Val McDermid

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Val McDermid
Born (1955-06-04) 4 June 1955 (age 60)
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 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[1] (Kirkcaldy High School), and became President of the Junior Common Room. After graduation she became a journalist and worked briefly as a dramatist. Her first success as a novelist, Report for Murder: The First Lindsay Gordon Mystery occurred in 1987.

McDermid was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Sunderland in 2011.[2]

She is co-founder of the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival and the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, part of the Harrogate International Festivals.


McDermid's works fall into three series: Lindsay Gordon, Kate Brannigan, and the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series. Her characters include a journalist, Lindsay Gordon; a private investigator, Kate Brannigan; and a clinical psychologist, Tony Hill. The Mermaids Singing, the first book in the Hill/Jordan series, 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.

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.[3]

McDermid considers her work to be part of the "Tartan Noir" Scottish crime fiction genre.[4] In addition to writing novels, McDermid contributes to several British newspapers and often broadcasts on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Scotland.[5] 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.

She sponsors the McDermid Stand in Stark's Park, Raith Rovers ground in Kirkcaldy. This endeavour was in honour of her father, a scout for the club.[6] A year after sponsoring the stand, she became a board member of the club, and starting in 2014 her website became Raith's shirt sponsor.

Ink attack[edit]

On 6 December 2012 McDermid was attacked by an assailant who poured ink over her during an event at the University of Sunderland.[7] McDermid was holding a book-signing event when a woman asked McDermid to sign a Top of the Pops annual which contained a picture of the disgraced late TV presenter Jimmy Savile.[8] After McDermid reluctantly signed the annual, the woman threw ink at her and ran out of the room.[8] McDermid stated that the incident would not stop her from doing future signing events.[9][10]

Northumbria Police arrested Sandra Botham, a 64-year-old woman from the Hendon area of Sunderland, on suspicion of assault.[10][11][11] Botham was convicted of common assault on 10 July 2013,[12] received a 12-month community order with supervision and was made to pay £50 compensation and a £60 victim surcharge.[13] She was also given a restraining order forbidding her from contacting McDermid for an undefined period of time.[14] 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 that besmirched her and her family.[15]

Personal life[edit]

McDermid is a lesbian. She and her former spouse share custody of their son, who was conceived by McDermid's ex via donor insemination. She stated her intention to marry her civil partner in 2013 when the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill came into force.[16]

She is a Raith Rovers supporter.[5][17] She lives in Stockport and Northumberland with three cats[18] and border terrier dog. She has called the Northumberland coast "one of the most beautiful places in the world."[19]

McDermid said that she supports the Yes campaign for Scottish independence.[20]


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)[22]


  • Bodies of Evidence (2014)
  • Forensics - The Anatomy of Crime (2014) [23]


  1. ^ Nicholas Wroe. "Val McDermid: a life in writing", The Guardian, 12 August 2011.
  2. ^ "Queen of crime in stadium thriller". University of Sunderland News and Events. 14 July 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "I based psycho on Jimmy Savile, says writer Val McDermid". 
  4. ^ "Val McDermid - News & Events - Round the World". Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  5. ^ a b "Val McDermid - Biography". Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  6. ^ "Dining In The Streets Of Raith". Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  7. ^ "Author attacked by OAP after she gave talk". Shields Gazette. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  8. ^ a b >"Ink thrown at author Val McDermid during Sunderland book signing". Journal Live. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  9. ^ "Author Val McDermid to carry on signings after attack". Journal Live. 13 December 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  10. ^ a b >"Author Val McDermid assaulted at Sunderland book signing". Journal Live. 29 December 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  11. ^ a b >"Woman denies attack on crime writer at Sunderland talk". Sunderland Echo. 11 April 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  12. ^ Liz Bury "Reader convicted for Val McDermid ink assault",, 10 July 2013
  13. ^ "Widow who attacked Scottish author Val McDermid with ink is given a restraining order". Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  14. ^ "Val McDermid ink attacker given restraining order". Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  15. ^ Northern Echo Pensioner in court over vendetta with crime writer Val McDermid, Tuesday 9 July 2013, retrieved Wednesday 31 July 2013.
  16. ^ "Val McDermid vows to marry when gay marriage laws are passed". 
  17. ^ Mina, Denise (February 2002). "Denise Mina talks to Val McDermid". Sunday Herald. Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  18. ^ Flockhart, Susan (May 2004). "Murder In Mind". Sunday Herald. Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  19. ^ Tony Henderson, "Val McDermid nominates her favourite ramble for festival", The Journal, 25 October 2011
  20. ^ The Guardian, Saturday 19 July 2014, 'Scottish writers on the referendum – independence day?',
  21. ^ "Shortlist for Theakston’s Crime Novel of the year Award 2009". 2009-06-02. Retrieved 2009-06-17. 
  22. ^ Orchard Books. ISBN 978-1-40830-927-8
  23. ^

External links[edit]