Friday, February 28, 2020

Granite Noir


I was in Aberdeen again for a long standing arrangement to appear at Granite Noir, doing a workshop called Breaking Bones, subtitled ‘And other things to do to people you don’t like’. The second slide is titled ‘How to make money from violence legally’. The workshop has fallen into a format of a bit of anatomy (any bit of anatomy that is essential to life is basically well protected by another bit of anatomy!!), a wee lesson in terminology ( know your supine from your prone) and an introduction to ‘Anatomical Norm’. Then we run through a few slides showing people who have suffered ‘an insult to their person’.

Usually the workshop is for crime writers and you hope that there is an understood respect that we could be looking at a dead body, using it as an educational tool which will eventually filter down to what is in essence a form of entertainment. My take on it is we may as well get it right.


The workshop has run 4 or 5 times now. At Harrogate – the infamous time the powerpoint broke down and we did the entire thing by mime, the audience was a mixture of writers and readers. The powers that be had planned on about 30  turning up, and I believe the queue out the door was about 120. Maybe it was the attraction of the goody bag rather than my powerpoint of blood and guts.

Granite Noir was going to be interesting as it was members of the public who would be in the audience and I had a slight suspicion that the library in the mezzanine was  open to those walking past so I thought I had to be a wee bit sensitive here and altered the workshop accordingly. As it turned out the library was closed to the public so anybody there had paid to be there.


And it was packed to the gunnels.


I had been very impressed with the organization of Granite Noir; asking me beforehand about USB sticks, screens, laser pointers etc. Even the thing that was slightly wrong was a blessing. There was a couple of lights directly above the screen which made the images less intense than they might have been, this had the huge advantage of slightly dulling down the pictures that could be upsetting, and also allowing me to talk round what they were actually looking at, pointing out things with my laser pointer and glossing over things I have no idea of.


Even the hotel was fabulous. A 5 minute walk from the venue, the hotel had been converted from an old university building and our hotel room was more like a suite with a sofa and one huge TV in front of the sofa and another huge TV in front of the bed and a small kitchen, which meant we could have hot pizza while I was writing. The upshot of all that was on the Saturday the day before the event I had 7 hours plus of uninterrupted Midsummer Murders while getting on with a typescript that is lagging further and further behind due to my colleague at work suffering concussion and my inherent inability to be at 3 places at one time.  It should be at 85000 words this  week but it’s way behind at 51000.

At the start of the presentation I name check something called Anatomy 3D which is a very cheap and useful tool available from the Google Play Store. The next slide is the cover of the book Crimewriting. How to write the science by Brian Price ( who has blogged with us if you recall ) – a great wee book to dip in and out of. At this point I like to set the scene and just say that we’ll be looking at some real injuries and for this talk we were going to play a game of ‘Criminality or Not. You decide. ’ As the slide show goes on, I start to show pictures and the audience simply have to guess. For instance I have one fabulous picture of a deep bruise on a thigh with perfect criss cross striations of white over the bruising. It  looks exactly like a stamping injury where the victim has been on the ground and the thigh has been trodden on with a boot where the sole has a rigid and well defined tread. The audience fell for that. It’s actually a hamstring injury in a weightlifter and the bleeding has come from the torn muscle fibres. The lines are from very good kinesio taping that a physiotherapist has applied to the injury to aid dispersal of the blood and to help a massive haematoma.

I’ll keep quiet about the fact I got it wrong when I first saw it.


We always pick a person who’s universally hated so that we can refer to them as the victim of extreme violence and nobody feels any  guilt at all. Piers Morgan normally fits the bill but on this occasion we plumped for Dominic Cummings. The support for causing him fictional bodily damage was universal.

And the typescript jumped ahead by over 7000 words just because I had peace and quiet and Midsummer Murders. And pizza.

Caro Ramsay
28 02 2020


  1. I hope I can be in the audience one day!

  2. That was what I was going to say. (We often order the same food at restaurants too...)

  3. You know, you guys should get together. I'll bet you could work well together!

  4. Someone has to say it...and I thought it would be here goes. "Sticks and stones might break my bones, but never take rock-solid Caro for granite."

  5. I want us all to take a field trip to hear Caro make people laugh historically about violent injuries.