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!
Garry Disher, BITTER WASH ROAD
Kathryn Fox, FATAL IMPACT
Adrian McKinty, IN THE MORNING I’LL BE GONE
PM Newton, BEAMS FALLING
Stephen Orr, ONE BOY MISSING
Angela Savage, THE DYING BEACH
Best First Crime
Peter Cotton, DEAD CAT BOUNCE
Candice Fox, HADES
Alex Hammond, BLOOD WITNESS
Ellie Marney, EVERY BREATH
Best True Crime
Paul Dale, DISGRACED?
John Kidman & Denise Hofman, FOREVER NINE
Eleanor Learmonth & Jenny Tabakoff, NO MERCY
Colin McLaren, JFK: THE SMOKING GUN
Duncan McNab, OUTLAW BIKERS IN AUSTRALIA
John Safran, MURDER IN MISSISSIPPI
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.