T. J. Hamilton, cop-turned-crime writer, takes out Sisters in Crime’s 22nd Scarlet Stiletto Short Story Awards

T.J. Hamiltona cop-turned-crime writer from regional Queensland, has won the Every Cloud Productions First Prize ($1500) in Sisters in Crime Australia’s 22nd Scarlet Stiletto Awards for her short story “Hard Knox” about a woman who has apparently jumped from a high-rise housing commission block in Redfern.

Hamilton also won the coveted stiletto trophy, a scarlet stiletto shoe with a steel stiletto heel plunging into a mount, plus theBenn’s Books ($200) Best Investigative Award.

Hamilton told the 110 strong crowd at a gala dinner at Melbourne’s Thornbury Theatre on Saturday night (28 November) that she had been fascinated with crime and crime writers for as long as she could remember, cutting her teeth on Inspector Gadget and Agatha Christie. She studied criminology and then joined the NSW police force where she served in Redfern.

These days she lives with her husband and children in Hervey Bay where she has been writing romance.

“The problem with me writing a romance is that my romance readers seems to get really upset with me, because not all of my characters survive … but the crime always get’s solved! So I thought I would dip my toe into crime writing and found this wonderful competition to enter,” she said.

She promises it won’t be the last we hear of her protagonist, Kaylee Knox.

Danielle Cormack 2 lr

Danielle Cormack, star of Wentworth,presented the awards. Prior to the award presentations, Cormack discussed her ‘life in crime’ (and much more) with author, performer and Sisters in Crime member Jane Clifton, who appeared for four years in Prisoner, the show on which Wentworth is based.


This year 191 stories competed for the Scarlet Stiletto Awards for a record $9,350 in prize money the coveted trophy for the overall winner. Twenty-six authors and 27 stories from across Australia were shortlisted for a total of 16 awards. Twenty shortlisted authors attended the awards ceremony.

Scarlet Stiletto finalists

Kate Olivieri, a public servant from East Lismore ( NSW) win both Echo Publishing Second Prize ($1000) and the Liz Navratil Award for Best Story with a Disabled Protagonist ($400) for “Anna Parker: Here Comes the PI”, a story about a wedding organiser and private investigator.

Another serial offender was Natalie Conyer (Mosman, NSW) who wonThe Sun Bookshop 3rd Prize ($500 for “New Start” which also took out the inaugural Harper Collins Romantic Suspense Award ($500). “New Start” is an hilarious story about border security, bureaucracy, Nigerian princes and romance. Conyer, who is doing a PhD on crime fiction, was also highly commended for “Sydney Love Story”.

The Athenaeum Library’s Body in the Library Prize ($1000) went to Jenny Spence (Balmain. NSW) for “Caught on Camera”. Spence has had numerous careers but recently has been writing fiction full-time. She published a thriller, No Safe Place, in 2013. Under the name Jennifer Walsh she has published three children’s books including The Tunnels of Tarcoola, which won a Sisters in Crime Davitt Award in 2013, followed by Crooked Leg Road.

The Athenaeum Library Body in the Library Award ($500 runner-up prize) went to Katie Mills (Doubleview, WA) for “To Drive Out Evil Spirits”. Mills, an academic librarian from Perth, also won The Scriptworks Great Film Idea Award ($200)for the same story.

The Kerry Greenwood Malice Domestic Award ($750) was won by Kath Harper, a retired teacher from Port Fairy (Vic) for “Hitting the Roof”, a story elderly woman who discovers her neighbour’s body in her backyard and sets out to prove that this was not the accidental death that it appears.

Thirteen-year old Amanda Coleman(Glen Iris, Vic)won theAllen & Unwin Young Writer’s Award ($500), open to writers 18 or under,for “Mental Blank”, the first story she has ever entered in a competition. Her ambition is to become an author when she leaves school.

The Arena Magazine for the Best Well-loaded Political Story ($500) was awarded went to Kylie Fox(Langwarrin, Vic) for “Guilt”. Kylie is a multiple-Stiletto-offender, having picked up a third prize and couple of category awards in previous years. She is the author of a comic fantasy and her first true crime book, Invisible Women, co-authored with Ruth Wykes, will be published in January.

The Best Environmental Crime Story Award ($500) went Fin J Ross (Paynesville, Vic) for “Echo Wren”, a story about the annual slaughter of pilot whales on Faroe Islands. Ross, a journalist by profession, runs a boarding cattery, is co-author, with her sister, Lindy Cameron, of two true crime anthologies.

The Financial Crime Award ($500), has been offered by Ann Byrne for the past three years but this is the only year it has been awarded. It went to Annie Hauxwell (Castlemaine, Vic) for “Washeteria”. The author of three books in the Catherine Berlin financial crime investigator series, Hauxwell has worked as a private investigator for more than twenty years. She came second to Cate Kennedy in the very first Scarlet Stiletto Awards in 1994.

The Clan Destine Press Award for Best Cross Genre Story ($400)was awarded to Brisbane State High school student,Ellen Vickerman (Corindale, Qld), for “Airborne”,

Also highly commended were:

·         Kathy Blacker (Port Lincoln, SA) for “Perils of Prudence”

·         Jude Bridge, (Kewdale, WA) for “A Perfect Nobody”. (Bridges won the 2014 Scarlet Stiletto trophy)

·         Gabrielle Carmel (Langwarrin, Vic), for “Numb”.

·         Marilyn Chalkley (Wright, ACT) for “The Coffee Cup Crime”

·         Anne Chappel (Skye, SA) for “The Perfect Knot”.

·         Emilie Collyer (West Footscray, Vic) for “Danger to Society”

·         Bridgitte Cummings (North Brighton, SA) for “Stranger in the Woods”

·         Carolyn Eldridge-Alfonzetti (North Epping, NSW) for “Case of the Decapitated Canvas”

·         Helen Goltz (Port Fairy, Vic) for “Weed”

·         Diane Hester (Port Lincoln, SA) for “The List”

·         Maggie McTiernan (Yokine, WA) for “The Roommate”

·         Richenda Rudman (Flemington, Vic) for “Nooseville

·         Yvonne Sanders (Olinda, Vic) for “Stranger”

·         Sue Williams (Ferntree Gully, Vic) for “Early Release”

·         Amanda Wrangles (Crib Point, Vic) for “Sally Hammer”

National Co-convenor and the Scarlet Stiletto Awards wrangler, Michaela Lobb, said that the judges had been blown away by the quality of this year’s stories.

“Revenge was still a perennial theme but we did see for the first time several stories set in prisons and it was obvious our current political situation regarding detention centres had touched the heart of many writers,” she said.

The judges decided not to award the Josephine Pennicott Award for the Best Story by an Indigenous Writer.

To date, 2,926 stories have been entered with20 Scarlet Stiletto Award winners –including category winners – going on to have novels published: Cate Kennedy, Tara Moss, Annie Hauxwell, Angela Savage, 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 and Amanda Wrangles. Another winner, Aoife Clifford, has a book coming out next year with Simon& Schuster in both Australia and the UK which will bring the total to 21.

Three collections of winning stories have been published by Clan Destine Press: Scarlet Stiletto: TheFirst Cut, Scarlet Stiletto: The Second Cut and Scarlet Stiletto Short Stories: 2013 (ebook).

Prizes kindly sponsored by Every Cloud Productions; Echo Publishing; Sun Bookshop, Athenaeum Library; Allen & Unwin; Arena Magazine; Clan Destine Press; Scriptworks; Benn’s Book Shop; Ann Byrne; Kerry Greenwood; Catherine Leppert; Josephine Pennicott; and the Queensland Chapter of Sisters in Crime.

The 23rd Scarlet Stiletto Awards close on 31 August 2016.

Attached is the running sheet for the event which has blurbs and bios of all the finalists.

Comment: Michaela Lobb, National Co-convenor, Sisters in Crime: 0409 431 397 

Info: Carmel Shute, National Co-convenor, Sisters in Crime: 0412 569 356