Interview: Ann Cleeves

Posted 2 Feb 2016 by Clancy Mason in Events

Acclaimed crime writer Ann Cleeves is 2016's ambassador for National Libraries Day. Always a passionate supporter of libraries and reading, Ann will be touring the North West, discussing her latest new Vera title The Moth Catcher as well as Too Good to Be True which has been adapted for Quick Reads.

Ann kindly took the time to answer some questions ahead of her tour:

TTR: Do you often use your local library? Do you think libraries have an important role in our communities and why?

AC: I’m a member of my local library in North Tyneside, and though I don’t use it as often as I used to, I love taking my grandchildren in school holidays. I think our library use changes with time and I know when I’m not quite so busy I’ll be back, looking for something different and exciting to read. That’s why we should maintain library membership. Libraries are very much at the heart of our communities and if they were better funded they could do even more to bring people together. Their importance was brought home to me when I was doing an event in Northern Ireland – a reader said that during the troubles the library was the only safe, non-sectarian space in her town.

TTR: How do you think Quick Reads helps to benefit disengaged readers?

AC: When I was reader development officer for Kirklees Libraries I did some work with basic skills classes. It seemed to me then that much of the teaching was rather functional (and boring!) It was about filling out forms and applying for work. The Quick Reads are much more about having a good time with a book. You read on, not because a teacher expects you to, but to find out what will happen next. The same applies to the time I spent as reader-in-residence in a number of prisons. A strong story holds everyone’s interest.

TTR: When you created your two famous characters Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez, did you imaging you would see them bought to life on TV?

AC: Not for a moment! And the TV adaptations only came about by chance, when a books’ executive for ITV studios picked up one of my novels in a charity shop. She was looking for a holiday read. Her name’s Elaine Collins and she went on to be executive producer for VERA and SHETLAND. She’s now creative director at the BBC but I still think of her as my fairy godmother.

Do you work with the scriptwriters in any way?

AC: I get on very well with the scriptwriters on both shows. My only role is informal, but I love it. I help the writers to get a sense of the places where the shows are set. We do a writers’ reccie and drive around looking for possible locations for stories. This is specially important in Shetland. I’ve been visiting the islands for 40 years so I have lots of useful contacts. I went with the writers to the Waste to Power plant, which featured so dramatically at the end of episode one.

TTR: Do you have a particular book you have read in the last 12 months that you would particularly recommend?

AC: I was one of the judges for the Theakston’s prize in 2015 and we chose a debut crime novel – Sarah Hilary’s Someone Else’s Skin as the winner. It’s a disturbing book but without the graphic depiction of violence that I dislike.

Can you share your plans for 2016?

AC: 2016 is already pretty manic! In February I’ll have a week in London in the run up to National Libraries Day, and to attend a preview screening of The Moth Catcher, the adaptation of my novel that’ll be episode three of the new series of VERA. Then there’s a lightning tour of the North West, visiting prisons, libraries and bookshops, a few days in Islay for a book event there and then it’s Left Coast Crime in Phoenix, Arizona. The beginning of March takes us to the Emirates Book Festival in Dubai and I can’t see much beyond that! I do know a new Shetland novel called Earth To Earth comes out in October, and that I’ll be writing a new Vera one this year too.

You can catch Ann Cleeves during her North West tour of Libraries and bookshops:


3.00pm: Event at Woolston Neighbourhood Hub Hall Road, Woolston, Warrington, WA1 4PN 01925 813939 Contact: Chris Everett Tel: 07730075967 Books sold by Waterstones Warrington.

7.30pm: Event at Linghams 248 Telegraph Rd, Heswall, Wirral, Merseyside CH60 7SG Contact: Sue Porter - 0151 342 7290 -


1.00pm: Smithybridge Library 121-123 Smithy Bridge Rd, Littleborough OL15 0BQ Contact: Joanne Eaves - - 01706 924941 Books via Hilary at Bright Books:

7.30pm: Simply Books 228 Moss Lane, Bramhall, SK7 1BD Contact: Andrew Kant - 0161 439 1436 -


7.00pm: Event at Chorley Library Union Street, Chorley, Lancashire PR7 1EB Contact: Diane Gunning - 01257 262773 -

North West Libraries

Librarians in the North West have pioneered partnership working to encourage new readers into libraries. Time To Read is a partnership of librarians engaged in reader development activity in public library authorities in the North West Region. 22 public library authorities in the region currently support Time To Read.

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