This may sound silly, but the first time I saw The Edward Street Baby Farm classified as ‘true crime’, it took me by surprise. Of course, a non-fictional story centred around a murder trial must involve a crime. But as I was writing the book I’d mostly thought of it as biography. I wanted to tell the stories of the three people whose lives intersected in the trial and the events leading up to it. I’d also thought of it as a social history of Perth in the early 1900s.
These days I’m more comfortable with seeing the book appear in the true crime genre. I’ve done several interviews and podcasts with true crime as the focus. Last week I took part in a panel discussion, via Zoom, with two other women who have written true crime books. Caroline Overington wrote Missing William Tyrrell, about the disappearance of three year old William Tyrrell in 2014. Katherine Kovacic is the author of The Schoolgirl Strangler. Her book describes the investigation into a serial killer case in Melbourne in the 1930s.
The discussion was chaired by fellow ‘sister in crime’, novelist and podcaster Emily Webb. I felt a little overawed to be in a panel with these women, who are all experienced writers and public speakers. We talked about children as victims of crime and how they can be protected. Since our books involve three different eras and different types of crime, we covered a lot of topics, including the difficulties of writing about children as victims.
Here’s the video of the discussion, produced by Sisters in Crime Australia.