Ned Kelly Awards winners & grinners

This morning came news Ned Kelly’s 130 year old remains had been identified at the old Pentridge Prison site. Only hours earlier I was celebrating the Australian crime fiction awards named his honour. I felt very close to Ned. Really. Like bag of old bones myself.

I blame my posse at the Ned Kelly Awards dinner last night: my awesome partner Andrew Nette (whose take on the night is here) and fellow Melbourne Crime Factory editors Cameron Ashleigh and Liam Jose; and crime writer David Whish-Wilson, shortlisted for Best First Book for his wonderful novel Line of Sight. Add to the mix the company of my fellow Best Fiction nominee Chris WomersleySisters in Crime Lindy Cameron, Carmel Shute, Jacqui Horwood, Amanda Wrangles, Kylie Fox, crime writer Leigh Redhead and her lovely partner Michael and let’s just say there was a lot of love in the room.

The formal proceedings were hosted by crime writer and Über-Mistress of Ceremonies Jane Clifton. Journalist and co-author of Underbelly Andrew Rule gave the inaugural Ned Kelly Oration on ‘Sex, Death and Betrayal’ (must be the year for inaugural orations: Peter Temple did one for Miles Franklin). Rule told a story set in Carlton involving a guy called Baz, a beautiful girl from Genazzano, a loan shark and a drug deal gone wrong, which he subsequently admitted was the plot of the Merchant of Venice told Underbelly-style. His point was the timelessness of crime stories: ‘they go to the heart of what it means to be human’.

The announcement of the four award winners was bookended (pun intended) by musical performances by Acts of Violence, featuring Stephen Cummings, Robert Goodge and Bill McDonald. Stephen reminisced at one point on an early Ned Kelly Awards night when Carter Brown’s widow turned up in a red mini-dress. But that’s another story.

Congratulations to all the 2011 Ned Kelly Award winners:

Best First Fiction:  Alan Carter Prime Cut Fremantle Press

S.D. Harvey Short Story Award: A.S. Patric Hemisphere Travel Guides: Las Vegas For Vegans

True Crime: Geesche Jacobson Abandoned- The Sad Death of Dianne Brimble Allen & Unwin

Best Fiction: Geoffrey McGeachin The Diggers Rest Hotel Penguin

McGeachin gave the most hilarious speech of the night, thanking his wife ‘who taught me that violence can sometimes be the answer’ and claiming to hold a world record for writer’s block. He finished by citing a treasured review of one of his earlier books, words to the effect that ‘your book gives me great hope because if a piece of shit like that can get published, anything can.’

I subsequently bought, misplaced, retrieved and starting reading The Digger’s Rest Hotel on the tram tonight and it is bloody brilliant.

I wrote earlier of how excited I was that The Half-Child was shortlisted for Best Fiction alongside McGeachin and Womersley. And at the risk of echoing what Peter Temple said in the aforementioned inaugural Miles Franklin Oration about Australians being more comfortable with failure than success, I can’t imagine having more fun than I did last night even if The Half-Child had won.

Look at the above photo, taken on the night by Lindy Cameron. Could that grin possibly be any bigger?

About Angela Savage

Angela Savage is a Melbourne writer, who has lived and travelled extensively in Asia. She won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript, and the Scarlet Stiletto Award short story award. Her latest novel is, Mother of Pearl, published by Transit Lounge. Angela holds a PhD in Creative Writing, is former CEO of Writers Victoria, and currently works as CEO of Public Libraries Victoria.
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6 Responses to Ned Kelly Awards winners & grinners

  1. Glad you had a good night Angela…well deserved I’m sure. Thanks for tweeting the night’s happenings, was fun being able to keep up with events in almost real time

    I’ve read all six books in the fiction categories (I prefer my crime to have a veneer of fantasy so I can maintain my inner Pollyanna) and I would not have wanted to be a judge as I’d have found both categories very difficult to separate. I love that the books are all very different yet all of great quality…good news for me as an Aussie reader of Aussie crime fiction


    • angelasavage says:

      Thanks for your lovely comments Bernadette and for the support you give Australian crime writers like me as a reader, reviewer and blogger.

      I agree the judges had a tough job, though I’m not quite sure who they are. One judge in each category presented the award — Justice Betty King in the case of Best Fiction — but the judging panels as such were never introduced. I wonder if it’s intentional, maintaining these mysteries at the heart of our annual crime writing awards…

      Will we see you at the SheKilda convention in October?


  2. Diana says:

    A handsome couple, to be sure. So what do you reckon goes down at an awards ceremony for romantic fiction when there’s so much love in the room for crime writing? Is that where all the daggers come out? Parabens, mana! As we say in these parts. “The Diggers Rest Hotel” must be a cracker if it topped yours this time round – going to get it now.


  3. kathy d. says:

    Congratulations on your nomination! It sounds like the judges had a very tough choice to make, as all books nominated have been rated very highly.
    My question is how can one order a copy of your book? There have been nothing short of raves at the Aussie book websites which I read.


    • angelasavage says:

      Hi Kathy,
      Thanks for your comments and your interest in The Half-Child. Best place to buy is online direct from the publisher: you can order here. Or if ebooks are your thing, you can buy the ebook version here. Hope you enjoy it,


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