2014 ned kelly awards shortlist

Last Friday night, the Bendigo Writers Festival started with a flurry of events; the next morning, I set off on the Vline train, waving goodbye to Melbourne’s tall towers and crowded streets for the torn-cotton clouds and mid-city fountains of Bendigo. Rachael, my Kangaroo Flat-residing friend of some twenty-seven years—we’d met in our first year of primary school, bonding over being the two shortest kids in the class—met me at the station with a giant warm hug and a bagful of groceries for lunch. Afterwards, she took me into town to scope out the festival: the gorgeous Capital Theatre, the friendly volunteers, and a sneaky coffee in a warm cafe tucked right under the theatre’s wing with tiny little nooks to cradle your toasty drink in.

I was there for the announcement of the 2014 Ned Kelly Awards shortlist; as a committee member of the Australian Crime Writers Association (austcrimewriters.com—and, as I’ve said before, you don’t have to be a writer to join!) As the Association’s secretary, I helped the category judges get through the (fairly enviable) task of reading large piles of books and the (fairly unenviable) task of making a shortlist from said strong selection. After months of work, it had all come together as a free event in The Hub, accompanied by a sturdy bar tab, plates of snacks, celebrated authors, supercool bloggers, along with voracious and enthusiastic readers. Multi-squillion-copy bestselling author Michael Robotham introduced the event, while savvy noir enthusiast Andrew Nette read out the list, and I sat nearby beaming with pride next to Karen, tech-person extraordinaire, hilarious new friend, and the person who received the most emails from me over the past few months as I flapped about in a perpetual state of panic. And so, with explosions of pride on my behalf, onto the shortlists!


Michael at left and Andrew at the podium. Drum roll…


Best Crime

Angela Savage, THE DYING BEACH

Best First Crime

Candice Fox, HADES
Ellie Marney, EVERY BREATH

Best True Crime

John Kidman & Denise Hofman, FOREVER NINE
Eleanor Learmonth & Jenny Tabakoff, NO MERCY

Sandra Harvey Short Story Award

Louise Bassett, HOUSEWARMING
Darcy-Lee Tindale, THE SCARS OF NOIR
Roger Vickery, VOICES OF SOI 22
Emma Viskic, SPLINTER
Emma Viskic, WEB DESIGN

Now onto the announcement of the winners (along with a riotous crime debate) at the Brisbane Writers Festival on Saturday, September 6, and trying to decide if I have enough pocket money saved up to go to the Sunshine State at the start of spring—which sounds just awful, of course.

event: australian crime writers association membership drive

I was lucky enough recently to become part of the Australian Crime Writers Association, a group of terribly clever and friendly people who organise the Ned Kelly Awards, and who in their website, http://www.austcrimewriters.com, have built a place full of all the most pertinent information on penitentiary writing. (The website is much more clear and less laboured than that pun, sorry.) You can join ACWA as a publisher or a writer for a nominal fee, and have a place to share your wares; you can join as a reader and get all that delicious knowledge FOR FREE. BETTER YET, and you bet I’m ALL CAPS ABOUT THIS, November – aka the 133rd anniversary of Ned Kelly’s death – is ACWA’s membership drive, which I’ve had a hand in helping with, and YOU GUYS, you won’t believe how amazing the prizes are. Sadly, as an associate of the association I can’t enter any of the competitions, but I’m thinking of quitting just so I can win some, and then hoping they’ll accept me back when I am armed with things like THE ENTIRE PENGUIN GREEN CLASSICS COLLECTION, and so many other excellent books you’ll have to take all your annual leave and hole up in an attic to read them all.

The competitions to win include fashioning a Ned Kelly beard, writing a 133 word short story or great opening line, or acing a quiz. So the worst case scenario is that you’ll have fun and be part of a site that has all kinds of great news, new releases, events, and everything you could want to know. DO IT!

a few upcoming events

I’m planning on putting in a much more sexy and streamlined calendar when I have more time to remember how computers work (something about mice and terror bites?) but for now, here’s a quick roundup of a few upcoming crime fiction shenanigans from a few different places.



September 30, Readings Carlton

John Safran in conversation with Tony Wilson about Murder in Mississippi

October 3, Readings Hawthorn

Adrian Deans book launch with Tony Wilson

October 12, Sun Theatre Foyer

Book launch of Kerry Greenwood’s Murder and Mendelssohn



October 1, Avid Reader

John Safran in conversation with Paul Barclay

October 5, Avid Reader

Crime Bookclub: The Dying Beach by Angela Savage (which is great!)


Western Australia

October 25, Dymocks Beechboro

John Connolly Meet and Greet for The Whisperers

October 31, Clarkson Library

David Whish-Wilson on Zero at the Bone


New South Wales

October 5, Gleebooks

Peter Corris, Michael Wilding & James Murray Triple Launch

October 29, Gleebooks

Mark Tedeschi & Peter Cotton in conversation


There are probably many more around I’ve missed—I’ll keep my eye out, friends, don’t worry! ALSO: check out some great upcoming festivals at the Australian Crime Writers Association site here. They have an actual online calendar, whereas I just glue post-its to my screen and assume you guys can read them too.

2013 ned kelly awards

In 1996, the Australian Crime Writers Association started the Ned Kelly Awards for crime writing. In 2013, it was held at the Brisbane Writers Festival on a day when my F key stopped working properly (in case any sentences don’t make sense, let’s blame that, or post-election brain-sludge.) Who were the winners of this fine prize, you ask? WELL I’LL TELL YOU.

Winner, Best First Fiction

Zane Lovitt, The Midnight Promise

I’m mighty pleased to hear that. I adored The Midnight Promise, its down-and-out, hardboiled detective and all the Melbourne noir spread liberally through the pages.

Winner, True Crime

Robin de Crespigny, The People Smuggler

I haven’t read this—I do need to read more true crime—but this story of Iraqi Ali Al Jenabi, who flees his country but yearns for his family and finds himself developing an ever more blurry moral code, has been given rave reviews.

Winner, Best Fiction

Geoffrey McGeachin, Blackwattle Creek

A longer review will follow shortly, but this 50s-set crime is another title I read, loved, and am thrilled to see winning this prize.

Winner, Sandra Harvey Short Story Award

Roger Vickery, Echoes from the Dolphin

An edited version o this will appear in the Sydney Morning Herald, and you’ll be able to find it in Scribe’s New Australian Stories 3.

Have you read any of these? What do you think, or what would you have voted for?

event: indigenous literacy day

Today is Indigenous Literacy Day. Hooray!

Like any good event, there are many ways to celebrate it. Perhaps you’d like to Get Caught Reading, where you can donate some money towards the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and their wonderful programs, and then upload a picture of yourself reading (perhaps something like crime novel The Boundary by Indigenous author Nicole Watson, which has been reviewed by the very lovely Anita Heiss over at her blog here?)

I’ve also noticed on the internets that some authors are offering to donate money for anyone who tweets a picture of themselves reading the author’s book *cough*Graeme Simsion*cough*, so keep your eye out for such things!

Or maybe you’d like to buy a book at my beloved Readings, where 5% of all today’s profits are going to the Foundation, or one of these other participating bookstores?

The difference in literacy rates between the Indigenous population and the non-Indigenous population are heartbreaking to see. We all know books are a powerful thing, so let’s hope that the Foundation, which has already raised $360,000 this year, can help to shrink the hell out of that gap. Go team!

A sunny day, a field of daises, and reading the new Ian Rankin to my daughter Rocket. Sure beats Dear Zoo for the seventieth time, huh?

A sunny day, a field of daises, and Getting Caught Reading the new Ian Rankin to the Rocket. Sure beats Dear Zoo for the seventieth time, huh?

crime at the brisbane writers festival

Look I love Australia with all of my cold dead heart, but it’s unfair that sometimes fun things happen in cities that are not my own. And so it goes with the Brisbane Writers Festival, as long as I forget that the Melbourne Festival only just finished (as I write this on Sunday night, everyone involved is probably getting fervently hammered and then will be plagued with regrets as they get on planes to Brisbane tomorrow.)

Brisbane is next on the Festival calendar, and the program just looks ace. Here are the events I am going to go to via astral projection, which I better start believing in within the next 24 hours. For tickets and further info, click here and then go clicky on the crime topic.


Friday, September 6

10am: Stuart MacBride, Kenmore Library (free)

Scottish crime writer MacBride, who most recently penned Close to the Bone, will be chatting and signing books.

2pm: Matthew Condon, Queensland Terrace, State Library of Queensland (tickets $12-$16)

I’ve reviewed Condon’s wonderful and fun Toe Tag Quintet before, but here he discusses a more non-fiction side of crime: his book on corruption, Three Crooked Kings.

6:30pm: The Genre Ghetto, The Edge, State Library of Queensland (tickets $20-$25)

A celebration of genre, which should be celebrated because it’s great, from diverse authors like Matt Fraction, Sarah Wendell, Justine Larbalestier, Ben McKenzie, and crime author Stuart MacBride.


Saturday, September 7

10am: The Writer as Detective, Loris Williams Meeting Room, Kuril Dhagun, State Library of Queensland (Sold out, but it was $80-$90 so your bank account thanks you.)

A crime masterclass by Australian author Adrian McKinty. I would love to be all over this, as I really enjoyed I Hear the Sirens in the Street and I (like every other person who works in a bookshop) am currently writing the Great Australian (Crime) Novel. No tickets left, but hopefully some wisdom will be shared through the hive mind (i.e. Twitter.)

4pm: The Scene of the Crime, Queensland Terrace, State Library of Queensland (tickets $12-$16)

You can’t set every crime in the library with a candlestick, so where do you set it? Branch out with authors Angela Savage, author of The Dying Beach, along with Adrian McKinty and Stuart MacBride.

5:30pm: The Ned Kelly Awards, Maiwar Green, State Library of Queensland (free)

Squeak! Only the most exciting night for Australian crime, and this year in a sunny Brisbane location (current weather forecast for Saturday in stupid Melbourne is stupid rain.) The Awards include the Great Crime Debate, with Katherine Howell, Stuart MacBride, Matthew Condon, Jacqui Payne, Terry Hayes, Karina Cavalho and MCd by Jane Clifton. This should be a blast.


Sunday, September 8

11am: Adrian McKinty, Indooroopilly Library (free)

A signing and a chat with Adrian McKinty, author of the wonderful I Hear the Sirens on the Street, which I gushed over a bit here.

1pm: Stuart MacBride, Maiwar Green, State Library of Queensland (tickets $12-$16)

Stuart, who is apparently getting no sleep during this festival, will be discussing why it is that Scotland has so many great crime authors. I’ve never been, so I’m just going to assume the cold keeps people indoors where it’s easier to plot misdeeds.

2pm: Research for Crime Fiction, Bank of Queensland Heritage Collections Learning Room, State Library of Queensland (tickets $80-$90, but it goes for three hours)

Augh, research! So completely necessary, but how do you go about it? MacBride discloses his best techniques for researching your story: I especially like this part from the program guide: “He’ll tell you how to best locate crime experts for advice, and what to ask them when you do.” So, I guess, don’t walk up to police on the street and say, “If I want to shoot someone, what would kill them the slowest?”

3pm: Spoken, Red Box, State Library of Queensland (free)

Sisters in Crime: Queensland are holding a micro-fiction competition; here, with Katherine Howell, you’ll find out who won. I wonder if they’ll win a micro-wave, haha I kill me.


Monday, September 9

6pm: Adrian McKinty, Ipswich Library (I think) (free)

Another man who will probably need to spend the entire post-festival week sleeping, Adrian McKinty will talk and sign books and probably drink fifteen coffees.


If you go to any of these—I’d love to know how they went! Drop a line in the comments below. Feel free to comment if you just want to sigh about not going too.