Crime Story weekend festival bringing together writers and experts

New Writing North and Northumbria University have teamed for a unique new event

Ann Cleeves at the launch of Crime Story with Northumbria University criminologists Louise Ridley, Mike Rowe and Charlotte Bilby
Ann Cleeves at the launch of Crime Story with Northumbria University criminologists Louise Ridley, Mike Rowe and Charlotte Bilby

Two respected North East institutions have teamed up with Ann Cleeves, inspiration behind ITV series Vera, to become partners in crime.

Crime Story, devised by New Writing North and Northumbria University, is a new weekend festival bringing together crime writers and experts who work in academia or the criminal justice system.

“We think Crime Story is a unique event,” said Anna Disley, acting chief executive of New Writing North, at this week’s festival launch.

“It’s part of a really fruitful relationship we have with Northumbria University.”

Lucy Winskell, the university’s pro vice-chancellor for business and engagement, said the festival on May 31 and June 1 would benefit students in disciplines including criminology, forensics and creative writing.

“I love this kind of collaboration in the university because it’s fun,” she declared.

The fun at the launch began with crime writer Ann Cleeves reading the specially commissioned opening passage of a new story: “I let myself into Ben’s house. He gave me the key the day he moved in and that was the biggest compliment you can imagine...”

That’s about as cheerful as it got – or indeed will get – because there’s bloody murder afoot. So much blood, in fact, that it’s spattered across the walls.

The blood and the computer over which the victim is found slumped were part of the brief given to Ann by the festival organisers.

At the festival this macabre scene will spark discussions and workshops led by experts including forensics specialist Dr Kelly Sheridan, who worked on the murders of Joanna Yeates and Stephen Lawrence, Northumbria University criminologist Prof Mike Rowe, Judge Prince, honorary judicial recorder of Durham, and journalist and ex-prisoner Erwin James.

They will lead participants through the stages of the criminal justice system from investigation to sentencing, providing insight for crime writers and those who just love a whodunit.

Other writers attending will be crime novelist Louise Welsh and Gaby Chiappe who adapted Ann’s books for the screen.

Prof Rowe said: “A lot of what we know, or think we know, about crime is through fiction which raises a lot of questions. Why, for instance, are we so clearly horrified by serious crime but also fascinated by it?”

But he added: “I am a fan of crime fiction and I’m looking forward to the festival because it brings together so many different perspectives.”

Find festival details on


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