Ann Cleeves - The SeagullWhen you are crime-writing royalty you should expect to plant a bottom on every available seat.

No surprise, then, to find a full house greeting the wonderful Ann Cleeves at Sunderland University for the first in a series of high profile summer lectures.

Those lucky enough to be on said seats seemed evenly split between straight up fans and budding writers hoping for nuggets of priceless advice from someone whose global success borders on the scary…hard to think of anyone else who has TWO of her treasured creations simultaneously sharing eye-catching ratings on both ITV and BBC.

And nuggets there were as Cleeves – a slight and stylish figure dwarfed by the vast screen behind her – quietly held the room with a self-effacing mix of poignant memories, moments that made her and beautifully-delivered readings from her latest The Seagull.

Ann Cleeves autographRevealing the upcoming Shetland release would be Jimmy Perez’s final investigation drew a ripple ofheartfelt ‘nooos’ from the faithful; she confessed she had been ‘bowled over’ by the affection forher beloved Vera and that the detective was now a big hit in France; that she was ‘so fortunate’ thewonderful Brenda Blethyn took on the role and made it her own; that she was ‘telling stories before I could read or write.’

And those hints for the writers still hoping to find her footprints and follow them?

Love the characters you create because if you don’t, no one else will…make the setting as big aplayer as the people… keep your work tight and simple…don’t be discouraged if doors keep closing.

We are proud to report that The Cat’s was the first hand in the air when Cleeves moved to questions and answers, a chance for us to learn what she would want and expect from a great publisher?

“Get good editors,” she said without missing a beat. “A good editor can really make a difference.”