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.


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 had a picture of disgraced TV presenter Jimmy Savile on the cover.[8] When McDermid refused, the woman poured ink over 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 is a Raith Rovers supporter.[5][16] She lives in Stockport and Northumberland with three cats[17] and border terrier dog. She has called the Northumberland coast "one of the most beautiful places in the world."[18]

McDermid said that she supports the Yes campaign for Scottish independence.[19]


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)[21]


  • Bodies of Evidence (2014)
  • Forensics - The Anatomy of Crime (2014) [22]


  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. ^ Mina, Denise (February 2002). "Denise Mina talks to Val McDermid". Sunday Herald. Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  17. ^ Flockhart, Susan (May 2004). "Murder In Mind". Sunday Herald. Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  18. ^ Tony Henderson, "Val McDermid nominates her favourite ramble for festival", The Journal, 25 October 2011
  19. ^ The Guardian, Saturday 19 July 2014, 'Scottish writers on the referendum – independence day?',
  20. ^ "Shortlist for Theakston’s Crime Novel of the year Award 2009". 2009-06-02. Retrieved 2009-06-17. 
  21. ^ Orchard Books. ISBN 978-1-40830-927-8
  22. ^

External links[edit]