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Call for Stories: The St. Croix Noir Writing Challenge

This year, NEA Big Read in the St. Croix Valley will focus on “The Maltese Falcon” by Dashiell Hammett. And as part of the events happening in April 2016, ArtReach St. Croix will be presenting The St. Croix Noir Writing Challenge

Hammett is known for elevating the hardboiled dectective novel as a literary genre. But before the publication of his best known work, “The Maltese Falcon,” in 1930, Hammett was working for Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency and writing short stories at the San Francisco Public Library. Hammett’s first work ever published was a very short story titled “The Parthian Shot” in the magazine The Smart Set in 1922.

To honor Hammett’s early work as a short story writer, ArtReach St. Croix is hosting The St. Croix Noir Writing Challenge. Writers are encouraged to submit a piece of flash fiction inspired by the detective novel form.

Successful submissions will be 500-750 words and should hint at or imply a larger story. Flash fiction is not the same as Vignette, and your short piece should still present an interesting and compelling story.

The fine print:

  • Submissions must be received by April 1 at 11:59 p.m.
  • Submissions should be emailed to [email protected]
  • Include your name as you would like it to appear in the online blog and eBook and your city of residence in the body of the email.
  • Stories should be attached to the email as Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) or Plain Text (.txt) format.

Dates to know:

  • Submission deadline: April 1
  • Top stories recognized: April 27
  • Literary Blog Posts begin: April 28

All submissions will be reviewed by a committee of published writers. The committee will select three stories to be recognized at the Totally Criminal Cocktail Party at The Caves at Casanova in Hudson on Thursday, April 27. Additionally, select submissions will be included in an online blog linked to and and in a downloadable ebook.

To learn more about “The Maltese Falcon” and Dashiell Hammett, please visit:

To see the other programs planned for April as part of NEA Big Read in the St. Croix Valley, please visit the NEA Big Read in the St. Croix Valley 

Questions? Email [email protected] or call 651-439-1465

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.