As a newcomer to the crime fiction genre, it was interesting to tread among the die-hard fans of various strands of crime writing - hardcore/hardboiled; cosy; true crime; TV crime shows; crime set in exotic international locations and everything inbetween at theSheKilda Convention. The devotees take their crime seriously and there was a lot of animated discussion in the reception spaces and lively presentations and questions in the sessions.
Writing for Justice represented some of the best Australian true crime writers at the top of their form: Robyn Bowles, Liz Porter Kathryn Fox, Colleen Egan and Vikki Petraitis. They discussed how 'justice' has many meanings and expressions; sometimes it might be about revenge, sometimes about closure but certainly it is not always available to the poor through the legal system and the courts. Often it takes years, perhaps in some cases generations, for justice to be delivered to the wrongly-accused or for families to find out exactly what happened to a victim of crime or to reveal the identity of the killer. The complexities of dealing with police, barristers, legal aid, witnesses, judges and juries had frustrated many of the panel in their investigative work, however they also met individuals from many of these arenas who were pursuing or championing the need for justice and who contributed to the integrity of the authors' research.
The added dimension of the media brought out stories from the panel that were fascinating as well as very disturbing, perhaps even downright frightening. Sometimes the lead that shaped an author's book or took their story in new directions came by sheer chance; sometimes it was methodical process-driven work; sometimes pure instinct that 'something was not quite right', say, in a testamony or set of circumstances. All the writers at this session displayed tenacity, curiosity, dedication, intelligence and the compelling need to tell the story and, ultimately, to help people find justice.