Val McDermid

Val McDermid bigraphy, stories - Literary

Val McDermid : biography

04 June 1955 –

Val McDermid (born 4 June 1955) is a Scottish crime writer, best known for a series of suspense novels starring her most famous creation, Dr. Tony Hill.

Ink attack

On Thursday 6 December 2012 McDermid was attacked by an assailant who poured ink over the author during an event at the University of Sunderland in North East England. McDermid had completed a public lecture and was holding a book signing event when a woman in her 60s, who was wearing a trilby hat and blonde wig,> asked McDermid to sign a Top of the Pops book which had a picture of disgraced TV presenter Jimmy Savile on the cover. When McDermid refused the woman poured ink over her and ran out of the room. McDermid has stated that the incident would not stop her doing future signing events, telling a North East local newspaper "I have been doing this for 25 years and I’ve never had anything like this happen. It wouldn’t put me off doing book signings because the overwhelming majority of people who come to my events are readers who are intelligent people." McDermid also made it clear that she did not hold the University of Sunderland responsible for the attack, stating: "They went to a lot of effort to stage the event and absolutely no blame can be attached to them.">

On the 29th December Northumbria Police announced that they had arrested a 64-year-old woman from the Hendon area of Sunderland in connection with the attack. The woman was arrested on suspicion of assault and subsequently bailed pending further investigation. In April 2013 the alleged attacker was named as Sandra Botham by the Sunderland Echo.> It was announced that she had been charged with common assault, denied the charges and would face a two-day trial on 8 July 2013.


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 (Kirkcaldy High School), and became President of the Junior Common Room. After graduation she became a journalist, and worked briefly as a dramatist. However, her first success as a novelist, Report for Murder: The First Lindsay Gordon Mystery, did not appear until 1987.

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


McDermid’s notable characters are a lesbian journalist, Lindsay Gordon; a private investigator, Kate Brannigan; and a psychologist, Tony Hill, who suffers from sexual dysfunction. Her books mainly fall into three series: Lindsay Gordon, Kate Brannigan, and, beginning in 1995, the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series, the first entry in which, The Mermaids Singing, 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. Val McDermid has stated that 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. McDermid states that Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is her favourite novel.

McDermid considers her work to be part of the "Tartan Noir" Scottish crime fiction genre. As well as her 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.

Personal life

McDermid is lesbian. She and her former spouse share custody of their son Cameron (conceived to McDermid’s ex via donor insemination). She is a Raith Rovers supporter. She lives in Manchester and Northumberland with three cats and border terrier dog. She has called the Northumberland coast "one of the most beautiful places in the world.”Tony Henderson, , The Journal, 25 October 2011

The McDermid Stand

Starks Park, the McDermid stand visible to the left. The McDermid Stand, which she sponsors, is in Stark’s Park, Raith Rovers ground in Kirkcaldy. She often invests in billboards there for her newest books. This endeavour was in honour of her father, a scout for the club. She has lately become a board member of the club, a year after sponsoring this stand.