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INTERVIEW: Ann Cleeves

Wednesday, July 04, 2018


Today I welcome Ann Cleeves, author of Raven Black, to the blog.

Are you a daydreamer too?
Not so much a daydreamer as an observer. I love watching people and finding new places that might become a part of the book.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I've always wanted to write, which is a little bit different. It never occurred to me that I might get published, and I was astonished when my first book was accepted for publication.

Tell me a little about yourself – where were you born, where do you live, what do you like to do?
I was born in Herefordshire, a rural county in the rural Midlands, but we moved to North Devon when I was still a child. My father was a village school teacher. I live on the North East coast now, in Vera-land. I love this part of the country, the big skies and empty landscape.

How did you get the first flash of inspiration for this book?

Are we talking Raven Black? I first went to Shetland more than forty years ago. I'd dropped out of university and quite by chance was offered a job as assistant cook in the bird observatory in Fair Isle, the most remote Shetland island. The book came much later, though. My husband was a passionate birdwatcher and we went to Shetland to see a rare bird. It was mid-winter, dark and it had snowed. Then the sun came up and it was a beautiful still clear day. There were ravens, very black against the snow. Because I'm a crime writer, I thought, if there were blood as well, the scene would look almost mythic.

How extensively do you plan your novels?
Not at all.

Do you ever use dreams as a source of inspiration?
No, I don't usually remember dreams.

Did you make any astonishing serendipitous discoveries while writing this book?

Where do you write, and when?
I write early in the morning at the kitchen table.

What is your favourite part of writing?
I like the very first ideas and sketching them out, but I enjoy editing my own work too, once I have the structure in place, trying to make the language sing.

What do you do when you get blocked?

Go for long walks. Long train journeys are very good too.

How do you keep your well of inspiration full?
Inspiration is easy. Turning the inspiration into 100,000 words that people might want to read is the tricky bit.

What is your advice for someone dreaming of being a writer too?
Read a lot. Eavesdrop. Get to the end of the book before you start re-writing and tweaking.

What are you working on now?
A new series. I'm not quite ready to talk about it!

You can read my review of Raven Black here.

Ann and Kate will be appearing at the Bendigo Writers Festival in 2018.
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