26 December, 2019

Up Close & Personal with #Author Ann Cleeves - @JaipurLitFest

Up Close & Personal is a series of interviews with Speakers at Jaipur Literature Festival 2020. As a preview to the big event, here are a few quick sets of warm up interviews. The main show begins on 23 Jan and runs till 27 Jan, 2020. I hope you're ready!

Ann Cleeves is an English crime-writer. In 2006 she won the inaugural Duncan Lawrie Dagger, the richest crime-writing prize in the world, for her novel Raven Black. The Vera Stanhope novels have been dramatised as the TV detective series Vera and the Jimmy Perez novels as the series Shetland. In addition to her crime novels, Cleeves has written a number of ghost stories to be read at Newcastle upon Tyne's Literary and Philosophical Society.

Up Close & Personal with Ann Cleeves

What is the one question you are tired of answering?
I don’t think there are any boring questions.  For example, some writers dislike being asked where they get their ideas from, but I think it’s very interesting to unpick a story or a character, to dig back into my memory for the trigger to the book.  I do have to answer lots of questions about the television adaptations of my novels, but the experience has been very positive, so it’s no hardship to respond.

What is the one question you secretly wish people would ask you?
This is very hard!  I think I’ve been asked questions on so many aspects of my writing that it would be difficult to come up with anything new.  I’m always delighted when there’s a question about libraries; I wouldn’t be a writer if I hadn’t been given the chance to borrow books for free as a child.  

Tell us your favourite literary quote.
‘Only connect.’  This is from E M Forster’s Howards End and I’ve loved it since I first read it.  The willingness of people with different views and ideas to come together, to listen to each other and to connect with each other seems even more important today.

Recommend just ONE book.
Any of the Maigret books by Georges Simenon.  As a mystery writer, I love the exploration of a crime, but Simenon provides a master class for any aspiring novelist; his work is so spare and tight and he can set a scene, explain a character and move on the plot in just one sentence.

Do you think that Literary Festivals help encourage the love for reading and help lure more readers into the fold?
Absolutely!  Reading doesn’t have to be a secret or solitary activity. Festivals give us all a chance to share our reading passions and to come across authors who might be unfamiliar to us.  Reading gives us the opportunity to step inside another person’s shoes and that takes us back to ‘only connect.’

What are you looking forward to the most at JLF 2020?
Having my first taste of India.  My husband visited many times – he was a professional and amateur ornithologist and loved the country’s diverse wildlife – and we always planned to go together.  Unfortunately, he died before we could make the trip, so this is a wonderful opportunity for me to finally experience the country.  I’m also very excited to meet readers and to find authors new to me.

If you could invite any author (living or dead) to be on a panel with you for the fest, who would you choose and why?
Another hard question… I think I’d choose the Golden Age mystery writer Dorothy L Sayers.  We have a view that those authors who wrote between the world wars were all rather wealthy and conventional, but Dorothy was a strong-minded woman who had to work for a living.  She also had a child out of wedlock, which must have been very, very difficult at the time.  I’d ask her if her creation Lord Peter Wimsey represented her idea of a perfect man.

What can we expect from you 2020?
Another Vera Stanhope novel will be published in the autumn, and I’ll be touring with that in the UK and the US.  There’ll be more television; a new series of Shetland starts filming in the spring.  But of course, the highlight will be my participation in the Jaipur Literature Festival in January.  I was so delighted to be invited.

Check out the Books:
Vera Stanhope Series
Shetland Island Series
Inspector Ramsay Series

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