Sisters in Crime
in Crime Events
History of Australian
Women's Crime Fiction
Collins First Prize ($750, plus trophy) Janis
Spehr, Dead Woman in the Water
Penguin Books Australia
Second Prize ($250) Josephine Pennicutt, Bait
Cosmos Books & Music Third Prize ($150) Mary Pearl, Just
Chivas and Me
Allen & Unwin Young Writers’
Award ($250) (Writers under 21) Alice Hayes, Daddy
City Award for the Best PI Story Victoria Kinmont-Moir (a.k.a. Robin
Bowles), The Curse of the Golden Yo-Yo
Kerry Greenwood Award for "Malice Domestic ($250) Ronda Bird, Ripe
Leanne Manton, Justice
Margaret Pollock, Stage Struck
Victoria Lucas, The Gotcha Scam
Lisa Ralph, Hate Mail
SURPRISES AT 7th SCARLET STILETTO AWARD
In crime and
mystery stories, there’s no such thing as coincidence. There are, however,
remarkable feats. Janis Spehr, the winner of the 1999 Scarlet Stiletto
Award, pulled off one of them by winning the 2000 award, and becoming
the third Scarlet Stiletto Award winner in seven years to have won the
award a second time.
won consecutive awards in 1994 and 1995 awards and Christina Lee
topped the 1996 and 1998 competition. "It’s amazing," Sisters
in Crime convenor, Sue Turnbull, told the excited audience at award
ceremony in Melbourne. "All entries are judged blind. There are no
names to reveal the identity of any authors. This year, there were nine
judges, including both former double Scarlet Award winners, Christina
Lee and Cate Kennedy, (Under the rules, once someone has won award twice,
she can’t enter any more and becomes a judge).
had a judging partner to arrive at a short list. The shortlisted entries
were then read by all judges, except for Christina Lee who lives in Newcastle
and couldn’t make it to the judging. "When the judges discovered
that Janis Spehr had won the award a second time, there was almost mass
hysteria. We were probably more surprised than Janis is tonight".
writer, Gabrielle Lord, presented the awards, after detailing the
hands-on research methods she uses for her books. The writers competed
for $1750 in prize money. Janis Spehr won the HarperCollins first prize
of $750 plus a trophy of a scarlet stiletto shoe with a steel stiletto
heel plunging into a mount for her story, "Dead
Woman in the Water", a story about drugs, development and murder
in the Western District of Victoria.
Ms Spehr was
born in the Western District herself but lived for a long time in Canberra
and Melbourne before returning to live there five years ago. Her stories
have appeared in a number of literary journals including Australian
Short Stories, Westerly, Going Down Swinging and The New England
Review. In 1999, she was equal first prize winner Canberra National
Short Story Competition. This year, Ms Spehr will be studying for a bachelor
of Letters (Honours) in Literary Studies at Deakin University. She currently
resides near Birregurra with her German Shepherd and black cat.
Books Australia 2nd prize of $250 went to Sydney-based writer,
artist and actress, Josephine Pennicutt, for her story "Bait".
Ms Pennicutt was raised in Papua New Guinea and has lived all over Australia.
Professional writing credits include articles and stories published in
the Australian Women’s Weekly, Woman’s Day and For Me.
She has written
a fantasy novel, Persephone Rising, and is currently completing
Rat Trap, a psychological thriller drawn from her experiences in
the bizarre world of reality television. She was most recently seen on
Channel 7’s hit reality series, The Mole. Ms Pennicutt is also
an exhibited artist.
Books and Music Third Prize of $150 was awarded to Mary Pearl for
her story "Just Chivas and Me". Ms
Pearl lives in Melbourne with her husband Gary and their cat Jessie. Jessie
took up the position of pampered pet around the house at the same time
her children left home "just as they were becoming civilised and
interesting". Mary’s children pensioned her off with "a well-done-faithful-carer
handshake and a box of Baci chocolates" and told her to get a life.
She did, studying
writing at Homesglen TAFE. She’s sure that she wants to work with words
but doesn’t know whether her skills will suit non-fiction of prose. Ms
Pearl feels she hasn’t achieved anything notable yet - a couple of theatre
reviews, a couple of competitions and two non-fiction pieces in a published
anthology. But she intends to keep writing and keep submitting.
The Allen &
Unwin Young Writers’ Award of $250 went to a 17 year old student from
Launceston, Alice Hayes, for her story, "Daddy".
"The inspiration for my story," she says, "came from a
dream I had. With the help of my Grade 11 Writers’ Workshop teacher, Ms
Pitt, I was able to develop it into a vivid short story." Ms Hayes
was unable to make it to the award ceremony. She plans to study marine
biology at James Cook University this year.
A Sisters in
Crime member from Melbourne, Ronda Bird, won a new $250 prize,
the Kerry Greenwood Award for Malice Domestic, for her story, "Ripe
Red Tomatoes". Ms Bird says that her life has been greatly influenced
by two parts of her body - her nose, which from a very early stage has
been invariably been buried in a book and her itchy feet.
She spent 20
years in England and travelling the world before divorcing and returning
to Australia. She re-entered the workforce as a secretary and later studied
for her matriculation and then completed a BA at the University of Melbourne.
She is currently reviewing a crime novel she has completed and has two
more gestating in the computer. Ms Bird admits that she’s become a bit
negative about her writing in recent months but says that being shortlisted
for the Sclarlet Stiletto Award has given her the shove she needed to
get stuck into it again.
The other big
surprise of the night involved true crime writer, Robin Bowles.
Ms Bowles, who’s well known for books Blind Justice, Justice
Denied and No Justice, entered the Scarlet Stiletto Awards
under the name of Victoria Kinmont-Moir, a combination of her middle name
and her grandfather’s family name. Ms Bowles was delighted to win the
inaugural Kill City Award for the Best PI story, for "The
Curse of the Golden Yo-Yo."
such fun to write with the freedom of not running the risk of being sued,"
she says. "I might get to enjoy this fiction caper, although my publisher
has cautioned me into not giving up my day job - not while I have a current
contract for the next book, anyway."
the publication of Blind Justice, the State Coroner reopened the
inquest into the death of Jennifer Tanner and called Ms Bowles as a witness
because her research uncovered information not available to the police.
Ms Bowles is a director of a public relations and management consultancy
and lives in Melbourne with her husband Clive and a "pair of Pekes".
were awarded to Leanne Manton (Romsey, Victroia), Margaret Pollock
(Melbourne), Victoria Lucas (Red Hill South, Victoria) and
Lisa Ralph (Ballarat, Victoria). All winners received a special
Scarlet Stiletto Award t-shirt and a certificate. The 2000 Scarlet Stiletto
Awards also received support from Chronicles bookshop and Spinifex Press
year’s awards close, as usual, on 30 September. Stories should have
a crime or mystery theme with a woman or women protagonist (s). The maximum
length for the stories is 5000 words and a $5 entry fee applies. Prize
money and the award categories are still being negotiated.
Shute, April 2001