Monday, October 10, 2011

She Came, She Saw, SheKilda

Over the past weekend women crime writers from across Australia, and from Singapore (Shamini Flint), South Africa (Margie Orford) and New Zealand (Vanda Symon), gathered in Melbourne for the 20th Anniversary of the Australian chapter of Sisters in Crime. The event was called SheKilda and from Friday night to Sunday afternoon there were panels on a range of subjects, across a range of crime writing genres involving 70+ writers.

Why a women only crime writing conference, you may ask?

In the week leading up to the conference, this question was one of a number of topics addressed on the SheKilda blog. I was very happy to be given the opportunity to submit an entry for the blog and I chose to look at the history of the Sisters in Crime organisation. I was left exhilarated at the progress within the women's crime writing world but also frustrated that many of the same issues that had led to the formation of Sisters in Crime were still there, and that was before I read Andrew Nette crunching numbers in his blog The State of Play!

So, why a women's crime writing conference?

Well, for one thing, we writers don't get out much you know. For most of us it's a solitary life, often spent in pyjamas (am I right Sulari Gentil?) forgetting about OH&S as we slump, hunch and sweat over keyboards, notebooks, or pages. Whilst twitter, facebook and email provide the cyber equivalent of the tea room, where we can stop, have a chat and procrastinate, it's not the same as a real life, honest to goodness, in the flesh meet up.

As Malla Nunn put it,  "There's something about being in the presence of so many smart, bright women." It's inspiring, that's what it is. Listening to so many writers sharing their thoughts, their processes, their take on writing, on crime, on society and politics and work and life - you come away energised, convinced that the stubborn draft you've been wrestling with single-handed isn't going to get the better of you.

Networking is one of those vile, cold, managerial terms, that has (to me) a slightly parasitic flavour to it. I like to think that what took place over the weekend at SheKilda was something less rigid, less vampiric than "networking." I think it was simpatico-ing. A whole lot of solitary souls suddenly recognising one another.

So that was how SheKilda looked from the point of view of an author. I met writers and I met readers. I hope that the readers enjoyed the weekend as much as the writers were.

Saturday night was Davitt Awards night - and over at Fair Dinkum Crime they have already blogged up a good wrap of the winners, who were:

Katherine Howell "Cold Justice" - Best Adult Novel
Penny Matthews "A Girl Like Me" - Best Young Adult Novel
Colleen Egan - "Murderer No More" - Best True Crime

I know that I have special reason to be grateful to the readers - they selected The Old School as The Davitt Readers Choice - for which I am extremely grateful. I even prepared a speech! Which due to a number of factors (2 hours sleep after a nasty bout of gastro overnight, low lighting, forgetting to put my glasses on thinking the font was big enough - it wasn't) I rather mumbled and stumbled my way through before sputtering to an end and slinking away...

No photos as yet, if any come to hand I'll blog them up. Till then keep an eye on some other blogs - Angela Savage has some great pre SheKilda goodness, and was tweeting the #SheKilda news from her iPad. Tara Moss has blogged a summary of the weekend and an excellent comprehensive list of authors' websites.

That's it for now .... I'm off to play with my new best friend.