Crime Story wraps

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Crime Story, our weekend festival for crime writers and readers, took place over the weekend 31 May-1 June at Northumbria University. The festival brought together aspiring crime writers, passionate crime readers, best-selling authors, forensic scientists, criminologists and law enforcement specialists for a fun, informative and enjoyable weekend. Hopefully all the Crime Story participants, whether they were there for a better insight into their favourite genre or inspiration for their crime novel in progress, enjoyed the experience and learned something new, interesting, and even slightly disturbing.

Under the sure guidance of chair Peter Guttridge, Northumbria University’s Dr Kelly Sheridan and Sophie Carr shared their experiences of being part of various crime investigations over the years. Dr Sheridan shared some of the details from her involvement in the Joanna Yeates investigation, including some fascinating information about how Ikea bedding had a role to play in solving the crime.

Meanwhile DI Gordon Makepeace, HH Judge Prince of Durham, and barristers Christopher Mitford and Tony Cornberg talked about what happens after the criminal is caught. As for what follows the trial, Guardian writer Erwin James, along with Paddy Fox, governor of HMP Frankland, and Helen Attewell, director of NEPACS, talked eloquently and unsentimentally about what life in prison is like, from the tragic suicide figures to the raw deal that female inmates often get.

Authors Margaret Murphy (one half of the AD Garrett writing partnership), Louise Welsh, and the author of our Crime Story, Ann Cleeves, were also on hand to talk about how to incorporate all that scientific research into a crime novel. On Saturday Louise read from her novel A Lovely Way to Burn, which is set in the middle of a global pandemic, and explained how she had researched it. On Sunday Crime Story wrapped up with a panel featuring Ann Cleeves, Helen Pepper (a lecturer in policing at Teeside University and Ann’s forensic consultant) and screenwriter Gaby Chiappe, who adapted Vera from paper to the screen.

There were also break-out sessions that delved deeper into the various issues raised in panel, from digital forensics with Dr Christopher Laing to talking about the prison experience with Erwin James and Louise Ridley.

We’d like to thank everyone who came to see readings, talks and events at Crime Story, and our hard working team of volunteers. We’d also like to thank our partners in Crime Story, Northumbria University, and all the speakers at our panels and break-out sessions.

We hope you enjoyed attending Crime Story as much as we did programming it, and we’ll see you next year.

Oh and whodunit? Well, Ann said that was up to the Crime Story participants to decide.