The factual side of the morning session was all about crime scenes with experts from Hampshire Police and Hampshire Fire and Rescue: Carolyn Lovell, a Crime Scene Manager/Coordinator, DC Terry Fitzjohn and Watch Manager Andy Earl.
On the fiction side, Pauline Rowson was joined by Matt Hilton and Stephen Booth. Questions and general discussion were facilitated by Cheryl Buggy, the Station Director of event sponsors, Express FM.
Also in attendance for the day were students and lecturers from the Forensic Science course at South Downs College and representatives from the fingerprint bureau.
Each of the experts spoke about their career path: Carolyn Lovell has an MSc in Forensic Archaeology, and her research included burying dead pigs to study the degradation of fingerprints on their skin and other pieces of evidence. Terry Fitzjohn became interested in forensics after working on a major crime team, and is now part of the Joint Arson Task Force along with Andy Earl. The unit has vastly increased arrest and conviction rates since it was founded and police and fire officers now work much better together, and fire crews have become highly efficient at aiding CSI teams too.
The authors talked about how they came to be crime writers, about what interests them about the locations and characters they write about, and about how they research for each story. I was particularly interested to hear that Pauline Rowson goes for walks around her prospective settings and takes a lot of reference photos. All three also talked about the difficulties in keeping up with advances in forensic science and changes in police procedure, particularly when writing books 2 years before their likely publication date.
Meanwhile the experts mentioned their own use of technological advances, including searching the internet, particularly Facebook and You Tube for evidence and witnesses.
The session wrapped up with questions from the audience, and then there was plenty of time to chat, buy books (in a bookbag from the other sponsors For Dummies, have books signed and get our fingerprints taken to be set into keyrings (mine are interesting for all their acquired ridges apparently) before heading off to find lunch.