Val McDermid

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Val McDermid

Born (1955-06-04) 4 June 1955 (age 64)
Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland
EducationSt Hilda's College, Oxford
GenreCrime fiction

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


McDermid comes from a working-class family in Fife. She studied English at St Hilda's College, Oxford,[1] where she was the first student to be admitted from a Scottish state school.[2]

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.[3]

McDermid was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Sunderland in 2011.[4] 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. In 2016 she captained a team of St Hilda's alumnæ to win the Christmas University Challenge.[5] In 2017, McDermid was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh,[6] as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.[7]


McDermid's works fall into four series: Lindsay Gordon, Kate Brannigan, Tony Hill and Carol Jordan, and Inspector Karen Pirie. Her characters include a journalist, Lindsay Gordon; a private investigator, Kate Brannigan; a clinical psychologist, Tony Hill; and DCI Karen Pirie working out of Fife, Scotland. 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 was featured in the Wire in the Blood and two later books, is based on her direct personal experience of interviewing Jimmy Savile.[8]

McDermid considers her work to be part of the "Tartan Noir" Scottish crime fiction genre.[9] In addition to writing novels, McDermid contributes to several British newspapers and often broadcasts on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Scotland.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12]

Ink attack[edit]

On 6 December 2012 a woman poured ink over McDermid during an event at the University of Sunderland.[13] McDermid was signing books, and a woman asked her to autograph a Top of the Pops annual which contained a picture of the disgraced late TV presenter Jimmy Savile.[14] After McDermid reluctantly agreed the woman threw ink at her and ran out of the room.[14] McDermid said the incident would not stop her from doing signings.[15][16]

Northumbria Police arrested Sandra Botham, a 64-year-old woman from the Hendon area of Sunderland, on suspicion of assault.[16][17] Botham was convicted of common assault on 10 July 2013,[18] received a 12-month community order with supervision and was made to pay £50 compensation and a £60 victim surcharge.[19] She was also given a restraining order forbidding her from contacting McDermid for an undefined period of time.[20] 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.[21]

Personal life[edit]

McDermid is a Raith Rovers supporter.[10][22] She formerly lived in both Stockport and Northumberland with three cats[23][dead link] and a border terrier dog. Since early 2014 she has lived in Stockport and Edinburgh.[24][25]

In 2016, McDermid captained a team of crime writer challengers on the TV quiz Eggheads, beating the Eggheads and winning £14,000.

In 2010, she was still living between Northumberland and Manchester with publisher Kelly Smith,[26] with whom she had entered into a civil partnership in 2006.[27]

On 23 October 2016 McDermid, who is gay, married Jo Sharp, a professor of geography at the University of Glasgow and McDermid's partner of two years.[28][29]

McDermid is a radical feminist and socialist.[30][31] McDermid has incorporated feminism into some of her novels.[32]


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) (awarded Grand Prix des Romans d’Aventure in 1998)[33]

Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series[edit]

Inspector Karen Pirie series[edit]

The Austen Project[edit]

  • Northanger Abbey (2014)

Other books[edit]

  • The Writing on the Wall (1997); short stories, limited edition of 200 copies
  • A Place of Execution (1999)
  • Killing the Shadows (2000)
  • Stranded (2005); short stories
  • Cleanskin (2006)
  • The Grave Tattoo (2006)
  • Trick of the Dark (2010) dedicated to Mary Bennett (1913-2003) & Kathy Vaughan Wilkes (1946-2003)
  • The Vanishing Point (2012)

Children's books[edit]

  • My Granny is a Pirate (2012)[37]


  • A Suitable Job for a Woman (1995)
  • Bodies of Evidence (2014)
  • Forensics – The Anatomy of Crime (2014)[38]


  1. ^ "Dr Val McDermid – English, 1972". St Hilda's College, Oxford. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  2. ^ Nicholas Wroe. "Val McDermid: a life in writing", The Guardian, 12 August 2011.
  3. ^ "I never spook myself, says top Scots crime writer Val McDermid". Daily Record. 31 August 2016. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  4. ^ "Queen of crime in stadium thriller". University of Sunderland News and Events. 14 July 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  5. ^ "Congratulations to St Hilda's Alumnae Team on their Christmas University Challenge Victory". St Hilda's College, Oxford. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  6. ^ "RSE Welcomes 60 New Fellows" (Press release). Royal Society of Edinburgh. 15 February 2017. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  7. ^ Natasha Onwuemezi, "Rankin, McDermid and Levy named new RSL fellows", The Bookseller, 7 June 2017.
  8. ^ "I based psycho on Jimmy Savile, says writer Val McDermid". The Daily Record. 28 October 2012.
  9. ^ "Val McDermid – News & Events – Round the World". Archived from the original on 17 August 2007. Retrieved 9 July 2007.
  10. ^ a b "Val McDermid – Biography". Archived from the original on 5 July 2007. Retrieved 9 July 2007.
  11. ^ "Dining In The Streets Of Raith". Archived from the original on 4 January 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  12. ^ Burnside, Anna (2 September 2016). "Straight-talking Val McDermid lifts lid on her latest novel and why she's the badass woman of the week". Daily Record. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  13. ^ "Author attacked by OAP after she gave talk". Shields Gazette. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  14. ^ a b Ruth Lawson (12 December 2012). "Ink thrown at author Val McDermid during Sunderland book signing". Journal Live. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  15. ^ "Author Val McDermid to carry on signings after attack". Journal Live. 13 December 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  16. ^ a b "Author Val McDermid assaulted at Sunderland book signing". Journal Live. 29 December 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  17. ^ "Woman denies attack on crime writer at Sunderland talk". Sunderland Echo. 11 April 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  18. ^ Liz Bury, "Reader convicted for Val McDermid ink assault", The Guardian, 10 July 2013.
  19. ^ "Widow who attacked Scottish author Val McDermid with ink is given a restraining order". Daily Record. 12 August 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  20. ^ "Val McDermid ink attacker given restraining order". BBC News. 12 August 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  21. ^ "Pensioner in court over vendetta with crime writer Val McDermid", The Northern Echo, 9 July 2013, Retrieved 31 July 2013.
  22. ^ Mina, Denise (February 2002). "Denise Mina talks to Val McDermid". Sunday Herald. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 9 July 2007.
  23. ^ Flockhart, Susan (May 2004). "Murder In Mind". Sunday Herald. Retrieved 18 July 2007.
  24. ^ "Welcome to Val McDermid's website..." Val McDermid official website.
  25. ^ Val McDermid (5 April 2016). "Scotland is now a place where you can be glad to be gay". The Guardian.
  26. ^ Totaro, P. (2010) "Death becomes her". The Sydney Morning Herald (August 21, 2010). Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  27. ^ Wroe, N. (2011) "Val McDermid: a life in writing". The Guardian (13/08/20111) Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  28. ^ Stuart Macdonald, "Author Val McDermid gets married to long-term partner Jo Sharp", Daily Record, 25 October 2016.
  29. ^ "Val McDermid marries partner in Edinburgh", Edinburgh News, 24 October 2016.
  30. ^ "Val McDermid - Crime and reason". 2008.
  31. ^ "Interview: It can be murder, but Val McDermid's love of Raith is no mystery". 2010.
  32. ^ Sally Rowena Munt (1994). Murder by the Book: Feminism and the Crime Novel. Routledge. p. 67. ISBN 0415109191.
  33. ^ Val McDermid: British Council Literature. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  34. ^ St. Hilda;s College: Dr Val McDermid - English, 1972. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  35. ^ "Shortlist for Theakston's Crime Novel of the year Award 2009". 2 June 2009. Retrieved 17 June 2009.
  36. ^ "How the Dead Speak". David Higham Associates. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  37. ^ Orchard Books. ISBN 978-1-40830-927-8.
  38. ^ "Forensics – The Anatomy of Crime". Val McDermid official website.

External links[edit]