After a fantastic day at the Brisbane Writers Festival yesterday (more on that over the coming days) I had the pleasure of attending the 2014 Ned Kelly Awards ceremony.
For those not already familiar, The Ned Kelly Awards are Australia’s oldest and most prestigious prizes honouring our crime fiction and true crime writing, and are run each year by the Australian Crime Writers Association.
Before announcing the winners, Michael Robotham chaired a panel debate, the premise: WHEN IT COMES TO CRIME – TV DOES IT BETTER
On the affirmative team we had Lauren Beukes, Julie Sarkozi and Tony Cavanagh, and on the negative team P M Newton, Lenny Bartulin and Matthew Condon.
Despite the obvious bias within the room – we were at a writers festival – the affirmative team fought with gusto, Lauren and Tony calling on their personal experiences in TV screen writing and pointing to some recent ‘higher quality’ crime shows. Comedian Julie cited ‘slow-mo’ and the 3 minute character backstory delivered via ‘the montage’.
For the negative, Pam Newton read the wonderful opening of Peter Temple’s The Broken Shore and compared that with the recent TV adaptation – enough said. Lenny cracked open the Aussie swear jar, passionately arguing against the dumbing down of our society – reminding us that Skippy was a crime show. Matthew then uproariously tore the affirmative team to pieces – haven’t laughed so hard in a long time.
And by a show of applause, foot stamping and cheers, we in the audience declared the negative team the winners of the debate – WHEN IT COMES TO CRIME, TV DOES NOT DO IT BETTER.
Michael Robotham then announced the award winners.
The Sandra Harvey Short Story Award went to Emma Viskic for ‘Web Design’ and the award for Best True Crime to Murder in Mississippi by John Safran.
The Best First Fiction Award went to Hades by Candice Fox. The judges said
Like a junkyard sculpture, Hades combines a number of current genre tropes into something new and exciting. A little bit Dexter, a little bit procedural, overall a great first novel built on a not-yet hackneyed premise that will have readers looking forward to the sequel.
Last week we took a look at the 6 titles shortlisted for the award for Best Fiction. The night closed with the Ned Kelly Award for Best Fiction being awarded to Adrian McKinty for his third novel, In the Morning I’ll Be Gone.
In his use of humour with the grim realities of Belfast in 1984 coupled with a wonderful constructed locked in mystery, McKinty has produced something quite extraordinary. There’s a fine line between social commentary and compelling mystery and not many writers, crime or literary, can do both.
Congratulations to all the winners. You can see the shortlists for all the award categories at the ACWA website.