Entries for the 20th Davitt Awards for Women’s Crime Books now open

Swinburne University of Technology logo - media and communications departmentSisters in Crime Australia’s 20th Davitt Awards for the best crime and mystery books by Australian women are now open. Publishers have until Thursday 30 April to enter. Self-published books are eligible. Books co-authored or edited by men are not.

This year the Davitts are again sponsored 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 550+ members of Sisters in Crime Australia).

Sisters in Crime is proud to mark 20 years of celebrating the Davitt Awards says new judges’ wrangler, Pauline Meaney.

“Twenty years ago, Australian women’s crime writing got short shrift. Like many women’s achievements, crime books were too often unknown, unrecognised, and unappreciated. The Davitt Awards have shone a light on what has become an explosion of creativity.

“Back in 2001 when the awards were first presented at SheKilda, Sisters in Crime’s 10th anniversary convention, there were only seven books in contention, although initially the awards did not extend to true crime and non-fiction. Last year 127 books competed. It’s not a stretch to say that Sisters in Crime can claim a little bit of the credit for Australian women’s crime writing going gangbusters.”

Meaney said that Australian women’s crime writers are now a global sensation.

Kerry Greenwood, Liane Moriarty, Candice Fox, Jane Harper, Sulari Gentill and Emma Viskic, to name just a few, have readers in every continent, their books win major awards and they are increasingly being translated to the screen. Fans of Phryne have come from as far away as Finland and the USA for the premiere of Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears, inspired by Kerry Greenwood’s 20 Phryne Fisher novels,” Meaney said.

This year there are already 88 books listed, including 63 adult novels and an impressive 18 non-fiction books.

“What’s even more notable is that the writing itself keeps on getting better and better,” Meaney said. “Last year three Davitt winners went on to make a killing at the Ned Kelly crime-writing awards six days later. This was the first time that women took out all three prizes,” she said.

Jane Harper, whose first novel, The Dry, was an international bestseller, won the best fiction prize for her third, The Lost Man. (A film of The Dry will screen in August.) Dervla McTiernan, who the Davitt Award for her first novel, The Ruin, won the Ned Kelly first fiction prize for the same book. Bri Lee followed up her Davitt and ABIA awards with Eggshell Skull by winning the Ned Kelly true crime award.

The Davitts are named after Ellen Davitt, the author of Australia’s first mystery novel, Force and Fraud, in 1865. They cost publishers nothing to enter. A long list will be published in May, a shortlist in July.

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 2020 comprises Philomena Horsley, winner of the 2018 Scarlet Stiletto Award winner and medical autopsy expert; Bec Kavanagh, YA expert; Debbie Stephen, forensic specialist; and Sisters in Crime national co-convenors Karina Kilmore (former Herald Sun editor), Moraig Kisler and Pauline Meaney.

Previous Davitt Awards have been presented by NZ crime writer Dr Joanne Drayton (2019); Danish thriller writer, Sissel-Jo Gazan (2018); lawyer and true crime writer, Hilary Bonney (2017); Australian crime writer Liane Moriarty (2016); UK crime writer Sophie Hannah (2015); South African crime writer Lauren Beukes (2014); New Zealand crime writer Vanda Symons (2013); Swedish crime writer Äsa Larsson (2012); Singaporean crime writer Shamini Flint (2011), Scottish crime writer Val McDermid (2010 & 2003); Justice Betty King (2009), Judge Liz Gaynor (2008); Walkley-winning investigative journalist Estelle Blackburn (2007); true crime writer Karen Kissane (2006); Sisters Inside’s Debbie Killroy (2005); US crime writer Karin Slaughter (2004); ACTU President Sharan Burrow (2002) and Chief Commissioner, Victoria Police Christine Nixon (2001).

Sisters in Crime Australia was set up 29 years ago and has chapters in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. It also hosts a popular annual short-story competition, the Scarlet Stiletto Awards which turns 27 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 30 April. Enquiries: 0412 569 356

Media comment: Pauline Meaney on 0417 765 154; paulinemarymeaney@gmail.com

Info: www.sistersincrime.org.au