Though the police are usually the ones to have ‘sources’, we’re becoming ‘sources’ ourselves: delivering technical, procedural and forensic detail to authors via crime-writing workshops at our purpose-built crime centre in Huddersfield.
Recently, crime authors such as Lynda La Plante and Peter James openly shared the methods they employ to gain criminal and procedural insight, which helps them to weave authenticity into their plots. Each of the household-name authors interviewed confessed to consulting with police professionals as part of their research.
It may be easy for a well-known author to command the time of those in law enforcement, but it’s not necessarily the same for other authors writing in the same genre.
Invited by publisher Pan MacMillan to recreate crime scenes from Ann Cleeve’s ‘The Moth Catcher’ at this year’s national crime-writing festival, we were inundated with questions from authors who were looking to bring clarity and realism to their work. Many of these writers admitted that the opportunity to question those working in the field was simply too good to miss.
Though generic writing and publishing advice will be delivered during these day-long workshops, via Think Forensic’s in-house forensic linguist and writing coach Diane Hall, the true benefit to crime-writers is the chance to walk through real crime scenes, recreated by the law enforcement professionals that worked on them originally. Scene-of-crime Officers, Investigating Officers, Crash Investigators and Detective Superintendents will describe what they did at each crime scene, how they did it, with what budget, using which techniques, and to what outcome – plus much more.
This level of detail is crucial. Kimberley Chambers, author of ‘Payback’ says, “For the book, the Chief Inspector of the East End murder squad talked me through the aftermath of the discovery of a body, the scene-of-crime procedures and the decomposition process of someone who’d been in a shallow grave for several days. It’s the kind of detail that needs to be accurate so that scenes feel authentic.”
Long gone are the days when you can bend the ear of your local bobby for the price of a pint. Says Think Forensic’s Managing Director, Sue Procter, “TV programmes, such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, may show the crime, the investigation and the verdict within an hour, and involving only the main characters – but this is far removed from what actually happens off screen.”
View our events calendar for more details of our next workshop for crime-writers.