McDermid, Val

Val McDermid

Elected: 2016

Year of birth: 1955

Val McDermid is a writer and broadcaster, best known for her crime fiction. She was born in Kirkcaldy, Fife, in 1955. She read English at St Hilda’s College, Oxford and subsequently became a journalist. She spent 14 years on national newspapers, culminating as Northern Bureau Chief of a Sunday tabloid. Her first play, Like A Happy Ending, was produced by Plymouth Theatre company in 1978 and later adapted for BBC radio. Her debut novel, Report for Murder, featuring journalist sleuth Lindsay Gordon, was published by the Women’s Press in 1987. There are five further books in the series. A second series, overlapping the Lindsay Gordon novels, featured Manchester-based private investigator Kate Branningan, starting in 1992 with Dead Beat and also continuing for another five books, the last of which, Star Struck, won the Grand Prix des Romans d’Aventure. In 1995, she created the partnership of psychological profiler Dr Tony Hill and Detective Inspector Carol Jordan. Hill and Jordan have appeared in a further eight novels. The first, The Mermaids Singing, won the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year; the fourth, The Torment of Others, won the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award; the fifth, Beneath the Bleeding, the Stonewall Writer of the Year prize; and the sixth, Fever of the Bone, won the Lambda Literary Foundation award for Best Lesbian Mystery. The books were adapted for the successful TV drama series Wire In The Blood, which ran for six seasons. A fourth series of novels, centring on the work of cold case detective Karen Pirie, began with The Distant Echo, which won the Sherlock and the Barry Award for best crime novel of the year. The third Karen Pirie novel, The Skeleton Road, won a Dead Good Readers Award. McDermid has also written several standalone novels, including A Place of Execution (winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Anthony Award, the Barry Award, the Dilys Award and the Macavity Award) and The Grave Tattoo (winner of the Portico Prize for Fiction). A short story anthology, Stranded, was appeared in 2006.

In 1995, McDermid published A Suitable Job for a Woman, an investigation real women private investigators. And in 2014 she published Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime, an examination of various areas of forensic science. Both were shortlisted for a Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award, and Forensics won an Anthony Award.

Her career achievement awards include the Crime Writers’ Association Diamond Dagger, the Lambda Literary Foundation Pioneer Award, the Theakstons Old Peculier Lifetime Achievement Award, the ITV3 Crime Writing Hall of Fame and the LGBTQ Saints and Sinners Hall of Fame.

McDermid is a regular contributor to radio and TV. Recent appearances include curating BBC2 Artsnight, being interviewed by Andrew Marr and Alan Yentob for TV documentaries, taking part in Round Britain Quiz on BBC R4 and BBC2’s Christmas University Challenge. She has also written radio drama, most recently an adaptation of John Wyndham’s The Kraken Wakes and Resistance, a serial about antimicrobial resistance.

She co-founded the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, is an Honorary Fellow of St Hilda’s College and has been awarded several honorary doctorates.

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Fellowship Election Process​

Fellows are nominated by peers and elected by our Council of writers – our governing Board. Being elected a Fellow of the RSL is a lifetime honour. This role gives them the opportunity to support other writers, readers and the future of literature. The RSL connects writers in the Fellowship to one another, and to a wider readership.