Val McDermid

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Val McDermid

McDermid in 2007
McDermid in 2007
Born (1955-06-04) 4 June 1955 (age 66)
Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland
EducationSt Hilda's College, Oxford
GenreCrime fiction
SpouseJo Sharp (m. 2016)
Website Edit this at Wikidata

Valarie "Val" McDermid, FRSE, FRSL (born 4 June 1955) is a Scottish crime writer, best known for a series of novels featuring clinical psychologist Dr. Tony Hill in a grim sub-genre that McDermid and others have identified as Tartan Noir.


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 began her literary career 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] In 2010, McDermind received the Cartier Diamond Dagger from the Crime Writers' Association for "outstanding achievement in the field of crime writing".[9]

McDermid considers her work to be part of the "Tartan Noir" Scottish crime fiction genre.[10] In addition to writing novels, McDermid contributes to several British newspapers and often broadcasts on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Scotland.[11] Her novels, in particular the Tony Hill series, are known for their graphic depictions of violence and torture.

Raith Rovers[edit]

Starks Park, the McDermid stand visible to the left.

McDermid was a lifelong Raith Rovers fan, her father having worked as a scout for the club.[11][12][13] In 2010, she sponsored the McDermid Stand at Stark's Park, the club's ground in Kirkcaldy, in honour of her father.[13]

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.[14]

In February 2022, McDermid said she would be withdrawing her support and sponsorship from Raith Rovers after the club signed striker David Goodwillie, who had been ruled to have raped a woman and made to pay damages in a civil case in 2017.[15][16]

Ink attack[edit]

On 6 December 2012 a woman poured ink over McDermid during an event at the University of Sunderland.[17] 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. After McDermid reluctantly agreed the woman threw ink at her and ran out of the room.[18] McDermid said the incident would not stop her from doing signings.[19][20]

Northumbria Police arrested Sandra Botham, a 64-year-old woman from the Hendon area of Sunderland, on suspicion of assault.[20][21] Botham was convicted of common assault on 10 July 2013,[22] received a 12-month community order with supervision and was made to pay £50 compensation and a £60 victim surcharge.[23] She was also given a restraining order forbidding her from contacting McDermid for an undefined period of time.[24] 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.[25]

Personal life[edit]

McDermid formerly lived in both Stockport and near Alnmouth in Northumberland[26] with three cats[27] and a border terrier dog. Since early 2014 she has lived in Stockport and Edinburgh.[28][29]

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,[30] with whom she had entered into a civil partnership in 2006.[2]

On 23 October 2016 McDermid married her partner of two years, Jo Sharp, a professor of geography at the University of Glasgow.[31][32]

McDermid is a radical feminist and socialist.[33][26] She has incorporated feminism into some of her novels.[34]


Lindsay Gordon series[edit]

  • Report for Murder (1987)[35]
  • Common Murder (1989)[35]
  • Final Edition (1991)[35] US Titles: Open and Shut, Deadline for Murder
  • Union Jack (1993),[35] US Title: Conferences Are Murder
  • Booked for Murder (1996)[35]
  • Hostage to Murder (2003)[35]

Kate Brannigan series[edit]

  • Dead Beat (1992)[36]
  • Kick Back (1993)[36]
  • Crack Down (1994)[36]
  • Clean Break (1995)[36]
  • Blue Genes (1996)[36]
  • Star Struck (1998) (awarded Grand Prix des Romans d’Aventure in 1998)[35]

Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series[edit]

Inspector Karen Pirie series[edit]

Allie Burns series[edit]

The Austen Project[edit]

  • Northanger Abbey (2014)[42]

Other books[edit]

  • The Writing on the Wall (1997);[35] short stories, limited edition of 200 copies
  • A Place of Execution (1999)
  • Killing the Shadows (2000)
  • Stranded (2005); short stories[35]
  • 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)[43]
  • The High Heid Yin's New Claes, published in The Itchy Coo Book o Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales in Scots (2020)


  • A Suitable Job for a Woman (1995)
  • Bodies of Evidence (2014)
  • Forensics – The Anatomy of Crime (2014)[44]
  • Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA, and More Tell Us About Crime (2015)


  1. ^ a b "Dr Val McDermid - English, 1972". St Hilda's College, Oxford. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  2. ^ a b Wroe, Nicholas (12 August 2011). "Val McDermid: a life in writing". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  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. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. 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 (7 June 2017). "Rankin, McDermid and Levy named new RSL fellows". The Bookseller.
  8. ^ "I based psycho on Jimmy Savile, says writer Val McDermid". The Daily Record. 28 October 2012.
  9. ^ Pauli, Michelle (12 January 2010). "Val McDermid 'gobsmacked' by Diamond Dagger award". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 February 2022.
  10. ^ Hannah Ellis-Petersen (25 August 2015). "Val McDermid: 'I'm working class – I wouldn't be able to go to Oxford now'". The Guardian.
  11. ^ a b "Val McDermid – Biography".
  12. ^ Mina, Denise (February 2002). "Denise Mina talks to Val McDermid". Sunday Herald. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 9 July 2007.
  13. ^ a b "Val McDermid's Raith Rovers sponsorship about giving 'something back into the community'". The Courier. 7 June 2014.
  14. ^ Anna Burnside (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.
  15. ^ "Val McDermid ends Raith Rovers support over David Goodwillie deal". BBC News. 1 February 2022. Retrieved 1 February 2022.
  16. ^ McKenzie, Lewis (1 February 2022). "Val McDermid ends Raith Rovers sponsorship over Goodwillie signing". STV News. Retrieved 1 February 2022.
  17. ^ "Author attacked by OAP after she gave talk". Shields Gazette. 12 December 2012. Archived from the original on 24 October 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  18. ^ Ruth Lawson (13 December 2012). "Ink thrown at author Val McDermid during Sunderland book signing". Journal Live. Archived from the original on 8 April 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  19. ^ Ruth Lawson (13 December 2012). "Author Val McDermid to carry on signings after attack". Journal Live. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  20. ^ a b Coreena Ford (29 December 2012). "Author Val McDermid assaulted at Sunderland book signing". Journal Live. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  21. ^ "Woman denies attack on crime writer at Sunderland talk". Sunderland Echo. 11 April 2013. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  22. ^ Liz Bury (10 July 2013). "Reader convicted for Val McDermid ink assault". The Guardian.
  23. ^ "Widow who attacked Scottish author Val McDermid with ink is given a restraining order". Daily Record. 12 August 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  24. ^ "Val McDermid ink attacker given restraining order". BBC News. 12 August 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  25. ^ "Pensioner in court over vendetta with crime writer Val McDermid". The Northern Echo. 9 July 2013. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
  26. ^ a b "Interview: It can be murder, but Val McDermid's love of Raith is no mystery". The Scotsman. 10 April 2010.
  27. ^ Flockhart, Susan (30 May 2004). "Murder In Mind". Sunday Herald.
  28. ^ "Welcome to Val McDermid's website".
  29. ^ McDermid, Val (5 April 2016). "Scotland is now a place where you can be glad to be gay". The Guardian.
  30. ^ Totaro, Paulo (21 August 2010). "Death becomes her". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  31. ^ Macdonald, Stuart (25 October 2016). "Author Val McDermid gets married to long-term partner Jo Sharp". Daily Record.
  32. ^ "Val McDermid marries partner in Edinburgh". Edinburgh News. 24 October 2016.
  33. ^ "Val McDermid - Crime and reason". The Scotsman. 8 September 2008.
  34. ^ Sally Rowena Munt (1994). Murder by the Book: Feminism and the Crime Novel. Routledge. p. 67. ISBN 0415109191.
  35. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Val McDermid". British Council: Literature. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  36. ^ a b c d e "Val McDermid". Oxford Reference. doi:10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100143809. Retrieved 16 April 2022.
  37. ^ Rob Peacock (2 June 2009). "Crime Novel of the Year shortlist announced". Archived from the original on 12 August 2009. Retrieved 17 June 2009.
  38. ^ "Cross and Burn by Val McDermid: Undiscovered Scotland Book Review". Retrieved 16 April 2022.
  39. ^ "Val McDermid: 'Even on a romantic holiday my thoughts turn to murrrder'". the Guardian. 19 August 2017. Retrieved 16 April 2022.
  40. ^ "How the Dead Speak". David Higham Associates. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  41. ^ "The best recent thrillers – review roundup". the Guardian. 7 September 2021. Retrieved 16 April 2022.
  42. ^ "Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid review – 'Austen for the Facebook age'". the Guardian. 26 March 2014. Retrieved 16 April 2022.
  43. ^ Orchard Books. ISBN 978-1-40830-927-8.
  44. ^ "Forensics – The Anatomy of Crime".

External links[edit]