Novelist Ann Cleeves - the best-selling crime writer behind TV dramas Vera and Shetland - has criticised the "facile" depiction of killers in novels and on the small screen.

Cleeves, 59, whose books do not feature gratuitous sexual violence, said that she had no interest in the character of a psychopath motivated to "hate women" because of the actions of his mother.

Her comments come after several TV dramas have been criticised for scenes of violence against women.

Cleeves, who was a probation officer before she became an author, told Radio Times magazine: "I'm not interested in reading about psychopaths because I come from a tradition of the classic detective story where there is a plausible motive.

"I don't believe in a psychopath who hates women because his grandmother stuck him in a cupboard when he was seven or his mother was a prostitute.

"These sorts of facile, glib reasons for somebody to go out and sadistically kill women, I just don't believe them."

She added: "I've met murderers and most of them are pathetic, inadequate little men who couldn't cope with life or who had drunk too much. Or they were frustrated and angry individuals, they weren't clever and they weren't damaged in the way that serial killers in novels and on television are often damaged in a very simplistic way."

Earlier this year, Dame Helen Mirren said that too many victims in crime dramas were women, while acclaimed playwright Sir David Hare criticised the mounting "body count" and lack of realism in contemporary film and TV drama.

And Booker Prize-winning novelist John Banville pointed to the raft of violent crime dramas on TV featuring sexual violence.

Banville, whose novels have been adapted into BBC1 noir crime series Quirke, said: "One thing that worries me about crime series these days is just how violent they all are.

"I mean, they nearly all start off with some young woman being raped and murdered and cut up and thrown in a dustbin."

TV dramas The Fall, Silent Witness, Ripper Street and Scandinavian crime series The Bridge have all been criticised for their levels of violence.

Cleeves' books were adapted for the small screen, with Brenda Blethyn cast as DI Vera Stanhope, after an ITV producer picked up one of her novels in a branch of Oxfam.

Her Shetland series of novels were later adapted for BBC1, with Douglas Henshall as Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez.

The author said of her own success: "There are crime writers all over the country who stick pins in little images of me every night."

She added: "People ask me, 'Are you cross when they change the murderer or cut characters or add characters?' but I think in both Vera and Shetland they've really captured the essence of the books.

"You've got to be relaxed about it. I write for entertainment and if they can make an entertaining TV show, that's all to the good."

She said of her first novel, A Bird In The Hand: "Oh, it was dreadful. I'd read lots of Golden Age (of crime fiction) stuff so I thought you had to have a posh central character. Mine had a double-barrelled name and was an elderly naturalist sleuth."