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The return of Vera

At the end of July ITV announced the recommission of VERA - great news and thanks to all of you who watched series 1. This wasn't so much of a surprise to people living locally who had already spotted the cast and crew out on location in various parts of Tyneside and Northumberland. Filming of four new two hour dramas began in the middle of last month. Three of the programmes will be original stories and one will be an adaptation of my novel SILENT VOICES. It's become something of a tradition to take the writers around the region before they start the scripts, so I met them a few months ago. I'm very excited by the plotlines and the development in the relationships that they've come up with. It's great to have Paul Rutman, who led the writing for last season, working on two of the scripts. I have a real sense that the new series will be even stronger than the last.

I visited the set last week. The action was taking place in the old Swan Hunter building on the Tyne at Wallsend. This provides the production offices and the interior shots of Kimmerston Police Station. Again I was surprised by the size of the team involved. This a major operation, not just for the people on set - the directors, the camera and sound people, costume and make-up artists, people looking after script continuity and props - but for those who are very much behind the scenes. There are the designers, the location managers, the office staff and the accountant. And it seems that holding everything together is the line producer, Margaret Mitchell. Producer Elaine Collins has creative control of the project. She supervises the scripts and the casting and the editing. She chooses the directors. I know that she'll be true to my characters and to the landscape where they're set. Margaret has a role that is less glamorous but equally essential to the project. She does the sums and works out the schedules. Elaine has the vision and Margaret makes it happen in a practical way. They make a wonderful team. It was great to see so many familiar faces working on VERA 2, a sign that people had enjoyed their experience the first time round and that they'd been glad to come back. It was just like catching up with a bunch of old friends.

The Glass Room, harback edition

In February Vera Stanhope will return in her more usual form, as a character in my latest novel, THE GLASS ROOM. This is set in a writers' retreat, a fortified farmhouse on the Northumberland coast. Vera goes in search of one of her hippy neighbours, who has disappeared from home. It's easy enough to track Joanna down to the Writers' House, where aspiring authors attend workshops and develop their writing skills. It's more complicated when a body is discovered and Joanna is found with a knife in her hand...

Very soon I'll be off on my own writer's retreat, to St Hilda's College Oxford. I'll be there for five days before the annual crime and mystery conference begins. And I can't wait! Just hope that there are no bodies to disturb the flow...

Posted by Ann on Thursday, August 4th 2011 @ 03:18 PM GMT [link]

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