Publishers have until Friday 28 April to enter Sisters in Crime Australia’s 17th Davitt Awards for the best crime and mystery books by Australian women.
Six Davitt Awards will be presented at a gala dinner in Melbourne in late August: 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).
Davitt judges’ wrangler, Jacqui Horwood, said that the number of entries this year were expected to eclipse the 2015 record of 96 books.
“Over 80 books are already in contention. Each year the judges are faced with an almost-impossible task as the standard of the writing just gets better and better. Last year’s Davitts results were astonishing with Resurrection Bay (Echo) by Emma Viskic taking out an unprecedented three awards – best adult novel, best debut book (with Fleur Ferris) and readers’ choice – and then winning the Ned Kelly Best First Fiction Award the very next day!,” Horwood said.
“The other positive news is that Australian women’s crime books are increasingly finding a global audience. Fleur Ferris who took out the Davitt (Best Young Adult Novel) for Risk (Penguin Random House) as well as sharing the Davitt (Best Debut Book), has been translated into French, German and Korean and added to the curriculum of many Australian schools for Years 7-10. It was adapted to stage by a school in Sweden and performed in May.
“The 2016 Davitts were presented by Liane Moriarty whose Big Little Lies, the 2015 Davitt adult winner, has been made into a hugely successful eight-part TV drama which has just screened on HBO.”
Books are also increasingly set overseas. Amongst this year’s contenders is Ann Turner’s Out of the Ice (Scribe), set in Antarctica. L A Larkin’s Devour (Hachette) is also set in Antarctica, with the action extending to Afghanistan, the UK and the USA. Sara Foster’s All that is lost between us (Simon & Schuster) and Annie Hauxwell’s House of Bones (Penguin UK) are both set in the UK while Melina Marchetta’s Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil (Penguin Random House) switches between the UK and France.
Horwood said that over the past 17years the Davitts have played a crucial role in getting women’s crime writing better recognised.
“Back in 2001 only 7 books were in contention, although the awards did not then apply to non-fiction. The Davitts have also convinced Australian publishers to take a punt on crime books produced by women locally, instead of just importing the latest blockbusters from overseas. It’s a gamble that has well and truly paid off.”
The Davitts, named after Ellen Davitt, the author of Australia’s first mystery novel, Force and Fraud, in 1865, 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 2017 comprises Sisters in Crime national co-convenor, Michaela Lobb; former convenors Jacqui Horwood and Sylvia Loader; forensic specialist Debbie Stephen; and Readings Bookshop bookseller and writer, Deborah Crabtree.
Previous Davitt Awards have been presented by 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 Asa Larsson (2012); Singapore 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 25 years ago, has chapters in different states and holds regular events in Melbourne dissecting crime fiction on the page and screen. It also hosts a popular annual short-story competition, the Scarlet Stiletto Awards.
To enter the Davitts, publishers should contact Carmel Shute, Sisters in Crime, National Co-convenor asap on firstname.lastname@example.org,au and get books to the judges before April 29. Enquiries: 0412 569 356
Media comment: Jacqui Horwood on 0449 703 503; email@example.com