20/10/2014 - 10:04pm

Marta Dusseldorp, star of Janet King and Crownies, to present the 21st Scarlet Stiletto Short Story Awards - 6.30pm, Friday 21 November

Sisters in Crime Australia is proud to announce that Marta Dusseldorp, star of Janet King and Crownies, will present its 21st Scarlet Stiletto Short Story Awards at a gala dinner from 6.30pm on Friday, 21 November at Melbourne’s Thornbury Theatre.

This year a record 207 stories competed for awards  offering a record $8,800 in prize money plus the coveted stiletto trophy for the overall winner.

At 8pm, prior to the award presentations, Dusseldorp will discuss her ‘life in crime’ (and much more) with crime author Leigh Redhead.

Dusseldorp’s criminal past includes the critically acclaimed Janet King and its predecessor Crownies (ABC), three telemovies opposite Guy Pearce in Jack Irish and the six-part Blackjack telemovies opposite Colin Friels. Other key television roles include two seasons as Sarah Adams in A Place To Call Home (Seven Network); Devil’s Dust, the award-winning mini-series After the Deluge; and Hell Has Harbour Views.

Dusseldorp has a wealth of experience on stage including three years with the Sydney Theatre Company’s Actor’s Company where she received a Helpmann Award. Her film credits include Paul Cox’s award-winning Innocence, Praise, Paradise Road and Burning Man. Info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marta_Dusseldorp

Leigh Redhead is the author of the award winning Simone Kirsch private eye series. She has also contributed a chapter to the compilation If I Tell You…I’ll Have To Kill You: Australia’s Leading Crime Writers Reveal Their Secrets (Allen and Unwin). Info: http://www.leighredhead.com

Venue: Thornbury Theatre, 859 High Street, Thornbury

Sit-down dinner: $60 ($35 concession for shortlisted authors only). Drinks available at bar prices. Men or ‘Brothers in Law’ welcome.

Seats only (no dinner) from 8pm: $15 (no concession)

Bookings close Monday, 17th November.

Book individually or in tables of up to 10 or a seat only (without meal). 

Further information: Michaela Lobb 0409 431 397 or via email

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

Prizes kindly sponsored by HarperCollins; Pantera Press; Sun Bookshop, Athenaeum Library; Allen & Unwin; Arena Magazine; Clan Destine Press; Scriptworks; Benn’s Book Shop; Ann Byrne; Kerry Greenwood; Catherine Leppert; Josephine Pennicott; and the Queensland Chapter of Sisters in Crime. The awards are also supported by Spinifex Press.

13/10/2014 - 11:57am

What are the challenges – and joys – of moving from journalism to true crime? Journalists Belinda Hawkins, Suzanna Lobez and Meg Norris cut to the thrust with crime author and former journalist Lindy Cameron at an event hosted by crime buff’s organisation, Sisters in Crime Australia: 8pm Friday 24 October at South Melbourne’s Rising Sun Hotel.

Multi-award winning Belinda Hawkins, who has reported on national and international events for ABC TV and SBS TV for almost 30 years, published her first true crime book, Every Parent’s Nightmare (Allen & Unwin) last year. She takes up the case of young Australian traveller Jock Palfreeman who has been imprisoned in Bulgaria since 2009. He claimed he was defending a Gypsy being attacked by soccer hooligans but the prosecutor claimed it was an act of cold-blooded murder.

“When I took a call in mid-2008 from a young woman claiming a man I knew to a former Army Intelligence officer had suggested she call me about a friend charged with murder in Bulgaria, I was intrigued. When the accused's dad refused to take my call, I was hooked. Anyone who won’t talk to you is irresistible. Six years, two documentaries as an ABC reporter and a book later, I am still following the case of Jock Palfreeman”, Hawkins said.

“When Allen & Unwin asked me to write about the case, I jumped at the chance and made some eight trips to Bulgaria, hunting down documents, witnesses, judges, CCTV footage. I uncovered a web of corruption that was playing out among the supporting characters.

“A long career in journalism meant researching my book came naturally to me. But the act of writing and rewriting, burrowing into the mind of each character, while all the while swinging from one side to the other in my own take on the crime, was both exhilarating and exhausting.”

Actor-turned-barrister-turned-broadcaster-turned crime writer, Susanna Lobez ,was an ABC specialist legal broadcaster on RN’s Law Report and Law Matters (ABCTV). Lobez has written seven crime books with James Morton.

In Bent: Australia's Crooked Cops, just out with Melbourne University Press, Lobez and Morton present a gripping accountof police corruption in Australia. As they have illustrated, in several Gangland books Australia has almost certainly out-ganged other countries. Now their spotlight is turned on corruption within the police services and identifying which state wins the bent cop handicap.

Lobez turned to true crime after a depressing time when she had to leave an award-winning career at the ABC because it didn’t offer adoption leave.”

In Love You to Death: A Story of Sex, Betrayal and Murder Gone Wrong (The Five Mile Press), investigative journalist and author Meg Norris, author of the bestselling On Father’s Day, unearths the sobering tale of a man whose only mistake was giving his heart to the wrong woman.

Norris’s 30-odd year background in crime reporting and police rounds sparked a passion for crime which has seen her covering some of the biggest crime stories in Australia for both national and overseas media. Her stories have appeared in National Inquirer, The Mail on Sunday and US Weekly and have been syndicated in various publications around the world.

“The transition from journalism to crime writing wasn’t a particularly big leap for me – but rather a progression of the work I had already done for many years as a crime reporter for print and TV media. As a daily court reporter in both England and Australia, I was an observer writing daily updates on some of the country’s biggest crimes,” Norris said.

“Covering high profile trials, I spent just as much time observing the harrowing journey’s of the victims of crime, and their families who are the secondary victims who live with the horror of terrible criminal acts. As a result, I progressed naturally to writing their heartbreaking and often inspirational stories from court which is a theatre that showcases the absolute worst and the best of human nature for the national media.”

Lindy Cameron is a founding member and National Co-Convenor of Sisters in Crime Australia, and the publisher of Clan Destine Press. A former journalist, she writes both true crime and fiction.

Info: www.clandestinepress.com.au

Followed by brief Annual General Meeting. Open to all financial members world-wide. Nomination forms for positions of national co-convenors will be accepted on the night of 24 October 2014. National co-convenors are located in Melbourne and environs.

The Rising Sun Hotel, cnr Raglan St & Eastern Rd, South Melbourne Mel Ref: 57, H2.Try 1, 55, 112 or St Kilda Road trams. Free on-street parking after 6pm.

$10 (Sisters in Crime & Writers’ Victoria members/concession)/$15 (non-members). Dinnerupstairs from 6.30pm (no lift). Men or ‘brothers-in-law’ welcome. 10% discount for members from Sun Bookshop stall.

Info: Carmel Shute, National Co-convenor, Sisters in Crime Australia: 0412 569 356 carmel@shute-the-messenger.com


18/09/2014 - 3:59pm

Sisters in Crime Australia and the Port Phillip Library Services have joined forces to present Double Trouble, a free ‘event launch’ with crime writers Sandy Curtis and Sandi Wallace about their books Grievous Harm and Tell Me Why, both published by Clan Destine Press.

Sisters in Crime Australia National Co-convenor, Maggie Baron, will talk to Curtis and Wallace about their books, their lives and their literary aspirations at 6 for 6.30pm, Wednesday 1 October – St Kilda Library, 150 Carlisle Street, St Kilda.

Grievous Harm (out October) is Curtis’s seventh novel. Curtis, who is visiting from Bundaberg (Queensland), was inspired to write the story after receiving an email with a photo of child pornography.

“I asked Taskforce Argos in the Queensland Police and then an IT friend of mine to trace it but with limited success. That photo haunted me for years. In Grievous Harm, I’ve tried to show what the police in such taskforces have to endure to rescue abused children,” Curtis said.

“Doing research for Grievous Harm was heartbreaking at times, but it did have a funny side. I needed to seehow much water a condom could hold, so my husband and I filled one with water and tied a knot in it. I was pleased with the result, but my husband thought he'd test out the sturdiness of the latex and dropped it onto the kitchen bench. The knot obviously wasn't tight enough and the contents erupted like a volcano all over the bench, the floor, and him!”

Curtis said that she has always relished the challenge of creating complex plots and characters, which is why shewrote Dance with the Devil, the first of her seven romantic thrillers. Her books have been nominated for the Ned Kelly Crime Awards and two have been finalists in the mainstream section of the Romantic Book of the Year Award.

In her spare time Curtis is organising WriteFest, the Bundaberg writers festival, and looking for a home for her women's fiction novel, Murder, Mayhem and Menopause.

Tell Me Why is Sandi Wallace’s debut crime novel, and the first in her rural crime series. The action starts when Melbourne writer Georgie Harvey heads to the mineral springs region of central Victoria to look for a missing farmer. Picturesque Daylesford has a darker side...

“I knew I wanted to write a crime series and Daylesford seemed the perfect setting – a pretty country town, popular with tourists, arty types and same-sex couples. I liked the way that romantic perception juxtaposed with a moody crime story. The inbuilt conflict of a town balancing permanent residents with regular influxes of tourists also appealed,” Wallace said.

Tell Me Why combines thriller, suspense, police procedural, adventure, mystery and a touch of romance. I angled the book as mainly a Why-Dunnit because many crime readers – including me – are enthralled by why crimes happen, the repercussions and outcomes. I had fun exploring human relationships, how far we’d go, and what we’d risk, to find the truth.”

Wallace has wanted to write crime for as long as she can remember.

“Since I was a little girl, I dreamed of a row of books with my name on the spine – a crime fiction series written by me, with some standalone books, too. I hope this is the start of that dream coming true!” she said.

Wallace, a personal trainer, journalist and writer, won the Best Investigative Prize in the 2013 Scarlet Stiletto Awards; was longlisted in the 2013 Ned Kelly Awards Sandra Harvey Short Story Award; and was a finalist in the 2012 Cutthroat Journal Rick DeMarinis Short Story Contest.

St Kilda Library, 150 Carlisle Street, St Kilda. All welcome. Free but please RSVP: or ring 03 9209 6655. Books on sale courtesy of Clan Destine Press.

More info: Carmel Shute on 0412 569 356 or email

06/09/2014 - 5:46pm

Tartan Noir Queen Val McDermid will be in wild and wonderful conversation with Australian crime author, Angela Savage, about her latest psychological thriller, The Skeleton Road, at  Melbourne’s Comedy Club, 6 for 6.30 pm Wednesday 24 September.

In The Skeleton Road, McDermid, the creator of ITV's Wire in the Blood, turns her hand to a cold case involving detective Karen Pirie who has the task of identifying decades – old bones discovered hidden at the top of a Victorian Gothic building in Edinburgh scheduled for renovation.

"I'm thrilled to be in conversation with the Scottish Queen of Crime when she visits promote her new standalone novel, The Skeleton Road," Savage said.

"I'd be terrified if it weren't for the fact I met Val briefly on a previous visit to Australia and know her to be a warm and witty person, and a strong supporter of Sisters in Crime and women crime writers."

"As well as interrogating her about her new novel, The Skeleton Road, I'll be asking Val about violence in crime fiction, being a granny pirate, and whether or not she agrees with our Prime Minister on the issue of Scottish Independence."

Sisters in Crime Australia has joined forces with the Athenaeum Library to present Val Down Under.

McDermid is the author of 26 bestselling novels, which have been translated into more than 30 languages, and have sold over 11 million copies. She has won many awards internationally, including the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year and the LA Times Book of the Year Award. She was inducted into the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame in 2009 and was the recipient of the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for 2010. In 2011 she received the Lambda Literary Foundation Pioneer Award. She has a son and a dog, and lives with her wife in the north of England.

This will be McDermid’s sixth event with Sisters in Crime.

Angela Savage is a Melbourne writer, who has lived and travelled extensively in Asia. Her first novel, Behind the Night Bazaar, won the 2004 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript. All three of her Jayne Keeney PI novels were shortlisted for Ned Kelly Awards, with The Dying Beach also shortlisted for a Davitt Award. She won the 2011 Scarlett Stiletto Award.

Comedy Club, 2nd Floor, 188 Collins Street, Melbourne (has lift). 10% discount for members from the Sun Bookshop bookstall.

$15/$10 (members of Sisters in Crime Australia, Writers Victoria & the Athenaeum Library/concession). Bookings http://www.trybooking.com/FAVG

Tickets may also be available at the door (check websites).

Booking info: Athenaeum Library 03 9650 3100; www.melbourneathenaeum.org.au;

Author interviews: Jaki Arthur, Campaign Manager - Hachette Australia, 02-8248 0864:


Carmel Shute, National Co-convenor, Sisters in Crime Australia: 0412 569 356 cshute@internode.on.net

01/09/2014 - 5:10pm

Ellie Marney, Lauren Beukes, Karen Foxlee, Felicity Pulman,

Jen Storer (l-r) & Honey Brown (front)

Burial Rites, Hannah Kent‘s multi-award winning crime novel about the last woman to be executed in Iceland, has two more prizes to its credit – the Davitts for Best Debut Novel and the Readers’ Choice Award.

Kent, who has recently shifted to Melbourne from Adelaide, was one of seven authors honoured at Sisters in Crime’s 14th Davitt Awardsfor best crime books by Australian women on Saturday (30 August) at Melbourne’s Thornbury Theatre. A total of 76 books was in contention.

A psychological thriller by regional Victorian writer Honey Brown (above,Warragul) took out the Davitt Award for Best Adult Novel.

Melbourne writer, Jen Storer (above), won the inaugural Davitt for Best Children’s Novel, for Truly Tan: Spooked! (Harper Collins). Another book in the series, for Truly Tan: Jinxed!, was also shortlisted.

Karen Foxlee (above right with Lauren Beukes), from Gympie Queensland, was awarded the Davitt (Best Young Adult Novel) for The Midnight Dress (UQP).

A book about sex and the AFL was a winning kick for Melbourne-based writer, Anna Krien, who won the Davitt (Best True Crime Book) for Night Games: Sex, Power and Sport (Black Inc). (Anna was unable to attend - was being held hostage by two miniature monsters, in particular a hungry newborn who won’t take the bottle.)

Two books were highly commended: Every Breath (Allen & Unwin) by regional Victorian writer Ellie Marney (above left; Guilford) and A Ring Through Time (Harper Collins) by Sydney author, Felicity Pulman.

Lauren Beukes (below left), the South African award-winning writer of crime and fiction with a speculative edge, presented the Davitts before an audience of crime writers and fans from all over Australia after a playful interrogation by Professor Sue Turnbull.

In an amusing twist, Beukes won the Be Immortalised in Fiction competition so her name will appear in Brown’s next novel. Beukes begged to be cast as a serial killer!

Professor Turnbull, also a national co-convenor of Sisters in Crime and crime reviewer for Fairfax Media, said that Sisters in Crime was overwhelmed that a record 76 crime books were in contention this year, a far cry from the seven in competition at the inaugural awards.

“When I reviewed Lauren Beukes first crime novel, The Shining Girls, I remarked on the ‘promiscuous hybridity’ of crime writing. This applies equally to Australian women’s crime writing and the books in contention this year.

“When the Davitt awards were inaugurated 14 years ago, the heroes of women’s crime books were often PIs. Now they’re as likely to be cafe owners, yarn-bombers, financial investigators or forensic physicians. Romance, as well as forensics, is in the mix. The scenes of the crime are wildly different, the plots multifarious,” she said.

“Many of us got our taste for crime from a childhood spent devouring Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, went through adolescence with Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers and graduated with Sara Paretsky and Marcia Muller. Meanwhile, new generation of women writers has emerged with imaginative and enthralling novels aimed at the children’s and Young Adult markets.”

Jacqui Horwood (above), who presented the judges’ report, said this year Sisters in Crime had decided to offer its first-ever Davitt for Best Children’s book

“In the past children’s books have had to compete with Young Adult books which has not been entirely equitable. And really there’s never been the number of children’s books to justify a separate award. This year was different with 13 in contention and so much quality writing in evidence.”

Burial Rights, written by Kent for a PhD in Creative Writing, already has a bevy of awards: Inaugural Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award, the Indie Awards Debut Fiction of the Year Award, the 2014 ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year, the ABA Nielsen Bookdata Booksellers' Choice Award and the Victorian Premier's Literary Award People's Choice Award.

The Davitt judges declared Burial Rites “a beautifully crafted and well-paced book”. It was also voted best book by the 660 members of Sisters in Crime. Kent was unable to attend but accepted via video.

Brown, who is currently working her sixth crime novel, “just keeps getting better and better,” Horwood said.

Foxlee’s Young Adult novel,The Midnight Dress,was also selected as an American Library Association Best Fiction for Young Adults title earlier this year. Horwood said the judges found it, “absorbing and mesmerising”.

Horwood said Jen Storer’s Truly Tan: Spooked! possessed the “perfect mix to lure young readers into the wonderful world of mysteries”. The fourth book in the series, Truly Tan: Freaked! will be released in November.

Krien’s Night Games, Horwood reported, exemplified “just how challenging and powerful good True Crime can be”.

The Davitts, handsome carved polished wooded trophies, feature the front cover of the winning book under perspex.

The awards are named in honour of Ellen Davitt (1812-1879) who wrote Australia’s first mystery novel, Force and Fraud, in 1865.

The judges' reports and winners' acceptance speeches are attached.

Media coverage:

Click here to read the Sunday Age article (31/8/14) about the Davitts, including an interview with Honey Brown, the winner of the Best Adult Novel Davitt.

Click here to read an article in The New Daily re the Davitts and women crime writers more generally.

Click http://www.sistersincrime.org.au/content/%E2%80%9Cpromiscuous-hybridity%... Click below to read the Sunday Age article (31/8/14) about the Davitts, including an interview with Honey Brown, the winner of the Best Adult Novel Davitt: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/honey-brown-wins-best-adult-no... Click below to read a fantastic article in The New Daily re the Davitts and women crime writers more generally. http://thenewdaily.com.au/entertainment/2014/09/04/whodunnit-women-killi... Click below to read an article in the Gympie Times about Karen Foxlee who won the Davitt Young Adult for The Midnight Dress. . https://www.google.com/url?rct=j&sa=t&url=http://www.gympietimes.com.au/news/crime-pays-for-our-karen/2376218/&ct=ga&cd=CAEYACoTODA2ODEzMDQ0OTgwMzM0MTQ1MzIaZDY0Y2YyMTNiYzliYmZiNDpjb206ZW46VVM&usg=AFQjCNGpdsR8W92JskYSKRDv5dREtSgGog">here to read an article in the Gympie Times about Karen Foxlee who won the Davitt Young Adult for The Midnight Dress.

Media comment: Professor Sue Turnbull: 0407 810 090;

Jacqui Horwood Davitt Judges’ spokesperson: 0449 703 503

Info & author interviews: Carmel Shute, National Co-convenor, Sisters in Crime Australia: 0412 569 356; cshute@internode.on.net

17/08/2014 - 3:45pm

Sisters in Crime Australia has announced its shortlist for its 14th Davitt Awards for the best crime books by Australian women.

This year a record 76 books published in 2013 compete for six Davitts – handsome carved polished wooded trophies – to be presented at a gala dinner, 7pm, Saturday 30 August by leading South African crime writer, Lauren Beukes, after an ‘interrogation’ by Professor Sue Turnbull:

Best Adult Novel; Best Novel Young Adult; Best True Crime Book; Best Debut Book (any category); Readers’ Choice (as voted by the 660 members of Sisters in Crime Australia) and, for the very first time, Best Children’s Novel.

Shortlisted are:

Best Adult Novel

  • Honey Brown, Dark Horse (Penguin Books Australia
  • Ilsa Evans, Nefarious Doings: A Nell Forrest Mystery (Momentum Press)
  • Annie Hauxwell, A Bitter Taste (Penguin Books Australia
  • Katherine Howell, Web of Deceit (Pan Macmillan Australia
  • Hannah Kent, Burial Rites (Picador Books)
  • Angela Savage, The Dying Beach (Text)

Best Young Adult Novel

  • Karen Foxlee, The Midnight Dress (UQP)
  • Simmone Howell, Girl Defective (Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Kim Kane and Marion Roberts, Cry Blue Murder (UQP)
  • Ellie Marney, Every Breath (Allen & Unwin)
  • Felicity Pulman, A Ring Through Time (Harper Collins)

Best Children’s Novel

  • Ursula Dubosarsky, The Perplexing Pineapple: The Cryptic Casebook of Coco Carlomagno (and Alberta) Book 1 (Allen & Unwin)
  • Ursula Dubosarsky, The Looming Lamplight: The Cryptic Casebook of Coco Carlomagno (and Alberta) Book 2 (Allen & Unwin)
  • Susan Green, Verity Sparks: Lost and Found (Walker Books)
  • Jen Storer, Truly Tan: Jinxed! (Harper Collins)
  • Jen Storer, Truly Tan: Spooked! (Harper Collins)

Best True Crime Book

  • Anna Krien,Night Games: Sex, Power and Sport (Black Inc)
  • Kay Saunders, Deadly Australian Women (ABC Books)

Best Debut Book (Any category)

  • Livia Day, A Trifle Dead (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Karen Foxlee, The Midnight Dress (UQP)
  • Simmone Howell, Girl Defective (Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Hannah Kent, Burial Rites (Picador Books)
  • Ellie Marney, Every Breath (Allen & Unwin)

Davitt judges’ wrangler, Tanya King-Carmichael, said that the five judges had been stunned by the number of entries in this year’s annual Davitt Awards.

“Australian women crime writers have their gumshoes (or stilettos) on and they’re marching across the literary landscape. This year, the five judges were confronted by an astonishing 76 books to get their blood pumping, including 40 adult novels with characters ranging from the psychic to the psychotic.

“Fourteen years ago, when the Davitts were established, only seven adult crime novels by Australian women were in contention. There’s been a great leap forward,” King-Carmichael said.

King-Carmichael said that for the first time Sisters in Crime was presenting an award for the Best Children’s Crime Novel.

“Previously, children’s crime novels had to compete against young adult crime novels for a joint category award. This was a bit unfair but there weren’t really enough novels written by women for the children’s market. But the spirit of Enid Blyton lives on,” she said.

“This year we were faced with a record 13 children’s crime novels, tipping the Young Adult crime novels by one. It’s hardly if the Young Adult genre is slipping. The quality of the writing for young or ‘new adults’ (as the case may be) shoots up every year. And, for the first time, an e-book has been shortlisted – Ilsa Evans, Nefarious Doings: A Nell Forrest Mystery, published by Momentum Press, Pan Macmillan Australia's new digital-only imprint.

“Australian women’s crime writing is entering an exciting new phase.”

Prior to the award presentations, Sisters in Crime convenor Professor Sue Turnbull will interrogate Lauren Beukes about her life in crime. Beukes is also a scriptwriter, documentary director and comics writer and is in Melbourne to speak at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival.

Turnbull, who reviewed Beuekes’s first crime novel, The Shining Girls, for Fairfax Media last year said: “By turns brilliant, brutal and riveting, in all its puzzling mystery, The Shining Girls is testimony to the promiscuous hybridity of the contemporary crime novel. Read it and wonder.”

Beukes’s latest crime novel, Broken Monsters, is just out. Her other fiction has also been highly acclaimed — Zoo City won the prestigious Arthur C Clarke Award in 2011, and Moxyland was longlisted for both the Sunday TimesLiterary Award and the M-Net Book Prize in 2009.

Turnbull is Professor is Discipline Leader: Creative Industries, University of Wollongong, a Sisters in Crime national co-convenor, and crime columnist for Fairfax Media. Her latest book is The Crime Drama (University of Edinburgh Press).

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

“The Davitts have played a key role in getting women’s crime books better recognised – and in encouraging 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,” King-Carmichael said.

The judging panel for 2014 comprises forensic pathologist Dr Shelley Robertson; Sun Bookshop Deb Force and Sisters in Crime national co-convenor, Jacqui Horwood and former convenors Tanya King-Carmichael and Sylvia Loader.

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

Sisters in Crime Australia was set up 23 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.

Venue: Thornbury Theatre, 859 High Street, Thornbury (wheelchair accessible)

The cost of this very special event, which includes dinner and the presentation of the 2013 Davitts Awards, is $60 (no concession). Drinks are available at bar prices.

Seats only (no dinner): $15 (no concession) Bookings close Monday 25 August. All seats are limited so book early — individually or in tables of up to 10. Men or ‘Brothers in Law’ are welcome.

Sisters in Crime members will receive 10% discount on books purchased from the Sun Bookshop stall. All books in contention will be on sale.

Media comment: Tanya King-Carmichael on 0418 574 907 email elicat@gmail.com

Click here to book.

27/07/2014 - 5:11pm

Sisters in Crime Australia and the Athenaeum Library are joining forces to present an evening of criminally good discussion with leading US crime writer, Karin Slaughter, led by true crime writer Vikki Petraitis.

The appropriately named Slaughter has sold more than 30 million copies of her Grant County and Will Trent series, and is published in 32 languages. Her latest novel, Cop Town, is her first standalone thriller, an atmospheric nail-biter about a rookie cop making her own way in the boys’ club that was the Atlanta Police Department in 1974. In 2007, she teamed up with comics publisher Oni Press to launch Slaughterhouse Graphic Novels

Slaughter, who lives in Atlanta, is also the editor of and contributor to Like A Charm, a collaboration of British and American crime fiction writers.

Petraitis, a long-term Sisters in Crime member, jumped at the chance to interrogate Slaughter.

“Slaughter is a great crime writer because she bases her crimes around characters that we have come to love and want to follow. She makes us care if Dr Sarah Linton, the county coroner, reunites with her errant husband, Chief Jeffrey Tolliver,” Petraitis said.

“And not only that, but she has developed a cast of support characters whose fortunes we eagerly await. Slaughter has branched out with the Will Trent series, always wanting to keep her writing fresh. In a clever twist, she has now blended these two series, much to the delight of her fans.”

Petraitis said that most importantly, Slaughter’s books have remained ‘readable’.

“Slaughter hasn’t gone the way of some of her compatriots where protagonists can get too big for their boots or too cranky. Slaughter tells a great story and can evoke the steamy atmosphere of small-town Georgia so well. Her latest two books have been set in the 1970s and using information from women who worked as cops at that time, she has re-created a cringe-worthy picture of women in a man’s world.

“Slaughter’s characters are flawed, but using switching points of view, she gives the reader both sides of the story. This bird’s eye view gives the reader a front-row seat to the action.,” Petraitis said.

Petraitis has been writing true crime since the early 1990s and her best-selling book about Frankston serial killer Paul Denyer widened the readership for true crime stories in Australia. A number of Vikki’s true crime stories have been made into TV episodes of Forensic Investigators and Sensing Murder. She is currently finishing a book on the Victoria Police Dog Squad and is enjoying hanging out with very clever dogs.

6 for 6.30 pm, Thursday 7 August: Comedy Club, 2nd Floor, 188 Collins Street, Melbourne (has lift). Presented with Athenaeum Library.

10% discount for members from the Sun Bookshop bookstall.

$15/$10 (members of Sisters in Crime, Writers Victoria & the Athenaeum Library/concession). Click here to book.

Tickets may also be available at the door (check websites).

Further booking details: Athenaeum Library 03 9650 3100

Info: Carmel Shute, National Co-Convenor, Sisters in Crime Australia: 0412 569 456

16/07/2014 - 4:24pm

Frock up! Sisters in Crime Australia will celebrate its 14th Davitt Awards for best crime books by Australian women with a gala dinner at 7pm Saturday 30 August 2014 at Melbourne's Thornbury Theatre.

Leading South African crime writer, Lauren Beukes, will present six Davitt Awards: best adult novel, best true crime book, best debut book (any category), readers' choice and for the first time, separate award for best children's novel and best young adult novel. This year a record 76 books are in contenton.

Before the award ceremony, Sisters in Crime's Professor Sue Turnbull will interrogate Lauren Beukes about her life in crime and much more. Click here to read Sue's review for Fairfax Media of The Shining Girls, Lauren's crime book with a speculative edge.

Venue: Thornbury Theatre, 859 High Street, Thornbury (wheelchair accessible)

The cost of this very special event, which includes dinner and the presentation of the 2014 Davitts Awards, is $60 (no concession). Drinks are available at bar prices. Men or brothers-in-law are welcome.

Seats only (no dinner): $15 (no concession) Bookings close Monday 25 August. All seats are limited so book early — individually or in tables of up to 10. Further information: (03) 9452 5246; 0409 431 397 or email michaelalobb@hotmail.com

To book:

Davitt Awards Dinner Tickets

Davitt Awards Dinner Table (x 10 Tickets)

Davitt Awards - Seat only


Sisters in Crime members will receive 10% discount on books purchased from the Sun Bookshop stall. All books in contention will be on sale.


Media comment: Tanya King-Carmichael on 0418 574 907 or elicat@gmail.com



14/07/2014 - 11:29pm

Two cops-turned-writers, P M Newton and Karen Davis, will join debut author Anna Jaquiery in spilling the beans about the ‘police procedural’ to Sisters in Crime convenor (and Victoria Police staffer) Jacqui Horwood at 8pm Friday 25 July at South Melbourne’s Rising Sun Hotel.

All three authors contend that women writers are transforming one of the crime genre’s most enduring and popular formats – the ‘police procedural’ where the cops investigating the crime take centre stage.

Sydney-based writer P M Newton spent 13 years in the NSW police before turning to crime (fiction). Her first novel, The Old School, won the Sisters in Crime Davitt Award (Readers’ Choice) and the Asher Literary Award. Her second, Beams Falling (Penguin Books Australia), has already gone into a reprint after coming out in February.

Newton said that as an ex-detective she’s sure readers come to her books with a certain set of expectations.

“They expect I will write with authority about police procedure but for me that is possibly the least interesting part of my police experience. Instead I want to create the sense of being a cop, and that is often ethically and morally ambiguous, usually very stressful, and for women involves simultaneously being regarded as an insider and an outsider,” Newton said.

“I try to write a book that feels emotionally true, that shows the damage violence causes, and acknowledges the lasting impact of grief. So, for example, in Beams Falling, my wounded detective is not healed in one chapter, she does not bounce back but confronts the basic question of ‘Why be a cop?’ Police procedurals can sometimes feel quite schematic, but police investigations, like life, are often messy, discursive, and futile. I aim for that kind of realism, not comfort or consolation.”

Karen Davis also switched to writing – after 20 years in the NSW police. Her first novel, Sinister Intent (Simon & Schuster), was published last year with her second, Deadly Obsession, out August. She marries the police procedural with romance: www.karenmdavis.com

“Having been a New South Wales police officer for twenty years before ever attempting to write anything besides police reports, one of the biggest challenges I found was keeping the story authentic but also interesting and believable. Not all police work is exciting. Writing about all the paperwork would put a reader to sleep in seconds,” Davis said

“But I wanted to portray what it was really like to be a cop, show what police have to deal with, give an insight into the life inside a police station. I also had to get my head around the fact what I was writing fiction – not putting a brief of evidence together that had to be factual. I had to stretch my imagination but I feared some of my real experiences would be almost too unbelievable for readers to swallow. Real life is sometimes stranger than fiction as we know.

“Wanting to have a strong romantic interest between the main characters, I became confused after a freelance editor looked at my first draft of Sinister Intent and told me that it was not conceivable that two detectives could fall in love during a homicide investigation. Though to police, this is not surprising at all. That is their bread and butter. They are working long hours together; relying on each other to possibly save the others life if those circumstances arise. Isn’t that the reason so many cops are married to each other – they understand the job like no one else can.”

Journalist-turned-writer Anna Jaquiery has set her police procedural, The Lying-Down Room (Picador), inParis. It is the first in a series to feature Paris detective Commander Serge Morel and Pan Macmillan has acquired the rights to publish the first two internationally.

“When I was researching The Lying-Down Room, the best advice I received came from a senior Parisian detective who works at the criminal brigade, which investigates serious crime. He told me not to let my quest for authenticity get in the way of the novel’s arc. According to him, if one were to accurately describe his working life or that of his colleagues, it would make for dull reading. Most of the investigators hardly leave their desks and lead routine, unadventurous lives, he told me. Be free in your writing, he said. I took his advice,” Jaquiery said.

“That isn’t to say you shouldn’t know your subject. A lot of research went into The Lying-Down Room. Research is an aspect of writing that I particularly love. I have spent hours reading up on the French criminal brigade and investigation processes, on French politics, on religion, on origami – all of these are important themes in the book.

“But I have reminded myself throughout that this is a work of fiction. Writing a police novel, I think, is a delicate balance between keeping it real and allowing yourself to be free in your writing. This delicate balance is what I aim for and hope I’ve achieved.”

$10 (Sisters in Crime & Writers Victoria members /concession)/$15 (non-members). Dinner upstairs from 6.30pm (no lift). Men or ‘brothers-in-law’ welcome. 10% discount for members from Sun Bookshop stall. No bookings necessary.

The Rising Sun Hotel, cnr Raglan St & Eastern Rd, South Melbourne

Info: Carmel Shute, National Co-Convenor, Sisters in Crime Australia: 0412 569 456

09/07/2014 - 6:43pm

A record $8800 is on offer this year for the 21st Sisters in Crime Australia’s short story competition, the Scarlet Stiletto Awards – up $1800 from last year. The awards are most lucrative in Australia crime writing. Stories must have a crime or mystery theme, a female protagonist and a female author.

The Harper Collins 1st Prize is $1500 with the winner also receiving the coveted trophy, a scarlet stiletto withits steel heel plunging into a perspex mount.

Pantera Press is new sponsor for second prize, now worth $1000 (up $500) while the Sun Bookshop 3rd Prize is now $500 (up $150).

New awards include a $500 award for the Best Story by an Indigenous Writer donated by Josephine Pennicott, a two-time Scarlet Stiletto Award winner; a $250 award for the Best Story with a Disabled Protagonist, named in honour of the late Liz Navratil, a member of Sisters in Crime’s Brisbane chapter; and a $500 award for Best Story with a Political Edge Award from Arena Magazine. Arena will publish the winning story in the category and runner-up.

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:

·         Kerry Greenwood’sMalice Domestic Award: $750

·         the Ann Byrne Award for Best Financial Crime: $500 (up $150)

·         The Catherine Leppert Award for Best Environmental Theme:$500 ( up $150)

·         Clan Destine Press Cross-genre Award: $400 (up $50)

·         Benn’s Books Best Investigative Story Award: $200

·         ScriptWorks Great Film Idea Award: $200


National Co-convenor Carmel Shute said that Sisters in Crime was delighted with the increased prize money but, most especially, with the success of the awards in digging up so much literary criminal talent over the past two decades.

“To date, 2,538 stories have been entered with 17 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 and Amanda Wrangles. Come September, with the publication of Sandi Wallace’s Tell Me Why, the tally will be 18,” Shute said.

“At the recent Death in July Festival of Women’s Crime Writing in Ballarat (4-5 July) it was simply inspiring to hear authors such as Angela Savage and Ellie Marney, authors of three and two crime novels respectively, pay tribute to the Scarlet Stiletto Awards for kick-starting their literary careers.

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

Last year, the Awards attracted 175 entries.

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 2014. Entry fee is $10; maximum length is 5000 words. Entry forms are available here.

The 21st Scarlet Stiletto Awards will be presented at the Thornbury Theatre Velvet Room in Melbourne, 6.30pm Friday 21 November.

Info:  Email Carmel Shute, National Co-Convenor, Sisters in Crime Australia: 0412 569 356