Crime right across the nation – 28th Scarlet Stiletto Awards Shortlist Announced

Sisters in Crime Australia is proud to announce that 26 stories by 23 authors have been shortlisted for its 28th Scarlet Stiletto Awards for best short stories written by Australian women. This year 241 stories – equal to last year’s record – are competing for a record $11,910 in prize money.

The shortlisted authors come from across Australia: In alphabetical order, they are: Christine Betts (NSW); Sherryl Clark (VIC); Ellen Coates (VIC); Natalie Conyer (NSW); Catherine Craig (NSW); Caroline de Costa (QLD); Clare Fletcher (NSW); Christine Fontana (VIC); Susan Green (VIC); Melanie Hayes (VIC); Stephanie Holm (TAS); Jane Lee (NSW); Amy McKernan (QLD); Janet Moore (VIC); Kristin Murdock (SA); Jaclyn Riley-Smith (TAS); Emily Roberts (VIC); Fin J Ross (VIC); Janice Shaw (NSW); Trudi Slavin (NSW); Caitlyn Whitbread (NSW); Maggie Wilkins (NSW); and Hayley Young (ACT).

Awards are presented in the following categories: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Young Writer (under 19), Emerging Writer (19-25); Art and Crime; Best Environmental Mystery ‘Body in The Library’ (including runner-up); 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 16 prizes on offer. The first-prize winner also scores a spectacular trophy – a scarlet stiletto shoe with a steel stiletto heel plunging into a mount.

Judging coordinator, Christina Lee, a two-time trophy winner, and recently retired UQ professor, said:

“For the 28th year in succession, the Scarlet Stiletto Awards have been decided and preparations are being made for a glittering (but sadly online) awards presentation next month,” she said.

“The judges’ task was as difficult as ever, with an abundance of well-written, shocking, hilarious, and original stories. In the 2020 round, many people chose to deal with lockdown by avoiding it completely, combining crime fiction with futuristic science fiction, or choosing historical settings. This year, a lot of stories were firmly set in lockdown, with its frustrations and discontents providing the ideal background for murder and worse.

“Crime happened everywhere this year – in country towns, aged care homes, universities, corporate office blocks, bookshops, writers’ groups, and, of course, at home with the cat and a cup of tea. Worryingly, there was an abundance of dead cats – not just dead, but horribly slaughtered – which we hope is just a passing phase. But reading our way through the stories was a joy, as we were once again amazed by the creativity and audacity of so many female writers.”

Actor Catherine McClements will present the awards. McClements, who has appeared in Ms Fisher’s MODern Murder Mysteries Series, Wentworth, Broken Shore, Rush, and Water Rats, will first speak about her life in crime with compere Sue Turnbull, Senior Professor at the University of Wollongong and Sisters in Crime’s ambassador at large.

Due to the pandemic, the event will be online, 8pm Saturday 27 November on Facebook where people can get together to enjoy the event. (Booking details to come.) All available shortlisted authors will appear on screen.

The Scarlet Stiletto Awards national short story competition was established in 1994. To date, 4137 stories have been entered with 30 Scarlet Stiletto Award trophy or category winners going on to have books 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, TJ Hamilton, Dawn Farnham, Natalie Conyer, Fin J Ross, Anna Snoekstra, Suzanne Frankham and Julianne Negri.

The competition prizes are kindly sponsored by Swinburne University of Technology; Melbourne Athenaeum; Every Cloud Productions; Writers Victoria; Booktopia; Sun Bookshop; Wild Dingo Press; Affirm Press; HQ Fiction; Clan Destine Press; Monash University; scriptWorks; Kerry Greenwood; the Brisbane Chapter of Sisters in Crime; and the late Viliama Grakalic.

Click here for info on the Scarlet Stiletto Awards.

Media comment: Christina Lee:; 0424 003 285

More information: Carmel Shute, Secretary & National Co-convenor,; 0412 569 356