Entries for Sisters in Crime’s 23rd Davitt Awards for women’s crime books now open

Sisters in Crime Australia’s 23rd Davitt Awards for the best crime and mystery books by Australian women from 2022 is now open.

The competition is open to books by all women, whether cisgender, transgender, or intersex, who are citizens/residents of Australia. Self-published books are eligible. Please note that books co-written or co-edited with men or including chapters by men are not eligible.

Publishers have until Friday 7 April to enter. This year, for the first time in 23 years, the Davitts will cost publishers $25 a title to enter. ·       https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/2023-davitt-awards-entry-tickets-559190522907
Sisters in Crime will announce a longlist in mid-June and a shortlist in late July.

The Davitts are again supported by Swinburne University of Technology.

Six Davitt Awards will be presented at a gala dinner in Melbourne, probably in late August or early September: Best Adult Novel; Best Young Adult Novel; Best Children’s Novel; Best Non-fiction Book; Best Debut Book (any category); and Readers’ Choice (as voted the 600+ members of Sisters in Crime Australia).

Award-winning crime short story writer, Dr Philomena Horsley, is again serving as Judges’ Coordinator. She says the six judges are girding their loins.

“The Davitt Awards are riding the crest of an enormous wave of popularity of crime writing by Australian women. Women like writing it, the publishers like printing it, and we all love reading it,” she said.

“Nearly 130 books are already on our list, including more than 100 adult novels. The number – and, more importantly, the quality – confirm that we are in a golden age for Australian crime writing. It’s a far cry from 2001 when seven books were nominated for the inaugural Davitt Awards. It’s heartening that publishers are throwing their collective weight behind crime writing, particularly the impressive output by women authors,” she said. 

In this year’s Davitt Awards, books are considered debut if the authors are previously unpublished in fiction in any genre. To date, the debut definition applied to the first books by the author in the crime and mystery genre. So far, over 30 books fall into the debut category.

Dr Horsley that this year’s Davitts had tried-and-true authors such as Kerry Greenwood in contention for her 22nd Phryne Fisher novel, Murder in Williamstown, along with brand-new crime writers such as Sally Bothroyd (Brunswick Street Blues), Lucia Nardo (Messy Business), and M Q Webb (How to Spot a Psychopath).

“One of the overriding themes is women taking justice into their own hands, as exemplified by Jane Caro (The Mother), N.D. Campbell (Daughters of Eve), and Sarah Barrie (Retribution),” she said.

“Quite a few books fall into the increasingly popular ‘rural noir’ category but it’s thrilling to see the Asian community of Cabramatta featured in Tracey Lien’s debut novel, All That’s Left Unsaid. The action extends overseas with Ellie Marney (US – The Killing Code), A M Stuart (Singapore – Evil in Emerald), Diane Armstrong (German-occupied Jersey – Dancing with the Enemy), Louise Bassett (Indonesia – The Hidden Girl), and Lyn McFarlane (Canada – The Scarlet Cross).”

The Davitts are named after Ellen Davitt, the author of Australia’s first mystery novel, Force and Fraud, in 1865.

The awards are handsome carved polished wooded trophies featuring the front cover of the winning novel under perspex. No prize money is attached.

The judging panel for 2023 comprises Philomena Horsley 2018 Scarlet Stiletto Award winner and medical autopsy expert; Joy Lawn, YA expert, and reviewer; Liz Filleul, 2004 Scarlet Stiletto Award winner, author, and editor; Deb Bodinnar, former bookseller; Ruth Wykes, 2016 Scarlet Stiletto winner, author and editor; and Moraig Kisler, Sisters in Crime’s President, and review editor.

The previous Davitts have been presented by Louise Milligan, Australian true crime author & broadcaster (2022); Debra Oswald, Australian crime author (2021); Val McDermid, Scottish crime writer (2020, 2010, 2003); Dr Joanne Drayton, NZ crime writer (2019); Sissel-Jo Gazan, Danish crime writer (2018); Hilary Bonney, Australian crime author (2018); Liane Moriarty, Australian crime author (2016); Sophie Hannah, UK crime writer (2015): Lauren Beukes, South Africa crime writer (2014); Vanda Symon, New Zealand crime writer (2013); Åsa Larsson, Swedish crime writer (2012); Shamini Flint, Singaporean crime writer (2011), Justice Betty King (2009), Judge Liz Gaynor (2008); Estelle Blackburn, Walkley-winning investigative journalist (2007); Karen Kissane, true crime writer (2006); Debbie Killroy, Sisters Inside (2005); Karin Slaughter, US crime writer (2004); Sharan Burrow, ACTU President (2002); and Christine Nixon, (then) Chief Commissioner, Victoria Police (2001).
For details about last year’s Davitt Award winners, go to the media release https://sistersincrime.org.au/debut-books-scoop-sisters-in-crimes-22nd-davitt-awards/ and the YouTube video featuring Louise Milligan and Jacqui Horwood https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHgRrYP81Ag&t=21s

Sisters in Crime Australia was set up 32 years ago and has chapters in all states. It also hosts a popular annual short-story competition, the Scarlet Stiletto Awards, which turns 30 this year.

To enter the Davitts, publishers should contact Carmel Shute, Sisters in Crime, National Co-convenor asap on admin@sistersincrime.org.au and get books to the judges before Friday 7 April. Enquiries: 0412 569 356

Media comment: Philomena Horsley on 0417 121 771; philomenah1@aol.com

More info: Carmel Shute, Secretary & National Co-convenor, Sisters in Crime Australia, on 0412 569 356; admin@sistersincrime.org.au