head. The most enjoyable part: a year prior to the contest I’d overheard a conversation between two guys at a gas station that ranked as one of the most ridiculous, moronic, and purely funny moments I’d ever witnessed. I went home to my wife, relayed the conversation to her, and she cracked up hard. Then she said, “You need to write that one down. Save it for a story.” I’m glad I took her advice, because when I needed 100 words to show how two complete idiots could drive their boss to the brink of murder, real life had already given me those 100 perfect words. And it all started with: boneless meatloaf sandwich.

How does it feel to be a Derringer finalist?

Incredible! This is my third time as a finalist and it’s just as wonderful and satisfying an honor as it was the first time, almost eight years ago. Writing is such a solitary pursuit, and I think all of us have thought to ourselves (even after something has been published) “Did anyone read it? Did anyone LIKE it?” Making the finals is just that validation cherry on top of the sundae that makes the dessert a little better. Plus, it was that rare bit of GOOD news during a time when things to celebrate seem a lot more difficult to find. Let’s hope that changes, and soon


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