Val McDermid, known as the Queen of Crime, is one of the biggest names in crime writing. Her novels have been translated into 40 languages, over 15 million copies of her books have been sold worldwide, and she has won and been nominated for several awards over her 30-year career.
Val’s books include four main series: Lindsay Gordon, Kate Brannigan, Tony Hill and Carol Jordan, and Karen Pirie. Her latest novel is Broken Ground and her next book, How the Dead Speak, is due out in August. You can see Val in person at Slaughter in Southwold in June.
1. Who were your literary heroes and influences are you were growing up?
An eclectic mix that included Robert Louis Stevenson, the Chalet School books, Agatha Christie, the Moomintrolls and Batman comics.
2. What have been the biggest changes in the crime genre since Lindsay Gordon first appeared in the 1980s?
The genre has burst its banks and expanded in all directions. Crime novels in the UK used to be village mysteries or Home Counties police procedurals, but now they encompass all sorts of storytelling, every social stratum and a wide range of investigators. Any story you want to tell can fit in the broad church of crime.
3. Broken Ground is your most recent Karen Pirie novel. What was that like to write?
More or less like the previous 32… It started with a small idea that I played with over a couple of years, experimenting in my head with what might fit with it and how it might play out. And figuring out whose stories fitted in and how.
Then I sit down and start to write and about halfway through I decide that this is the worst pile of stinking rubbish I have ever written and this time I will be found out. But I grit my teeth and somehow make it to the end.
4. What is on your list of books to read at the moment?
5. Do you have a message for your many readers in Suffolk?
Don’t be shy about saying hello when you come to get your book signed!
6. You are visiting Suffolk in June for Slaughter in Southwold. Can you give us a small taster of what to expect?
I think you should be telling me what to expect! Me, I’ll be talking about my work with my usual enthusiasm.
7. You have been interviewed many times. Can you tell us something your readers may not know about you?
My first broadcast quiz show was Television Top of the Form in 1969.