Monday, June 4th 2012 : "Shetland"
I'm writing this sitting at my friend's kitchen table in Brae, in Shetland's north mainland. There's a view across Busta Voe and the strong northerly wind is blowing cloud shadows across the hills beyond the water. I've been here for nearly a week and it's been a chance to catch up with old friends, explore the islands and to do very little after a manic few months. The weather has been freezing for late spring, but mostly bright and sunny and I'm aware as I always am, how special this place is.
Since my last diary entry, the BBC has announced that they've commissioned an adaptation of my Shetland novel RED BONES. The show, titled simply SHETLAND, will be made by ITV Studios, the production company responsible for VERA and will star actor Douglas Henshall as Jimmy Perez. I feel a bit ambivalent about this - delighted and excited of course but a bit greedy too. There are so many brilliant crime novels published in the UK and I seem to be getting more than my fair share of television time at the moment. However, my trip to Shetland has made me realise how important the show will be to people here. They've always been incredibly supportive about the books and are pleased that this wonderful place will be better known to a wider audience and we all hope that it will attract more visitors.
Elaine Collins, who first took out the options on the Vera and Shetland titles will be executive producer. Despite the expense of bringing cast and crew to the islands she's always been determined that at least some of the filming should be done here. The enthusiasm and energy of people at Shetland Islands Council and Shetland Arts has helped turn that determination into a reality. Sue de Beauvoir, the producer and Peter Hoar, the director, were bowled over by the place and its people when they came up on a recce and since then there have been other visits and locations have been fixed. Shetlanders are used to film makers showing interest in the beauty of the islands, then losing interest when the logistical problems become evident, and they're thrilled by the speed with which this project has become a reality. I bumped into John Haswell, Shetland Arts' drama advisor, at the Aith gala yesterday and he tells me that he's been asked to find supporting artists to appear in the show. So it'll be a real joint venture.
Since coming north I was sent the shooting script of SHETLAND. It's odd to see another writer's take on my story, but David Kane has captured the important elements of the plot beautifully, I think. In lots of ways the film will be quite different from the book, but I hope people will come to it with an open mind and enjoy it as I do. There will certainly be a dramatic, and very Shetland, climax. I've been invited to the read through at the production base in Glasgow and that will be a chance to meet the cast and crew.
A couple of weeks ago, Pan Macmillan, my publisher organised a special Kindle promotion of my novel Silent Voices. It was available for 99p just for a day. And thanks to the kindness and persistence of readers and other writers it hit the top of the Kindle best-seller list, knocking Fifty Shades of Grey from number one place (if only briefly). Special thanks are due to blogger, reviewer and crime fiction expert Rhian Davies - there's no way we would have done it without her. I've always been sceptical about the importance of social media in publishing, but that experience has converted me. If it's done properly, Twitter and FaceBook can make a huge difference.
Posted by Ann at 12:48 PM GMT