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The Moth Catcher (Vera Stanhope #7)
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The Moth Catcher > Bonus: Ann Cleeves' visit to Oakville

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Oakville Public Library was pleased to host An Evening with Ann Cleeves on October 17th. She gave a warm, interesting, humorous talk to a group of 200 readers and fans. Below is a synopsis of what she talked about:

Surprisingly, she does not plot her novels in advance.

Inspiration for Vera came from formidable spinsters she knew growing up. They were very competent and good at their jobs. Ann believes that women shouldn’t be judged by how they look, but by what they do. This is why Vera is unattractive and doesn’t seem to care about her appearance.

Of the actress who plays Vera, Ann said, “Her Vera is my Vera.” Her Vera is “bigger and uglier than the actress.” She said she sometimes imagines the actress when she is writing, but not often. She doesn’t write the novels thinking they will adapt well to a television series/season.

The crime aspect of her novels is incidental to themes of community and fractured families.

Regarding Joe: Ann wanted to turn around the male/female traditional roles. Joe is a caring man with a family. Vera is single and work-driven. Ann enjoys writing about this relationship.

She lived in Shetland as a young woman. She met her husband there. She happened upon a police detective there one day in a pub. She questioned him about what would happen if someone was murdered on the Shetland island, which is very remote. The local police would not investigate. It would take a larger police force at least a day or two to get there, however. The same situation would occur with the coroner. Ann started to wonder how the local police would want to get involved while they waited for the mainland force, and a plot for a novel was born. Shetland has a population of 23,000 so Ann has decided that the next book will be the last - she can’t keep killing Shetlanders off!

She wrote a stand-alone novel on the encouragement of her publisher because the publisher believed that series weren’t selling that well. Vera first appeared in that novel, The Crow Trap. She was not a main character and just appeared in Ann’s mind one day. Ann was later asked to expand upon Vera and that’s how the series was born. The television series got its start because the producer just happened to pick up one of the novels to take on vacation. She loved Vera and decided to create a series for her. So Ann Cleeves attributes much of her success to luck. Her readers probably think it has a lot to do with her writing talent, though!


Sheila (sheilaj) Thanks for sharing with those of us who could not attend.


Shirley Mytnowych | 57 comments Mod
I find it fascinating that she does not plot her novels in advance. I wonder if she at least knows who the murderer is going to be when she begins a novel. How else would you be able to offer up clues?
Although, now that I think about it, there wasn't any obvious clues in The Moth Catcher and anyone of the characters could have ended up being the murderer.


Vicki No clues? Nigel was a social climber whose background in Corrections was carefully concealed. Every now and then he turned up with his binoculars poised. But there are lots of red herrings everywhere too!


Maureen B. | 212 comments Wish I could've been there! It's incredible Cleeves can write such an intricate tale without knowing where she was heading. For sure, she would have to keep a directory for all her characters (including Charlie :-)).

Thanks for sharing.


message 6: by Susan (new)

Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
Maureen wrote: "Wish I could've been there! It's incredible Cleeves can write such an intricate tale without knowing where she was heading. For sure, she would have to keep a directory for all her characters (incl..."
You're welcome, Maureen. I agree that she would need a directory for the characters. The details and clues were very subtle, and it certainly took me awhile to connect the dots!


message 7: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Patrick | 57 comments Mod
I really enjoyed the night with Ann Cleeves. It was interesting to hear about where she sets her novels and why. I almost felt like I was there when she described it. As for her not plotting her novels, some writers are like that, the novel takes on a life of its own.


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The Crow Trap (other topics)

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