Saturday, October 13, 2007

The 2007 Jack the Ripper Conference

Many of you might find it quite odd that a bunch of folks gather every year to talk about a serial killer from the 1880's. I admit it is a bit odd, but everyone has a hobby. Of course, to some of these folks the pursuit of the Whitechapel killer isn't really a hobby. Many of them have made a lifetime study of the crime scenes, victims and potential suspects. I stand in awe of them.

For me the conference offers an opportunity to speak to some highly intelligent folks who know just about anything you can ask about Victorian England. This conference was in Wolverhampton (northwest of Birmingham) and focused strictly on Catherine "Kate" Eddowes, one of the women who died on 30 Sept 1888 during the "Double Event." Kate has always had a special place in my heart and I included her in my first Time Rovers novel. It was interesting to hear of her life, her family and her final hours.

The image above is a portion of the backdrop used at the conference. My photo quality isn't that good. The original was superb. The work is by Jake Luukanen, who creates 3D models of the crime scenes based on old maps, photos and anything else he can get his hands on to make the images as accurate as possible. They are incredibly time consuming to create, but Jake has given us a means to visualize scenes that no longer exist. His images were used during a presentation by Neil Bell which laid out Kate Eddowes' last hours and her journey into Mitre Square. Neil also detailed the two constables' "beats" (the set routes they followed each night) around and through Mitre Square. The hours of work involved to do the research, let alone create the artwork, was daunting. The end result was very impressive. If you wish to see more of Jake's work, visit and in particular here.

But not all the time was spent discussing old murders. Saturday evening we did the banquet thing. Alan Sharp, author and all round nice chap, displayed his full Scottish regalia. Husband and I remained a bit more mundane, though we did dress upmarket for the occasion. I think hubby is now regretting not renting a kilt for the soirée.

Sunday brought the opportunity to auction off a character in my next book (Madman's Dance) which is the third in the Time Rovers Series. After a very generous donation to the conference, the part went to Robert Anderson, a fellow American. Now what is ironic is that there was a Robert Anderson involved in the Ripper case -- Sir Robert Anderson. I will, of course, make sure our Robert gets a plumb part. I already have a notion just what that might be.

Sunday evening we were off to Manchester. It's been a very busy and exhausting fortnight. I seem to have acquired a genuine British cold. Thanks for sharing, guys.

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