01/07/2015 - 4:49pm

Melbourne's Athenaeum Library, which has sponsored the 'body in the library' prizes in Sisters in Crime's annual Scarlet Stiletto Award short story competition for the past three years, has published the winning stories from 2014 in e-book format:

Winning story: Natalie Conyer - The Book Club             read it here!
Runner-up: Fin J Ross - The VOTOS Solution         read it here!

The Athenaeum Library is again offering a prize of $1000 and a runner-up award of $500 in the 2015 awards.

This year a total of $9350 is up for grabs. Click here to download an entry form. 










01/07/2015 - 4:22pm

Congratulations to Scarlet Stiletto winner Aoife Clifford (above at the 2013 Awards' ceremony) has her debut novel coming out next year with Simon & Schuster in Australia and then in the UK.

Aoife won the top Scarlet Stiletto Award in 2007, came second in 2009 and has won numerous other category awards.

She also won the Ned Kelly – S.D. Harvey Award in 2012. She was shortlisted for the UK Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger in 2009. Her short stories have been published in the crime anthology Scarlet Stiletto: The Second Cut (2011) and in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Scribe anthology, New Australian Stories

The media release from Simon & Schuster reports:

Carla Josephson, Assistant Editor Simon & Schuster UK, bought UK, Commonwealth & ANZ rights in All These Perfect Strangers by Australian debut author Aoife Clifford from Rebecca Ritchie and Clare Forster at Curtis Brown. 

S&S Australia will publish in trade paperback in March 2016, with S&S UK publishing in paperback Original in June 2016. Catherine Drayton at Inkwell is handling North American rights.

The novel tells the story of Penelope Sheppard, whose young life is weighed down with scandal and tragedy.  But entry into university offers her the chance to run away from the past and reinvent herself among perfect strangers. Little by little, through Pen's flawed narration and tantalising diary entries, her secrets and lies come to light and a dangerous dilemma unfolds, twisting and turning until the very last page.

All These Perfect Strangersis Aoife Clifford’s first novel, but she has already won the two major Australian crime writing prizes in short story form: the Ned Kelly - SD Harvey Short Story Award and the Scarlet Stiletto. She was also shortlisted for the UK Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger. In 2013, she was awarded an Australian Society of Author's mentorship for All These Perfect Strangers.

Carla Josephson said, ‘I am absolutely thrilled to be publishing All These Perfect Strangers. I received it on a Friday and read it in one satisfying gulp, barely coming upfor air. Pen is a brilliantly unreliable narrator who pulls the reader into her world wherethe truth is constantly being revised and no one is who they seem. This is a unique and beautifully written debut and I’m delighted to welcome Aoife to S&S.’

Larissa Edwards, Head of Publishing at S&S Australia, said, ‘I am so proud to be publishing All These Perfect Strangers on our list. Aoife is a wonderful and talented writer whose novel haunted me for days after the first reading. It is hard to believe this is a debut when you are drawn into the mystery and intrigue of this self-assured novel. This is certain to gain a wide readership amongst Australian readers.’

Aoife Clifford said, 'It is a dream come true to have my debut novel picked up by Simon & Schuster and to work with their passionate and dedicated editors, both in Australia and the United Kingdom. I wanted this novel to be a compulsive page-turner that would keep the reader up all night but have the emotional depth that they would still be thinking about it long after finishing. I am delighted that my character Pen and her story has found such a wonderful audience.'

Clare Forster (Curtis Brown Australia) and Rebecca Ritchie (Curtis Brown London) said, ‘All These Perfect Strangers is an incredibly accomplished debut, packed with twists, turns and secrets. We are delighted that Simon & Schuster will be publishing Aoife Clifford in the UK and Australia and think this deal spells the start of a very bright future.’


14/06/2015 - 12:15pm

Every Cloud Productions, the producers of the internationally-acclaimed crime drama,Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, has just added another feather to its cloche: sponsorship of the $1500 first prize in the 22nd Scarlet Stiletto Awards, Sisters in Crime Australia’s annual short story competition.

Fiona Eagger, who producesMiss Fisher’s Murder Mysterieswith Every Cloud’s co-founder Deb Cox, said that they were only too delighted to support women’s literary talent of the criminal bent.

“We’re huge fans of the crime genre. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is based on the path-breaking novels of Kerry Greenwood, a founding member of Sisters in Crime back in 1991. Essie Davis, who plays our twenties’ sleuth, Phryne Fisher, presented the Scarlet Stiletto Awards before a capacity crowd in 2013. The year before, the costume designer, Marion Boyce, and Kerry did the honours,” Eagger said.

“Sisters in Crime members have been some of the most ardent fans of our show and led a campaign to persuade the ABC to commission a third series. So there’s a certain synchronicity in Every Cloud offering more direct support to the Scarlet Stiletto Awards.”

National Co-convenor, Michaela Lobb, said Sisters in Crime was thrilled with this top level support.

“We’re on cloud nine. It’s the first time the Scarlet Stiletto Awards have secured the support of a television production company. The fact that it’s the producers of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, a show so loved and admired by our members, makes it even more thrilling,” Lobb said.

“We’re also excited that Echo Publishing, the new adult publishing wing of The Five Mile Press, is the sponsor for 2nd prize ($1000). HarperCollins Publishing is offering a new award for romantic suspense ($500).

A record $9350 is on offer this year – up $650 from last year. Stories must have a crime or mystery theme, a female protagonist and a female author. The awards are amongst the richest short story competitions in Australia.

As well receiving Every Cloud Productions’ 1st Prize of $1500, the overall winner is presented with the coveted trophy, a scarlet stiletto withits steel heel plunging into a perspex mount.

Melbourne’s Athenaeum Library is again offering a prize of $1000 and a runner-up prize of $500 for the best short story that includes the words ‘body in the library’.

Other awards include:

  • The Sun Bookshop Award: 3rd Prize: $500
  • Allen & Unwin Award for Best Young Writer (under 18):$500
  • Josephine Pennicott Award for Best Indigenous Writer:$500
  • Kerry Greenwood Award for Best Malice Domestic Story:$750
  • HarperCollins Publishers Award for Best Romantic Suspense Story:$500
  • Scarlet Stiletto Award for Best Environmental Crime Story:$500
  • Scarlet Stiletto Award for Best Financial Crime Story:$500
  • Arena Magazine Award for a Well-loaded Political Story:$500
  • Clan Destine Press Award for Best Cross-genre Story:$400
  • Liz Navratil Award for Best Disabled Protagonist Award: $400 (up $150)
  • Benn’s Books Award for Best Investigative Story:$200
  • Scriptworks Award for a Great Film Idea:$200

Arena Magazine will publish the winning story in its category.

Lobb said Sisters in Crime was delighted with the increased prize money but, most especially, with the success of the awards in unearthing so much literary criminal talent over the past two decades.

To date, 2,735 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.

“The great variety of awards on offer should appeal to all sorts of different literary sensibilities, from the cosy and romantically inclined to the hard-boiled and speculative,” Lobb said.

Last year, the Awards attracted 207 entries. They were presented by Marta Dusseldorp, star of ABC1’s Janet King.

Five authors have won the Scarlet Stiletto Award twice and subsequently been invited to become judges: Cate Kennedy, Christina Lee, Roxxy Bent, Janis Spehr and Josephine Pennicott. Only Cate Kennedy, however, has a matching pair of stilettos.

Three collections of winning stories have been published by Clan Destine Press: Scarlet Stiletto: The First Cut, Scarlet Stiletto: The Second Cut and Scarlet Stiletto Short Stories: 2013(ebook). 

Closing date for the awards is 31 August 2015. Entry fee is $15 (Sisters in Crime) or $20 (others). Maximum length is 5000 words.  Click here for entry forms and FAQs. 

The 22nd Scarlet Stiletto Awards are tentatively scheduled for 6.30pm Saturday 28 November at theThornbury Theatre in Melbourne.

Media comment: Michaela Lobb, National Co-convenor, Sisters in Crime Australia:  0409 431 397.

04/06/2015 - 10:25pm

Sisters in Crime offers its warmest congratulations to St Kilda author Jane Harper who has won the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript.

Harper took out the $15,000 prize for her crime novel, The Dry, set in rural Australia.

The Age reported the judges saying that Harper "weaves together themes about belonging, loyalty and forgiveness in an exploration of the best and worst of rural Australia ... [she] has delivered an accomplished piece of crime writing, one destined to find a wide audience".

Presumably publishers are beating a quick path to Jane’s door.

It has certainly proved a boon to other authors. Sisters in Crime member Angela Savage won the award in 2004 for a manuscript which grew out of a story which won the 3rd prize in Sisters in Crime’s Scarlet Stiletto Awards in 1998. She has since published three novels featuring her Thailand-based P I Jayne Keeney.

Sisters in Crime member J M (Jenny) Green, who has a debut novel Good Money coming out with Scribe in November, was shortlisted for the award last year.

The prize has also previously gone to writers such as Carrie Tiffany, Graeme Simsion and Maxine Beneba Clarke and given their careers a massive kickstart.

The Award for an Unpublished Manuscript is part of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards program, which is administered by the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas on behalf of the Andrews Labor Government.

Click here to read more. 

04/06/2015 - 10:21pm

According to Adam Davis from BuzzFeed, Phryne Fisher is a flawless human being who must be celebrated endlessly.

It's not often we run male opinion pieces on the Sisters in Crime website, but Adam does put forward 18 compelling arguments as to why we should all love Phryne and the Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, based on the books by Kerry Greenwood, a founding member of Sisters in Crime Australia.

Click here to find out why you absolutely need her in your life, according to Adam. (The site includes lots of delicious video clips.)


03/06/2015 - 6:20pm

Davitt judges’ wrangler, Jacqui Horwood, said that there had been an explosion of women’s crime writing over the past 15 years.

Hannah Kent won the 2104 Davitt (Readers' Choice) for Burial Rites

“When the Davitt Awards were set up back in 2001, there were only seven books competing , though admittedly non-fiction crime books weren’t then in contention. Last year, numbers had climbed to 76 books but in one short year they’ve grown by another 20. The increase is gobsmacking,” Horwood said.

“Australian women are turning to crime above all other genres, it seems, because crime offers so many possibilities. It really is a broad church (the television crime series was appropriately titled). All tastes and proclivities are catered for, from hard-boiled to cosy, from serial killers to crime capers. Ebooks are also now part of the mix.”

Horwood said that last year Sisters in Crime had decided to establish a separate award for children’s crime novels.

“It seemed unfair to expect children’s fiction to compete with Young Adult fiction but we didn’t expect children’s books to soar in numbers and popularity. This year, there are 20 children’s crime novels, six more than in the Young Adult category,” Horwood said. 

“Many of us in Sisters in Crime aren’t all that surprised since we cut our teeth on The Famous Five, Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. In fact, we’re thrilled that a whole new generation of crime readers and writers is being nurtured by the likes of Jen Storer, Jennifer Walsh, Catherine Jinks and Sally Rippin.”

Six Davitt Awards will be presented by a major UK crime writer at gala dinner in Melbourne on Saturday 29 August : Best Adult Novel; Best Young Adult; Best Children’s Novel; Best Non-fiction Book; Best Debut Book (any category); and Readers’ Choice (as voted by the 650 members of Sisters in Crime Australia).

The Davitts, named after Ellen Davitt, the author of Australia’s first mystery novel, Force and Fraud, in 1865, cost publishers nothing to enter.

The awards are handsome carved polished wooded trophies featuring the front cover of the winning novel under perspex. No prize money is attached.

Horwood said that the Davitts have played a key role in getting women’s crime writing better recognised.

“The Davitts have also encouraged Australian publishers to take a punt on crime books produced by women locally, instead of just importing the latest blockbusters from overseas. It’s a gamble that has paid off,” she said.

The judging panel for 2015 comprises:

·         Maggie Baron: Former forensic scientist and avid crime reader, Maggie brings a strong analytical perspective to the craft of judging.

·         Deborah Crabtree:Deborah is a writer, reviewer and bookseller at Readings Carlton. An ex-Kill City dame and past Ned Kelly judge, Deborah has returned to the literary crime scene to check out how the sisters do it and whether they can get away with it.

·         Jacqui Horwood: Jacqui is a former public servant and newly minted librarian. She likes her crime hard boiled and her eggs sunny side up.

·         Sylvia Loader: Sylvia has been reading crime for more than sixty years and is still searching for the ideal way of disposing of a husband.

·         Michaela Lobb:Michaela formerly worked as a proof reader for freelance writers and has a degree in journalism and writing and certificates in editing and publishing. She began her career as a devoted crime reader at age 11 when she transitioned from Trixie Belden to Agatha Christie.

·         Dr Shelley Robertson:Shelley has been a forensic pathologist for over 25 years, with extensive experience in the investigation of unnatural deaths and giving expert evidence in court. She has written a number of articles published in true crime anthologies and been a Davitt Judge and Sisters in Crime member for many years.

Previous Davitt Awards have been presented by South African crime writer Lauren Beukes (2014); New Zealand crime writer Vanda Symons (2013); Swedish crime writer Asa Larsson (2012); Singapore crime writer Shamini Flint (2011), Scottish crime writer Val McDermid (2010); Justice Betty King (2009), Judge Liz Gaynor (2008); Walkley-winning investigative journalist Estelle Blackburn (2007); true crime writer Karen Kissane (2006); Sisters Inside’s Debbie Killroy, (2005); US crime writer Karin Slaughter, (2004); Val McDermid (2003); , ACTU President Sharan Burrow (2002) and Chief Commissioner, Victoria Police (2001Christine Nixon,).

Sisters in Crime Australia was set up 24 years ago, has chapters in different states and holds regular events in Melbourne dissecting crime fiction on the page and screen. It also hosts a popular annual short-story competition, the Scarlet Stiletto Awards.

Voting by Sisters in Crime members for the Davitt (Readers' Choice) closes on 27 July. 

A short list will be announced in late July.

The long list follows.

Media comment: Jacqui Horwood on 0449 703 503; jacqui.horwood@gmail.com

Adult novels (44)

·         Sarah Barrie, Deadly Secrets (Harlequin MIRA – Harlequin)

·         Honey Brown, Through the Cracks (Penguin Books Australia)

·         Kimberley Brown, Trusting a Stranger (Escape Publishing –Harlequin) ebook, Debut

·         Carla Caruso, Pretty Mess: An Astonvale novel (HarperCollins Australia) ebook, Debut

·         Melanie Casey, Craven (Pantera Press)

·         Lee Christine, In Safe Arms (Escape Publishing – Harlequin) ebook

·         Sandy Curtis, Grievous Harm (Clan Destine Press)

·         Wendy L Curtis, Above and Beyond (Escape Publishing–Harlequin) ebook, Debut

·         Karen Davis, Deadly Obsession (Simon & Schuster)

·         Livia Day, Drowned Vanilla (Twelfth Planet Press)

·         Joy Dettman, Tying of Threads (Pan Macmillan Australia)

·         Ilsa Evans, Forbidden Fruits: A Nell Forrest mystery (Momentum Press) ebook

·         Sarah Evans, Killing Kindness (Clan Destine Press) ebook

·         Sarah Evans, Operation Paradise (Clan Destine Press) Debut

·         Jaye Ford, Already Dead (Random House)

·         Candice Fox, Eden (Random House)

·         Candice Fox, Hades (Random House) Debut

·         Kathryn Fox, Fatal Impact (Pan Macmillan Australia)

·         Anna George, What Came Before (Penguin Books Australia) Debut

·         Sulari Gentill, A Murder Unmentioned (Pantera Press)

·         Helen Goltz, Graveyard of the Atlantic (Atlas Productions)

·         Nina Hamilton, Rescue Nights (Escape Publishing – Harlequin) ebook

·         Annie Hauxwell, A Morbid Habit (Penguin Books Australia)

·         Katherine Howell, Deserving Death (Pan Macmillan Australia)

·         Anna Jaquiery, The Lying-down Room (Picador – a Pan Macmillan imprint) Debut

·         Wendy James, The Lost Girls (Penguin Books Australia)

·         Rebecca Jessen, Gap (University of Queensland Press) Debut

·         Kathryn Ledson, Monkey Business (Penguin Books Australia)

·         Gabrielle Lord, Dishonour (Hachette Australia)

·         Sophie Masson, Trinity #1: The Koldun Code (Momentum Press – a Pan MacMillan imprint)

·         Lily Monadjemi, The Scent of Love (Austin Macauley Publishers) Debut

·         Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies (Pan Macmillan Australia)

·         Maris Morton, The Herb Gardener (Odyssey Books)

·         Malla Nunn, Present Darkness (Xoum Publishing)

·         P M Newton, Beams Falling (Penguin Books Australia)

·         Ainslie Paton, Floored (Escape Publishing – Harlequin) ebook

·         Josephine Pennicott, Currawong Manor (Pan Macmillan Australia)

·         Elisabeth Rose, Evidence of Love (Escape Publishing – Harlequin) ebook

·         Deborah Sheldon, Dark Waters (Cohesion Press) ebook

·         Vanessa Skye, Broken (The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House)

·         Nicole Trope, The Secrets in Silence (Allen & Unwin)

·         Sandi Wallace, Tell Me Why (Clan Destine Press) Debut

·         Felicity Young, The Scent of Murder (HarperCollins Australia)

·         Helene Young, Safe Harbour (Penguin Books Australia)

Young adult novels (14)

·         Alexandra Adornetto, Ghost House (HarperCollins Australia) Debut     

·         Christine Bongers, Intruder (Woolshed Press – a Random House imprint)

·         Kaz Delaney, Almost Dead (Allen & Unwin)

·         Rebecca James, Cooper Bartholomew Is Dead (Allen & Unwin)

·         Justine Larbalestier, Razorhurst (Allen & Unwin)

·         Rebecca Lim, The Astrologer’s Daughter (Text Publishing) Debut

·         Ellie Marney, Every Word (Allen & Unwin)

·         Sophie Masson, Emilio: Through my eyes (Allen & Unwin)

·         Sophie Masson, The Crystal Heart (Random House)

·         Pamela Rushby, The Ratcatcher’s Daughter (HarperCollins Australia) Debut

·         Jessica Shirvington, Corruption (HarperCollins Australia)

·         Jessica Shirvington, Disruption (HarperCollins Australia)

·         Frances Watts, The Raven’s Wing (HarperCollins Australia)

·         Nova Weetman, The Haunting of Lily Frost (University of Queensland Press) Debut

Children’s Novels (20)

·         Lollie Barr, The Adventures of Stunt Boy and His Amazing Wonder Dog Blindfold (Pan Macmillan Australia) Debut

·         Ursula Dubosarsky, Talkative Tombstone #6: The CrypticCasebook (Allen & Unwin)

·         Elizabeth Farrelly, Caro Was Here (Walker Books) Debut

·         Jacqueline Harvey, Alice-Miranda in Japan (Random House)

·         Catherine Jinks, Saving Thanehaven (Allen & Unwin)

·         Sofie Laguna, Do You Dare? Fighting Bones 1836 (Penguin Books Australia)

·         Alison Lloyd, Do You Dare? Bushranger Boys 1841 (Penguin Books Australia)

·         Deryn Mansell, Tiger Stone (Black Dog Books – a Walker Books Australia imprint) Debut

·         Belinda Murrell, The Sequin Star (Random House)

·         Eileen O’Hely, Kitten Kaboodle Mission 1: The Catier Emerald (Walker Books) Debut

·         Eileen O’Hely, Kitten Kaboodle Mission 2: The Lightning Opal(Walker Books)

·         Sally Rippin, Billie B Mystery #2: Code Breaker (Hardie Grant Egmont)

·           Sally Rippin, Billie B Mystery #3: Playground Detectives (Hardie Grant Egmont)

·           Sally Rippin, Billie B Mystery #4: Strawberry Thief (Hardie Grant Egmont)

·           Sally Rippin, Billie B Mystery #5: Stolen Stash (Hardie Grant Egmont)

·           Sally Rippin, Billie B Mystery #6: Treasure Hunt (Hardie Grant Egmont)

·           Judith Rossell, Withering-by-Sea (HarperCollins Australia)

·           R A Spratt, Friday Barnes: Big trouble (Random House)

·           Jen Storer, Truly Tan #4: Freaked! (ABC Books – a HarperCollins Australia imprint)

·           Jennifer Walsh, Crooked Leg Road (Allen & Unwin)

Non-Fiction Books (18)

·           Lindy Cameron and Fin J Ross, Murder in the Family: 15 horrifying accounts of domestic tragedy  (The Five Mile Press)

·           Amy Dale, The Fall (Random House) Debut

·           Suzanne Falkiner, Mrs Mort’s Madness: The true story of a Sydney scandal (Xoum Publishing)

·           Vashti Farrer, Ellen Thomson: Beyond a reasonable doubt (Halstead Press)

·           Victoria Heywood, Lethal Lovers (The Five Mile Press)

·           Amanda Howard, Murder on the Mind: An insight into the minds of serial killers and their crimes (New Holland)

·           Xanthé Mallett, Mothers Who Murder: And infamous miscarriages of justice (Ebury Press – a Random House imprint)

·           Debi Marshall, The Family Court Murders: Four murders.Five bombings. No convictions (Ebury Press – a Random House imprint)

·           Michaela McGuire, Last Bets (Melbourne University Publishing)

·           Belinda Neil, Under Siege (Harlequin MIRA – Harlequin)

·           Megan Norris, Love You to Death: A story of sex, betrayal and murder gone wrong (The Five Mile Press)

·           Eileen Ormsby, Silk Road (Pan Macmillan Australia) Debut

·           Caroline Overington, Last Woman Hanged (HarperCollins Australia)

·           Virginia Peters, Have You Seen Simone? The story of an unsolved murder (Nero)

·           Sue Turnbull, The TV Crime Drama (University of Edinburgh Press)

·           Emily Webb, Murder in Suburbia: Disturbing stories from Australia’s dark heart (The Five Mile Press)

·           Robyn Windshuttle, Dancing with a Cocaine Cowboy (Allen & Unwin) Debut

·           Julie Szego, The Tainted Trial of Farah Jama (Wild Dingo Press) Debut

09/05/2015 - 3:10pm

The first episode Series 3 of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries screened on ABC1 on 8 May. The series is based on the novels by founding Sisters in Crime member, Kerry Greenwood, and has a huge following amongst Sisters in Crime members. 

The even better news is that a film is in the offing.

Here is an edited report from News Limited on 6 May 2015:

GLAMOROUS lady detective Miss Fisher is embarking on her most exciting adventure yet: a feature film adaptation shot in England and set in a variety of exotic locations around the world.

The makers of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries report strong interest in the screenplay and are scouring the globe for an internationally recognised star to join the cast.

Head writer Deb Cox says a feature will finally give their larger than life character — played by Essie Davis — the big canvas she deserves, describing the tone as: “The same kind of tongue-in-cheek adventures on the big screen that Indiana Jones has managed for the last three decades.”

“There will be a UK shoot and an exotic location shoot and Phyrne will fly her light plane all the way, breaking aviatrix records of the day! Essie is currently based in the UK so that also works well for her,” Cox said.


Season opener ... Mighty Merve MacKenzie (Grant Piro) and Miss Fisher (Essie Davis).

http://tcog.news.com.au/track/component/article/entertainment/television/miss-fishers-murder-mysteries-to-be-a-movie-filmed-in-the-uk/story-fni0cc2a-1227336789720?t_product=HeraldSun&t_template=s3/chronicle-component/relatedstories/templates/indexThe hit show returns this week for a third season. With an average audience of 1.5 million viewers, sales to 120 territories around the world and a growing fanbase thanks to Netflix in the US, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries has a level of brand recognition few other Aussie series can boast.

Every Cloud Productions has already turned down an offer from an LA producer to develop a US version of the series because the makers want to maintain the quality of the local one, but Cox says they’re “very interested in the potential for that” in the future.

“It could work beautifully in 1920s New York or Los Angeles,” she says.

Based in the UK ... Hobart-born Essie Davis stars as Phryne Fisher in Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries.

Star Essie Davis also has a growing international profile, thanks in part to her role in The Babadook — a low budget Australian psychological horror film that drew rave reviews overseas.

On set at Ripponlea Estate in Melbourne during filming of season three, Davis acts coy when asked about the feature film plans.

“That’s top secret information,” smiles the actress, her signature black bob in stark contrast to today’s brilliant white tennis outfit. But she reels off her wish list for the film.

“There’s all sorts of amazing things you could do. There’s got to be horses, there’s got to be rickshaw chases, lots of building climbing, rooftop running, things like that!”

The 45-year-old says her favourite parts of the show are the action sequences, which last season saw her scale Parliament House and this season has Davis performing underwater escape tricks and racing motorcycles while being filmed by drone helicopters.

But she explains they often have to curtail action sequences as they “take quite a bit of time” — a luxury they can’t always afford as each episode is shot in just eight days.

“I’m always pushing for more action, but you know there’s all kinds of risks they don’t want me to take and there’s budget issues,” she says.

“I would love to do a movie of this with the right budget. I think it would need a budget that would make it achievable to look as brilliant as James Bond … But I mean, we do achieve an incredible amount on the smell of an oily rag!”...

Miss Fisher The Movie is unlikely to suffer that same fate [as The Babadook], if only thanks to its ardent fans — who mounted a huge campaign to get the ABC to renew it after the national broadcaster dithered for a year (reportedly due to budget cuts and a desire to chase a younger audience.)

Season three offers a new and unique world in each episode, from the vaudeville magic theatre scene of the opener to astronomy at the Botanic Gardens’ observatory and today’s Great Gatsby-like tennis episode.

Fisher’s estranged father (Pip Miller) returns from overseas to create trouble, and Dot (Ashleigh Cummings) takes on a Watson-like role to Miss Fisher’s Holmes.

“At times she’s on even ground with Phyrne in terms of investigating and she’s really come into her own as a detective,” the 22 year old explains.

In real life Cummings looks up to Davis, seeing her as both a mentor and a friend, and says they disclose everything to one another. “She’s one of the most important figures in my life, and I’m very lucky to have that relationship with her,” she says. Davis is a perfectionist with an eye for detail she says. “It’s really wonderful to see that despite the immense hours she has to work and how exhausted she is, while raising her two young daughters and trying to manage everything, she still has such dedication to the work.”

Cummings is clearly passionate about the series, revealing she moved frequently as a child and has had a nomadic existence as an actress. “This has been the most consistent thing I’ve ever had in my really and on a very personal level I was kind of devastated to think it wouldn’t go ahead,” she says. “I’m really grateful to the fans for their support and for getting season three happening.”

So they should probably start campaigning now for season four?

“Yes please!” she laughs.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, ABC, Friday, 8.30pm


Festival of Phyrne in Melbourne (May/June) including tours, exhibitions, deathly dinners and speakeasies.



03/05/2015 - 4:22pm

UK crime writer Ruth Rendell, creator of the Inspector Wexford series, has died at the age of 85, following a stroke in January.

Rendell, who also wrote psychological thrillers under the name of Barbara Vine, was the author of more than 60 novels.

Her rival and great friend, P D James, died in November. Both were in the House of Lords, James appointed by the Tories, Rendell by Labour.

The Guardian carried a tribute by Scottish Queen of Crime (and great friend of Sisters in Crime Australia), Val McDermid.

 “Ruth Rendell was unique. No one can equal her range or her accomplishment; no one has earned more respect from her fellow practitioners,” McDermid said.

“The broad church that is current British crime writing owes much to a writer who over a 50-year career consistently demonstrated that the genre can continually reinvent itself, moving in new directions, assuming new concerns and exploring new ways of telling stories. And doing it all in a smoothly satisfying prose style.”

Read more:





03/05/2015 - 4:01pm

New England Writers Centre is proud to announce an exciting new national literary award, the New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing

The prize is for unpublished short-form crime writing in three categories: fiction, non-fiction and poetry. It has been inspired not only by New England's traditional association with the legendary bushranger Captain Thunderbolt, but also because of the region's many associations with crime writing.

The New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Fiction: First Prize: $500, for a story of up to 2,500 words. Sponsored by the School of Arts, University of New England.

The New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Non-Fiction: First Prize: $500 for an article of up to 2,500 words. Sponsored by The Armidale Express.

The New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Poetry: First Prize: $500 for a poem of up to 60 lines. Sponsored by Collins Booksellers (Armidale and Tamworth), Dymocks Bookshop (Armidale) Chaucer on Bridge Street Gallery (Uralla), and the Armidale Dumaresq Memorial Library.

There will also be an extra prize of $200 for the best entry by a writer resident in New England, sponsored by the New England Writers' Centre.

All winning entries will be published in the Armidale Express.

Open to writers all over Australia, whether published or unpublished, the Prize will put New England on the national literary map, for there are surprisingly few awards in this very popular genre.

The three judges, all residents of New England, have a national and international profile and high reputation in their various fields. Fiction judge is Bronwyn Parry, best-selling author of three mystery novels, As Darkness Falls, Dark Country andDead Heat, published in Australia and overseas; poetry judge is Michael Sharkey, eminent poet with more than twenty books to his name, who has also taught literature in universities in Australia, New Zealand and China, run his own poetry press and taught writing to prisoners; and non-fiction judge is Dr Xanthe Mallett, criminologist, forensic anthropologist and presenter of TV shows including BBC 2's History Cold Case and the US-based seriesThe Decrypters. She is currently filming series 1 of Coast Australia.

Prize details and entry form: www.newc.org.au

24/04/2015 - 6:11pm

Sisters in Crime Australia has presented its first Lifetime Membership Awards –  to Vivienne Colmer and Robin Bowles on 13 March and to Phyllis King on 17 April.

Each recipient received a red Sisters in Crime Lifetime Membership card and a framed pulp-style book cover designed by National Co-convenor, Jessica Fichera.

Here’s an abridged version of what National Co-convenor, Carmel Shute, said when making the presentations:

“The first recipient is Vivienne Colmer who served as a National Convenor from 1999-2011. Vivienne brought her superb organising skills from the union movement to Sisters in Crime. She was the key organiser for SheKilda, Sisters in Crime’s 10th anniversary convention, held at St Kilda Town Hall in 2001.

"She secured out international guest of honour, Tart Noir Queen, Lauren Henderson though it was touch and go for a bit. Lauren was living in New York where the Town Towers were bombed shortly before the convention. Then there was the Qantas strike. Vivienne coped with all these challenges with her usual cool head and great strategic sense. SheKilda was a triumph, despite being organised in record time."

"Our second Lifetime Membership goes to true crime author Robin Bowles who served as a National Co-convenor from 2001-2010. Besides bringing her inimitable sense of style to Sisters in Crime, Robin was a gun event organiser and sponsorship queen. I worked with Robin in negotiating what turned out to be 4 years of sponsorship with the Victoria Police Museum for the Davitt Awards.

"To see her get the deal was awe-inspiring. I can’t remember if she played good cop and I played bad cop but whatever it was, it was extremely successful! Robin was always full of ideas for events and she’s sorely missed on that front."

"The third recipient is Phyllis who served as a national co-convenor from 2002 to 2014. Her family name is King but to us she is a Queen of Crime.

"In Sisters in Crime, we often mistrust the supernatural – or the oomby goombie’ as former convenor Cathy Martin likes to call it – but it’s true that Phyllis appeared as if by a divine miracle when we were in a huge tizz organising SheKilda 2001. Phyllis King and her daughter Tanya King (as she then was) turned up at St Kilda Town Hall as volunteers on the Thursday night before the grand opening the Friday night.

"In Sisters in Crime, we are nothing if not opportunists – we know talent of the criminal kind when we see it and we quickly snaffled them both as national co-convenors straight after SheKilda. Phyllis brought the wonderful organisational skills that she exercised at the University of Melbourne Business School to Sisters in Crime – particularly, the organisation of the Scarlet Stiletto Awards and the Davitt Awards.

"It was a lot of slog but not without its own rewards. We know that Phyllis loved being able to ring up the authors shortlisted for the Scarlet Stiletto Awards and hear their delight at the news. Supporting emerging writers is one of Sisters in crime’s missions.

"Phyllis brought a lot of intellectual rigour to the reviews she wrote for or magazine and more latterly the Sisters in Crime website and to the judging process. We’re thrilled that she – and Tanya as well – will continue to be judges for the Scarlet Stiletto Award competition.”

Carmel Shute (l) presents Phyllis King with her Lifetime Membership Award

A fourth Lifetime Membership Award will be presented to Cathy Martin on 15 May.