at the Malice Domestic Conference 2017
immigrant with immigrant experiences. When I meet Canadian readers, many of whom are immigrants themselves, they love the fact Cait is Welsh-Canadian. The WISE women in her other series, however, in contrast, are one Welsh, one Irish, one Scottish and one English, working as team as the home nations [in the UK] always have”.
“That structure, writing plays, became very helpful when I began to write novels,” she said. “I switched because I’d always wanted to write novels. That was always my plan.
From the beginning of her mystery writing career Ann, originally from Barnstaple, Devon where her father was the village head teacher, has chosen nature reserves for her settings. Even Vera’s town, set in County Durham in the desolate Northumberland moors, teaches readers and viewers about local flora and fauna. Indeed, the first book was written on the bird conservancy of Fair Isle, closer to Sweden than Scotland. She was serving as an information officer after working as a cook when she met her ornithologist husband, Tim, on the tiny, tidal island of Hilbre. They were the only residents. Faced with plenty of spare time, Ann wrote her first crime series about a naturalist and his wife, George and Molly, admitting some of the books were truly not up to snuff. The book tours brought her to Massachusetts, where she still has friends.
Ann is invited to offer a lot of input for the Vera television series.
“After location-seeking I take them back to our house where Tim cooks up a huge curry, or to a friend’s house so they can talk to someone who lives there”.
Input is less for the Shetland series. “It was a bit like giving up a child for adoption, but once you hand it over you can’t meddle. Her great success had led to far more travelling including Tanzania which she has visited before and used public transport. These days, her travel is a little more luxurious although she regrets how some of it takes her away from writing and her six grandchildren.
“They live very close so I do lots of childcare’.
She often leaves Tim behind. He’s retired, thrives on birdwatching, and grows vegetables. He has an allotment big enough, Ann notes, to grow “a few”.
Topping off her tours this year are trips to Estonia, Romania and later, Norway. Her books have been translated into 30 languages. The sole non-fiction she’s produced is a bestseller coffee table tome on Shetland. A local photographer took the pictures and it includes poetry in the difficult-to-understand Shetland dialect. “The islands belonged to Scandinavia until the fifteenth century, so I had to get a Shetland poet to translate it”.
Ann’s first Vera book, The Crow Trap, was responsible for her being discovered and plunged into her current popularity.
Elaine became executive producer on both of the TV series. She’s married to Peter Capaldi who plays Doctor Who.
For a review of Jill’s latest book
Digging up the Dead
Published by by Mainly Murder Press 2016
click on the title