Spending a Saturday looking at the insides of a dead person is not for everyone but I found myself doing just that along with maybe 100 others on Saturday 5th March.
Let me explain. The Post-Mortem Live experience is a chance for medical professionals or those with an interest in anatomy (or the curious) to get up close and personal with the contents of a human body (though it’s actually animal insides but let’s not get lost in detail!). I saw it advertised on social media and as my next book has a pathologist as one of the leading protagonist’s, I jumped at the chance – and I am so glad I did. It has saved me hours of research. It gave me hands experience and a chance to see, feel and smell what a kidney, heart, lungs etc are like – or as close to it as we can get.
ITAE Learning are the production / events company behind Post-Mortem Live and similar events including Dinner and Dissection, and The Murder Trial – all immersive experiences that was started by a former primary school teacher, Samuel Pirie. After appearing on Dragons Den and achieving investment from both Deborah Meadon and Peter Jones, Post-Mortem Live has gone global!
So what about the event itself? Well, I booked onto the York event which was the closest one to me but they take place all over the country. On arriving, there was a merchandise stall (of course I bought stuff, love a bit of merch!) and crowded reception with primarily women – this didn’t really surprise me. I know from my love of True Crime and research for my books that women have far more interest in the genre than men, no idea why. People came from all sort of backgrounds, mostly teachers but I also chatted with a veterinary nurse who was super enthusiastic with a pair of scissor’s, a photography student that’s looking to get into forensic photography and wanted to know if she had the stomach for it, a speech and language therapist who was beside herself when we came to look at the vocal chords and voice box. There was also another writer I chatted with who was thinking about writing in the crime genre.
The room was set up with tables, along with a blue bucket that contained ominous looking equipment and surgical gloves. The ‘body’, a one Rachel Harris was laid out on a table under spotlights (it’s synthetic, not real in case you were worried) but looked very realistic. Poor Rachel had met a grisly end, and we were part of the post-mortem team who had to discover how she died. Holly, the lovely pathologist who talked us through every aspect of the investigation, was very thorough, concise and delivered what at times was largely complex medical terminology in such a way that made it understandable, and entertaining.
Under Holly’s instructions we were able to dissect and look in detail at the kidneys, lungs, heart and stomach. In the pictures below the stomach is eviscerated and coloured blue thanks to the poison given to Rachel (I won’t reveal too much in case you want to go to an event).
Overall, it was an excellent event. Well organised and thought through and if you’re a crime writer then I would recommend going. As I said before, it’s saved me hours in research, given me a real feel for how a pathologist works and what they look for as well and will add heaps of authenticity to my writing.
Some of the pictures below may be disturbing / upsetting so caution is advised.