© by Gerald So | 7:30 AM
In 1995, a fan of mystery fiction for two years, I started a novel in my final undergrad writing workshop, a mystery workshop led by Sam Toperoff. The novel's setup, inspired by unrequited feelings for a classmate, involved a restaurateur narrator talked into catering his college reunion only to be suspected of poisoning an old rival. The first 60 pages got me an A for the course, but I stalled out trying to finish the next two years.
I moved on to other writing until 2016, when a submissions call for the Level Best Boooks anthology Noir at the Salad Bar inspired me to revise the novel idea into a short story. That attempt was rejected, but instead of abandoning the idea again, I went back to it in my spare time, submitting revisions to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Shotgun Honey Presents: Recoil, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, the Bouchercon 2021 anthology...
Yesterday morning I read an acceptance email from Every Day Fiction. Later this month, they'll publish "Say Cheese," a 544-word story from the classmate character's perspective. Elmore Leonard advised that writers remain invisible behind their stories. In switching main characters, I disappeared from "Say Cheese". Then again, using the fewest words to the greatest effect is very much my style.