Ann Cleeves on Shetland Noir

Ann Cleeves is the author behind BBC One's Shetland and ITV's Vera. As the curator of crime festival Shetland Noir, taking place on 13 – 15 November, Ann tells us what she's looking forward to.

Ann Cleeves is the author behind BBC One's Shetland and ITV's Vera. As the curator of crime festival Shetland Noir, taking place on 13 – 15 November, Ann tells us what she's looking forward to.

I'm a regular at crime festivals and mystery conventions in the UK and overseas. These gatherings are a great way to meet readers and catch up with old friends – and to explore cities that I wouldn't otherwise visit. This year I had the honour to chair the programming committee for Europe's biggest crime-writing festival in Harrogate and to meet writers from all over the world. So why am I so excited about Shetland Noir, a tiny festival to be held in the UK's most northerly islands in the middle of November?

Because I love the place! I first visited the islands as a drop-out student forty years ago and it's become my sanctuary. I go there when I need to catch my breath and relax or to celebrate the wonderful things that are happening in my life. I've had tremendous support from Shetlanders in my writing and I know they'll provide a huge welcome to visitors who are making their way north to be at this very special festival.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We've borrowed the event from Iceland Noir and next year they'll be hosting the festival back in Reykjavik. It's the Nordic element that will make Shetland Noir so special – a lot of our Icelandic friends are making the journey to join us, but there will be Danish and Swedish writers too, as well as some home-grown Shetland talent. We have big-name Scottish authors head-lining along with the Icelanders and Scandinavians and I'm delighted that so many writers from all over the UK have decided to support us. Professor James Grieve, the forensic pathologist from Aberdeen who appears as himself in my books, and CSI Helen Pepper who advises on the TV shows will give us some facts, in case we get carried away with all the fiction.

So what am I most looking forward to? The panels of course. It's always fascinating to hear other people talking about their writing and reading. And the bus tour of Shetland mainland, when local locations manager and general fixer Davy Gardner will show us the places where the BBC drama starring Dougie Henshall was filmed. A new series of the show will be aired soon. The tour will give people a taste of island hospitality too, because we'll be stopping in one of the community halls for lunch. But mostly I'm looking forward to hearing what people make of the place, having the chance to chat to old friends and to make new ones. There'll be plenty of opportunity to do that. Nobody does a party quite like the Shetlanders.

Shetland Noir takes place at Mareel from Friday 13 November to Sunday 15 November. Click here for more information and to book your tickets.