Ann Cleeves is a crime writer best known for two series of novels, both of which have been adapted for television. Vera, for ITV, features her detective Vera Stanhope, and Shetland, for the BBC, focuses on DI Jimmy Perez, who works for the Shetland police. Born in 1954, Ann grew up in Herefordshire and Devon. After secondary school she spent a year providing childcare for a family in London before reading English at the University of Sussex. She dropped out of her degree course, and by chance, was offered a job as assistant cook at the bird observatory in Fair Isle, despite not knowing how to cook, nor anything about birds. She met her husband Tim there, who came as a visiting bird watcher. They spent four years on the tiny tidal island of Hilbre off the Wirral peninsula, where Ann started to write. Her debut novel was published in 1986 and she has published a book a year since then. Her first Shetland novel, Raven Black, appeared in 2006 and won the Duncan Lawrie Dagger, at the time the richest crime-writing prize in the world. Her second breakthrough came when a TV producer picked up a second-hand copy of one her novels featuring her dishevelled detective Vera Stanhope and decided it would make perfect prime-time viewing. In October 2017, Ann received the Diamond Dagger from the Crime Writers’ Association, the highest honour in British crime writing, awarded by fellow crime authors. In 2018, she published the final of eight Shetland novels, and this autumn will see the publication of the first of a new Vera series set in Devon. Her husband Tim died in December 2017. Ann lives in Whitley Bay, with her two daughters and six grandchildren nearby. BOOK CHOICE: The Balkan Trilogy by Olivia Manning LUXURY: Pen and paper CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Suzanne by Leonard Cohen Presenter Lauren Laverne Producer Cathy Drysdale
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Pvc sounds music. Radio broadcasts unlearned event, and this is the desert island discs. Podcast. Every week I ask my guest to choose the eight tracks book and luxury they want to take with them if they were cast away to a desert island for rights reasons, the music is shorter than the original broadcast. I hope you enjoy listening Michael The way this week is the writer enclaves, she's known as the queen of village moi. Crime fiction is her meteor anne. She is successful as she is prolific in twenty.
Steam. She celebrated the publication of thirteen novels in as many years and the following year received the d. I'm a dagger award from the crime rate is association, the highest donor in british crime fiction. However, it was twin, two years into her career before mainstream success arrived with the first of her shetland series, raven black, her characters made the transition from page to screen so successfully that last year, both Vieira and shetland appeared in the radio times list of the greatest british crime dramas, neither of her best known creations detectives you're a stump and Jimmy Perez fit the traditional mould. No smart suits cut glass accents explorations of london city underbelly for them. The ira is northeastern over wait and middle aged while Perez is a soft spoken shut, Linda, whose investigations into grisly island crimes belie that picture perfect, setting landscape and plot of
intertwine in her highly atmospheric stories. People make a mistake when they separate setting from plot in character. She says people grow out of where they are born and live. Enclaves welcome to desert island is thanks very much it's lovely to be here. So I have to ask you first about planning. When it comes to your books, you don't do it at all, which, frankly sense terrifying. Tell me what that decision, while partly is because for the first twenty years I didn't have any commercial success, so it had to be fun and I think if I knew how the book was going to end that be no funding. Writing it cause it's already. Written innocence is net. So now I with a scene or an idea or a vague theme. And I write the first chapter. And then I write like a reader, so I need to know what's going to happen next, so I have to write the next bit and then the next fifth, and how our usual approach when it comes to crime analysis.
I think I'm not the extreme end of the fly by the seat of your planet brigade There are some people who are really very well organised works for me and I usually get just before pharoah just before Jimmy sir. That's all right, so you're walking into the darkness with them. Please tell me more about the idea of of writing about the place through its people and vice versa. This idea that the landscape that we inhabit shapes us and affects us as human beings get does. My daughter is a human geographer. Am I quite like the idea that what I do is human geography, I'm interested in community. You talked about village in war and I think there is such a thing as society Unity is important and we grow out of those those people. We live next door to the people who raises and help us.
We timey launch a shetland book. I know that it's red by an islander before publication. Why is there? I don't want to get it to wrong. I always make mistakes which happen, times usually manages to find something that I've got it, but not quite right, but it's a matter of respect.
I know. The island's fairly well could have been going on for more than forty years, but I don't live there. So it's important to recognise that it's not my communities, that community let's go to the music at your first disk. Tell me why have chosen its boughs and it's gotta be Bobby cause. He runs through my life, really I'm not someone who's solely stood by music, so these records have all been chosen because of memories or stories, and also I want them to provide more stories, so I would hope at the end. I do I love writing short fiction and I get very little chance to do it. So I hope, when I am rescued by the helicopter in the sky, I'll have a collection of eight short stories. Each inspired by the music so very goes back to my youth, but also went to see him in sunderland when he played in the staging of light or before would be before the state like roca, raw about the glass by deter, yes famous eliciting when a nightclub name.
after it wasn't the best, I didn't recognize any of the song, so it was loaded with disappointment, but I was my mom and dad left half way through, so they obviously have this painful. As many I would have gone if my husband forced me to stay david bowing with life on mars enclaves. Those of us who read Vieira
not forget her in a hurry, but for anyone who has yet to have the pleasure, how would you describe her? She just appeared halfway through the book and if he is quite interesting to go back and untried worker where things come from, and I was in the mid fifties and in the small town where I grew up with some formidable spinsters who'd, either lost sweethearts during the war or had been given roles in this possibilities that they wouldn't otherwise as women be allowed at that time. If you are a female teacher and you got married, you had to leave your job, it was very different and they wore dreadful, tweed, skirts, afraid at the hands and fixed stockings and sensible shoes, but they were really competent and authoritative em. They were hospital matrons or they were school teachers, and I think that they read grew out of some of those women who had decided they rather be single looming. Nineteen, fifty housewife and you ve said if the tv add up to
nation, where he was played by brenda, blacken that you wanted to be an antidote to tv female, detect him yeah. I didn't want her to be glamorous, especially the american series. I think the sea s eyes with that long, hair, a map heels. Could you imagine escaping a criminal and heels, whereas I think Brenda dowdy little boots hot mac? You can imagine her out staring at smarting sum of women that she has to face. However, represented d think women are in crime fiction generally are too many of them victims. I think they are, I think, not so much now in the ass there either the help meet the wife, the victim, the prostitutes, but I think things are changing other lots of very good young women right as cuba who are changing.
mould and hello, bringing very real, very strong women into their novel, and what about the appetite for crime fiction? Where does that come from? Did got a friend to sing. He thinks it's addictive. Once euro hooked tricky to stamp it out. I think that in some sense, especially now I'm of confusion and chaos that were living through. There is some very reassuring about traditional crime fiction order restored at the end justice thing to be done and the sitting the sort of conviction that I right, which is quiet and domestic candy, escape pest. If this, all these dreadful things happening in the world, that you can focus on a particular. The family are a particular small community timetable. Music at your second disk today wisely chosen this one. This is for my father, who was born and brought up in the wrong the family. Obviously, at a mining background
and I remember guy, and it seems so romantic and so funds ago and stay with his parents. My grandparents in this terrorist house, where the outside lovett tray with it in both the back kitchen, with arrange being stoked by culled from the pit, and I think it's also about community again as net melvin quiet, growing out of working communities, lots and slip. We forget, but culture belongs to everybody, it belongs to all communities and I never enough
brain, it happens, some by the trio female voice, choir enclaves, you ve set of your childhood- that I was always a storyteller. How did that manifest feet was partly because I was
a bit of an outsider, at least until I was eleven or twelve of my dad was a village had teacher and a tiny hamlet on the hereford shropshire border, and there were thirty kids in the school in one room, with a curtain down the middle. So I was the teachers child I had teaches child the head teachers child. I was that like well, if you're that it's quite hard to make friends, I would have loved to have been invited to other kids pot, his and houses and been included, and it might be the I was I dont remember ever going to anybody else's house or having close friends of any kind. I was always the one watching and on being the observer and being a great reader, because that was an escape, and it was something I could do on my own and jen making up stories about just endlessly curious about things and people and the stories that you would make up when you say that you often featured in your own story what that this was really before. I could read or write that I had this running now:
it is in my head. I can remember of describing the third person what I was doing well, everyone around me was doing- and I think that's quite common for writers, but they once I could read and write that stopped, because I had other people stories to lose myself and I didn't have to make them up for myself and throughout your childhood and and your teenage years. You are an avid rita what we reading and of how to get my hands on as a young child in it blight. I can remember the wonderful librarian in this whole time where we went to a library and she knew what I loved and she'd save the books for me and when I come in, she bought from cancer like like a culture of it, polly a rabbit out of a hat and house six or seven. At that point so an finished it. Almost all the time I got home, I was just soaking that page turner's anything exciting move from that onto that short stories issue a combs g, Kate, jested and father brand store.
Is I gotta christie uneven when I went on to read other fiction, which I did I was fed up or had been done by a boyfriend or had the floor It was always traditional crime fiction that I went back to working to go to the music. Now your third disk today, what? If a chosen an and while this is Leonard Cohen suzanne- and this is very much a devon song. My dad got a job seven, and it was us with a sense of freedom, then for me, I started at the grammar school. I was eleven unmet different friend the wide range of friends, and I had the best time at school, especially in the sick. Four, my loved it that reminds me of great intense friendships. You get when you fifteen sixteen seventeen and the sitting in candlelit bedrooms, putting the world to rights on this listening to Leonard Cohen, alma, but also It's a thread through to two later life, because we did currency leonard Cohen, too fast
very late in his life and he was so gracious and he came in and he did every saw. Let everyone wanted to hear with salute me pouring with rain and because these it doesnt serviceable as it does for other people. I was at the end hoping that would be the last on core and I could get my sudden clothes and find a warm carbon dry hand down to the river in the mood Go by aside- and you know, she's crazy, but that's why you want either and she didn t come away and when you lydia
no give. Then she gets a wave lenny conveniently susan enclaves, many writers describe their teams is difficult, but you sound like quite good fun living in north deafen happy by the same. That was what the folia beach parties and not the valleys. It's a bit cut off from the rest of the west country, and it certainly was that I think it's gone a bit upmarket now, but it certainly was not then my best friend of zimbabwe to full- and I still love going down to to visit her, and I remember that time with great firmness and it took a long time to get something to live up to that. You took a year before university to do community service volunteer work. How is that experience? That was my tralee has always lived in the countries of the north devon and it was a single died and for kids and he wept shifts on the railways with very, very
would thinking- and I do that you be allowed to do it now, but social services decided they would put two young losses and to look after these kids to keep them at home. Answer two of us went, and we had a council flat in short farm, just didn't feel anything it's of danger coming back from king's cross on my own at midnight after looking after these kids cause. It was quite rough then, but we had these ideals for these children and we did things like take them to the ballet and the theater and obviously join them up to the library and what they laid off or I'm not entirely sure, and I suppose that was perhaps why I didn't settle at university, because reading about Keith seemed a bit trivial after battling to get
these kids sorting get them well looked after and fed into school, and what did it teach you about yourself that experience. It told me that I didn't ever want to live in a city. Again I like space, something low horizons. I like to see the end of places and to be in london seem to go on forever and even if you are top of the tablet by we lived, I couldn't see the edge of it So you went to sussex, you need to read english but left in your second year. I think your next disk might tell us a little bit about where you went and Y yeah. This is crystal, who is a brilliant chapman fiddle player, but either
a fair islander, unfair I'll, is one of the smaller most remote of the shetland islands, and I knew his parents on fairer, because the job that I got off the dropping of university just after a chance meeting in a pub really was assistant cook in the budgets of the tree and fairer, couldn't could be nothing about birds, but it was an escape from the city. So, if I went much later when I first wrote the shotgun books, I wanted to involve him in some way shape mendes, because it seemed like a terrible intrusion to become in front. So I can write about the island, so I got in touch with chris and asked if we could do some gigs together and I would do some readings and he play some music on. This piece is a a new year's day peace and it's a traditional chili.
and I'm still friends with under in costly. No, when I launched one fire, which is the most recent and the last of the shopman books, they came to the party that we had in their wake yeah in the course of time daddy dawn enclaves. When you left london, it was to go to a fair trial in shetland us he said. So. What do you remember? The journey took to get there
I can remember it was the old fairy, the saint clair and going on that was fine, and then I went down to the size of of shetland mainland to get the fairy to fair oil, and I was expecting a pretty harbour. Maybe a t shop there's nothing greatness and finally, the pasty came and set are not come today. Can you not see the weather and three days later, the fairy did come There was still a big swell on its cold with some irony, the good shepherd and they bring she put on it. It was called stinking rough and ready and we were locked below because of the weather. I was hallucinating by the end so I have never been so in all my life. What was the island right when you got no mean how many people were living on earth had fifty people, and I think it's three how long a mile and a half wide the most beautiful place in the world. I love it
the lover I went back in march and it was partly to say goodbye to some very. friends who are leaving the island, but partly because my husband died just a few months before, and I met him on federal It was just a lovely way to go and until to reconnect without first time meeting yes eyes, assistant cook in the bedroom, of a tree and tin came along as a visiting bode watcher, and at that point it was quite hard to get anything to drink and fair I'll night was comes of beer and much else. I notice that he had a bottle of malt whisky tucked in the top, rucksack when I showed him to legitimate trade cycle, he might be worth getting to know. So, as you say, you are assisted cook. What was a typical daylight view? Mostly the first few months work eating touches, cleaning, bathrooms laundry There was some weird times as well. It was a budget.
it recently were ringing bird's eye with scientists there, but also people came cause rabbits turn up in firefox it's on the migration route. So if a red birds turned up recycling down the island, waving flags and tele. Will the bird watches to come back and see it No, my days off, I just go down and invited into people's houses. They was so generous. We're gonna go to the music now at your fifth disk wavy chosen this when this is done on the treaty in this moves us on from shetland, because I told you my husband and pretty well the first place we lived after. We got married with another island, a tiny tied linen tilbury and you get that my party in the mud and the sand at low water and when the time comes in and it's a real island, so thats where we lived and I've always loved. Generally, trading anyway, but a kind of being invited out to a party, and we
when in our island gave no well is sweater genes, and it was quite a small part and there we were and- and this was playing the background- I'm not in burma- to persuade over in june. On the trading and love and affection enclaves, taking you back to life on hill bree island, the tiny, ireland just off the coast of the will, you are working as approbation of
sudan, I'm what was that lichen and what did you learn that would go on to inform your writing not so much really about the criminal justice system. There. That's click handy to know, but a lot of what I did was going in
and digging wanting to know what might have caused the offence. Whether any problems within the family. The probation service might help with things have changed quite alot within probation now, but a chance to con nab in all these people's homes and houses and ass. The most intrusive questions that you could and what did you find out that surprise you I did meet murderous cause. I did. I had ifas online caseload too, and I was it really surprising was that most murder is a really pathetic inadequate little man and I don't want to write about monsters. That's not forgetting the interests. May I dont want to write about psychopaths or about serial killers, in fact that the murderous, probably the least important bit in the story. It is much more about looking interests me, which is about fractured families,
and I got lots of that. How I didn't stick it for very long. How did you come to start writing that happened on he'll bree, because I was pregnant. I gave up work and, if you're not into birds- and I'm really know that wasn't much else to do so- is a great chance to start writing. and I would just get up early and right. I have no patience with people who say they have no time to write. If I just had half an hour when the kids with southern frontier sesame street there I would be writing I mean the house- was a total pigsty cause. I thought came right at the bottom of the list of priorities.
And what about you, you notice you had taken, do they make of your writing. I run the one school holiday coming down and they stop. Please you don't like no smoking signs with a cigarette with a leyden straight. No writing signs with a pen with a live issue it make. If I didn't have enough, but there the brilliant terminate their the proudest things in my life, my girls now they're, so strong, and so a start and tell us that your sixth dis today, when we gonna hear. Ah, this is from last chip- and this is my northeast song accurately- was a bbc do documentary before it was actually complete about things this musical that he was writing and I heard a cobbler tunes said to myself that sounds good and tim was so thrilled. I'd express some kind of interesting music that he immediately without telling me when the next day queue up at this age. The music censuring in gateshead to get tickets
and so we went along to that and then we went to the northern stage with my daughter's after he died to watch them. Do it there are in the cost, was the fantastic johnny Hardwicke haste is a friend and she- and I had with with a lot of other people, had bottled to save me, cuss libraries and then it's the north east of the ets. While then turn it vieira film for the first few season in this one hunters, shipyard offices and just the thought that they were making things there again and it might not be ships, but it was a tv Maybe some of the crew were men workfare lately just make
see you jimmie dale sting with what have we got with gotten out else from the musical the last ship composed by setting an catherine and peter to count on cleaves in nineteen. Eighty, six, your debut novel, a bird in the hand was put-
wished and from then on you. You were publishing pretty much a book a year and that went on the cell about two thousand and six, and that was the year that you published the first in your shetland series. Raven black, the hero detective Jimmy Perez hails from fair trial and it when the crime writers, association, Duncan lorry gold dagger prize than the richest crime writing price in the world. How much did life change? What was the impact that success? It changed. I suppose, because I felt validated as a writer till then that the books just disappear it really again, so grateful for libraries cause without a libraries buying a certain number of copies and having me to do cakes and meat readers and promoting may, I certainly wouldn't be published and they being a vieira unknown shetland on the tele actually bring money into this country? A prize was twenty thousand pounds huge
and it was what I was running cuz I was working, but so it meant that we saw that we would be able to move back to the northeast, and I saw I would write full time now. Aside from your success, you will swear bearing some very tough times at the end of the eighties. He was diagnosed with breast cancer and after suffering from depression, TIM was diagnosed is bipolar. What helped you through folks, escape family friends, great great friends and I suppose, a kind of sense that we were in it together, and they were dreadful time, though, at times and lying beside him in bed, and it felt as if I was lying next to a stranger. If I didn't know him,
but the magnificent and just like, remember, going in and one of the judges who say that where he will get em back for you, I'm not really believing man, because he was so different and so depressed and so anxious, and there were times when he thought it was Jesus and it could kill, enables cat, but they dick and back, and he was probably diagnosed. And here we we ve lived happily afterwards, and I think I would say to anybody out there who is strictly women to illness at is something that you can get better from its. Not a life sentence, and how did you keep up your extraordinary work re alongside all of these experiences and struggles was a skype again, and you need time for yourself and your carrying
somebody or you in the life of somebody who struggling. You need to stay well, my waves day well with by writing, and we had such fun. I mean even when he was born, curse, the girls love tat. He was at home, any would play cards within hours and hours and hours. I hate gay, since a lay lot taft ruminants, given them a real insight into the fact that life isn't easy, for everybody must have some music. It's? U, seventh, describe it using this. Ah, this is still an anti with a real dylan feet. Free Kenny did tracked me to see dillon,
too many times and it's back to balance the well again cause my english teacher was a guy called Michael gray. It was much more interested in Dylan than he was in teaching english. I think answer that takes me back to lately, lay at all nay, nay, big brain, bob Dylan and lay ladylike lady. You,
at your north eastern and by choice, and you choose whitley bay. What you like about it, I witnessed cause it's kind of its wits. Scruffy, I don't feel very happy and push place is entirely place and why not tomorrow it just doesn't feel I don't I've been a laugh, maybe it's not having a degree and still up slightly outsider thing about wanting to not quite fit in. I don't know I lightweight because its next, because there is still a very much a community of people, I loved him, but the local pub a narrow guys there, who used to work in the shipyards are new talk about anti police. The type boats from Kaliko,
sudden talk about that, but lots of new people coming in his while, I'm being welcomed, I think it's become quite artie. Nowhere lay we ve got our own independent film festival and is a bit of a book festival calico sliced years, and I like it time. Your final disk enclaves put this one and why the chosen this is tilted by christine on the queen and again. This is the song that they final song for ten, because he loved finding
music and- and this is something that ought to where he found it or where he heard it, but he loved and dragged me up to computer look at least look at this music videos, net brilliant and I loved it, and I think it is very rest, fallen soporific and if I'm trying to get to sleep on this island with the waves in the background and this, I think this would help me. I always running with basel ii system christine in queens and tilted so enclaves Zyobite
cast your way to your desert island. You ll have some books to keep me company to complete works of shakespeare in the bible, as well as a book of your own. What would that be the balkan trilogy by olivia manning. I recently went to a but festival in bucharest, a mad city, but people so interested in ideas and forts and am very interested in the idea of shifting borders debatable lands? So I want to read the book because it's also pay, but it also gives an insult, I think, into the politics of the region, on its big, so I'll keep me go for, while will also give you a luxury item to make life on the island more enjoyable. What would you take with him? Well, if I'm assuming that path and a pen thou floating with records and I'm not sure you gonna loneliness,
a real radio freak. So even if I can't get radio for in the world service may be podcast with all the dramas breaks, the rules and afraid it's gonna be one or the other side have to go for the pattern, the pen and a big fire on many of them. I can definitely do and if you could only save one track from your eight today, which would you go for. I think it would have to be suzanne, because that scrolls, through the hole
will lie memories and it's got so many stories in the enclave. Thank you very much for sharing your does and discuss with us. So much for having made be lovely bond, stable, fair I'll hill, bree whitley bay. I feel after no travelling than usual during today's conversation without makes me along for some fresh sea air, not sure about the fairy to fair ilo anyhow, as many of you will be aware, many crying writers have been cast away over the years. Vomit damage pity James twice: James, elderly and edward bain, a just a few, radio rebus in rank was castaway by soon lowly in two thousand and six. She began by asking him if he's always been an outsider. Looking in, I think so early when I was a small kid growing up in a coma,
turn on your was different from the other kids. You know I would say in my room and try and write poetry or somewhere else or whatever strip cartoons, but I had this: can it knack of looking like a fitted in and they need a spot that you didn't? the who worked for a long time. We know if my parents, I think, the first inkling they got that was actually sitting scribbling things in my bedroom was when I am come. Second, in a portrait, competition- and it was reported in the local newspaper they saw me said- is- are you you know in rank garden, in large come second important. Competition is on the periphery, always watching collecting, materially consciously collecting material.
Well, I'm nothing very reserved quite voice mistake. I do think that we look at the world and we wish we suck the soul from it for our characters. Muriel sparked very nicely. She says we later with intent and I think that's just about right. You know it's just short of a criminal activity, but its yourself any authority from nice to meet us. I mean there's a lot of you and me. This is the background pfeiffer. It didn't start like the minute he was invented as a safety measure, because my first novel people thought you could see themselves in it. So I then draw a detective novel, because rebus was nothing like me. I was in my twenty.
In evaluating. He was in his forties divorced and with a kid, and he was a cop and it was only really we run a realist. How much of me was actually being transmitted to him, which I want to talk to you about me. Let me ask him just one general point about him. I mean he's. Arguably you said this: a typical working class scottish male happiest with his junk food is valid. Drink is down the local any music. I mean how much of you is that all coil of quite lot nero sittin in his chair lay at nice there, not the window, we're going for long nighttime drives through the streets of edinburgh. That's me, his musical taste these days is me the junk redressed guilty. He smokes I've, never smoked. Drink problem he's got a dwell. I think his drink insurrection under control and that's what it maybe this thing- it's least realistic about him. No is that he's out of the kind of cop who was prevalent in real life, maybe twenty or thirty years ago, so revisit above a dinosaur. He represents a last of a dying breed of detective in one can talk
to see next time, desert island discs takes a historical turn. When I cast away last year's wreak lecturer professor Margaret macmillan, I do hope you'll join us.
Did, you know that technology can make us kinder to one another. Did you hear about the diver who walked out of the sea onto a portuguese beach, dragging the internet behind him? Did you realize that how you speak to the little robot helper in your house might cement age old stereotypes for decades to come? I'm alex pretovsky and those are just some of the stories that we ve looked at in the digital human podcast that explores what it means to be human in the digital age. If you want to hear more- and I guarantee we will surprise you come check us out exclusively on bbc- sounds.
Transcript generated on 2022-06-12.