At the Mystery Writer’s of America symposium the afternoon took a turn both dark and short. The authors nominated for Best Short Story shared the many ways they are inspired. SJ Rozan (“Chin Long-Yun Stays at Home”) pointed to the draw of an unusual situation or a phrase. The imagery of the pile of shoes in a Primo Levi story led Lisa Gray (“The Queen of Secrets”) to her obsession with shoes and eventually her nominated story. Kenji Jasper (“A Moment of Clarity at the Waffle House”) started his story as a love letter and ended up killing his demons. Jeffery Deaver (“Hard to Get”) claims that he tries to ‘know his limitations’ and approaches the short story with plot in mind, knowing that he needs ‘the zinger’ before he then populates with characters. There were commonalities among the panel. Most notably, a short story takes time. Time to germinate. Time to prune and hone. Altogether a day of authors sharing stories that make us want to read….. and inspire us to write.