Story A Day: “Evil Little Girl” by Barb Goffman

shortstorymonth320x320Barb Goffman, a friend and fellow short story writer, has been a finalist for several of the top awards in crime fiction, including the Agatha, the Macavity, and the Anthony—and today brought her yet another Anthony nomination, for “The Lord Is My Shamus,” originally published in the anthology Chesapeake Crimes: This Job Is Murder and already honored as an Agatha finalist earlier this year. Just recently, Wildside Press published Goffman’s debut story collection, Don’t Get Mad, Get Even: 15 Tales of Revenge and More, which includes all of her award-nominated fiction plus five new tales.

One of those til-now-unpublished stories, “Evil Little Girl,” certainly fulfills the promises of the collection’s title. A young girl unhappy with her first summer camp experience thinks she’s found a devious way to get home—only to have the plot backfire and then ripple outward in a number of disturbing directions (both sexual and violent). Because of a project I’m tinkering with myself, I’m especially fascinated these days by the cruelty of adolescence and by the rigid and territorial nature of certain closed communities (sleep-away camp in this story, a boarding school in mine), so it was intriguing to see how “Evil Little Girl” unfolded: the decisions Goffman made, the ways in which conflicts mounted, and those inevitable twists at the end, a hallmark of her work. — Art Taylor