Killer reads and deadly women
Sisters in Crime Australia, which is producing three events for the St Kilda Writers’ Week, was founded in 1991 to celebrate women’s crime writing.
For the past 27 years, it has unceasingly promoted women crime authors and their writing, offered forums for critical discussion, helped get authors published and screened and – most of all – celebrated creativity.
Each year in Melbourne, where most of its 500 members live, Sisters in Crime organises a busy calendar of well-attended events including interview panels, book launches, quiz nights and tours. The organisation also has chapters in Perth and Brisbane.
For 16 years, Sisters in Crime in Melbourne held its events in St Kilda, mostly in the backroom of Leo’s Spaghetti Bar, next to the men’s toilets. Its current home is the Rising Sun Hotel in South Melbourne.
Sisters in Crime also hosts events with partners such as libraries, bookshops, literary festivals and institutions such as the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, the Victoria Police Museum, the National Gallery of Victoria, and Melbourne Museum. In 2013 Sisters in Crime presented an event called ’St Kilda – Scene of the Crime‘, as part of StripFest in St Kilda Village.
The Scarlet Stiletto Awards, its annual crime short story competition, has attracted 3270 stories since it began in 1994, with 23 Scarlet Stiletto Award winners –including category winners – going on to have novels published. This year’s prize money amounts to nearly $10,000. Nine collections of winning short stories have been published: https://clandestinepress.com.au/books/crime-fiction
Guest presenters of the awards are usually actors from Australian TV crime shows and have included Essie Davis, Marta Dusseldorf, Sigrid Thornton, Noni Hazlehurst, Debra Lee-Furness, Catherine McClements, Nadine Garner, Danielle Cormack, and Nicole da Silva.
To give Australian women crime writers the recognition they too often missed out in in the Ned Kelly Awards, Sisters in Crime launched the Davitt Awards at SheKilda Women’s Crime Convention, its 10th anniversary celebrations held at St Kilda Town Hall in 2001.
Named in honour of Ellen Davitt (1812–79) who wrote Australia’s first full-length mystery novel, Force and Fraud in 1865, the first Davitts attracted only 7 seven entries though back then they did not extend to true crime. This year 101 books were in contention, a testimony in part to the efforts of Sisters in Crime.
Sisters in Crime has showcased almost every Australian woman crime writer and almost every international female crime writer who has visited our shores, including Sara Paretsky (founder of Sisters in Crime in the US), Val McDermid, Janet Evanovich, Patricia Cornwell, Minette Walters, Kathy Reichs, Lynda La Plante, Karen Slaughter, Sophie Hannah, Shamini Flint, Margie Orford, Ǻsa Larrson, Sissel-Jo Gazan, Louise Welsh, Lauren Henderson, Stella Duffy, Mo Hayder, Michelle Spring, J M Redman, Nikki Baker, Lisa Scottoline, Laurie R King, Lauren Beukes, Susan Moody and Tess Gerritsen.
Men, or ‘Brothers-in-Law’ are welcome as members.
More info: www.sistersincrime.org.au