From the Booking Desk:
Today marks the occasion of the 100th profile in this Composite Sketch series. Can you believe it? On such an auspicious occasion, I wanted to talk with an author who has meant so much to me on my personal journey with the crime writing community – Ann Cleeves!
I originally met and became a fan of Ann Cleeves at my very first crime fiction convention – Bouchercon in Baltimore in 2008. Ann would later be one of my first high-profile live interview subjects when I talked with her during the Festival of Mystery in Oakmont, PA after Malice Domestic one year. I have read all her books, watch the television shows based on her two most popular series, and generally just love chatting with her whenever I get the chance. One day, I will visit Shetland and that I will owe to Ann Cleeves, as well.
Ann Cleeves was the perfect choice for this important BOLO Books milestone and I have a feeling that most of you would agree. I hope that you enjoy her thoughtful answers to our weekly questionnaire. Then onward, to the next 100.
Name: Ann Cleeves
Location: Whitley Bay, North East England
This person from my personal life is such an inspiration:
Two people. My daughters, Sarah and Ruth.
I’m of an age when women weren’t expected to have a demanding job as well as a family. I knew I wanted to work though and was lucky enough to get a publishing contract while my children were still very young, and even luckier that I had little commercial success for a long time. That meant that there were no demands on my time from the publisher! We didn’t have much money – my husband worked for a conservation charity – but I had the flexibility to write around the needs of the girls. It’s very different for my daughters. Sarah is a single mum with four kids, one of whom is on the autistic spectrum. She’s a qualified midwife, who works with women recovering from addiction. Ruth is an academic, juggling a stressful life of teaching and research in the university with her family. She has the support of a brilliant husband, but it still must be tough. Both daughters are strong, chaotic, indomitable women, and very, very funny. I wish I had their energy.
One of the people I admire most in the crime fiction community is:
The crime fiction community is generally the most friendly and supportive in literature and I could have named any one of the many volunteers who review, organize festivals and spread the word about our books. However, if I have to pick an individual, I’ll go for Catriona. This isn’t so much because I admire her writing, though of course I do, especially the stand-alone novels, but because she’s such a brilliant performer and advocate for the genre. I’ve been at a number of conventions when she’s been mistress of ceremonies and she’s been witty, generous and altogether wonderful. There are lots of fine writers, but few who can hold an audience as she does, and the crime-writing community needs someone to grab our attention and make us feel better about ourselves as a group. She’s also honest, intelligent and a great friend.
STALKER ALERT! If this fictional character were real, they would likely need to get a restraining order against me:
Lord Peter Wimsey.
I’m sorry this is so predictable, but I fell for him the first time I read Dorothy L Sayers. I’ve been re-reading the books recently because I’m giving a lecture to the Sayers’ Society and it hits me every time how respectful he is. And how contemporary. There’s a passage in Strong Poison where Harriet Vane, to whom he’s proposed marriage, says: ‘But I’ve had a lover.’ His response? Something like: ‘Well, I don’t see why that matters. So have I. Several actually.’ This must have been incredibly shocking to readers between the wars, when women were supposed to be chaste and modest, even though men were allowed to sow their wild oats.
People are always surprised that I am a fan of this individual (singer, actor, or artist):
This is an actor known in the UK for playing Dr Who in the iconic science fiction drama of the same name. He became infamous before that as the character Malcolm Tucker in the satirical show The Thick of It. In this, Capaldi is a ruthless, foul-mouthed spin doctor, who bullies his colleagues and manipulates politicians and civil servants. I think many readers consider me a mild-mannered, gentle grandmother. That my hero is a man who swears so often and so descriptively might surprise some. I’ve met Peter a few times and in real life he’s thoughtful and kind – another reason for fandom.
My personal catch phrase is (or should be):
Again, this isn’t very original, but I do try to seize the day and say ‘yes’ to most opportunities offered, whether that’s a job as assistant cook in the bird observatory in Fair Isle (in Shetland) when I couldn’t cook, or invitations to book festivals all over the world. I’m beginning to realize though, that occasionally I have to say ‘no’. Otherwise I’ll never get time for my real love, which is story-telling.