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Crime Story

Saturday 19 May 2018, Newcastle

The Festival for Crime Writers and Readers

Crime Story is a unique biennial event that brings together crime experts with crime writers and readers for a fascinating and empowering one-day writing festival.

Challenge your plot, interrogate your characters and finesse all the details of your story, as we learn everything from how to launder £100k to how to protect a vulnerable witness.

  • Access to experts in policing, forensic science, criminology and law
  • Creative writing workshops
  • Network with crime writing peers

The Programme

Registration and refreshments


Introductions from New Writing North and Northumbria University

The Crime

Denise Mina, award-winning author of The Long Drop, Gods and Beasts and The End of Wasp Season, introduces her fictional crime scenario which features trafficking and the drugs trade written exclusively for Crime Story 2018.

Throughout the day, guests and speakers will work together to interrogate the crime. Chaired by Professor Katy Shaw.

The Police Investigation

The police investigation is at the heart of much crime fiction. Our expert panel features DCI Lisa Theaker, a senior investigating officer specialising in homicide, kidnap and extortion, Detective Superintendent Steve Barron, who led Operation Sanctuary, a large-scale investigation into sexual exploitation in North East England, and criminologist Professor Mike Rowe. Together, they will divulge how the police work on an investigation, from the crucial first steps on arrival at a crime scene to long-running processes to identify and catch criminals.

Tea and coffee break

Break-out sessions: Choose One


1. Creative Writing Workshop: The Victim

Professor Peter Francis, Criminology, whose extensive experience includes acting as a Senior Advisor to the Home Office, joins writer Tony Williams, author of Nutcase. Who are the victims in your story? Be prepared to change your ideas about who they are and how they behave.


2. Meet the Agent

Isobel Dixon is Head of Books and a Director of the Blake Friedmann Literary Agency, where she represents writers from around the world, among them Sunday Times and New York Times bestsellers and international prize winners, including Peter James and Graeme Mcrae Burnett. In this session she will share how best to contact and work with a literary agent, as well as answering individual questions.


3. How to Launder £100k

If your criminal is involved in organised crime, they will almost certainly need to find a way to launder their money. In this interactive session, barrister Christopher Mitford will work with Noel Bartolo, head of anti-money laundering investigations for an international bank in Malta, solicitor (non-practising) Sue Turner, who researches anti-money laundering and lecturer Dr Peter Sproat, who teaches in the area of financial crime. Together they will describe the murky world of money laundering before participants have the chance to devise their own plan to help a fictional character Darren Duke launder £100k.


4. Forensic Investigation: Inside the Forensics Lab

Evidence is everywhere. Join Dr Michelle Carlin, a lecturer in forensic chemistry who researches the role of toxicology in death investigation, and Dr Kelly Sheridan, a forensic scientist specialising in textile fibres who has worked on high profile cases including the murders of Joanna Yeates and Stephen Lawrence. Together they draw on real cases to explore the way that the smallest unexpected details from a crime scene can provide overwhelming evidence.


5. Creative writing workshop: The Courtroom with David Mark and Natalie Wortley

Crime writer David Mark has spent more than fifteen years as a journalist, including seven years as a crime reporter with the Yorkshire Post – walking the Hull streets that would later become the setting for the DS Aector McAvoy novels. His writing is heavily influenced by the court cases he covered and in this creative writing session, he will be joined by legal expert Natalie Wortley. Together they will explore how you can convincingly write a court scene. David’s most recent book is The Zealot’s Bones.


Lunch will be provided. This is also a chance to meet and network with fellow crime writers and readers.

All that Remains: A Life in Death with Professor Dame Sue Black

Professor Dame Sue Black is one of the world’s leading forensic anthropologists, Director of the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification, and of the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science at the University of Dundee. Her forensic expertise has been crucial to many high-profile criminal cases, and in 1999 she headed the British forensic team’s exhumation of mass graves in Kosovo. In this event, she talks about her new book, All That Remains, and the one thing in life we will all experience – death. Afterwards she will be signing copies of All that Remains. Chaired by Claire Malcolm.

The Criminal Justice System and Vulnerable Victims/Witnesses

The courtroom is full of stories and experiences, from the perpetrator (who can also be a victim) to the vulnerable witness. HH Judge Gittins will be joined by Barrister Anne Richardson who has a wealth of experience dealing with sexual offences of all categories and a particular expertise conducting cases of historic abuse allegations and those involving young and vulnerable defendants, and Laura Seebhom from Changing Lives, whose experience includes working with victims of domestic abuse, women in the criminal justice system, and services for women and men with experience of sexual exploitation and sex work.

Tea and coffee break, book signing

Break Out Sessions – choose one

1. Inside the Courtroom

Step inside Northumbria University’s own historic courtroom, where Christopher Mitford, Noel Bartolo, Sue Turner and Peter Sproat will present the court case of a fictional character Darren Duke, who has been arrested, charged and is due to be prosecuted. Before a jury Christopher will cross-examine Darren Duke on the evidence that has been collected against him, including number plate recognition, mobile telephone triangulation evidence and financial transactions. If convicted Mr Duke will then be sentenced by His Honour Judge Gittins. This is linked to the earlier Money Laundering session, however, participants do not need to have attended this to take part.


2. Meet the Agent

Isobel Dixon is Head of Books and a Director of the Blake Friedmann Literary Agency, where she represents writers from around the world, among them Sunday Times and New York Times bestsellers and international prize winners, including Peter James and Graeme Mcrae Burnett. In this session she will share how best to contact and work with a literary agent, as well as answering individual questions. This is a repeat of the 12.15pm session


3. Creative Writing workshop: Michael Green with Adam Jackson

Award-winning writer and professor of Creative Writing, Michael Green, teams up with Adam Jackson, Deputy Director of the Northumbria Centre for Evidence and Criminal Justice Studies.  They will present the legal accounts given in courtroom proceedings of several people charged in important cases, and then ask you to develop them as fictional characters. Afterwards they will reveal what is known of their true identities, so you can see how close (or far!) you are from the way they were represented in the language of the law.


4. Ask the Police

Join DCI Lisa Theaker and colleagues from Northumbria Police to ask all the questions you’ve always wondered about, from police procedure to experiences from the front line of policing.


5. Creative Writing workshop: The Evidence with Tracey Iceton with Kelly Sheridan

Tracey Iceton is the North East author of novels Green Dawn at St Enda’s and Herself Alone in Orange Rain and a creative writing teacher, she will be joined by forensic scientist Dr Kelly Sheridan to deliver a creative writing workshop on a forensics case.

Conclusion of the crime

In our closing event, Denise Mina reveals the conclusion of her crime story, discussing the events that lead to this point.

Denise will also discuss her incredible writing career and answer questions from the audience. Afterwards she will be signing copies of her latest book, The Long Drop.


“If this doesn’t inspire you, then you are dead inside”

“So informative whether you’re a writer, a reader or just generally interested in police procedure, criminology or any aspect of crime and punishment. If you’re a writer – it was very inspiring and there’s now no excuse not to crack on with that crime novel!”

Feedback from Crime Story 2016


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