Val McDermid

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Val McDermid
Born (1955-06-04) 4 June 1955 (age 59)
Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland
Nationality Scottish
Genre Crime fiction

Val McDermid (born 4 June 1955) is a Scottish crime writer, best known for a series of suspense novels featuring her most famous creation, Dr. Tony Hill.


McDermid comes from Kirkcaldy, Fife, and was educated at St Hilda's College, Oxford, where she was the first student from a state school in Scotland[citation needed] (Kirkcaldy High School), and became President of the Junior Common Room. After graduation she became a journalist, and worked briefly as a dramatist. However, her first success as a novelist, Report for Murder: The First Lindsay Gordon Mystery, did not appear until 1987.

McDermid was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Sunderland in 2011.[1]

She is co-founder of the world's largest crime fiction festival in Harrogate the Theaktons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival and the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.


McDermid's notable characters are a journalist, Lindsay Gordon; a private investigator, Kate Brannigan; and a psychologist, Tony Hill, who suffers from sexual dysfunction. Her books mainly fall into three series: Lindsay Gordon, Kate Brannigan, and, beginning in 1995, the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series, the first entry in which, The Mermaids Singing, won the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year. The Hill/Jordan series has been adapted for television under the name Wire in the Blood, starring Robson Green.

Val McDermid has stated that Jacko Vance, a TV celebrity with a secret lust for torture, murder and under-age girls, who featured in the Wire in the Blood and two later books, is based on her direct personal experience of interviewing Jimmy Savile.[2] McDermid states that Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird is her favourite novel.[citation needed]

McDermid considers her work to be part of the "Tartan Noir" Scottish crime fiction genre.[3] In addition to writing novels, McDermid contributes to several British newspapers and often broadcasts on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Scotland.[4]

Her novels, in particular the Tony Hill series, are known for their graphic depictions of violence and torture.

The McDermid Stand[edit]

Starks Park, the McDermid stand visible to the left.

The McDermid Stand, which she sponsors, is in Stark's Park, Raith Rovers ground in Kirkcaldy. She often invests in billboards there for her newest books. This endeavour was in honour of her father, a scout for the club.[5] She has lately become a board member of the club, a year after sponsoring this stand.

Ink attack[edit]

On 6 December 2012 McDermid was attacked by an assailant who poured ink over the author during an event at the University of Sunderland in Northeast England.[6] McDermid had completed a public lecture and was holding a book-signing event when a woman in her 60s, who was wearing a trilby hat and blonde wig,[7] asked McDermid to sign a Top of the Pops annual which had a picture of disgraced TV presenter Jimmy Savile on the cover.[7] When McDermid refused, the woman poured ink over her and ran out of the room.[7]

McDermid has stated that the incident would not stop her doing future signing events, telling a Northeast local newspaper, "I have been doing this for 25 years and I’ve never had anything like this happen. It wouldn’t put me off doing book signings because the overwhelming majority of people who come to my events are readers who are intelligent people."[8] McDermid also made it clear that she did not hold the University of Sunderland responsible for the attack, stating: "They went to a lot of effort to stage the event and absolutely no blame can be attached to them."[9]

On 29 December Northumbria Police announced that they had arrested a 64-year-old woman from the Hendon area of Sunderland in connection with the attack. The woman was arrested on suspicion of assault and subsequently bailed pending further investigation.[9] In April 2013 the alleged attacker was named as Sandra Botham by the Sunderland Echo.[10] It was announced that she had been charged with common assault, denied the charges and would face a two-day trial on 8 July 2013.[10] Botham was convicted of common assault on 10 July 2013.[11] Botham received a 12-month community order with supervision and was made to pay £50 compensation and a £60 victim surcharge.[12] She was also given a restraining order forbidding her from contacting McDermid for a non-defined period of time.[13] Following the trial the Northern Echo reported that Botham's actions were motivated by McDermid's 1994 non-fiction book A Suitable Job for a Woman, as Botham claimed that the book contained a passage which besmirched her and her family.[14]

Personal life[edit]

McDermid is a lesbian. She and her former spouse share custody of their son Cameron (conceived to McDermid's ex via donor insemination). She is a Raith Rovers supporter.[4][15] She lives in Manchester and Northumberland with three cats[16] and border terrier dog. She has called the Northumberland coast "one of the most beautiful places in the world."[17]

McDermid has said that she supports the Yes campaign for Scottish independence.[18]


Lindsay Gordon series[edit]

  • Report for Murder (1987)
  • Common Murder (1989)
  • Final Edition (1991) US Titles: Open and Shut, Deadline for Murder
  • Union Jack (1993), US Title: Conferences are Murder
  • Booked for Murder (1996)
  • Hostage to Murder (2003)

Kate Brannigan series[edit]

  • Dead Beat (1992)
  • Kick Back (1993)
  • Crack Down (1994)
  • Clean Break (1995)
  • Blue Genes (1996)
  • Star Struck (1998)

Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series[edit]

The Austen Project[edit]

  • Northanger Abbey (2014)

Other books[edit]

  • A Suitable Job for a Woman (1994); non-fiction
  • The Writing on the Wall (1997); short stories, limited edition of 200 copies
  • A Place of Execution (1999)
  • Killing the Shadows (2000)
  • The Distant Echo (2003)
  • Stranded (2005); short stories
  • Crime in the Skin (2006)
  • The Grave Tattoo (2006)
  • A Darker Domain (2008)
  • Trick of the Dark (2010)
  • The Vanishing Point (2012)
  • The Skeleton Road (2014)

Children's books[edit]

  • My Granny is a Pirate (2012)[20]


  • Bodies of Evidence (2014)


  1. ^ "Queen of crime in stadium thriller". University of Sunderland News and Events. 14 July 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  2. ^ "I based psycho on Jimmy Savile, says writer Val McDermid". 
  3. ^ "Val McDermid - News & Events - Round the World". Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  4. ^ a b "Val McDermid - Biography". Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  5. ^ "Dining In The Streets Of Raith". Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  6. ^ "Author attacked by OAP after she gave talk". Shields Gazette. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c >"Ink thrown at author Val McDermid during Sunderland book signing". Journal Live. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  8. ^ "Author Val McDermid to carry on signings after attack". Journal Live. 13 December 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  9. ^ a b >"Author Val McDermid assaulted at Sunderland book signing". Journal Live. 29 December 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  10. ^ a b >"Woman denies attack on crime writer at Sunderland talk". Sunderland Echo. 11 April 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  11. ^ Liz Bury "Reader convicted for Val McDermid ink assault",, 10 July 2013
  12. ^ "Widow who attacked Scottish author Val McDermid with ink is given a restraining order". Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  13. ^ "Val McDermid ink attacker given restraining order". Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  14. ^ Northern Echo Pensioner in court over vendetta with crime writer Val McDermid, Tuesday 9 July 2013, retrieved Wednesday 31 July 2013.
  15. ^ Mina, Denise (February 2002). "Denise Mina talks to Val McDermid". Sunday Herald. Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  16. ^ Flockhart, Susan (May 2004). "Murder In Mind". Sunday Herald. Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  17. ^ Tony Henderson, "Val McDermid nominates her favourite ramble for festival", The Journal, 25 October 2011
  18. ^ The Guardian, Saturday 19 July 2014, 'Scottish writers on the referendum – independence day?',
  19. ^ "Shortlist for Theakston’s Crime Novel of the year Award 2009". 2009-06-02. Retrieved 2009-06-17. 
  20. ^ Orchard Books. ISBN 978-1-40830-927-8

External links[edit]