Real-life crime investigations to be revealed in festival for crime readers and writers

Life in prison to the work of a Home Office pathologist will be discovered in a day uncovering the work of the region's legal experts.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 17th March 2016, 10:54 am
Updated Thursday, 17th March 2016, 11:06 am
Crime Story will be held on Saturday, June 11.
Crime Story will be held on Saturday, June 11.

Crime Story will bring together people from the worlds of fact and fiction as detectives, forensic scientists, lawyers and pathologists guide crime writers and readers through the investigative process as they attempt to solve a fictional crime.

The story has been written exclusively for the festival by Paula Hawkins, the bestselling author of The Girl on the Train.

Paula Hawkins, author of Girl on the Train.

The event, on Saturday, June 11, will also feature a session on the prison experience, where the chaplain of HMP Holme House in Stockton will discuss what life is like for inmates, and Jenny Mooney, the jail's former governor, who has also worked at HMP Frankland and Deerbolt, which deals with young offenders.

Dr Jennifer Bolton, who works as a Home Office pathologist across Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland police force areas, will also talk about her work.

Others include a Detective Chief Inspector specialising in homicide, kidnap and extortion; and a forensic mental health nurse who has worked with some of the most dangerous offenders in the UK.

Other experts specialise in the examination of textile fibre evidence and the use of mobile phone data for assisting police inquiries.

Girl on the Train, by Paul Hawkins, who was inspired by her visit to Crime Story in 2014.

In a series of panel events, delegates will be guided through the practices of police and forensic investigations and the legal process

But the organisers of Crime Story say it is not simply about setting the facts straight.

Delegates can also choose from a range of in-depth discussions, including from Northumbria University academics, on victim behaviour, mentally disordered criminals, and the contemporary prison experience, all of which will inspire the ways characters are written and understood.

Crime Story will also offer workshops with award-winning crime writers Andrew Hankinson and Mari Hannah, and an exclusive event with Paula..

Paula Hawkins, author of Girl on the Train.

Creative writing sessions are complemented by industry insight from Oli Munson, a literary agent with AM Heath, and Catherine Richards, an editor for Pan Macmillan, both of whom are also offering free one-to-one surgeries.

Crime Story is a biennial festival, presented in partnership by New Writing North and Northumbria University.

Paula said: "I attended Crime Story in June 2014 on a whim: I thought the concept sounded interesting – a group of crime writers and readers get together to try to solve a fictional murder aided by a handful of experts – detectives, forensic specialists and legal experts.

"I expected to have an entertaining weekend, I didn’t expect to walk away with 10 A4 pages crammed with detailed notes covering all aspects of police procedure, and a head brimming with new ideas.

Girl on the Train, by Paul Hawkins, who was inspired by her visit to Crime Story in 2014.

“Crime Story gives writers the kind of access to senior detectives, blood-spatter experts and forensic psychiatrists that most of us could only dream about.

"I found it fascinating and invaluable and have been looking forward to the next one ever since, so am absolutely thrilled to have been asked to come up with a murder scenario for this year’s event. "

Claire Malcolm, chief executive of New Writing North, said: “We are very proud of the innovative Crime Story concept.

"Our first festival in 2014 had fantastic feedback from both crime writers and readers and really seems to catch people’s imagination, so it’s with great excitement that we announce this year’s programme.

"Crime Story is made possible because of our creative and collaborative partnership with Northumbria University, which is just as innovative in its own way.

Tickets for the day, which will be held at Northumbria University in Newcastle, are now available at Story's programme

9.30am: The Crime

Paula Hawkins, author of number one bestseller, The Girl on the Train, opens the festival by introducing her fictional crime scene, written exclusively for Crime Story 2016. Who killed Daniel May? We’ll work together to find out.

10am: The Police Investigation

The police investigation is central to most crime fiction. In this panel, DCI Lisa Theaker, a senior investigating officer specialising in homicide, kidnap and extortion, DC Phil Holmes, forensic data examiner, and criminologist Professor Mike Rowe identify the key processes that take place in a homicide investigation, including those crucial first steps on arrival at the crime scene, and what the police look for and investigate.

11.15am:The Forensic Investigation

Evidence is everywhere. Alan Sayers, crime scene manager at Northumbria Police is often one of the first on the scene, at the heart of homicide investigations. Forensic scientist, Dr Kelly Sheridan, has worked on high profile cases of national concern including the Stephen Lawrence inquiry. Dr Jennifer Bolton, a Home Office pathologist, examines the evidence held by the corpse.

1.10pm: Break-Out sessions - choose one

Understanding the Victim

Who are the victims in your story? Be prepared to change your ideas as Professor Peter Francis looks at the way victim narratives are understood in criminology, and how this contrasts with the way they are commonly represented in fiction.

In the Forensics Lab

Join Dr Kelly Sheridan, forensic scientist and textiles expert, for an interactive session in which we investigate a range of fictional crime scenes, exploring the types of forensic evidence they might contain.

Hidden Stories: the Prison Experience

A prison experience is commonly in the background of a crime story, in the character history of either suspect or victim. Jenny Mooney, governor, and Katherine Brooke, chaplain, of HMP Holme House, and Jo Thurston, head of offender health for the North East, explore the contemporary prison experience.

The Journey to Publication

Mari Hannah, award-winning crime writer and creator of the Kate Daniels series and her literary agent, Oli Munson of AM Heath, discuss Mari’s route to publication and her writing career. They will also answer any questions on the publishing journey.

True Crime: Creative Writing Workshop

Andrew Hankinson’s book You Could Do Something Amazing with Your Life [You Are Raoul Moat] covers the last days of the fugitive gunman Raoul Moat. The book is written in Moat’s own words, pieced together from letters and recordings. In this session, Andrew uses press cuttings about true crimes in America to help participants write short creative non-fiction crime stories.

2.15pm Inside the Court

In a panel event which demystifies the hierarchies, procedure and language of the courtroom, Trish Mytton, duty solicitor, barrister Gavin Doig, and Judge Penny Moreland offer an insight into the whole legal process, from the case being assigned to a solicitor, to what happens in court on the day of a trial.

3.15pm Break-Out Sessions - choose one

Just Like a TV Show

Professor Mike Rowe, criminologist, explores the way real-life crimes are viewed as entertainment in literature and the media. Mike has written on public perceptions of and attitudes towards crime, and was widely interviewed in the media during the Raoul Moat case.

Historical Crime Fiction: Creative Writing Workshop

Charlotte Bilby, reader in criminology at Northumbria University, uncovers crime stories from the past using material from Tyne & Wear Archives. Michael Green, author and professor in English and creative writing at Northumbria University, leads writing exercises inspired by these historic crimes.

Forensic Psychiatry and Dangerous Offenders

Forensic mental health nurse, Barrie Green discusses the characteristics of the ‘mentally disordered offender’, drawing on years of experience in both prisons and the NHS. Barrie lead the clinical team in a HMPS Close Supervision Centre, working with some of the most difficult and dangerous offenders in the UK.

Editing Your Work: Creative Writing Workshop

Catherine Richards, Ann Cleeves’ editor at Pan Macmillan, guides you through the editing process. Bring a 500-word extract of your crime fiction to this creative writing session.

Digital Forensics: Exploring digital footprints

The digital age has opened up a whole new world of forensic evidence. DCs Gary Tough and Phil Holmes discuss how digital footprints assist a criminal investigation. Bring your phones and find out what they say about you!

4.30pm Paula Hawkins

Paula Hawkins reads the second part of her crime story, revealing who killed Daniel May – and why.

In our closing event, Paula discusses her work, her career as a writer and her phenomenal rise to success in 2015. Afterwards, Paula will sign copies of The Girl on the Train.

One-to-One Sessions

A limited number of 20-minute one-to-one surgeries are available with the following experts:

Adam Jackson, senior lecturer, Northumbria Law School

Kelly Sheridan, forensic scientist

Natalie Wortley, barrister and principal lecturer, Northumbria Law School

Oli Munson, literary agent at AM Heath

Catherine Richards, editor at Pan Macmillan.