Ann grew up in the country, first in Herefordshire, then in North Devon. After dropping out of university she took a number of temporary jobs before going back to college and training to be a probation officer.
One of those temporary jobs was cook at the Bird Observatory on Fair Isle where she met her husband Tim, a visiting ornithologist. Soon after they married, Tim was appointed as warden of Hilbre, a tiny tidal island nature reserve in the Dee Estuary. They were the only residents, there was no mains electricity or water and access to the mainland was at low tide across the shore. If a person’s not heavily into birds – and Ann isn’t – there’s not much to do on Hilbre and that was when she started writing.
Ann’s books have been translated into twenty languages. Six series of Vera, the ITV adaptation starring Brenda Blethyn, have been broadcast in the UK, and sold worldwide; there have also been three series of Shetland, based on her Shetland novels.
In 2006 Ann Cleeves was the first winner of the prestigious Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award of the Crime Writers’ Association for Raven Black, the first volume of her Shetland series. In 2012 Ann was admitted to the Crime Thriller Hall of Fame – alongside such all-time greats as Colin Dexter, Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle! In January 2017, the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) announced that the CWA Diamond Dagger, the highest honour in British crime writing, will be awarded to Ann Cleeves this October.
Ann’s latest novel is Shetland mystery Cold Earth. It marks not only the continuation of a popular and much-praised series, but also Ann’s thirtieth book in 30 years! Mark Lawson chose Cold Earth as one of his best crime books of the year, and called Ann “the best living evoker of landscape”.