Wednesday, September 1, 2021


Sisters in Crime announced that D. Ann Williams is the 2021 Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award Recipient. The award benefits an emerging writer of color in the crime fiction genre.

Williams’ novel in progress titled Murder at the Freeman Hotel is set in 1920s California and features Minnie Freeman, a woman on a mission to move to a new city, open a hotel, and stay independently wealthy. Her plan is hindered by the dead body found at the bottom of the new automatic elevator shaft and a sigil linking it to other deaths in the city. 

Eleanor Taylor Bland 2021 judges Tracy Clark, Yasmin McClinton, and David Heska Wanbli Weiden wrote Williams’ entry is “a compelling historical mystery with a wonderful, strong opening and deft use of craft elements. We all agree that we’ll be hearing much more from the writer in the very near future.” 

In response to receiving the news Williams said, “I’ve been in a state of shock ever since I received the email. I spent many years worried that I wasn’t a good enough writer and that I'd never find a home for characters that shared my identity. To win an award from such a prestigious group for a mystery is mind-boggling because I've loved the genre ever since I picked up my first Nancy Drew book.” 

The award was created in 2014 to honor the memory of pioneering African-American crime fiction author Eleanor Taylor Bland with a $2,000 grant to an emerging writer of color. The award supports SinC’s vision that the organization should serve as the voice for excellence and diversity in crime writing. In the spirit of Taylor Bland’s own books, the award supports writers creating characters that have been largely marginalized or excluded from crime fiction novels. 

Williams, a writing coach for We Need Diverse Books, Black Creatives Revision Workshop, and an authenticity reader, credits her support systems—Wordmakers and Tessera Editorial—in helping her break from the jitters around submitting her unpublished work. “Being connected with so many authors, and many of them authors of color, has helped because there’s an inherent understanding of the complexities of our lived experiences and histories,” said Williams. “With writing groups, mentorships, and even awards, like this one from Sisters in Crime, I am surrounded by people rooting for me at each step and seeing my characters for the fully realized people they are.” 

When asked about the increased need for diversity in publishing, Williams said, “Supporting diverse authors and stories is the reason why I started in the publishing industry and gave me the strength to start focusing on my own work. Seeing characters come to life that share my identities, or other historically underrepresented identities and cultures, gives me hope that the children of today will be able to see themselves reflected as their whole unique selves.” 

You can find her words on the We Need Diverse Books blog and Poets & Writers, Savvy Self Publisher series speaking on the necessity for sensitivity readers and helping breakdown the mysteries about the editing process for self-published authors. She is excited to share her work with the world to help show the complexities of Black queer characters. 

Runner-ups for the 2021 Crime Fiction Writers of Color Awards are Hiawatha Bray, Lily Meade, Robin Page, Catherine Tucker, and Zoe B. Wallbrook. 


About Sisters in Crime Sisters in Crime (SinC) was founded in 1986 to promote the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers, and continues to work broadly for equity and inclusion in the writing community. The organization boasts 4,200 members and more than 60 chapters worldwide. Its initiatives include the annual Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award and other scholarships, academic research grants for the roles of women and underserved voices in crime fiction, cash awards to libraries and bookstores and surveys and monitoring projects that determine visibility and representation of women and diverse voices in the genre and across the marketplace. For more information, visit: 

About D. Ann Williams D. Ann Williams (she/her) is a queer Black American writer, freelance editor, authenticity reader, Associate Agent at Emerald City Literary Agency, and writing coach for We Need Diverse Books Black Creatives Revision Workshop. She’s dabbled in writing off and on for the past twelve years and is currently taking courses at UCLA Extension to hone her craft. In addition to mysteries, she writes romance and is working on a contemporary YA. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, SCBWI, and Crime Writers of Color. Originally from SoCal, she now lives in Eugene, OR where she spends her days reading, writing, and taking photos. For more on D. Ann Williams visit: or

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