27 stories shortlisted for Sisters in Crime’s 27th Scarlet Stiletto Awards

Sisters in Crime Australia is proud to announce that 27 stories by 25 authors have been shortlisted for its 27th Scarlet Stiletto Awards for best short stories. This year a record 241 stories short stories written by Australian women compete for a record $10,460 in prize money.

The shortlisted authors (in alphabetical order) are: Hayley Barry-Smith (Sunshine Plaza, QLD); Judith Bridge (Kewdale, WA); Sherryl Clark (Altona North, VIC); Natalie Conyer (Mosman, NSW); Caroline de Costa (Cairns North, QLD); Liz Filleul (Mount Dandenong, VIC); Christine Gregory (Yarraville, VIC); Rebecca Howden (Kensington, VIC); Sara Hutchinson (Peregian Springs, QLD); Clare Knock (Bayonet Head, WA); Veronica Lando (Ashgrove, QLD); Jane Lee (Kensington, NSW); Wendy Lewis (East Ryde, NSW); Anna Lord (Croydon North, VIC); Kristin Murdock (Warooka, SA); Natasha Nette (Brunswick, VIC); L. J. Owen (Cradoc, TAS); Ann Penhallurick (Lilyfield, NSW); Cheryl Rogers (West Swan, WA); Fiona Ross (Paynesville, VIC); Janice Shaw (Belmont North, NSW); Jessica Southern-Reid (Bermagui, NSW); Ellen Vickerman (Carindale, QLD); Nicola Wardley (New Farm, QLD); Samantha Wilson (St Kilda East, VIC).

Awards are presented in the following categories: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, youth (under 19), new writer (19-25), ‘body in the library’, most satisfying retribution, mystery with history, malice domestic, cross-genre, thriller, great film idea, and best disabled protagonist.

All authors receive a framed certificate and, if lucky, they also win one of the 15 prizes on offer. The first-prize winner also scores a spectacular scarlet stiletto trophy.

Jane Clifton, the showbusiness all-rounder and crime writer (and Sisters in Crime member) will again compere the event. Due the pandemic, the event will be online: at 8pm Saturday 28 November on YouTube and/or join the Facebook Watch Party at the same time where people can get together to enjoy the event.

Before the awards are presented, Jane will be in conversation with a mystery presenter. All available shortlisted authors will appear on screen.

Sisters in Crime President, Lindy Cameron, said that Sisters in Crime was delighted that the authors came from every state.

“The pandemic has had a few silver linings – a lot of aspiring authors finally had time to write that story that’s been whirling around in their brain. And, the miracle of Zoom has done away with the tyranny of distance when it comes to participating in the ceremony. Living in Western Australia no longer means missing out or spending a small fortune on an airfare,” she said.

“The shortlist includes several ‘serial offenders’ such as Judith Bridge, Natalie Conyer, Caroline de Costa, Jane Lee, Ann Penhallurick, Cheryl Rogers, Fiona Ross and Ellen Vickerman. The youngest shortlisted author is 15 and there at least two (as far as we know) is in their seventies. Crime writing is a passion which knows no geographical boundaries, no age limit, and no class, ethnic or occupational barriers,” she said.

“The pandemic, of course, gets quite a few references in the stories, some in passing, some at the centre of the mystery. Otherwise, the most noticeable theme this year was the delight taken in retribution.

“In times past, the most common theme involved middle-aged women who suddenly snapped and killed their husbands for not particularly compelling reasons. The husband left his empty coffee mug on the kitchen bench again instead of the dishwasher, and suddenly she was out in the backyard picking oleander leaves for a poison stew or digging a grave in the tomato patch.

“Now, thanks to the Writers Victoria Crime and Punishment Award, the urge for retribution has been channelled in quite compelling ways. In one story, a wife puts capsaicinoids (hot pepper compounds) in her errant husband’s condom. In another, an abused wife pours whiskey onto her husband’s genitals and lets his trained dog go for it!”

The Scarlet Stiletto Awards national short story competition was established in 1994. To date, 3896 stories have been entered with 28 Scarlet Stiletto Award trophy or category winners going on to have novels published: Cate Kennedy, Tara Moss, Annie Hauxwell, Angela Savage, Natalie Conyer, Fin J. Ross, Anna Snoekstra, Josephine Pennicott, Ellie Marney, Sarah Evans, Inga Simpson, Alex Palmer, Liz Filleul, Margaret Bevege, Patricia Bernard, Bronwen Blake, Jo McGahey, Cheryl Jorgensen, Kylie Fox, Simmone Howell, Emilie Collyer, Sandi Wallace, Aoife Clifford, Amanda Wrangles, Lois Murphy, Janis Spehr, T J Hamilton, and Dawn Farnham.

Members and supporters who would like to support Sisters in Crime and the work it does for Australian women crime writers can do so by purchasing a $10 ticket for the Scarlet Stiletto Award night. Three lucky ticket holders will win a $300 pack of crime books, kindly donated by the publishers. Unfortunately, this bonus is restricted to Australian residents – international postage is just too expensive! Details to come.

The competition prizes are kindly sponsored by Swinburne University of Technology; Simon & Schuster; Athenaeum Library; International Association of Forensic Linguistics; Every Cloud Productions; Writers Victoria, Sun Bookshop; Wild Dingo Press; Affirm Press; Clan Destine Press; Monash University; Scriptworks; Kerry Greenwood; and the Brisbane Chapter of Sisters in Crime.

More info on the Scarlet Stiletto Awards: https://sistersincrime.org.au/the-scarlet-stiletto-awards/

Media comment: Lindy Cameron 0423 422 317; lindycameron@own.net.au