On the Couch with Ann Cleeves

Ann Cleeves AAR On the Couch - photo by Micha TheinerWho is Ann Cleeves?
Ann Cleeves is a fierce north-easterner, by choice not birth. She’s a mother and a grandmother, with two equally fierce daughters. She kills people for a living, but she hopes the stories are more important than the murders.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
Nothing. I’m very lucky and anyway, regrets are a waste of time.

Who inspires you and why?
My husband of more than forty years died just before Christmas. In a way, he inspires me more now than he did when he was alive. He found it impossible to be anything other than himself and was very open to new people and new ideas. There was no pretence.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I try to be kind. Individual acts of kindness are very important.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Shetland in the UK. Because it’s wild and bleak and full of very good friends. Tanzania in the world. Because of the scale of the place, and its warmth and generosity. I remember looking down at the Serengeti for the first time. There was thunder storm and it was magnificent.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
So many places! Newcastle and Gateshead Quayside, the Baltic art gallery and the Sage music centre, to show that the UK has culture outside London. The Word in South Shields for the same reason. Hadrian’s Wall for the stunning open landscape. Holy Island, but only if we could stay the night and avoid the crowds that stream over at low tide.

What are you currently reading?
Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman. I love her books. She’s great on place as well a being a beautiful writer.

What are you currently listening to?
I commissioned a piece of fiddle music to mark the end of the Shetland books. It’s called A Tune for Jimmy Perez. Cathy Geldard who wrote it is a Shetlander who lives and works in Newcastle so she straddles both my worlds. She used the rhythm of a traditional Shetland prayer as an inspiration for the tune. I can’t stop listening to it.

Happiness is?
Sitting in the sun with close friends, (or by a fire if it’s dark and winter) drinking a glass of wine, eating good cheese and proper bread.

What does the future hold for you?
More stories, I hope.

Ann is the Author of Wild Fire – her eighth, and final book, in her bestselling Shetland series – a major BBC One drama starring Douglas Henshall as Jimmy Perez. Ann will also be a guest at the Bendigo Writers Festival (10-12 August); attend the launch of the newly refurbished Boort Library Agency (9 August); and have talks at the Chermside (13 August) and Carindale (14 August) city libraries in Brisbane.

Image: Ann Cleeves – photo by Micha Theiner