21 July 2022

Sisters in Crime writers festival returns to Cobargo amid 'explosion' of genre's popularity

| Albert McKnight
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Author Candice Fox

Best-selling author Candice Fox will be at Sisters in Crime at Cobargo in August. Photo: Supplied.

When Merimbula author Melissa Pouliot found herself in a room full of fellow female writers at Cobargo’s first Sisters in Crime writers festival in 2016, she could scarce believe it.

“It was this really incredible gathering of women talking about their books and their writing process,” she said.

From fans of page-turning mysteries through to true crime podcast addicts, all are invited to the return of the successful event on 27 August 2022.

“It’s a rare opportunity to have such a diverse and talented group of writers in the one room, and you can expect some lively and inspiring conversations,” Ms Pouliot, who is now the event organiser, said.

Eight writers are coming to Sisters in Crime in Cobargo including Candice Fox, whose bestselling novel Crimson Lake has been adapted for the screen as the television series Troppo and who co-writes with James Patterson.

The line-up also includes award-winning true crime podcaster and writer Vikki Petraitis who has written 18 books including The Frankston Murders and The Phillip Island Murder and Sulari Gentill who writes the bestselling Rowland Sinclair mystery series.

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Professor Caroline de Costa, an obstetrician and gynaecologist who writes detective novels in her spare time, will also be there.

The other authors are young adult and children’s book author Fleur Ferris, prolific author of 15 novels Ilsa Evans, Community Hero Award finalist and domestic violence advocate Kay Schubach and Dorothy Johnston, who has had two of her novels shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award.

Held at the Cobargo School of Arts Hall, Sisters in Crime will include in-conversation sessions and a range of panel discussions.

Ms Pouliot said both fictional and true crime genres were popular when she published her debut crime novel in 2013, but since then they had “exploded”.

“There’s just been an explosion of Australian crime fiction, really amazing crime fiction,” she said.

“So Australia is coming to be seen as a hub of crime writers, especially women crime writers.”

Many of the featured writers this year also came for the first event in 2016 and Ms Pouliot said their careers had “taken off” since then.

“Candice, for example, has gone from strength to strength,” she said.

“It will be really good to check in with them and see how they are going.”

She said the authors had been talking about the idea of returning since the devastating bushfires rocked the region in 2019/20 and as soon as she put the call out, they all said yes.

Several writers will also present workshops on 28 August in Merimbula.

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Ms Pouliot said access to professional writing training was a challenge for regional authors.

“We have to travel to larger centres or capital cities to further our skills and training, so I feel extremely fortunate that we are able to offer something like this in Merimbula,” she said.

“There are so many people who have started a book or finished a book but don’t know what to do with it. This will hopefully inspire people to get going.”

Sisters in Crime is supported by South East Arts and Well Thumbed Books and is part of the upcoming Headland Writers Festival, which will be in Tathra from 28 to 30 October.

For details on the Sisters in Crime program and workshops and to purchase tickets, visit the Headland Writers Festival website.

Live-stream tickets are also available for those who cannot attend the in-person event.

Sisters in Crime was founded in Melbourne 31 years ago and celebrates women’s crime writing on both the page and screen.

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