The problem with the blogosphere is that anybody can be an expert.
All it takes is time - time to post constantly, time to self promote, time to comment anywhere and everywhere - time to "get the name out there".
Australian Crime fiction is an older beast than the blogosphere though, and there have been, over many many years, a number of heroes of promotion, support and sheer graft that have tried to carry the message to readers here and all over (right back to when that was truly hard work - before blogs and email signatures )
Being one of the Johnny Come Latelys, I've always been accutely aware of a need to acknowledge those that came before. After all AustCrime is nothing if not just a fan site - our aims are not to "flog ourselves" but to try to impart an enthusiasm for the local product. As we were lucky enough to have previously been inspired.
So in this first Wednesday Waffle, let's look at some of the great promoters and supporters that have gone before.
Fergus Hume - okay so Fergus was the original BSP merchant, being a failed playwrite, he purposely wrote a crime novel as that's what was selling, which he then had to self-publish (and we all know what commentators think of vanity press!) But when Fergus published The Mystery of the Hansom Cab in 1886, there was no Australian Crime fiction industry.
Even in more recent times, a genre industry has struggled to get moving (although you wouldn't know it these days) so The Crime Writers Association of Australia was set up in the mid 1990's to promote and encourage Australian crimewriting, and it is to them that I must tip a personal hat - in particular Stuart Coupe and Julie Ogden's Mean Streets set me on my current path.
The Ned Kelly Awards from the CWAA have been around forever (well since the 1990's anyway) and all Australian crime fiction fans owe a great debt of gratitude to Peter Lawrance for what seems to almost be a single-handed effort every year.
A hat tip to Kill City is also required, a fantastic bookshop for crime fiction fans in Melbourne, but long long long before it there was Murder Ink - out in Auburn - that shop was a mecca for me that nearly sent me bankrupt. I have no idea what the name of the owner was (or at least I assume he was the owner), but he was a quiet unassuming man who always had a kind word for the books that I accumulated from his shop.
The Melbourne chapter of Sisters in Crime is a fantastic, active, supportive and friendly group. Carmel Shute, Sue Turnbull and her co-convenors including Lindy Cameron are tireless in their efforts to support local authors and "push the product". Plus there monthly gatherings are the hugest fun!
Special mention must be made of a few commentators who have been working away at talking about the genre for years - Lucy Sussex, Sue Turnbull and more recently Graeme Blundell have done more for high profile, general public discussion of Australian crime fiction than most commentators (and again - personal hat tip, if Sue Turnbull recommends a book - then I'm off to the bookstore toots sweet!).
And online - in the early days, Damien from CrimeDownUnder opened up the huge world of Australian Crime Fiction to the rest of the world when he started his site - I hope he's back soon as he seems to have gone quiet lately. Also Perry - from my favourite book blog, Matilda. Even though he has a much wider focus than just Crime Fiction, Perry is the most widely read and erudite commentator in Australia that I love to follow on a daily basis.
There are other people who have been doing this for years and years who I have probably forgotten to mention (probably because they don't do much BSP), but their influence over the years when they have mentioned books, made recommendations, discussed something that just happened to click has been much more profound because the recommendation stays with me - not the recommender. Most of that has obviously been done for the sheer joy of the act of reading. A fantastic effort by anybody's estimation.
And the one thing that all of these people have in common - and the baton which I hope AustCrime has picked up and continues to run with - is it's all about the books. Sometimes the authors, but mostly the books. It's the books that matter, it's the talk about the books, the noting of comings and goings of the books, the promotion of the local books that matters. Hopefully at the end of this website's run - the memory of the books will remain the strongest.
Next Waffle will start to pick some authors to talk about in more detail - what I'll probably do is pick an influential, early author and then bounce forward to somebody who is doing something interesting right now and backwards and forwards until I run out of puff (I can guarantee I won't run out of authors - the Australian scene is moving ahead in leaps and bounds). If anybody has anyone in particular they'd like to see mentioned, drop me a line via Contact Us at the top of the site.