writing crime with ellie marney at mwf

(Shameless self-promotion ahead)

Hey you! You there, with a teenager as an accessory! Perhaps you would like to come to the MWF event I’m chairing with excellent YA crime author Ellie Marney, author of the Every series and the first books I steer customers towards when they say, “I’m looking for a book for my teenager who likes mysteries…”

It’s part of the midweek schools program, but if you know a schoolkid who’d be interested (well, presumably a whole class of kids unless you feel okay about skipping class for a writers festival – which I think I do), then check it out here! Even if not, you should still all read Ellie’s books.

(Incidentally I’m also chairing these two events as well, and they’re all in a row so you really should just take the morning off and go to all of them, then head to The Tea Salon afterwards like I will to collapse into a puddle of French Earl Grey in frilly-wallpapered surrounds.)

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.

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.

fun & crime at the melbourne writers festival

So I have an eighteen-month old daughter named Rocket, which is pretty great (she’s currently asleep so I am currently sincere about that), though having a kid does put a bit of a halt to my usual festival visits. Currently, we’re approaching the tail end of the divine Melbourne Writers Festival, and while I won’t be able to attend any shenanigans this year (sob), here are four events I’ll be keeping Twitter tabs on.

Friday, August 30

10am: The Morning Read, Festival Hub at Beer DeLuxe (free)

It’s early, but if you can crawl your way there with a coffee you’ll be treated to Big Issue books editor Thuy On as she hosts readings by Fiona Capp, Tao Lin, Jane Rawson and Zane Lovitt. Zane wrote The Midnight Promise, one of my favourite books of last year, a noir set of tales of a downtrodden Melbourne private detective. The rest ain’t so bad either.

Saturday, August 31

2:30pm: A Year of Stella, Wheeler Centre Performance Space (tickets $19.50/$21.50)

The Stella Prize was launched a year ago, and this year’s winner was Carrie Tiffany and her work Mateship with Birds. A literary prize for women is a fabulous idea and this should be celebrated heartily and possibly drunkenly.

4pm: The Stolen Picasso, NGV Theatrette at Ian Potter Centre (tickets $19.50/$21.50)

Ned Kelly Award winner Chris Womersley’s newest book, Cairo, is set in 1986 and tunnels into the underground art scene of my beloved Melbourne. He’ll talk literature, art, crime, and stealing Picassos.

Sunday, September 1

10am: Crime Through Time, ACMI Cinema 1 (tickets $19.50/$21.50)

I’ll be at work, sadly, for this amazing-looking event with authors Kerry Greenwood, Shane Maloney and Annie Hauxwell. The program says it best: This criminal triumvirate investigates crime writing through the ages and the traditions and tropes of the trade with literary professor Ken Gelder. I love all these authors and the protagonists they’ve created, and I can’t wait to hear what they had to say.

Haven’t had enough? The Brisbane Writers Festival starts Tuesday, September 3 – and I’ll be posting a list of all the must-see crime events going on there shortly, once I can find a sufficiently wistful font.