2018 Anthony Awards – Short Stories – Part One (click for comments)


Jen Conley – “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” – Just To Watch Them Die: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Johnny Cash – https://www.jenconley.net/

My story is called, “God’s Gonna Cut You Down.” It was written for the anthology, Just To Watch Them Die: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Johnny Cash. Eric, the main character of the story, is drawn into a plot to avenge his sister’s gruesome murder. When he and his sister were young, she was brutally raped and killed by two teen neighbors. One of the teens isn’t alive anymore, but the other, David, a childhood playmate of Eric, is now a grown man and has been recently released from prison, returning home to live with his mother. Eric’s brother and his father have decided it is now time to kill David. Eric is stricken with dread. He doesn’t want to go through with it but he feels he has to.

The song, “God’s Gonna Cut You Down,” is an old folk song, a dark warning to sinners. Johnny Cash recorded it in 2003 and if you listen to his version, you can hear a deeply disturbing tone, almost frightening. I wanted to capture that in my story.

Susanna C. Calkins – “The Trial of Madame Pelletier” – Malice Domestic 21: Mystery Most Historical – http://www.susannacalkins.com/short-stories.html

“The Trial of Madame Pelletier” (Malice Domestic 12: Mystery Most Historical, Wildside Press, 2017) loosely draws on the real trial of a presumed poisoner in a small town in 1840s France. The case of the “Lady Poisoner” was a cause célèbre—a true trial of the century—playing out in both the court of public opinion as well as the assize court of Limousin. In my re-imagining of the trial, the story is told from the perspective of Anna Pequod, a maidservant, who must testify about what she witnessed in the days and months leading up to the fatal poisoning of her employer.

Hilary Davidson – “My Side of the Matter” – Killing Malmon – https://downandoutbooks.com/bookstore/malmon-killing-malmon/

My story, “My Side of the Matter,” is part of an anthology called Killing Malmon, which raises money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. That’s a great cause, but the tough part about this project was that each author had to kill Dan Malmon, who was one of the editors of the project, along with his wife, Kate. That’s not a spoiler, but the premise of the book, and it made me invert me usual way of telling a story. Since the reader knows who’s going to die, I wrote the story from the point of view of the killer, who got away with his crime, but is suddenly confessing for reasons that remain mysterious until the end of the story. It was a different way of building suspense.

Barb Goffman – “Whose Wine Is It Anyway?” – 50 Shades of Cabernet – http://www.barbgoffman.com/whose-wine-is-it-anyway-.html

In “Whose Wine Is It Anyway?” Myra is about to retire from her secretarial job at a large DC law firm—a job she loves, with people she loves. But she learns too late that her beloved boss doesn’t value Myra the way she thought. The way he should. So with a single day left at work, Myra sets out to teach some lessons about the importance of caring for others as much as you do yourself, about the pitfalls of vanity, and about the dangers of getting so wrapped up in work that you forget what’s really important in life. But anger and melancholy lead Myra to dangerous decisions, maybe even lethal ones.

Debra H. Goldstein – “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place” – Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine – http://www.alfredhitchcockmysterymagazine.com/assets/4/6/Goldstein_Night-Goldstein.pdf Podcast: https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/ahmm/episodes/2018-06-22T06_54_58-07_00

“The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place” is set in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960’s in a house where they change the sheets more than once a night. The story reflects Birmingham’s racial, civil, and political strife and how their collision, on a particularly hot night, has a lasting impact on a nine-year-old black boy. The child is the narrator, so the events and other characters are seen through his eyes. As he tells the story of the night and an obvious murder, he also raises a subtle specter of other societal crimes. His innocent retelling of “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place” is what makes the story go beyond being a simple whodunit to subliminally allowing the reader to contemplate diversity and tolerance.

Art Taylor – “A Necessary Ingredient” – Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea –http://www.arttaylorwriter.com/books/a-necessary-ingredient/

I wrote “A Necessary Ingredient” at the request of Paul D. Marks, one of the co-editors of Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea. I don’t normally write private eye stories—and both of the ones I’ve written previously have played with the genre in small ways: one a parody, the other a bit of speculative fiction, edging into the fantastic. Here too I found myself riffing on and working against some of the genre’s conventions. As the subtitle suggests, the anthology spans a wide geographic area, and “A Necessary Ingredient” is set in my own home state of North Carolina—not the kind of place readers might associate with those mean streets that a man must walk down, as Chandler famously put it. Rather than those mean streets, for example, my main character, Ambrose Thornton, visits farmer’s markets and local greenhouses, and being a private eye isn’t his life mission in the first place; instead, he simply likes reading those hard-boiled detective tales, living in the world of his imagination, until—despite his best efforts— he finds himself drawn into an actual case. A local restaurant owner—an attractive chef—has heard that a much-prized ingredient, the tonka bean, is being grown in the area, and can Ambrose help her find it? Even if you’re not a proper p.i., who can turn down a damsel-in-distress, right?




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