Yarraville’s Janice Simpson, author of Murder at Mt Martha, felt drawn to the 1953 unsolved murder of young Shirley Collins.

Simpson, who will speak about ‘Australian noir’ at this month’s Williamstown Literary Festival, began researching Collins’ case for a non-fiction book before deciding on a fictional account attempting to explain the killer’s motivation and life.

“Shirley was 14 years old and worked full-time in Coles Variety Store in Bourke Street prior to her murder,” Simpson said.

“I visited this shop as a child, loving the fourth-floor cafeteria with its art deco trims and colours.

“I also loved to ogle the preposterous desserts in tall glasses arranged in rows for customers to slide onto their trays and take to the cashier. Shirley’s murder was brutal and violent. It was a front-page story for days and never really disappeared.”

Simpson said her next aim was finding a publisher for her books featuring Brendan O’Leary and Ange Micelli, detectives whose cases take them to Ballarat, Glenlyon and beyond.

Held on the weekend of June 17 and 18, the Willy Lit Fest, as it is affectionately known, will involve 50 events at the Williamstown town hall and Williamstown library.

For the festival program and tickets, visit willylitfest.org.au or call 9932 4074.