THE vital importance of Bolton’s libraries was endorsed during a visit from an award-winning author.

Crime writer Ann Cleeves warned against cutting funding to libraries during a talk on her novels at Bolton Central Library on Thursday.

The 60-year-old, known for her Vera and Shetland series, which have both been turned into successful ITV dramas, spoke about the importance of being able to read for free.

She said: “I do not think I am a ‘natural’ writer – I think we learn from reading.

“This country earns £8 million an hour from its creative industries and the arts.

“Cutting funding to libraries is like wanting people to go into manufacturing, but not teaching physics in schools.”

Ann’s Shetland novels have been made into a TV series starring Douglas Henshall as Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez, and filming has begun for a third season.

Raven Black, the first in the Shetland series, won the "Oscar" of crime writing – the inaugural Duncan Lawrie Dagger, which came with a prize of £20,000 – in 2006.

Speaking about her path to success, the university drop-out told a 70-strong crowd how she came to experience the Shetland Isles for the first time.

A chance encounter led the then 20-year-old to take a job as an assistant cook at a bird observatory in Fair Isle, despite – by her own admission – “knowing nothing about birds and not being able to cook”.

Ann, who had her first book published in 1986 at the age of 32, added: “So much of my career has been about being in the right place at the right time.”

She has also published six Vera Stanhope novels, about a dowdy but sharp detective inspector with Northumberland Police.

And another serendipitous moment came when an ITV executive chanced upon her first Vera book, The Crow Trap, in an Oxfam shop in north London.

At the time, ITV were looking for a crime series to replace A Touch of Frost on a Sunday night, and in 2011 the first series of Vera, starring Brenda Blethyn, aired.

Among the audience who came to see Ann was Fawzy Partridge, who recently moved from London to Heaton and, having not yet read any of Ann’s novels, came to the event to celebrate World Book Day.

The 38-year-old, who is self-employed, said: “I value the importance of libraries – when I lived in London a lot of them were closing down.”

Linda Rigby, from Leigh, came to watch Ann speak with five other members of a crime novel book club at Leigh Library.

The 59-year-old said: “I think it is difficult these days to get people out of their houses, and this is a great way to meet other people and have fun.

“As well as making friends, it is about supporting the library and it is great to listen to authors.”

Retired Anna Mullineux, from Heaton, red Ann’s novel Red Bones with New Chapel book club.

She said: “I am very keen on books and libraries. They have closed a lot of the libraries down near us, which is such a shame.”