Brought To Book
Interview with Ann Cleeves
THE SEAGULL by Ann Cleeves, Macmillan HB, £16.99 Past and present merge in a web of intrigue and lies as DI Vera Stanhope investigates a cold case close to home. Cajoled by her superior to give a prison talk she meets John Brace, a former Detective Superintendent and associate of her late father Hector. This sets Vera on a trail that unearths another shady friend of Hector’s who’d mysteriously disappeared. The discovery of two skeletons connects to The Seagull, a former haunt of local movers and shakers. With a fresh murder to solve, Vera connects the dots to outwit her foe, finally laying ghosts to rest.
My parents introduced me to the joy of stories, but my Welsh grandfather first talked to me about writing. He’d been a miner and there’d been few books in the house, but he understood what made characters come alive. Even when I was very small we discussed the detail that made fictional people real.
I remember very clearly the letter making an offer on my first book. The advance was tiny but I was overjoyed. This was partly because our car had broken down and we couldn’t afford to mend it. We had two small children and lived in a village with dire public transport. Now we could get it repaired and be on the road again!
Being awarded the CWA Gold Dagger for Raven Black was a huge honour. I’d been published for twenty years without much success, so the Dagger was a careerchanger. I’d lost my voice at the awards dinner, so my editor made the acceptance speech on my behalf. This year I was awarded the Diamond Dagger for a lifetime achievement in
crime-writing. I hope it brings hope to the many other fantastic writers who don’t find immediate recognition.
Having my books adapted for television was pure luck. Elaine Collins, books executive for ITV Studios, picked up a copy of my first Vera novel in an Oxfam shop. She was looking for something to read while on holiday. She went on to produce Vera and Shetland! I’ve been even luckier in the actors – Brenda Blethyn and Dougie Henshall -– who play Vera and Jimmy. My Welsh grandfather would have admired their skill in bringing my characters to life. The Seagull by Ann Cleeves, Hardback by Macmillan, priced £16.99 WWW.ANNCLEEVES.COM