Val McDermid

Scottish crime writer, Val McDermid FRSE was born 4 June 1955. McDermid comes from a working-class family in Kirkcaldy, Fife. She was educated at Kirkcaldy High School and studied English at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, where she was the first student to be admitted from a Scottish state school, and where she 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’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 featured in the Wire in the Blood and two later books, is based on her direct personal experience of interviewing Jimmy Saville. McDermid considers her work to be part of the “Tartan Noir” Scottish crime fiction genre.

In 2011 McDermid was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Sunderland and 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. McDermid was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2017.

In addition to writing novels, McDermid contributes to several British newspapers and often broadcasts on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Scotland. Her novels, in particular the Tony Hill series, are known for their graphic depictions of violence and torture. MCDermid 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.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.

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