The 2009 Ned Kelly Awards were presented by the Crime Writers Association of Australia on 28 August and I was thrilled to see Nick Gadd win Best First Book for his wonderful novel Ghostlines.
I read Ghostlines in preparation for interviewing Nick on two panels at this year’s Crime & Justice Festival and I was so impressed, I predicted it would win the Neddie. This is actually the second time I’ve picked a winner in this category (the last time was when I was nominated and lost to Adrian Hyland’s Diamond Dove). I wonder if anyone runs a book for the Ned Kelly Awards. This could be the get-rich-quick scheme I’ve been looking for… But I digress.
I mentioned in my de-brief on the Crime & Justice Festival that Nick had a publishing company pull the plug on an earlier proposal for the book when he declined their advice to ‘remove the supernatural element’. Ghostlines went on to win the 2007 Victorian Premier’s Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, and now the Neddie for Best First Book. Revenge is a dish best served with a couple of literary awards either side!
See here for Nick’s account of the award night and a photo of his trophy.
Also this month I attended the Sisters in Crime 2009 Davitt Awards (photo below was taken on the night with my cousin Mary Latham; thanks to Carmel Shute). I was excited to see Malla Nunn take the top fiction prize for A Beautiful Place to Die, as having read only good things about this book, I’d asked for it as a birthday present. It was the unanimous choice of the Davitt judges, who described it as a “memorable and significant first novel, both disturbing and enlightening.” Sounds like my kind of book.
And it was very now that Malla accepted the award over the iPhone from Maryland, USA, her voice so clear she might have been in the room with us instead of half a world away.
The guest presenter at the 2009 Davitt’s was ‘Judge Betty’ King, one of the first women ‘silks’ in Victoria. Judge King was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2005 and has presided over a number of high-profile murder and police corruption trials, including the Carl Williams case–she famously banned the screening of ‘Underbelly’ in Victoria to avoid prejudicing the trial.
But Judge Betty is no would-be celebrity. She was adamant the people who matter most are the victims and the accused, not judges and legal counsel. And she was highly critical of depictions of criminals that made them out to be glamorous when, in her experience, most criminals come from dysfunctional families, are poorly educated, and have few prospects. Asked what would make a real difference, she said, ‘The answer is education–that and poverty alleviation.’