all A Life that In Death remains @profsueblack @LancasterUni @MorecambeVice #NonFiction #Crime #Forensics

all A Life that In Death remains

Dame Sue Black closed the Morecambe and Vice Festival on the Sunday and there was much excitement and anticipation in the room. She was so fascinating and candid. She had so much to tell. This was no lecture, this was a great talk that was accessible for all. It was excellently chaired by Ben who also organises along with Tom, this eclectic and varied crime festival, full of excellent panels.
Dame Professor Sue Black is a Scottish Forensic Scientist/Anthropologist. She is currently the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engagement at Lancaster University. She leads on the Eden North project and more. She was the lead forensic anthropologist for the UK response in war crimes investigations in Kosovo and served in Sierra Leone, Grenada, Iraq and Thailand. In 2001 she was awarded the OBE and in 2016, the DBE.
Sue BlackProfessor Dame Sue Black
Death is really important. She says it can be the funniest of things, poignant of things, saddest of things. This seemed such an important sentence to say, and even away from the festival, I still feel this. It resonates and has so much truth in it with its hidden complexities and yet so elegantly in its simplicity in the language used, in my opinion.
Professor Dame Sue Black has also been listed in the top 100 of influential people (ahead of Mary Queen of Scots and Sean Connery).
She also gives crime writers forensic advice, most notably does so for Val McDermid as well as the ever more serious research of forensic science and much more… At the end of my write-up, there is a link into what she is currently doing at Lancaster University. Please do assist in her valuable research if you can. All is completely confidential.
Her talk was so interesting and pitched right for a book festival. 
Sue said her best achievements being the best person you can be and can make others the best they can be. This seems like very sound advice.
She said her 3 strong independent daughters is her greatest achievement.
Her father developed Alzheimer’s and realised that stole his stories. She says we need to write who we are. I completely get her point, having lost family and losing one also to Alzheimers and Dementia and I too I managed to gather bits of their life stories from them, just in time. Sue Black also says about how it doesn’t need to be turned into a book, just having family stories to hand down to future generations is important. I happen to agree and I also sometimes tell people in the present too about my family and then in some way they live on.
all that remains
Dame Sue Black wrote All That Remains in Life and Death for her children and didn’t think anyone else would read it. Now it has been turned into a book for the public to read and into an audio-book narrated by herself. So check it out! It sounds like a book that will captivate people with its life and death themes. I must say the cover is very clever, especially the way the title is done.
The book is designed to get people to look at death differently and refers to death as a she.
Why death is female – her grandmother was most important person in her life and believed death was her friend and suspects its something handed down.
Death was discussed  as being like the last great adventure and it is interesting that she talked of death as not being something to be feared.
It was very interesting to hear how she became a Forensic Scientist. She talked about having empathy for the person alive and shows the responsibility and shows humanity but the dead body is a clinical conundrum and also about being unbiased and maintaining confidentiality.
After just seeing a panel about mental health, this was a subject also discussed in this panel. She says professionals in her line of work aren’t immune to PTSD but it is important to be aware of the signs.
Popular culture, such as tv programmes like CSI etc in the 1990s-2000s that raised awareness, which has its plus and minus points as people think they know forensic science, when there’s a lot more to it that what is actually shown and also not everything can be as instant. Universities, she mentioned had started to do more forensic courses.
Her work was also discussed in relation to crime novels, as she has worked with Val McDermid, Stuart McBride, Ian Rankin really want to write realistically and do their research to know what it’s like. I have read novels by each of these authors and each write very well and their work always reads well, but also perhaps because they also have taken the time and attention to do their research, which then, with the facts, they weave into their fictional stories very well.
Sue says looks at people anatomically and knows what everyone really looks like and did a bit of a Sherlock Holmes type of description on something. Creepy and very cool and impressive.
If you ever get the chance to see Dame Sue Black speak, do. She is clearly passionate about her work, she has amazing stories to tell and some great anecdotes.
Dame Sue Black is currently working on developing working on bio-medical identification techniques. Please click into the link for what she is trying to achieve for the future of the country to improve forensics further and do feel free from there to take part. All, I have been assured by Sue Black, will be confidential.
Please click onto the link:  Lancaster University Research Link
Sue Black and Me
Professor Dame Sue Black and Me (Louise)

This concludes my reviews/write-ups of the Morecambe and Vice panels. Thank you to all who have been following these write-ups for this year. Very much appreciated!
Thanks again to Tom and Ben who invited me to their festival.
I also thank Professor Dame Sue Black for her lovely chat at the end of the talk and for allowing me to take a photo of her and for her kind insistence that we had a selfie together.

Let’s Talk Mental Health – Penultimate Morecambe and Vice Panel @MorecambeVice @drcjmerritt @Dr. LizBrewster @BarbaraNadel #Crimefiction #Psychology #Mentalhealth

Let’s Talk Mental Health

The Penultimate Morecambe and Vice panel

 

Tel: 0300 123 3393

Text 86463

This was a panel consisting of Liz Brewster, Barbara Nadel and Dr Chris Merritt.

Liz Brewster wrote a paper on the healing power of books – bibliotherapy. Teaches sociology of medicine.

Barbara Nadel is a crime writer and worked in psychiatric institutions and in the community. She herself suffers from depression and has psychotic episodes, that is under control. Her books are the Inspector Ikmen series.
Chris Merritt clinical psychologist and also writes crime. His series is the Boateng and Jones books about corruption and organised crime in London.
Dr Merritt panelLiz Brewster. Barbara Nadel, Dr Chris Merritt
I must admit to being really interested in what this panel had to say because it has long been said that reading is beneficial to well-being. I was also interested in hearing what the panel had to say about mental health within writers too.
There was such a fabulously thought-provoking question to start off with –
Are writers more at risk of mental health problems?
It was interesting because writers of any kind are all human after all and crime writers in-particular are writing about pretty dark characters at times. Some methods to assist in keeping good mental health as well as some very honest thoughts on their own well-being was talked about.
Dr. Chris Merritt sounded very wise and kept his advice do-able for everyone. He talked about writers spending lots of time in isolation and inside their own head as well as the heads of maybe unpleasant people (characters).
His recommendations  to writers are:
*   To try to be around some people like a cafe and write. It produces some good feelings.
*   Going for a walk, so it is not always just you and your material.
Liz talked about how writers (understandably) put their heart and soul in but rejection happens and reckoned you’ve got to learn how to deal with that.
Barbara said events can be hard, depending on the day, how you feel. Her advice is that you have just got to go out there for the publicity.
Challenging situations.
Dr. Merritt said, when writing, there’s got to be a purpose and not to cross the line into voyeurism.  He admitted has creeped himself out a little. He also said for writers, it can be upsetting when researching real crime.
Liz says you should work out how to make sense of getting through to the end of the book.

Liz thinks you’ve got to find out  what your resilience is.

 

For Chris, it is about how you deal with, the presentation, the motivation of the book. Thinks nothing should be off limits.
It was discussed that for mentally ill characters, it is about how to present them and the types of mental health.
It was discussed that crime writers want to know why crimes are committed and the whole web of people who are affected by the psychology.
Liz reckoned that ongoing character development in crime series means that personalities can be developed further.
Why Crime Fiction is playing an important part in Mental Health
Liz talked about bibliotherapy and explained that it as a broad, diverse field. When people find books, it’s those that really speak to them that gives people time and space. It can be non-fiction, fiction, poetry. Research was done and said crime books are very important. It was discussed that crime books are intellectually stimulating and gives people something else to focus on. The other idea is there’s a sense of closure and there’s a safe distance. Sense of closure was said to of had real positive impact on mental health issues.
Chris PTSD overlap between trauma and PTSD in crime fiction. If depicted sympathetically and readers can empathise and sympathise and hopes that shows and feeds through in society.
He thinks there’s a responsibility to do your homework for a mental health disorder. He rates Val Mcdermid for writing this well.
Successful author, Simon Brett and others are trying to get more support for authors.
What they are enjoying reading just now
Liz is a fan of cosy crime and the mystery can be light and be solved. Can be very clever mysteries too. Likes locked room type of mysteries and can think about how to solve it yourself.
Chris likes any author that creates an immersive world, which can take him out of stresses and strains, such as Jo Nesbo and Michael Connelly.
Chris – said there is an arc in his books, but can be read as standalone.
March 2020 will see the start of a new series – Lockhart and Green.
I hope people who are needing some support will seek it out. Below (and above at the beginning of this post) are links and contact details to Mind. If you are feeling you need support, people are there to do this in a confidential manner and there will be nothing to be ashamed of. Humans are created with so many complexities and that is okay. The Morecambe and Vice team put in all their programmes for this weekend, the website to Mind and contact details too, for those of you who attended. I have done the same here. If you click on the link, no one will ever know, that includes me.

Tel: 0300 123 3393

Text 86463
These are a selection of books that were suggested in the Morecambe and Vice programme to “Read for Wellness”. Please note there will be many others and there are many other books in other genres too that get recommended in lists for Reading for Wellness. Visit your local library and your librarian or library assistant will be able to recommend “Reading for Wellness” books too.
Click below for the websites of both Dr. Chris Merritt and Barbara Nadel. Both have their books, but Dr. Chris Merritt also has some very interesting research and info on “tech psychology” too.
It was a pleasure to meet Dr. Chris Merritt, at the water-cooler as it happened. It was an interesting and pleasant chat. Thank you!
A Knife to the Heart (Ikmen Mystery 21) (Cetin Ikmen Mysteries) by [Nadel, Barbara]      Sinner        Bring Her Back: An utterly gripping crime thriller with edge-of-your-seat suspense
Incorruptible (Inspector Ikmen Mystery 20) (Inspector Ikmen Mysteries)         Toxic         Last Witness: A gripping crime thriller you won't be able to put down

Til Death Do Us Part – 2 authors – both married. How will they ever survive? @icloudmandy @nicolaupsonbook @grahamsmith1972 #crimefiction @MorecambeVice #writingcommunity

Til Death Do Us Part

Being interviewed were Nicola, Mandy moderator is Graham Smith.

Graham runs a hotel and wedding venue and writes crime. He writes the DI Harry Evans series and the Jake Boulder novels.
Mandy Morton worked for BBC and writes crime. She writes the Feline Detective series.
Nicola Upson worked in the Arts and writes crime and likes the 1930’s period.
Discover their books below.
Nicola and Mandy are 2 authors who are  married and live together, which was what the premise of this panel was essentially about.  It explored what it is like to both be working as authors and living together in the matrimonial home.
marital authors
This panel certainly took a different turn where working styles were concerned as it took listeners right to the heart of where it all happened – the home where they both live in. There working styles certainly differed. Nicola works to music and Mandy doesn’t but also like different styles of music, but like same bands on stage. Mandy as it turned out was a musician. Nicola does likes the more brooding, dark music compared to Mandy.
Mandy doesn’t do drafts, and doesn’t plan. It turned out Nicola  enjoys the research and editing parts more and sounds glad when the book is actually written.
There was also much talk about PD James, which gave a little bit of insight into her personality. I personally enjoy her books a lot, so this was pleasurable to hear good things about her.
I think it is really nice that they have such regard for each other’s work and praise each other and support each other and give each other advice.
I thought they may have been more competitiveness than what they actually were. That’s sort of what I was expecting when the Graham started to explore this with Nicola and Mandy. It turns out that they are competitive about many things but not so much when it comes to each other’s writing and can be pleased for eachother’s successes as they reckon there’s enough competition out there without them competing against eachother too.
It was nice that they were asked about how they celebrate. They do this privately with a meal, a gift to do with the book, a bottle of fizz and later do a book launch.
There was also a fun game with each of them saying facts about how the other got into writing, to guage how much they knew of this period of time in their other-half’s life.
The authors books are below:
                     
Fear in the Lakes: A gripping crime thriller with a breathtaking twist by [Smith, Graham]

Femme Fatales @MorecambeVice @WhartonEileen @kerryannrichardson #SheilaQuigley #CrimeFiction #Bookish #Review

Femme Fatales

Excellently, it was another panel with Dr. Jacky Collins, which covered many different and unique topics as part of the Morecambe and Vice Festival.
Sheila Quigley adores Stephen King. She intriguingly writes the title and then story.
Kerryann Richardson did a degree in creative writing and has written 6 books to date. 
It was talked about readers getting relief from real world as they read as most books (9 out of 10) do bring a closure that can be cosy and comforting. That being said, it was also debated about how there can be a dilemma in which character to root for at times as not all characters were just all good or bad. It was thought-provoking.
The next part of the talk was about the author’s books. It took a different take on it as they each had to think of their favourite/most memorable characters from them to enlighten the audience with,
Kerry Ann said Cas as she is  much like author, but her absolute favourite is Ben (female) strong character and keeps overcoming a lot that’s thrown at her and the relationship with Jacob.
Sheila – Smiler, 15/16 year old  in trouble with drugs and she said readers won’t let anything happen to character.
Eileen likes Elsie, who gets everything wrong, says everything wrong.
Places
How important to write the north-east of the country? Was a profound question for the authors to ponder over.
Kerry sets where she worked. Easy when you already know area. She sets hers in Edinburgh and they go down to Darlington.
Sheila loves the NE but characters do travel. She imparted on the advice that you’ve got to really know the place that you are going to be writing about.
Eileen, set in NE but then travels to many other places, including abroad and her characters then go back to NE.
When there are moments of it not flowing are you tempted to say you’re done.
Kerry says life throws things at you and can’t always just write full time, so got other job. Enjoys writing for her.
They talked openly about how some hard times, they still write and still want to continue to write, basically it brought about the fact that even though they are known people and have their names on books within bookshops etc, they are still human and sometimes situations in life can happen. It was good that this wasn’t any pity-party or anything like that, they just briefly talked about how things can be at times.
Positively they talked about what was next for them. They sound busy and industrious:
A short story is being written by Kerry. She has also started a new series and a new book for current series.
Sheila is writing a new book.
Eileen is writing a book and a sitcom. She has written a YA book, not yet published.
So plenty for people to be looking out for by them all.
It was interesting to hear how most the panel like reading female authors over male, whereas Sheila cares more about it being a good book etc and doesn’t care about the gender of author.
To inspire you to also try other authors:
Eileen likes Pat Barker
Kerry likes Mary Higgens Clarke.
It was lovely how they closed the panel by talking about the support they give each other.
Blanket of Blood (Paperback)   

Write up of Festival of Festivals @mcdevitt_bob @bloodyscotland @ayewrite @CollinsJacky @NewcastleNoir @NoirBarEdin @bradleybooks #NorthernStoryFestival @graskeggur @MorecambeVice #IcelandicNoir #writingcommunity #crimefiction #review

Festivals of Festivals

First thing on a Sunday morning (lots of dedication to be at the venue early, but it was all completely worth it and better than the average Sunday).
Festivals of Festivals was a great behind the scenes insight to a certain extent by those who actually put together these festivals. If it weren’t for them, they wouldn’t be happening. This was an amazing panel of people who have dedicated a huge amount of time in creating festivals. Not just any festivals, but those that are now well-known by many.

    The festivals being discussed and their organisers:

  • Bloody Scotland, Aye Write, Winter Words – Bob McDevitt
  • Newcastle Noir and Noir at the Bar – Dr. Jacky Collins
  • Northern Short Story Festival – SJ Bradley
  • Icelandic Noir – Quentin Bates
    Find out below which months each of these are held.

Bob McDevitt and Quentin Bates Bob McDevitt and Quentin Bates

Bob McDevitt runs 3 literary festivals – he talked about Bloody Scotland and how over 10,000 people attended during a weekend in Stirling. Winter Words in Pitlochery focusses on nature and travel, Aye Write in Glasgow in March – 250 authors attend. Had short films, sometimes and not all are your usual book panels. It spans across 3 weekends.

Aye Write is staged in Glasgow. It interestingly was started by library service. It mostly Scottish and some English authors. For Pitlochery, he spoke about it depending on what publishers can do. He highlighted the Spotlight section like Bloody Scotland and what it means for up and coming authors. He has had event experience of organising from his time working in Waterstones.
He made clear that ALL Scottish festivals pay their authors.

These are some amazingly staggering figures – 350 authors pitched and 80 authors make it. Independent publishers also invited to Bloody Scotland.

SJ Bradley runs the Northern Short Story Festival in June with readings and workshops. They also have Frightfest in the winter.

Leeds Litfest also got a mention and has predominantly northern writers.
SJ Bradley primarily wanted to shine a light on authors. As an author learnt a lot too about publishing world and had some opportunities for networking.
The festival has a focus on celebrating short stories.  they also aim to make it: Affordable, Inclusive and Accessible. She talked about where funding came from and about audience sizes in that smaller audiences for short stories.  She too pointedly remarked that they also pay their authors.

Quentin Bates is the man behind Iceland Noir and organises it every second year in Reykjavik. It consists of some British and Nordic writers and was decided from the outset that everything would be in English. It was interesting that festival happens in Iceland and yet the locals don’t really do this type of thing. It was thought that it is perhaps to do with Icelandic culture and also the fact they don’t commit to anything.
The festival started in 2013. Why? Well, apparently that’s what happens when 3 folk share a curry and beer, leading to someone mentioning it strange there was no crime festival in Iceland. 4 weeks later they talked more and 6 months later and it began. The next one is in 2020.

Jacky organises Newcastle Noir. She has a great anecdote about her boss telling her to change her research and how she ended up with Newcastle Noir. It is on the premise of ticket price is always accessible. Never become a big festival. No point in replicating others. National and International authors. 2014 started.

Jackie also gets involved with Noir at the Bar in Edinburgh. Authors established and new go to this. It is there to create a community for writers and have a social occasion.

The conversation changed to community spirit and how festivals create a sense of community at festivals for authors and returning audiences as well as for the organisers.

She talked about how some festivals sadly not paying their authors. She went on to mention that some authors do charitable and library events for free to support.

Jacky talked about how to invite authors, some say just ask and others like to go through their publisher/publicist.

There was an interesting question – Should authors go to festivals? Consensus was yes. There was talk of how authors can practice at the likes of Noir at the Bar and try to get onto festivals. It was considered important to get out there and if you’re good at talking to an audience, people want to buy your books. This is true I have to say. I’ve attended festivals and bought books sometimes just from hearing the person talk and the same with some library events, I’ve bought books I may not have otherwise.
There was talk of doing  your own promotion as publishers won’t always do this for you.

There was some great advice for authors. People can’t abide rudeness, even if you’re a good author and written a lot. Don’t take stuff out on volunteers, even if you’re annoyed at something. They’re doing their best.

Be polite in your engagement in the festival. Don’t send snarky emails or slag off other festivals.

Be prepared for your talk. Be punctual. If you’re late because of trains being delayed, then that’s seen as being acceptable as it is out of your control.

Remember sometimes speakers/authors can’t turn up at times. Always be gracious as stuff happens and there is normally a good reason behind the appearance being changed or cancelled.

  • Bloody Scotland – September
  • Aye Write – March
  • Winter Words – February
  • Newcastle Noir – May
  • Noir at the Bar – September
  • Northern Short Story Festival – October
  • Icelandic Noir – November
  • Morecambe and Vice – September

If you ever see them talk about their festivals, then do go. It’s a very insightful talk, which was done very well. It was so enlightening.

With thanks to Bob McDevitt and Quentin Bates for permission to take their photo. Thanks to Bob McDevitt for the nice chat about Bloody Scotland, of which I attended this year and hope to in 2020 too.

       thumb

 

 

 

Noelle Holten in Conversation with Lin Anderson – Morecambe and Vice Festival Review @Lin_Anderson @Noelle Holten @MorecambeVice @BloodyScotland @Blazespage #CrimeFiction #Bookish

Noelle Holten in Conversation with Lin Anderson

Lin Anderson closed the first day of the festival in style with her latest book – Time for the Dead as well as entertaining and interesting anecdotes and talk of festivals.

 

Lyn Anderson and Noelle Holton                                                     Noelle Holten and Lin Anderson

What a life Lin Anderson has had so far. She taught Maths and Computing before giving it up to write for a living with her first story to tell – River Child. She has a book optioned for tv and is the co-founder of crime book festival Bloody Scotland.

Noelle Holten has her debut novel published and was featured on the Spotlight part of Bloody Scotland before Ian Rankin talked about his latest book The House of Lies. Noelle’s book is called Dead Inside. She also reckons crime books have the most diverse collection of stories told within them.

Noelle was great at asking the questions to Lin about her latest book and a dog called Blaze – a border collie up in Skye, which she describes as being majestic as well as Bloody Scotland.

Lin Anderson has not just the talent for writing books, but also of telling amusing anecdotes to her audience, such as about Blaze taking her for a walk in a place which inspired the opening of her novel. 
She also talked about how axe throwing is empowering. I’ll take her word for it, never having tried that myself. Turns out she sounds like she’s pretty good at it.

Rhona McLeod books, are inspired by a place or a meeting and can be read as stand-alone.

Time for the Dead is Lin Anderson’s 14th novel.

She read an extract from her book and I must say it seemed atmospheric with the sounds and environment that is described, which would draw readers into the immediate surroundings. Very quickly there is intrigue that makes you want to hear more.


It w
as so interesting to hear about how Lin started to write with short stories and the courses and writing retreats she went to, one in-particular being situated in Inverness.

Noelle posed an interesting question asking how important are crime festivals and in inspiring and to aspiring new authors?

It turns out very important as crime books tell the world of today and cross all sections of society as police can get into it all.
Lin recalled Ian Rankin saying “if you’re going to go to a country you’ve never been to before, buy a popular crime book and you’ll learn more about the country than a travel guide”. It certainly was thought provoking. Crime writers certainly seem to, in my experience of reading their books, give great descriptions about many places and areas that aren’t necessarily touristy too, for example, I’ve never been to Gibraltar, but I feel I could confidently go if I were to have the time because of the way Robert Daws describes it in his books. Ian Rankin, Lin Anderson, Alex Gray and many other crime writers also allow readers to really gain good knowledge of a place through their skilful writing.

She then went onto talk about Driftneck and also how real life encounters can play into fiction. She has an amazing tale to tell about how she decided, her protagonist, Rhona McLeod, was going to be a forensic scientist. Some other situations were a bit more harrowing, but none-the-less important she brought them up and were worth mulling over and hearing things from a different perspective. Lin Anderson certainly seemed to ahead of time as she recalled it was at a time there weren’t many about in the fictional crime world. She talked more about forensics and the pace it changes and in relation to her writing. Talks like these are always interesting as they often throw something out there that a reader may not particularly always have thought about.

The talk about Bloody Scotland was so informative. This is another festival I also love and is amazingly so close to where I come from.

Everyone could tell how much work is put into putting on a festival. It was 3 1/2 year in the planning, although they got their headliners quickly for the first one. Credit to Alex Gray who suggested it should be in Stirling. Stirling has so many great venues to offer and so much to offer visitors, such as restaurants, the shops, the castle and the Wallace Monument, the scenery and the architecture.
The founders launched Bloody Scotland in both Stirling and London and certainly had a plan for a direction to go in and what they wanted to achieve. They had 3 aims:
1 – Find brand new writers – it became Pitch Perfect – it’s a 100 word pitch of your work.        They’ve seen writers being published from this.
2 – Give a platform for new writers – this became Spotlight where writers can read an            extract  from their books.
3 – Have authors at different stages in their career.
These all run simultaneously and I must say that they are more than acheiving this and are doing it incredibly well. Many things from crime writers quizzing, playing football, singing, giving talks and signings can all be seen during the weekend of Bloody Scotland.

Lin also gave a mention to Capital Crime Festival in London, which was on the same weekend as Morecambe and Vice Festival.

Lin went onto concluding talking more about festivals and also about how authors are approachable at them. I have to say they certainly are and it doesn’t seem to matter whether you’ve seen an author more than once or meeting them for first time, or whether they are a best-selling or award-winning author or not, in my experience anyway, they’ve always been warm and most approachable.

The Bloody Scotland segment of her talk certainly sparked interest (as did her books), but people were certainly asking others about the festival, trying to get more information and there seemed to be quite a buzz about it.

If anyone ever gets the chance to see Lin Anderson talk about any of her books, I highly recommend you do because you’re in for a fabulous time!
I also highly recommend attending Bloody Scotland in September in Stirling.

                                                   

Lin Anderson Books