Deadly Secrets! Crime Writers’ Weekend

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Ever wanted to try your hand at crime writing? Well now you can, with the New England Writers’ Centre’s weekend in mid-June. Mr Tom Penrose tells Focus all about this amazing weekend coming up in Armidale.

Tell us how the Deadly Secrets – Crime Writers weekend came into being?

The idea for the Crime Writers weekend came firstly from the fact that crime novels are a very popular genre in Australia, with a number of very successful Australian authors writing in this field. It is so popular, that Australia has its own crime writing awards, the Ned Kelly Awards, which are awarded each year for both fiction and non-fiction crime writing by the Crime Writers’ Association of Australia.

The second reason was that five years ago the New England Writers’ Centre established the New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing, a competition dedicated to crime short stories. Many entries for this prize have come from the New England area. The centre sought to create an event that would assist aspiring crime writers to gain more knowledge on the art of crime writing from an established writer and to give local crime readers a chance to meet the author. With this in mind, the first Deadly Secrets Crime Writers’ Weekend was run last year.

This turned out to be a very successful event and this year we have invited another award winning author to discuss their work and to run a workshop here in Armidale.

This year we have been fortunate to receive funding from the Regional Arts Fund’s Country Arts Support Program for Deadly Secrets.

Who is the guest author this year?

This year’s guest author is Emma Viskic. Emma was the winner of the fiction category in the inaugural Thunderbolt Prize back in 2013. Her writing career has gone from strength to strength since then. Her first novel, Resurrection Bay, won the 2016 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction and an unprecedented three Davitt Awards: Best Adult Novel, Best Debut and Readers’ Choice.

Emma studied Australian sign language (Auslan) in order to write the character of Caleb Zelic, the profoundly deaf investigator, in Resurrection Bay. The follow-up novel in the Caleb Zelic series And the Fire Came Down, will be out in September of this year.

Emma is also a classically trained clarinettist, whose musical career has ranged from performing with Jose Carreras and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, to busking in the London Underground.

What does this year’s program look like?

This year we are offering a diversified program over two days, Friday the 16th of June and Saturday the 17th, featuring library talks, panel discussions, book signing and a writing workshop.

On Friday the 16th, Emma will be appearing at the Tamworth Library at 11am. She will be discussing Resurrection Bay, its main character Caleb Zelic and how the book came about. This is a free event, but booking is necessary, as places are limited.

At 5:30pm, Emma will be at the Readers’ Companion bookshop in Beady Street Mall to discuss her books and sign copies purchased on the night. This event is free, and refreshments will be served.

At 10:30am on Saturday the 17th, there will be a panel discussion at the Armidale Library entitled Killer Short Stories. The panel will consist of Emma Viskic, popular local author Bronwyn Parry (Storm Clouds and Sunset Shadows) and Maryanne Ross, winner of the 2016 Thunderbolt Prize for fiction. The panel will discuss the art of the short story. This is also a free event.

On the Saturday afternoon, the Armidale Bowling City Club will be the venue for a stimulating workshop conducted by Emma entitled Show and Tell: Writing Captivating Stories. This three-hour workshop commences at 1:30pm and will focus on writing emotionally engaging stories. With examples and exercises, Emma will help you make your writing come alive. This workshop is suitable for writers of all levels and genres. For prices, please see the New England Writers’ Centre website; details below.

To round out the program, there will be an opportunity to have dinner with Emma and members of the New England Writers’ Centre on Saturday evening. For details, please refer to our website; details below.

How can people book to join in the weekend?

For details of each event and how to book, people should go to the New England Writers’ Centre website at

Thanks Tom.

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