LUCKY DIP and Other Stories

I had written four and a half full novels before I ever attempted a story. I was intimidated because a short story needs to be more perfect than a novel. There’s no space to go wrong in a story. To paraphrase Amy Bloom (whom I revere): "You can say of a novel, 'Really great book, falls apart in the last sixty pages.' You don’t have that option with a short story."

I'd had requests, but I’d turned them down. Which hurt: if you are a professional and a freelance it hurts to turn down a paying gig. So I talked the problem over with a writer who'd written many stories. The first thing he said was, “Say yes.” The second was, “If you’re scared of short stories, don’t write a short story. Pretend you’re writing to a friend. Write a good letter. That’ll give you an idea about pace and length.”

I took the advice and relaxed and wrote a story. And I’ve been writing them – usually in response to requests – ever since.

I talk more about writing stories in the introduction to Lucky Dip. Meanwhile here are some other people’s comments about the collection.

"I don't have room to deal with individual stories here but I must say that this is one of the two or three best single author collections of the year and the reason there should be an Edgar for such collections.

"Cody can be funny, wry, sad, violent — all in the space of two pages. There's a hard-headed working class feel to most of her important material, the same thing I always got from the Orwell of Down and Out in Paris and London, a combination of anger and compassion, usually in the setting of a kind of third-world version of London. She adds wit to the mix."

--Ed Gorman, Mystery Scene, Holiday Issue 2003

"Liza Cody’s The Lucky Dip and Other Stories probably has more kinship with Raymond Carver than the usual crime puzzle, and features quirky, dark tales — an excellent collection. Creator of Anna Lee, a character introduced in the novel Dupe and featured in an A&E series Cody gathers seventeen stories in all, with two written specifically for this book and another previously only heard as broadcast on the BBC. The title story about a street kid surviving on the mean streets of London, won the Anthony Award for best short story of the year in 1993."

--Don Herron, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, April 2004

"Most of these seventeen stories, three new and the rest from original anthologies, are subtle character studies from a first-person female viewpoint, often downbeat and sometimes obscure, but expertly written and crafted. Some of the best (e.g. the adapted BBC radio plays "Doing It Under the Table" and "Chalk Mother") aren't really crime at all."

--Jon L. Breen, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, July 2004

A reviewer on Amazon says:

"Tough, funny and moving, February 7, 2004
By albemuth:

"This collection was my first sample of Liza Cody's writing, and as an old school hardboiled fan I have to say that the selection totally blew me away. This is terrific stuff, from the word go. Cody can be funny, poignant and violent in the same paragraph. She is a master of subtle mood swings. The material collected here goes from one end to the other but never with a predictable turn or a false note. There is a rough blue collar sensitivity at work here, which is a rare pleasure these days when most popular writers concentrate on either the rich or the popular. Cody champions the underdog, with sly precision that touches on masterful.

"LUCKY DIP is one of the best collections I've read, period. Fast paced, entertaining, with an underlying sense of human nature that completely sneaks up on you with it's understanted accuracy. Brilliant stuff, a great introduction to a marvelous author. Check it out."

Paperback: 188 pages
Publisher: Crippen & Landru Publishers (September 20, 2003)
ISBN-10: 1932009094
ISBN-13: 978-1932009095
Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces

Selected Works

Don't judge a book by its cover, or a bag lady by her appearance. "I didn't always look like this," she says. "Being barmy doesn't mean I'm stupid." Lady Bag does have her problems - her close relationship with cheap red wine, for example. When she gets hammered she talks to her dog. When she's extra-hammered her dog talks to her. Guess who makes better sense. She and her greyhound, Electra, wander through the streets of London, seeing a Dickensian side of the capital city that's only visible to the homeless. Together they accept the kindness or unkindness of strangers with the same wry patience. Until, on one dreadful day, they meet the Devil outside the National Portrait Gallery.
All Birdie Walker wants is some justice for her husband, Jack. But since Jack was a rock star and the justice has to come from the music business, Birdie absolutely has to take some extreme measures.Click on the title for more information.
Short stories
All my short stories up to 2003 are in this collection. It includes two written specially. Click on the title for a bit about how I came to write short stories and more information.
The Anna Lee series
I wrote six novels about Anna Lee. Click on the titles for more information.
The Bucket Nut Trilogy
Professional wrestler Eva Wylie appeared in three novels in the '90s. Click on the titles for more information.
Other stand-alone novels
RIFT is set in the Ethiopia of the 1970s. BALLAD is the story of a girl with a miraculous musical talent. MISS TERRY is the story of what happens to someone who looks different from her neighbours when a grisly discovery is made. Click on the titles for more information.
The story collections I co-edited for Britain's Crime Writers' Association.
In the early '90s I helped edit these three books - aiming them to be more annuals than anthologies. They include many things we're proud to have published. Click on the titles for more information.