Crime novelist Val McDermid grew up in Kirkcaldy, and spent a lot of her childhood with her grandparents in East Wemyss. At High School she was placed in an experimental high-IQ stream, taught separately from the other children; the Prime Minister Gordon Brown was also part of the programme. Expected to excel in all areas, she was criticised for failing to take part in a school hockey match – instead, she was being interviewed for Oxford University. McDermid was the first female Scottish pupil from a state school to attend St Hilda’s College, where she read English.
After University she became a journalist, first working in Devon and later in Glasgow and Manchester. She had been writing since she was aged 21 – her first book, Like A Happy Ending, was adapted for stage and radio but was never published. Her first published novel, Report for Murder, was written in 1984 and published in 1987; it featured lesbian journalist Lindsay Gordon. Four further novels featuring Gordon have been published.
In 1991 McDermid gave up her journalism to write full time, although she still contributes to various national newspapers. Her graphic psychological thrillers and murder mysteries had sometimes proved controversial, and her profile was raised further when her Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series of novels was adapted for television with the ITV show The Wire in the Blood. The first novel in the series, The Mermaids Singing, won a CWA Dagger Award for best novel in 1995. In 2010 she was awarded the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger in recognition of her 20 years of crime writing. Her latest novel is Trick of the Dark.
Val McDermid is openly lesbian and lives with her Civil Partner Kelly Smith, an American publisher. She lives in Alnmouth in Northumberland, and in Manchester, where she shares custody of her son from a previous relationship. A lifelong football fan, she has sponsored a stand at the Raith Rovers football ground in Kirkcaldy.