RWR McDonaldThe Crime Fiction Lab

with R.W.R. McDonald, Katherine Kovacic and Special Guests

5 August - 2 September 2020 (5 weeks)

Wednesday evenings, 6.30-8.30pm


Course fee: $ 620/$ 527 alumni

Katherine Kovacic

Crime Fiction, not only spans genres and age groups, its protagonists can range from hardboiled to cosy, from professional to amateur, and from the innocent to the guilty. Since the Golden Age of crime writing, the genre has remained hugely popular, featuring in bestseller lists and often making the leap to movie and television screens.

This five-week course dives into the elements of Crime Fiction, discussing the sub-genres and rules, exploring the various types protagonists and the ways crime stories can be told. Each week class exercises will help develop these elements in your own writing, whether you have a work in progress, or the glimmer of a story idea. We will interrogate your suspects, examine your clues, attend your crime scenes and apprehend your criminal. With special guests Craig Sisterson, Sarah Bailey and Chris Hammer.

Course Directors:


Katherine Kovacic's debut novel, The Portrait of Molly Dean, was shortlisted in the 2019 Ned Kelly Awards for Best First Crime. Her second book, Painting in the Shadows, was published by Echo Publishing in 2019. The Shifting Landscape, the third book in the Alex Clayton art mystery series, was released in April 2020.

R.W.R. McDonald (Rob) is the author of one crime fiction novel with a second novel due in 2021. His debut novel,The Nancys, was Highly Commended for an Unpublished Manuscript in the 2017 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards and published in 2019 by Allen & Unwin.

Katherine and Rob met in 2016 when they both attended Faber Academy’s courses, Writing a Novel.

Please note in the event of unforeseen circumstances, courses - including tutors and venues - may be subject to cancellation or change.

Course Program:

Session 1: Wednesday 5 August. Introductory Session, Main Character and Rules:

• Introductions, course outline and goals.
• Who is your main character: from small details to the big picture.
• Outline of the crime fiction genre and sub-genres.

Session 2: Wednesday 12 August.Victim, Villain and the Supporting Cast. Means, Opportunity and Motive:

• Who is your first victim? Crime fiction victim portrayal.
• Who is your villain? Means, Opportunity and Motive.
• Your supporting cast; suspects, lies and alibis.

Session 3: Wednesday 19 August. Guest tutor, Craig Sisterson, Setting and Narrative Drive:

• Where are the bodies buried? Setting as a character and local environment.
• Clues, red herrings and narrative drive. How do you keep readers turning the pages?

Session 4: Wednesday 26 August. Guest tutors, Sarah Bailey and Chris Hammer, and Plotting:

• Plot and structure.
• Police procedurals, journalism in crime fiction, and ask a crime writer Q&A.

Session 5: Wednesday 2 September. Research.

• Researching, associations and competitions.
• Where to from here? Class discussion on taking your story forward.

Guest Tutors:

ShoesCraig Sisterson is the author of the non-fiction crime book, Southern Cross Crime. Craig is a features writer and crime fiction expert from New Zealand who writes for newspapers and magazines in several countries. In recent years he’s interviewed hundreds of crime writers and talked about the genre on national radio, top podcasts, and onstage at festivals on three continents. He’s been a judge of the McIlvanney Prize and Ned Kelly Awards, and is founder of the Ngaio Marsh Awards and co-founder of Rotorua Noir.

SarahSarah Bailey is the author of three crime fiction novels. Sarah's debut novel, The Dark Lake, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2017, and is a best seller in Australia, the USA and Canada. It won both the 2018 Davitt Award for Best Crime Debut and the 2018 Ned Kelly award for Best First Crime. Her second book, Into the Night was published worldwide in 2018. Where the Dead Go, the third novel in the Gemma Woodstock series was published in 2019. Sarah is the Managing Partner of advertising agency VMLY&R and has two young children.

Chris HammerChris Hammer is the author of two non-fiction and two crime fiction novels. His first book, The River, published in 2010 to critical acclaim, was the recipient of the ACT Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Walkley Book Award. Chris' debut crime fiction novel, Scrublands, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2018, and is a worldwide best seller. It won the prestigious UK Crime Writers’ Association John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award for best debut crime novel published in the United Kingdom and was shortlisted for the 2019 ABIA, Indies and NSW Premier’s awards. It’s currently shortlisted for a prestigious Barry Award (USA) for a debut crime novel. Silver is Chris’ second novel, published in 2019 and worldwide in 2020. It was shortlisted for the 2020 ABIA awards. His new crime novel, Trust, will be published in October this year. All three novels feature journalist Martin Scarsden as their protagonist.

N.B. you will be charged a booking fee of 50 cents ($0.50).

When you make your booking you will be given the option of paying the full course fee or securing your place by paying a deposit of $ 220/$ 187 alumni. If you chose to pay the deposit two further payments of $ 200/$ 170 alumni will be required. The first will be due on 12 August and the second on 26 August. We will send payment instructions for these closer to the time.

If you have done a course with us before, you qualify for our alumni discount so add your promotional code at the checkout to receive 15% off the full price, or ring us if you do not know the code on 02 8425 0171.

For further information contact Faber Writing Academy: or (02) 8425 0171