You probably already know that a pet dog lowers your blood pressure, your cholesterol,
and your anxiety. For Dr. Melissa Yuan-Innes, her dogs may have helped her win the Derringer Award, the prize for the best short mystery fiction in the world in the English language.
“I wrote ‘My Two-Legs,’ a story about a dog named Star who saves her owner,” said
Yuan-Innes, who lives in South Glengarry and writes fiction as Melissa Yi.
“My Two-Legs’ was longlisted for the Staunch Prize, an award for the world’s best feminist thriller. Last year, it was published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and now it’s a finalist for the Derringer Award. Linda Landrigan, Alfred Hitchcock’s editor, wrote to congratulate me and tell me she’d welcome more stories about a dog detective, it just goes to show that dogs are the best!” she exclaimed.
Star was inspired by Yuan-Innes’s first dog, a yellow lab-golden retriever named Olo. “We adopted Olo from the Cornwall SPCA, and he was one of the best friends I’ve had in my life. When I’d come home from the ER at 1 or 2 a.m., my husband would be fast asleep, but Olo would sit at the front door, wagging his tail and welcoming me home,” she said.
Did Olo ever save her from a criminal? “Well, he barked pretty loudly at some of the deliveries. He was a good guard dog and a wonderful friend,” remarked Yuan-Innes.
Olo died of cancer at only five years old. Yuan-Innes, her husband, and two children have since welcomed two other rescue dogs, Roxy, and Bell. “They bark so furiously that I think they’d scare any thieves away,” she commented.
Members of the Short Fiction Mystery Society will vote on the Derringer Award until April 29th. In the meantime, Yuan-Innes’s latest medical thriller, The Shapes of Wrath, has been praised by Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Amazing Stories, Kings River Life, and the Ottawa Review of Books. Yuan-Innes also won third place in the Surrey Muse Joy Kogawa Award for Fiction in 2022.
Yuan-Innes continues to work emergency shifts at Glengarry Memorial Hospital in Alexandria.
“Like dogs, I enjoy helping people, and you never know what might inspire my next story!” she said.
Print copies of her books are available at The Review, R&L’s Book Nook, Henderson’s Grocery store, Pharmasave Time Square Pharmacy, Fassifern General Store, Black Squirrel Books, The Spaniel’s Tale, and soon at Books on Beechwood.