It was Ellen Davitt in 1865 who penned the first mystery novel, Force and Fraud. Since then, Australia has fostered the careers of many female crime writers, with the Sister’s in Crime Davitt Awards continuing to foster these careers and honour the very best female talent. And that’s exactly what they did last night. Honour the best.
At Melbourne’s Thornbury Theatre, Australia’s top female crime writers were announced at the 16th Davitt Awards. Emma Viskic, author of Resurrection Bay, took home three of the possible six awards – Best Adult Novel, Best Debut Novel (joint winner) and the Readers’ Choice Award. Chatting to Booktopia earlier this year, Viskic explained her hopes for Resurrection Bay and for Caleb, her deaf protagonist:
‘I hope they’re [readers] excited, exhausted and moved, but mainly that they carry a piece of Caleb with them. He’s very real to me and I hope he becomes real to them’.
Fleur Ferris took out the Best Young Adult Novel and was the joint winner of the Best Debut Novel for Risk, R.A. Spratt won the Best Children’s Novel for Friday Barnes: Under Suspicion, and Alecia Simmonds took out the Best Non-Fiction Novel for Wild Man.
Australian crime writer Liane Moriarty presented the awards, whose Big Little Lies was last year’s Davitt winner for the Best Adult Novel. Since then, Moriarty has become the first Australian author to have a novel debut at number one on the New York Times bestseller list; film rights were acquired by Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon who both have lead roles in the eight-episode TV series. It was recently announced that Witherspoon also bought the film rights to Moriarty’s latest book, Truly Madly Guilty. Moriarty chats about this book, listen here.
Booktopia was the proud sponsor of this year’s Davitt Awards. Tony Nash, Booktopia’s CEO said, ‘women’s crime writing is on a huge wave and we should all be catching it… The Davitt Awards have done an impressive job in convincing Australian publishers to back local women crime writers and not just import the latest blockbusters’.
The 2016 Davitt Award Winners
WINNER: ADULT NOVEL + DEBUT NOVEL (JOINT WINNER) + READERS’ CHOICE AWARD
by Emma Viskic
Caleb Zelic, profoundly deaf since early childhood, has always lived on the outside – watching, picking up tell-tale signs people hide in a smile, a cough, a kiss.
When a childhood friend is murdered, a sense of guilt and a determination to prove his own innocence sends Caleb on a hunt for the killer. But he can’t do it alone. Caleb and his troubled friend Frankie, an ex-cop, start with one clue: Scott, the last word the murder victim texted to Caleb. But Scott is always one step ahead … Read more.
WINNER: YOUNG ADULT NOVEL + DEBUT NOVEL (JOINT WINNER)
by Fleur Ferris
Taylor and Sierra have been best friends for their whole lives. But Taylor’s fed up. Why does Sierra always get what – and who – she wants?
From kissing Taylor’s crush to stealing the guy they both met online for herself, Sierra doesn’t seem to notice when she hurts her friends. So when Sierra says Jacob Jones is the one and asks her friends to cover for her while she goes to meet him for the first time, Taylor rolls her eyes. But Sierra doesn’t come back when she said she would. One day. Two days. Three …What if Taylor’s worrying for nothing? What if Sierra’s just being Sierra, forgetting about everyone else to spend time with her new guy?… Read more.
WINNER: CHILDREN’S NOVEL
Who knew boarding school could be this perilous!
When Friday Barnes cracked the case of Highcrest Academy’s mysterious swamp-yeti, the last thing she expected was to be placed under arrest. Now with the law on her back and Ian Wainscott in her face, Friday is not so sure boarding school was the smartest choice. From a missing or not-so-missing calculator to the appearance of strange holes in the school field, she is up to her pork-pie hat in crimes – and she swears not all of them are hers. There’s also new boy Christopher, who has taken… Read more.
WINNER: NON-FICTION NOVEL
In April 2012 a man was shot dead by police on a remote farm in New South Wales called the School of Happiness. The victim, who was high on a cocktail of drugs and who suffered from mental illness, had been threatening attendees of a hippie festival with a crossbow and hunting knife. When the police finally arrived, they tried to subdue him but, ultimately, fatal shots were fired.
In Wild Man Alecia Simmonds follows the coronial inquest into the police killing. She reveals what really happened that night and unravels the web of issues entangled in this fascinating, bizarre and, undoubtedly, tragic case: a cultural clash between hippies and hunters; drug use, violence, masculinity and… Read more.