As was the case in 2006, the Ned Kelly's were distributed as part of ongoing events at the MWF - in the Festival Tent, chaired by the FABULOUS Jane Clifton.
I'm posting this blog nearly a week after the event - so you'll have to excuse me if some of the details are a little blurred - there were a lot of drinks between then and now.
Anyway - the night started off with a debate as is the wont of these nights - the topic for this year was (according to the table notes) "That in crime fiction, the crime itself is rarely the most important thing".
The panel was made up of Rhys Muldoon and Karin Slaughter for the Affirmative and Graeme Blundell and Lindsay Simpson for the negative. We understand Karin Slaughter might have been coerced at the last minute. Fair enough - but making her go first was just cruel.
So Karin stood, spoke for about 30 seconds on the topic and then sat down - I confess I was so busy getting my notebook out to report on her words - she was finished before I'd figured out how to get the top of my pen. Jane was kind and understanding.
Lindsay Simpson followed with her case for the negative - that crime was the most important thing - mostly I guess from her point of view as a true crime author - so her arguments all made perfect sense.
Rhys Muldoon manfully took up the affirmative argument quoting... lots of things ..... most of which sort of sounded a bit like a stream of consciousness that was hilarious. Too funny - missed large chunks of it laughing. Who cares what he says - it was funny.
Graeme Blundell then bought the whole thing back to the negative with an oratory delivered somewhat in the style of a Shakespearean soliloquy - again full of fascinating detail - all of which now escapes me somewhat.
Rebuttals were then undertaken with Karin Slaughter rising to her feet, the occasion and on her tippy toes to reach the microphone - when she succinctly and rather seriously covered the question of the importance of crime in crime fiction. As Jane pointed out - she's from the other hemisphere so she did her short, succinct rebuttal first and her argument second! Cunning move as Lindsay tried to recover ground but ultimately the debate went to the Affirmative team!
Then a bit of fun with a Trivia competition - the prize was a copy of a book - so sleeves were rolled up and the competition was on. I'm pleased to say of the 5 books that were on offer - our table won 3. Somehow, one can't help thinking, that maintaining this database sort of kind of helps with one's knowledge of Australian crime fiction - but the questions were about the writers of named characters, the first books of other writers, and other historical Australian Crime fiction questions.
Then the awards. If you look at the photos you'll see the awards and the presenters - but it's worth duplicating the judges again:
Best First Fiction: Caroline O'Donnell - Marketing Deakin University; Melanie Briggs - teacher; Danny Upfal - plumber; Rhys Muldoon - actor; Kerith Holmes - post graduate student. (One can only say what fine and refined taste these judges had as DIAMOND DOVE by Adrian Hyland also was AustCrime Fiction's pick for winner!)
Best Fiction: Deb Crabtree - writer and bookseller; Liz Gaynor - County Court Judge; Danny Upfal - plumber; Ross Wilson - musician; Stuart Coupe - journalist and music producer. (Once again a fine bunch of judges with inordinately good taste as we matched up again).
True Crime: Rhys Muldoon - actor; Caroline Lawrance - architect; Sarah Curnow - ABC Four Corners producer; Sara Deed - Organisational administration coordination, Home Ground; Cary Wadell - actor. (Undoubtedly an esteemed judging panel despite some obvious confusion on our part)
Emily Tempest has been away from Central Australia for a long time - uni, travel, dead-end jobs. Finding trouble all over the world. Now she's back at Moonlight Downs, the community where she grew up, half in the Aboriginal world, half in the white. And true to form, there's trouble. An old friend brutally murdered and mutilated. An old enemy the only suspect. Until Emily starts asking questions.
Take a nail-biting mystery, an epic setting and a heroine with a talent for stirring things up. Throw in an affectionate flogging of outback Australia's melanoma-encrusted hide - and Diamond Dove may be the wittiest and most gripping debut of the year.
(Now released overseas under the title Moonlight Downs)