14/11/2015 - 5:46pm

A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie is a new book, exploring the science behind the poisons used in the novels of Agatha Christie.

Over the course of her writing career, Christie killed-off over 300 of her characters.

Some were drowned, others were stabbed, but the vast majority were poisoned.

Arsenic, Cyanide, Hemlock and Thallium - the list of poisons runs vast and wide.

Science communicator Kathryn Harkup has been studying how Agatha Christie mixed her lethal doses.

Listen online on RN till 12 December or download to your pod anytime.

14/11/2015 - 4:20pm

Sulari Gentill was interrogated at Readings Hawthorn on 9 November by fellow author and Sister in Crime Angela Savage for a gripping and often hilarious 40 minutes about her latest book, Give the Devil His Due, the 7th Rowland Sinclair mystery. If you missed the event (and lots did), catch up with Marc McEvoy article published by Fairfax Media today.

Sulari Gentill & Angela Savage greet their fan club

For immigrants from temperate climates, the heat of their first Australian summer can feel relentless. Sulari Gentill was almost seven years old when she arrived in Melbourne in 1977 with her family, Sri Lankan immigrants who had moved first to England and then spent five years in Zambia while the embers of the White Australia policy were cooling.

Gentill remembers lying on the lawn with her two sisters outside her brick veneer house in Noble Park on hot summer nights while their father, who had brought them to Australia for a better education, told stories about the stars blinking above them.

"It was too hot in the house and my father used to describe the constellations, with Greek mythology woven in," says Gentill, a former lawyer who now writes crime novels. 

"So, right through childhood I'd look up at the stars and I'd be filled with a sense of wonder. I thought it meant I should become an astrophysicist."

That childhood dream almost became a reality. Gentill's family moved to Brisbane, settling in the riverside suburb of Yeronga, but after her schooling Gentill relocated to Canberra to study at the Australian National University. It wasn't what she expected. 

"I went off to uni to study astrophysics and to my great disappointment, they told me my beautiful constellations were just balls of gas that were defined by mathematical formulas," she says.

"After a year I moved to law simply because I was so disillusioned I had to look for a subject that had no maths in it."

Gentill's transition to law was writing's gain. While working as a corporate lawyer for water and energy companies, she discovered she had a skill in storytelling.

"Law is very much a storytelling profession. When you explain a contract to a client you often resort to story. The better you can make your story, the more likely you are to get them to agree."

About six years ago, she decided to try her hand at fiction. It was more accident than design. She had no lifelong ambition to be a writer and her first attempts were young-adult fantasy adventure stories that drew on her knowledge of the classical mythology taught to her by her father.

They were eventually published in 2011 and 2012 as a series called The Hero Trilogy.

However, Gentill's latest book, Give the Devil His Due, is her seventh novel in a historical crime fiction series set in 1930s Australia that was picked up in 2010 by independent publisher Pantera Press. The first, A Few Right Thinking Men, was shortlisted for the 2011 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for best first book. A Decline in Prophets, the second, won the 2012 Davitt Award for best adult crime fiction.

Like all the books in the series, Give the Devil His Due follows the exploits of  Rowland Sinclair, a wealthy gentleman artist turned amateur sleuth who lives in a Woollahra mansion where he entertains bohemian friends including the object of his passion, sculptor Edna Higgins, and his friend Clyde Watson Jones, who is handy with his fists. Sinclair's political leanings are obvious. His greyhound is called Lenin.

In the new novel, Sinclair, a keen driver who plans to race his Mercedes at the Maroubra Speedway, is embroiled in a murder mystery after a journalist who has interviewed him turns up dead.

As in any good whodunit, there are plenty of twists and turns, including a dip into the occult.

Real-life figures also play a part: actor Errol Flynn, artist Norman Lindsay, Smith's Weekly reporter turned "Witch of Kings Cross" Rosaleen Norton, and even Arthur Stace, author of the ubiquitous "Eternity", written in chalk around the city. To add a feel for the times, each chapter opens with a real cut-out from publications such as The Sydney Morning Herald.

Like Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher mysteries, Gentill's stories are part of a growing interest in Australian historical crime fiction. Sinclair even has a touch of the eccentric chivalry found in Arthur Conan Doyle's bohemian detective Sherlock Holmes. 

Gentill decided to write stories set during the 1930s because her husband, Michael, a history and English schoolteacher who helps edit and research her work, was frustrated with reading subjects he knew little about in her fantasy stories.

"Initially it was a very pragmatic decision to make the change to set my stories in the 1930s," she says. "Michael's a boy from the country and he'd get caught every time he came up against a name like Agamemnon​ or Achilles, complaining that they would stop his enjoyment of the manuscript. So one day he says, 'For God's sake, Sulari, can't you write something with names like Peter and Paul in it?' "

Gentill breaks out laughing. "Of course I ignored him at the beginning but I realised I had fallen in love with the craft of writing, and when I write I become completely immersed in what I am doing, which is fine for me, but it's hard on your partner. So I went looking for something pragmatically, to bring Michael into my head."

As a historian, Michael's area of expertise is the extreme right-wing movement in Australia during the 1930s. Gentill read his thesis and realised it would make a fascinating backdrop for a novel.

The recurring villain in her series is the historical figure Eric Campbell, a World War I veteran turned lawyer who established the the right-wing New Guard, which was tied to the fascist movements in Germany and Italy. Other members included Captain Francis de Groot, who beat Premier Jack Lang to cutting the ribbon at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. (D.H. Lawrence's novel Kangaroo is partly about the Old Guard, the anti-communist group from which the New Guard split in 1931).

"As I dug into it, the 1930s entranced me because of its position in our history," Gentill says.

"Coming off the 1920s, Australians were angry and disillusioned, open to new ways of thinking as the old mores fell away. But the 1930s led to World War II and that intrigued me. It seemed to be a time when Australia was deciding who it was." 

Gentill says the period has parallels with Australia today, particularly after the global financial crisis. "We live in a sort of shadow of what happened in the 1930s after the Depression," she says.

The public's impotence over the treatment of asylum seekers is a case in point.

"That happens because people get distracted by just living. You see things that are wrong. You say, 'That's not right. I object to that. That's not compassionate. That's not humanitarian.' But you get  distracted by paying the electricity bill and driving the kids to school and so on."

Gentill, who is 44, writes at an astonishing rate, completing a novel in three months. She and Michael live with their two sons, Edmund, 14, and 10-year-old Atticus (named after the protagonist in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Gentill's favourite book), on a 25-hectare property on the outskirts of Batlow, a town of 1500 in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains. 

They bought the farm 16 years ago when Gentill had to commute from Tasmania, where she worked as lawyer. It meant being separated for long periods but they had a strategy for the future.

They planted oak trees, added 50 tonnes of lime to their soil and cultivated French black truffles, the culinary delicacy. After four years, the first truffles sprouted on the oak roots and they now run a successful truffery​, doing truffle runs every week during winter, sometimes in the snow by moonlight.

Gentill says that living away from city lights provides a wonderful view of the stars and, as her father did for her, she talks to her sons about the constellations.

"I thought when I told them about mythology and stars that they'd switch off, thinking, 'There goes Mum again', but they listen. When you are out in the country and you look up at the Milky Way, you feel the immensity of the universe." 

Gentill's favourite constellation is Orion. "I love it because it is so easy to pick. You look for the saucepan in the sky and sound very learned when you cry, 'Look, there's Orion'." 

Give the Devil His Due is published by Pantera Press at $29.99.

And another thing: Gentill learnt to speak English in Zambia but her parents made it her primary language only after emigrating to Australia.

Info: http://www.sularigentill.com/; https://www.panterapress.com.au/shop/category/11/sulari-gentill



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11/11/2015 - 9:45pm

A record 27 stories have made it to the ‘shotlist’ for Sisters in Crime’s 22nd Scarlet Stiletto Short Story Awards. Danielle Cormack, star of Wentworth will present the awards at a gala dinneron Saturday 28 November at Melbourne’s Thornbury Theatre.

The ‘shotlisted’ authors come from all over Australia and compete for a record $9,350 in prize money plus the coveted trophy, a scarlet stiletto with its steel heel plunging into a perspex mount, for the overall winner.

Michaela Lobb, the Scarlet Stiletto Awards wrangler, said that the judges had been blown away by the quality of this year’s stories.

“Traditionally most of the ‘shotlist’ are emerging writers but this year there are also 11 writers with books, nearly all crime books, under their belts. One of the authors, Annie Hauxwell, has the distinction of coming second to Cate Kennedy in the very first Scarlet Stiletto Awards, back in 1994. She has now published three books in her Catherine Berlin financial investigator series in Australia, the UK and Germany, with a fourth due out next year,” Lobb said.

“Quite a few authors are serial offenders and some authors are also ‘shotlisted’ twice. As we all know, crime runs in families and this year again we have a mother and daughter ‘shotlisted’ – Kylie Fox and her daughter Gabrielle Carmel. Last year, Kylie and another daughter, Bridie Carmel, made it to the finals.

This year for the first time Sisters in Crime is awarding a Best Financial Crime Award and a Best Romantic Suspense Award.

Book authors shortlisted include: Emilie Collyer (West Footscray, Vic); Kylie Fox (Langwarrin, Vic); Helen Goltz (Port Fairy, Vic); T.J. Hamilton (Urangan, Qld); Annie Hauxwell (Castlemaine, Vic); Diane Hester (Port Lincoln, SA); Fin J Ross (Paynesville, Vic); Yvonne Sanders (Olinda, Vic); Jenny Spence (Balmain, NSW); Sue Williams (Ferntree Gully, Vic); and Amanda Wrangles (Crib Point, Vic).

Also shortlisted are last year’s trophy winner, Judith Bridge (Kewdale, WA) plus Kathy Blacker (Port Lincoln, SA); Gabrielle Carmel (Langwarrin, Vic); Marilyn Chalkley (Wright, ACT); Ann Chappel (Skye, SA); Amanda Coleman (Glen Iris); Natalie Conyer (Mosman, NSW); Bridgite Cummings (North Brighton SA); Kath Harper (Port Fairy, Vic); Carolyn Eldridge-Alfonzetti (North Epping, NSW); Maggie McTiernan (Yokine, WA);Katie Mills (Doubleview, WA); Kate Olivieri (East Lismore, NSW); Richenda Rudman (Kensington); and Ellen Vickerman (Corindale, Qld)

At 8pm, prior to the award presentations, Danielle Cormack will discuss her ‘life in crime’ (and much more) with crime author and performer,Jane Clifton.

Lobb said that the Scarlet Stiletto Awards would also pay tribute to the Grande Dame of Crime – Agatha Christie.

“This year marks the 125th anniversary of Christie’s birth. According to The Guinness Book of World Records, she is still the best-selling novelist of all time. Her novels have sold roughly 2 billion copies. She also remains the most-translated individual author, having been translated into at least 103 languages (Harry Potter has only been translated into 73!),”Lobb said.

“During her writing career, Agatha turned her hand to the short story as an art form. Altogether, she wrote 154 short stories – 153 of which were published in her lifetime in 14 collections."

Every Cloud Productions, the producers of the internationally-acclaimed crime drama,Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, is for the first time offering sponsorship of the $1500 first prize.

Echo Publishing, the new adult publishing wing of The Five Mile Press, is the sponsor for 2nd prize ($1000). Long-time supporter, HarperCollins Publishing, is offering a new award for romantic suspense ($500).

Other sponsors include Sun Bookshop, Athenaeum Library; Allen & Unwin; HarperCollins Publishing; Arena Magazine; Clan Destine Press; Scriptworks; Benn’s Books; Ann Byrne; Kerry Greenwood; Catherine Leppert; Josephine Pennicott; and the Queensland Chapter of Sisters in Crime.

Tickets:$65 (no concession) event and dinner. $25 (no concession) event only. Drinks available at bar prices. Men or ‘brothers in Law’ welcome

Click here to book. Bookings close Monday 23 November. All seats are limited so book early — individually or in tables of up to 10: 

Venue: Thornbury Theatre, Velvet Room, 859 High Street, Thornbury

Book stall: 10% discount for members from the Sun Bookshop stall.

Media comment: Michaela LobbNational Co-convenor, Sisters in Crime: 0409 431 397.

Additional information: Carmel Shute, National Co-convenor, Sisters in Crime: 0412 569 356.

25/10/2015 - 7:17pm

Recently launched, ‘Provocare’ is a multimedia verse thriller created by Sisters in Crime member, Meg Vann, writer; Mez Breeze, interaction designer; and Donna Hancox, research lead for Creative Industries at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). It is the first work to be commissioned and produced for ‘Queensland Writers on the International Stage’, an Arts Queensland funded programme created by QUT and The Writing Platform.

Provocare‘ is based on ‘Provocation‘, a short story by Meg Vann, that has been adapted and made into a multimedia verse thriller by the writer working in collaboration with Mez Breeze and Donna Hancox. The work explores themes of female agency and violence against women at a time in Australia when sixty-three women have been murdered by their intimate partners or ex-partners in 2015 alone.

Readers can explore both works online. ‘Provocare’ is available here, and ‘Provocation’ is available here. Writer, Meg Vann, has also shared her experience of collaborating to create digital work of fiction in this article on this site.

Provocare Screenshot

Said writer, Meg Vann:

“Like most women, I live with the effects of violence. Memories of abuse, and ongoing vigilance against harm creates core beliefs and behaviours that often cast women as having victim mentalities. But I believe it makes us survivors. Dedicated to a young woman who lost her life to a stalker, ‘Provocare’ explores this premise: the main character is a survivor of anorexia nervosa. She develops dysfunctional habits that, while self-harming in relation to her illness, are adapted to become tools in her battle for survival against the pernicious and unrecognised violence of a workplace stalker. Surveillance is also a theme in ‘Provocare’ as I am increasingly concerned about the misuse of surveillance technology – designed to improve public safety – in the abuse of women. Providing digital collaboration opportunities, and welcoming all-women teams, is vital in voicing women’s lived experiences, and challenging the predatory viewpoints so dominant in normative cultural narratives”

Interaction designer, Mez Breeze, commented:

“At a time when violence against women is at such catastrophic levels, working with this all-gal ‘Provocare’ team on the first commissioned production for ‘Queensland Writers on the International Stage’ has been a thoroughly rewarding experience. It’s been a privilege to have been invited to design and develop this collaborative digital fiction project with the potential to critically reflect upon such crucial social issues. With Donna at the Project Management helm, Meg the consummate wordsmith, and with the support of The Writing Platform, this has been one of the most successful international teams with which I’ve had the pleasure of working.”

About Queensland Writing on the International Stage

‘Queensland Digital Writing on the international stage: QUT and The Writing Platform’ is an Arts Queensland-funded programme which supports collaborations between writers and interactive designers to develop works for exhibition on The Writing Platform.

The second work created for ‘Queensland Writers on the International Stage’ will be an audio adaptation of the short story ‘Crawl Space’ by Krissy Kneen which will launch later this year.

Said Donna Hancox, research lead for Creative Industries at QUT:

“This project, which is focused on bringing together writers and designers to re-imagine how stories can be crafted and shared, is a really important way of increasing knowledge and skills around digital writing.  The future of writing is collaborative, and the creative works created through this project showcase the benefits of collaboration. The ongoing partnership between Queensland University of Technology, The Writing Platform and Arts Queensland is crucial in delivering information about new forms of writing to writers at all stages of their careers.”

Joanna Ellis, co-founder of The Writing Platform, commented:

“We are delighted to be working with our long-term partners, Queensland University of Technology, to create this opportunity for Queensland-based writers and interaction designers. As well as providing opportunities for the artists directly involved we are able to share their experience of creating digital stories, and of the collaborative process itself, with our wider community of writers and technologists.”  

If you would like to find out more about ‘Provocare’ – including speaking to the artists involved – or ‘Queensland Writers on the International Stage’, please contact:

Joanna Ellis: joanna[at]theliteraryplatform[dot]com

About The Writing Platform:

The Writing Platform is a website and commissioning program dedicated to providing inspiration and information for writers and creative technologists on new forms of storytelling. It was launched in 2012 by The Literary Platform and writer, Kate Pullinger, and operates in partnership with Bath Spa University and Queensland University of Technology.


25/10/2015 - 7:06pm

The Lost Swimmer, the debut novel by Sisters in Crime member, Ann Turner, has been optioned by Film Art Media Pty Ltd to be made into a film.

Sue Maslin, the producer of the adaptation of Rosalie Ham’s, The Dressmaker , starring Kate Winslet, Judy Davis and Liam Hemsworth, will produce, and Ann Turner will write the screenplay and co-produce.

Ann (pictured above, speaking at Sisters in Crime in June) and Sue have previously worked together on Irresistible starring Susan Sarandon, Sam Neill and Emily Blunt – where Sue was executive producer and Ann was writer/director.

Sue’s other credits include the AACTA award-winning Japanese Story with Toni Colette. Ann feels it’s a real coup to have Sue come on board, as she is such a talented and highly experienced producer. The Dressmaker, which has sold internationally, starts screening in Australia on 29 October, and the UK in 20 November. 

Footnote from Carmel Shute: I had the privilege of attending a friends' and family launch of The Dressmaker on 24 October and can't recommend it highly enough.  I laughed (a lot) and cried (a bit). I attended with two other women who grew up in the counrty and we all thought The Dressmaker nailed it on all fronts. There is also a mystery - at the age of 10, did Tilly (the Kate Winslet character) murder a local boy or not?

The Sunday Age review on 25 October - by a male reviewer, i should add - just didn't get it, in my view and it's worth a lot more than three stars.

Amongst its many outstanding features are the costumes by Marion Boyce, also the costume designer of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. In 2012, Marion Boyce co-presented Sisters in Crime's Scarlet Stiletto Awards together with author Kerry Greenwood. Their discussion, prior to the awards' presentation, was on the power of costumes to inform character (and the action) as well as delight the viewers.


25/10/2015 - 6:13pm

Sisters in Crime Australia held its Annual General Meeting on Friday 23 October after a well-attended event at South Melbourne's Rising Sun Hotel - First Time Offenders where debut authors (and members) Tania Chandler, Emma Viskic and J M Green where interrogated by national co-convenor, Janice Simpson (pictured below).

Emma Viskic, Tania Chandler, J M Green & Janice Simpson

Elected unopposed as national convenors were Maggie Baron, Caz Brown, Ann Byrne, Robyn Byrne (no relation!), Lindy Cameron, Michaela Lobb, Sandra Nicholson, Janice Simpson, Carmel Shute, Sue Turnbull & Robyn Walton.

Under the model association rules which now apply, elections were held for four positions, with the following candidates successful: President - Maggie Baron; Vice-President - Lindy Cameron; Secretary - Carmel Shute and Treasurer - Robyn Byrne.

The elections followed a report by Carmel Shute, founder and public officer of Sisters in Crime Australia :

Carmel Shute at the launch for Lucy's Sussex's book, Blockbuster! in July

At the risk of sounding like a cracked record, the past year has been a year of many records for Sisters in Crime Australia.

A record 96 books competed for the Davitt Awards for best crime books which are now in their 15th year. It was a big advance on the 7 books in contention back in 2001 at SheKilda, Sisters in Crime’s 10th anniversary convention. According to my maths, it’s an increase of 1371%!

A record number of members voted for the Davitt (Readers’ Choice).

The Davitt Adult Novel winner Big Little Lies by Liane Moriaty has sold a million copies in the US alone. Liane is also the first Australian author to have a novel debut at number one on the New York Times bestseller list. Film and television rights for this book have been acquired by Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon who will both take roles in the production.

Walkely-award winning journalist, Caroline Overington, won the Davitt (Non-Fiction) for Last Woman Hanged and thanks to her being an Associate Editor of the Australian Women's Weekly, the win got a wonderful write-up in the Weekly which is, of course, Australia’s top selling magazine. I only buy it for the recipes, of course .

A record 207 short stories competed for a record $8,800 in prize money for last year’s 21st Scarlet Stiletto Awards which were presented by the wonderful Marta Dusseldorp, star of ABC1’s Janet King. We were concerned that we might have to run another campaign to persuade the ABC to do another series but that luckily that’s not been the case and shooting started a couple of weeks ago.

The previous year, as you might recall, we’d had to mount a big campaign to persuade the ABC to commission a 3rd series of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. We were successful and the show has gone on to conquer the world.

If you go onto our website, you’ll discover how it now has a cult following in the US and that internationally fans are using Facebook, Tumblr, fanfic sites, blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, fan sites and forums – and, of course, DI Jack Appreciation Society (DIJAS) Facebook page – to debate on each episode and much more. And it’s not just Phryne who’s hugely popular. As of last Wednesday, a recent Nathan Page interview had 6,088,221 downloads – apparently, there are many who yearn for his big policemen’s boots under their bed.

It looks like a Phryne movie is being made in the UK. All hail Kerry Greenwood, a founding member of Sisters in Crime and author of the books on which the series is based.

The producer, Every Cloud Productions, kindly stepped in this year to offer the first prize of $1500 in this year’s Scarlet Stiletto Awards competition which altogether has a record $9,350 in prize money up for grabs..

So far, 19 winners, including category winners, have gone on to have novels published. Next year, it will be 20 when Aiofe Clifford will have a book out in both Australia and the UK. Simply on the strength of her various Scarlet Stiletto wins and a bit of persuasion from us, Carter Brown Literary Agents took her on and the rest is history.

This week, Lucy Sussex, a long-time member of Sisters in Crime, notched up another record of sorts – against stiff competition she won the History Publication Award for Blockbuster! Fergus Hume and the Mystery of a Hansom Cab at the Victorian Community History Awards.

Tomorrow I have the privilege of attending the premiere of The Dressmaker, produced by Sue Maslin. Sue’s next project is The Lost Swimmer, based on the debut novel of member Ann Turner who spoke here in June.

In another record of sorts, we’ve finally introduced online membership and online event bookings through Eventbrite, thanks to our hard-working event coordinator Michaela Lobb who can’t be with us tonight as she’s having a well-earned holiday overseas.

And finally, after many years of promises, a new website is the last stages of development – thanks to Lindy Cameron, Zerafina Zera, Caz Brown and Janice Simpson who led the work of the committee. Lindy and Michaela are also organising a new logo.

A budget committee involving Maggie Baron, Ann Byrne and Janice has reorganised our finances and established improved  budgetary processes. Maggie stood down as Treasure at the end of the financial year but we have been thrilled that long-term member, Robyn Byrne, has stepped into her rather big shoes. Robyn is interstate this week and unfortunately couldn’t be here tonight.

Under the model rules which apply, we’re bound to have elections for President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer. These 4 positions will form an executive, which will do much of the running of the organisation, along with the event coordinator who will be co-opted.

There’s been a lot of change but what’s remained constant over the past year are our wonderful events and the support we offer to authors. Tonight’s event, with 3 debut crime authors – Tania Chandler, Emma Viskic and J M (Jenny) Green, is what we’re all about.

Over the past year, we’ve also been able to draw on other talented members to present events, including Liz Porter, Leigh Redhead, Angela Savage, and Vikki Petraitis plusFiona Eagger from Every Cloud Productions. Convenors have also shared the load – Sandra Nicholson, Maggie Baron, Jacqui Horwood, Janice Simpson and me. Long-term memberJane Clifton will do the honours with Danielle Cormack from Wentworth at this year’s Scarlet Stiletto Awards.

We think Jane Clifton was almost fated to present the awards with Danielle Cormack. She is still most famous for her 1980-84 role as bank robber Margo Gaffney in Prisoner – the show that Wentworth is based on. She was the singer with Stiletto back in the 70s and, more recently, has turned her hand writing crime novels with her latest published by Lindy Cameron’s Clan Destine Press.

As announced at last year’s AGM, Sisters in Crime has instituted a system of Life Time Memberships and this year we honoured Cathy Martin, Vivienne Colmer, Phyllis King and Robin Bowles.

Internationally, in the past year, the crime writing world honoured Ruth Rendell and P. D James who both met their end, though from natural, not murderous, causes.

The Queensland chapter is now timing its meetings to coincide with events at the Avid Bookstore and I regret to report that despite a meeting back in May, the NSW Chapter has still not gotten off the ground.

Next year is our 25th anniversary and we’re planning a one-day crime spree, perhaps at St Kilda Town Hall and perhaps culminating in the Scarlet Stiletto Awards. What do you reckon?

Finally many thanks are also due to:

  • Australian publishers who have really embraced Sisters in Crime in recent times. They generously support both the Davitt and Scarlet Stiletto Awards, donate books for our raffles and approach us re authors to speak at our events and help get them here.
  • Deb Force and the team at the Sun Bookshop, our official bookseller at events. Deb has an encyclopaedic knowledge of crime writing and is a great source of sage advice about what’s worth reading.
  • Former convenor Karen Chisholm who helps us with website tasks such as putting up the online Davitt voting form.
  • Former convenor Michele Cooper who administers the Scarlet Stiletto Awards, a huge job.
  • Helen Szitovsky who transports me and all the Sisters in Crime paraphernalia up to these events.
  • Mal and the wonderful team here at the Rising Sun.
  • Mark Barry from BS Sound who does a terrific job setting up the PA system for dummies here at our events.

Let’s also thank all the other convenors for their hard work. We all work getting these events together but we all have different special jobs.

  • Maggie Baron and Robyn Byrne forwhipping our finances into shape
  • Michaela Lobb who has taken the lion’s share of the coordination for both the Davitts and the Scarlet Stiletto Awards and event coordination more generally;
  • Ann Byrne has continued to be our review editor though, as I always report, it’s often a thankless task because a lot of review books get sent out and not so many reviews come back
  • Caz Brown designs most of our flyers
  • Jess Fichera designed the Life Time Memberships presentations and won’t be standing again
  • Jacqui Horwood  has been the Davitt judges wrangler this year and will continue in that role next year but is standing down – hopefully for only a year – to concentrate on her writing
  • Sandra Nicholson who is the mainstay of our very popular Law Week events and active reviewer
  • Janice Simpson who has been active on the budget and website committees
  • Sue Turnbull is now based in Wollongong and continues to contribute lots of reviews
  • Lindy Cameron designs the Davitt and Scarlet Stiletto certificates and does lots of other things
  • Zerafina Zara whoworked on the website redevelopment but won’t be standing again
  • I do the database, admin, PR event coordination and take pics. I trust you enjoyed the show reel of pics from the past year.

And most especially thanks to all of you, for sticking with us. Thank you for coming. I trust you’re still having fun which is our main reason for existence. Judith Rodriquez told me she been involved in a lot of literary organisations over many decades but Sisters in Crime is the only where she has fun.

I’ll close with the words that Susan Hickey (pictured above on one of her trade-mark hats) included on a card with her membership renewal last week: “Thank you for everything you do for writers, books, e-books, etc, etc. I love it all. Wonderful evenings out with incredible speakers, fab debates and funny, talented chairs, international well-known writers I have been reading for years and new stars in the making. I love it. Always heaps of fun.”

Thank you.


20/10/2015 - 11:06am

Lucy Sussex, a long-time member of Sisters in Crime, has won the History Publication Award for Blockbuster! Fergus Hume and the Mystery of a Hansom Cab (Text Publishing).

The award is one of several Victorian Community History Awards presented in Melbourne on 19 October by the Public Record Office Victoria in partnership with the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, and funded by the Victorian Government.

A few months ago Lucy talked to Carmel Shute, Sisters in Crime National Co-convenor (and historian by trade), at St Kilda Library about how and whyThe Mystery of the Hansom Cab (1886) became the fastest-selling detective novel of the 1800s, and Australia’s first literary blockbuster.

Lucy is also fiction writer, reviewer and a pioneering historian of women’s crime writing. Her historical works includeWomen Writers and Detectives in Nineteenth-Century Crime Fiction:The Mothers of the Mystery Genre (Palgrave MacMillan) andThe Fortunes of Mary Fortune (Penguin Books Australia). Lucy rediscovered Ellen Davitt after whom Sisters in Crime’s annual book awards are named.

She has edited four anthologies and five short-story collections. Her award-winning fiction includes books for younger readers and the novelThe Scarlet Rider.



19/10/2015 - 12:10pm


Sisters in Crime Australia is proud to announce that Danielle Cormack, star of Wentworth, will present its 22nd Scarlet Stiletto Short Story Awards at a gala dinner from 6.30pm, Saturday 28 November at Melbourne’s Thornbury Theatre.

Credit: Gina Milicia Foxtel

This year 191 stories compete for the national awards which offer a record $9,350 in prize money plus the coveted trophy, a scarlet stiletto withits steel heel plunging into a perspex mount, for the overall winner.

At 8pm, prior to the award presentations, Danielle Cormack will discuss her ‘life in crime’ (and much more) with crime author and performer, Jane Clifton.

Danielle Cormack is currently shooting Season 4 of Foxtel’s Wentworth, as the lead, Bea Smith – a role where she is receiving stellar industry acclaim both in Australia and abroad. She is set to reprise her role as Scarlet Meagher in season 4 of Rake, which returns to ABC1 in October 2015.

The New Zealand born actress quickly came to prominence in Australia with her powerhouse performance in the leading role of Kate Leigh in Underbelly: Razor. Her other crime credits include Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, City Homicide and The Strip. Danielle’s success in Wentworth has lead to wins at the 2015 ASTRA Awards and 2015 Logies.

Michaela Lobb, the Scarlet Stiletto Awards wrangler, said that Jane Clifton was almost fated to present the awards with Danielle Cormack.

“Jane Clifton is an author, actress, singer and registered marriage celebrant but all these years later she is still most famous for her 1980-84 role as bank robber Margo Gaffney inPrisoner – the show that Wentworth is based on. Ironically, Prisoner was one of the last shows not to pay its cast for repeats,” Lobb said.

“Also back in the late 1970s Jane was a member of new wave band Stiletto. More recently, Jane has turned her hand writing crime novels. The latest is Flush, published by Clan Destine Press, headed by a fellow Sisters in Crime convenor, Lindy Cameron. Jane is also a long-standing member of Sisters in Crime.”

To date, 2,926 stories have been entered with 19 Scarlet Stiletto Award winners –including category winners – going on to have novels published: Cate Kennedy, Tara Moss, Angela Savage, Josephine Pennicott, Ellie Marney, Sarah Evans, Inga Simpson, Alex Palmer, Liz Filleul, Margaret Bevege, Patricia Bernard, Bronwen Blake, Jo McGahey, Cheryl Jorgensen, Kylie Fox, Simmone Howell, Emilie Collyer, Sandi Wallace and Amanda Wrangles. Another winner, Aoife Clifford, has a book coming out next year with Simon& Schuster in both Australia and the UK which will bring the total to 20.

A record 27 stories from all over Australia are on what Sisters in Crime calls its ‘shot list’. The details will be announced on Monday 9 November.

Every Cloud Productions, the producers of the internationally-acclaimed crime drama,Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, is for the first time offering sponsorship of the $1500 first prize.

Echo Publishing, the new adult publishing wing of The Five Mile Press, is the sponsor for 2nd prize ($1000). Long-time supporter, HarperCollins Publishing, is offering a new award for romantic suspense ($500).

Other sponsors include Sun Bookshop, Athenaeum Library; Allen & Unwin; HarperCollins Publishing; Arena Magazine; Clan Destine Press; Scriptworks; Benn’s Books; Ann Byrne; Kerry Greenwood; Catherine Leppert; Josephine Pennicott; and the Queensland Chapter of Sisters in Crime. 

6 for 6.30pm Saturday 28 November 2015

Tickets: $65 (no concession) event and dinner. $25 (no concession) event only. Drinks available at bar prices. Men or ‘Brothers in Law’ welcome

Click here to book. Bookings close Monday 23 November. All seats are limited so book early — individually or in tables of up to 10: 

Venue:Thornbury Theatre, Velvet Room, 859 High Street, Thornbury

Book stall: 10% discount for members from the Sun Bookshop stall.

Media comment: Michaela LobbNational Co-convenor, Sisters in Crime0409 431 397.

Additional information: Carmel Shute, National Co-convenor, Sisters in Crime: 0412 569 356.


14/10/2015 - 7:41pm

The New England Writers' Centre is delighted to announce the results of the 2015 New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing.

The New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing is a national award for unpublished short-form crime writing.

In its third year in 2015, the Prize attracted a strong field of entries from all over Australia, by writers both published and unpublished. Fiction was once again particularly well-represented, with the winners of not only Fiction but the Emerging Author and the New England Award coming from that category this year, and the Youth Award also going to a young fiction writer who not only won that category but also received a highly commended for another story.

Sisters in Crime member, Sophie Masson, has helped organise the awards and is  interviewing the winners on her blog: http://firebirdfeathers.com/

Poetry: Sponsored by the New England Writers' Centre and the Armidale Dumaresq Library

Winner: P.S. Cottier (ACT), for Criminals who are no longer criminals

Highly Commended: Jaz Stutley (Vic) for The Waterhole Note: Sisters in Crime member

Highly Commended: Roger Vickery(NSW) for Lower Court 1D, Downing Centre

Fiction: Sponsored by the School of Arts, University of New England

Winner: Susan Bennett, (VIC)for Bittersweet

Highly Commended: Sarah Evans,(WA) for Sharpshooter Note: Sisters in Crime member

Highly Commended: Tony Sevil, (NSW)for The Disappearance of Buck

Highly Commended: Lynne Cook,(NSW) for Change of Plan

Commended: Sarah Evans, (WA) for Composting Gladys Note: Sisters in Crime member

Commended: Maris Morton,(NSW) for The Passionate Gardener Note: Sisters in Crime member

Non-Fiction: Sponsored by The Armidale Express

Winner: Joshua Nash (NSW) for A Nameless Island

No commendeds or highly commendeds awarded in this category.

New England Award: Sponsored by Reader's Companion Bookshop, Armidale

Winner: Tony Sevil for The Disappearance of Buck (fiction)

Emerging Author Award: sponsored by Friends of Tamworth Libraries

Winner: Lynne Cook (NSW) for Change of Plan (fiction)

Youth Award: Sponsored by Granny Fi's Toy Cupboard, Armidale

Winner: Madeleine Gome (VIC) for Scrap Metal (fiction) Note: daughter of Sisters in Crime member, Emma Viskic

Highly commended: Megan Galbraith (NSW) for The Butcher (poetry)

Highly commended: Madeleine Gome (VIC) for Lucky I've Got Lilian (fiction) Note: daughter of Sisters in Crime member, Emma Viskic

Highly commended: Bradley Lucas (NSW) for Robbed (fiction)


14/10/2015 - 7:18pm

Paddy McCorry, explores the world of Phryne ‘Phandom’ for Sisters in Crime

Since ABC TV launched Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (MFMM) in 2011, the series has been sold to over 120 countries and gained an international fan base.  In an interesting spin-off, fans have created a cyber-world of Phryne Fisher, the “Phryneverse”, paying tribute to Kerry Greenwood and the books, the TV cast and characters, and giving voice to their own desired stories. 

Fans use Facebook, Tumblr, fanfic sites, blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, fan sites and forums. In Australia, the DI Jack Appreciation Society (DIJAS) Facebook page began in July 2012 (www.facebook.com/The-DI-Jack-Appreciation-Society), providing a forum for debate on each episode and much more. On tumblr, www.izzyandlouie.tumblr.com is a UK site for DI Jack Robinson and Nathan Page fans, and has many followers. From these sites, I’ve become familiar with dozens of bloggers and commenters.

In this lively, supportive and funny “phandom” (one of the “phryneologisms” being collected into a “phractionary”), members research, share information, provide feedback and share skills in using various programs. They comment, analyse, discuss, and debate. The phandom seems to be largely composed of “shippers” (those charmed by the relationship between Phryne and Jack) and those who focus on Phryne as an independent feminist who won’t settle for one man, and occasionally there are heated disagreements. 

The phans post photos, artwork, screen grabs, videos, music clips, sometimes MFMM-related songs they have written and performed themselves, such as https://8tunes.com/cowalyn/come-after-me, scene compilations, and photo-shopped images from the funny to the frankly objectifying.  They organise “ficathons”, write “drabbles” and fanfics on request, provide editing and review services to each other, and publish their fanfics on sites like www.archiveofourown.org/tags/Miss%20Fisher’s%20/Murder%20Mysteries/works and www.fanfiction.net/tv/Miss-Fisher-s-Murder-Mysteries. Not all of these fics will be to everyone’s taste, but there are warnings so readers can choose. 

Fans develop friendships, offering support to each other across the globe.  They organise real-time “watchathons”, or meet with other fans. Recently the Phrack Phan Club, Philadelphia/South Jersey Chapter got together, and some international fans are meeting in New York in late October.  Fans travelled from overseas to the recent “Festival of Phryne” in Melbourne. And that’s not all!

International fans joined in the campaign for Series Three, helping raise the profile of MFMM and the main cast by contacting their local TV stations and streaming providers and petitioning for MFMM to be shown.  American blogger and radio host Sherri Rabinowitz (www.rithebard.tumblr.com) interviewed Nathan Page and as of 7 October 2015 the interview had been downloaded 4,008,262 times. That is some audience!

Nathan Page/Jack Robinson fans can visit www.nathanpagetheactor.wordpress.com, and Essie Davis/Phryne Fisher www.theadventuressesclub.com/miss-fisher-fans. Both sites link to a MFMM discussion forum.

Kerry Greenwood may be surprised by what she started years ago with Cocaine Blues!