Brought To Book

In­ter­view with Ann Cleeves

My Weekly - - Contents -

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

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