Crime is his forte

Craig Sisterson is a lapsed lawyer, who grew up among Middle Earth scenery in the South Island, solving mysteries alongside the Hardy Boys. He chats to Metropol about his latest project.

Long before he attended law school in Christchurch for five years, Craig Sisterson had an abiding fascination with crime and solving mysteries. Years later it led him to found the Ngaio Marsh Awards (held annually in Christchurch to celebrate New Zealand crime, mystery, and thriller writing), and Rotorua Noir.

Currently living in London, but a regular visitor to New Zealand, Craig is also a past judge of the Ned Kelly Awards and the Mcllvanney Prize, describing himself as an “all-round crime tragic”.

Two years ago, he wrote Southern Cross Crime, the first comprehensive guide to modern Australian and New Zealand crime writing. Now he’s followed it with Dark Deeds Down Under (Volume 1), editing what is the inaugural collection of Australian and New Zealand crime stories.

Published by Clan Destine Press, it’s the “first of many” he says, comprising 19 new stories from Australian and New Zealand established and new novelists.

“I continue to be amazed by the strength, depth, and breadth of Aussie and Kiwi crime writing. As readers around the world are increasingly discovering, Antipodean writers are at the forefront, crafting cracking tales in vivid settings, with unforgettable characters in standalones and ongoing series,” he said.

“The anthology zips across a variety of Antipodean landscapes, urban and rural and into the past, present, and future. “It’s a stunning smorgasbord of stories, styles, and settings,” Craig says.

He adds that New Zealand and Australian crime writing share more similarities than differences when viewed against the backdrop of crime fiction globally.

“Australian and New Zealand writing is from the edge, and I am not just talking about ‘outback noir’.

“We share a colonial past. We’re both frontier countries. Our landscapes are wilder and more rugged. There is a different sense of nature and the countryside – ours can kill you.

“Even in cities such as Melbourne, the wilderness is very close. And, then there are the elements, not just the heat, but also the cold, and the wild, wild weather,” he says.

“The stories travel the criminal trails of the two countries from the dusty outback to South Island glaciers, from ocean-carved coastlines and craggy mountains to sultry rainforests or Middle Earth valleys, and via sleepy towns to the seething underbellies of our cosmopolitan cities.”

“Crime fiction is one of the most popular story-telling forms in the world and has been for a century or more. Australia and New Zealand are home to some of the most exciting voices in the genre and it is an honour to share them with the world.”


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