This weekend was all about getting away with murder…
I went up to Newcastle for the second Crime Story event, which is run by New Writing North. It’s a writing conference, but with a difference.
Instead of the focus being on writing, it’s on crime, murder in particular.
Unlike most writing conferences, which are about the craft itself, Crime Story is the perfect way for crime fiction writers to gather background material for their work. The event presented three panel discussions: one on police investigation and procedure, one on forensics, and one on court and the justice system.
Each panel was made up of professionals and experts in the relevant field, from Northumbria Police homicide detectives, to a pathologist, a crime scene manager and a judge.
They talked about their work and the procedures they follow when dealing with a murder. It was fascinating stuff: a day full of insights and interesting glimpses into a side of life that most of us only know through fiction.
There were also workshops available for those attending, which covered various aspects of criminal fiction, as well as editing and publishing your work.
I’m not a crime writer, although I read a lot of police procedurals and murder books, and I’ve always watched cop shows on TV – a throwback to childhood when I would watch them with my dad. Still, I wanted to attend Crime Story because I’ve been lacking motivation recently and I craved that contact with other writers and creative types. I’ve been to New Writing North events in the past and they’re always inspiring and good places to network and connect with writers at all levels.
This year’s keynote speaker was Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train. She was commissioned to write a short crime story that she read at intervals throughout the day, with the audience left to figure out who killed her character Daniel May.
The story served as an interesting way to tie the day together, with the panels frequently giving examples related to that fictional death, such as how fingerprints might be affected on a knife that had been removed from the victim.
It was interesting to hear that Hawkins actually attended the first Crime Story event in 2014, before her subsequent bestseller was released. A little buzz went through the audience, with everyone no doubt hoping to be in a similar position in two years’ time.
Crime Story was packed with information. And while it may have been a long day, it flew by.
While I’m not planning to start work on a crime novel anytime soon, I did feel moved to begin work on a new manuscript, and considering I haven’t done any writing for a good two or three months now, I’m giving Crime Story the credit!
New Writing North also run seminars under the Crime Story brand, which give access to industry professionals and are perfect for crime writers seeking a little authenticity.
If you’re a crime writer in the north of England, go and check out one of the future events.