The second shoe drops on Josephine Pennicott

Sydney novelist Josephine Pennicott has won the Sisters in Crime 2012 Scarlet Stiletto Award.

The award ceremony began with the Special Guest presenters Kerry Greenwood & Marion Boyce the creator of Phryne Fisher, and the costume designer for Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries talking about the fabulous costumes featured in the ABC TV series.

The awards were then presented to the 22 shortlised writers – 11 category winners
and 11 highly commendeds.

It's the second time Josephine has won the HarperCollins First Prize of $1000
and taken out the coveted Scarlet Stiletto trophy.

This year she won the top prize for her short story 'Shadows' – a tale of obsession,
grief and the power of words and perception.

Josephine first won the trophy – a scarlet stiletto shoe with a steel stiletto heel plunging
into a mount – back in 2001 for her story 'Birthing the Demons'.

In the years before and between she's been commended, won second and third prizes,
and been awarded the Kerry Greenwood Malice Domestic Award – twice.

An elated Josephine told the 120-strong crowd at South Melbourne’s Rising Sun Hotel on Friday night (Nov 23), that she’d been trying to win a second shoe for 11 long years.

'It was (almost) worth killing for,' she said.

Josephine is the fifth writer in the 19 years of the national short story competition to win the shoe twice. However, only the winner of the first two Scarlet Stilettos Awards, Cate Kennedy, has a matching pair of shoes. Under Sisters in Crime’s rules,  Josephine will no longer be eligible to compete and will be invited to become a judge.

It's been quite a year for Josephine. Poet’s Cottage, her mystery novel set in a Tasmanian sea-fishing village, was published by Pan Macmillan Australia in May this year. It has since been sold, in a bidding war, to Ullstein publishers in Germany, along with Currawong Manori, her current mystery in progress.

A record 182 short stories competed for 11 awards and $5350 in prize money on offer this year. A record 22 authors were short-listed.

The boost in the number of stories is attributed to the new award offered by Melbourne’s famous Athenaeum Library: a prize of $1000, and a runner-up prize of $500, for the best short story wth the words “body in the library”. The words were made famous in the title of Agatha Christie’s famous novel. Sixty-two stories with her immortal words fought it out for the award.

Athenaeum Board member Anne Malloch announced that the library would again sponsor the award next year.

Emilie Collyer (West Footscray, Vic) took out both the Kill City 2nd Prize ($400) and the Clan Destine Press Cross-Genre Award ($300) for 'A Clean Job', a futuristic story about a world where the neutralisation of emotions is compulsory and an enforcement officer risks everything when she starts to succumb to her feelings. Emilie writes fiction, plays and poetry and is completing a Masters in Writing for Performance at the Victorian College of the Arts.

The Cate Kennedy Third Prize ($350) went to Claire McKenna (Seaford, Vic), for 'The Autumn Dog Cannot Live to Spring'. Claire normally writes in the safe places of science fiction, but recently took to moonlighting in the underworld of crime fiction for a touch of literary danger and excitement.

Kath Harper (Port Fairy, Vic) won the inaugural Athenaeum Library ‘Body in the Library Award ($1000) for 'Brought to Book', a story about a quiet night in the library that turns deadly as revenge strikes the unwary. Kath is an ex-school teacher, an editor/indexer by day and a writer of plays and short stories whenever she has the time.

The runner-up Athenaeum Award ($500) went to Aoife Clifford (East Ivanhoe, Vic) for 'Quit' which also took out the Pulp Fiction Bookshop: Funniest Crime Award ($150 voucher). 

When a murdered teenage girl is found in Premier Prenderghast's holiday home, political fixer Callan Valiant is called in to solve the crime and work out who could possibly hate the Victorian Premier more than the voting public. Aoife won first prize in 2007 and this year won the Ned Kelly – S.D. Harvey Short Story Award. She is currently writing her first crime novel.

The Kerry Greenwood Malice Domestic Award ($500) went to Sarah Evans (Bridgetown, WA) for 'Fish for Freedom'. Sarah is a Scarlet Stiletto serial category winner and her daughter, Mary Evans, was commended this year in the Youth Category for 'Pizza with Extras'. Last year both mother and daughter won prizes. Sarah's crime novel Operation Paradise is coming out next year with Clan Destine Press.

Robyn McWilliam (Avalon, NSW) won Benn’s Books Best Investigative Award ($200) for 'Nursing a Suspicion', about a nurse who proves her weirdo neighbour, Frank, is a killer. A former convenor of Partners in Crime in Sydney, her crime stories won prizes in the Queen of Crime Awards in 2004 and 2005, and in 2008 she earned a Scarlet Stiletto commendation. Robyn's first self-published crime novel was House of Shadows; and her latest is called Malevolent Desire.

The Scriptworks Great Film Idea Award ($200) was awarded to Helen Illes from (Oldbury, WA) for 'Much Ado about Nunning' a fast-paced high-action undercover story. Helen is President of the Society of Women Writers WA and a Creative Writing tutor. She also writes training text books for Fire and Emergency Services Authority WA and was unable to attend in person as she was running a Mounted Search and Rescue training camp.

The inaugural Catherine Leppert Environmental Theme Award ($250) went to Candice Graham (Pennant Hills, NSW) for 'Fallen Angel', a story about a semi-retired forensic anthropologist who recognises the woman in her latest facial reconstruction. Graham is studying for a Masters in Clinical Neuropsychology. She has read very few crime novels and this has been her first attempt at writing within this genre.

Ebony Franzman (Jimboona, Qld) – who describes herself as a 17-year-old Catholic girl from a country town who wants be a lawyer – won the Allen & Unwin Young Writer’s Award ($500) for 'Perspective'.

Two former First Prize winners were highly commended: Liz Filleul (Mt Dandenong, Vic) for 'We Are Golden'; and Julie Waight (Wedderburn, Vic) for Coming Home'.

Also highly commended were: 

  • Catherine Titasey (Thursday Island, Qld) for 'My Most Difficult Investigation'
  • Sharon Rushton (Bundaberg North, Qld), for 'Plain Jane’s Body'
  • Sharon Todd (Empire Bay, NSW),  for 'Rivals'
  • Brooke Maggs (Greensborough, Vic) for 'The Promotion'
  • Melanie Myers (Stafford, Queensland) for 'Trailer Trash'
  • Kate McIvor (Sorrento, Vic) for 'Nanny Barton'
  • Anne Chapel (Kent Town, SA), for 'God’s Punishment is Stern'

A bonus for the award night was the Frocked Up for Phryne competition for the best Phryne-inspired outfit.

Marion Boyce and Kerry Greenwood were joined by fashion lecturer, Dr Sue Thomas, to choose the winner from a host of fabulous outfits.

The prize – Season One DVD set of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries – was Fiona Chisholm who was visiting from Sydney. Fiona bought her entire outfit from op shops.

Scarlet Stiletto: The Second Cut, a collection of 22 winning stories from the last four years of the competition, together with a reprint of Scarlet Stiletto: The First Cut, a volume of 26 stories from the first 13 years, have been published by Clan Destine Press. The paperbacks ($27) are available at SinC-Oz events; or from the CDP wesbite where eBook versions are also available.

So far, 16 Scarlet Stiletto Award winners (including category winners) – Cate Kennedy, Angela Savage, Tara Moss, Josephine Pennicott, Annie Hauwxell, Sara Evans, Inga Simpson, Alex Palmer, Liz Filleul, Margaret Bevege, Patricia Bernard, Bronwen Blake, Jo McGahey, Cheryl Jorgensen, Kylie Fox and Amanda Wrangles – have gone on to have books published.

Next year's competition for the 20th Scarlet Stiletto Awards closes on August 31, 2013. 

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