Interview by Carl Marsh - Sept 2015
Do you like all the attention that being a successful writer has brought you, and especially more now, as the successful TV series Shetland and Vera TV are based on your books?
The great thing about being a writer is that I don't get much attention. I get invited to library events and book festivals but I quite enjoy those. It's busy when a new book's out but mostly I'm left in peace.
Not sure where I could start by listing all of the awards you have not only been nominated for, but also won. Is there any award that you have not won, that you really want to get?
No, I've been very lucky.
How pleased are you with the TV screen adaptations of both Shetland and Vera?
I've been very pleased. Although the adaptations are different from the novels in some detail, both are true to the spirit of the books.
With your latest novel, what can the readers expect from it?
The new book - out in September - is a new Vera novel called The Moth Catcher. Two apparently unrelated men are found killed in a remote valley in Northumberland.
How did you get into writing, was it something you always wanted to do, and did you face many rejections from the publicists/agents?
I always wanted to write, and I was accepted by the third publisher I tried from the slush pile of unsolicited manuscripts. It doesn't happen like that these days!
Hearing that, what advice can you give to any writer struggling now to get that book deal?
Finish the book, and make it as good as it can possibly be.
Do you still have any goals of perhaps taking your writing in a different direction, maybe different genres?
I feel I can tell the stories I need to tell within the crime genre.
And could you see yourself ever not being a writer, perhaps doing something completely obscure?
I've done lots of weird jobs in my time - from being an observatory cook to a women's refuge leader. Now's my time for writing.
My main aim for these interviews, as you know, is to inspire more to read. So, why should people read more?
It's an escape and a way of facing new challenges. It's a way of exploring the world without moving from your own room.
And what types of books have been those which you have enjoyed the most over the years?
My particular reading passion is crime in translation.
How do you relax, when not working these days?
I've got grandkids. Not exactly relaxing but time consuming and fun.
Is there one thing in life that makes you mad?
Inequality of opportunity. Cutting library funding is just one example - not everyone can afford to buy books.
What three things make you happy?
My husband, reading, writing.
Life is too short. And goes so quickly. Have you any regrets so far, and would you have done anything differently if you could?
No. Never look back. There's no point, and anyway the bad times provide the best material for a novelist.
Last question, if you were an animal, what would it be and why?
A cat. I'm not a good sleeper, and cats seem able to sleep anywhere!