One of the UK’s most accomplished and respected novelists, Val McDermid has sold over 19 million books to date across the globe and is translated into more than 40 languages. She is perhaps best-known for her Wire in the Blood series, featuring clinical psychologist Dr Tony Hill and DCI Carol Jordan, which was adapted for television starring Robson Green and Hermione Norris. She has written four other series: private detective Kate Brannigan, journalist Lindsay Gordon, cold case detective Karen Pirie, whose debut appearance in The Distant Echo is now a major ITV series and most recently, a new series featuring young journalist Allie Burns, the first in a quintet which began with 1979 and will follow Allie’s life and experiences at ten year intervals. The second in the series, 1989 was published in paperback in February 2023. Val has also published in several award-winning standalone novels, books of non-fiction, short story collections and a children’s picture book, My Granny is a Pirate.
Val returns to Karen Pirie with her 2023 hardback, Past Lying, which will be published in October.
McDermid continues to be a remarkably versatile writer for stage, microphone and screen as well as books. In early 2017 Val’s latest BBC Radio 4 drama series, Resistance, aired to great acclaim. BBC Radio 4 has also broadcast five series of her comedy crime ‘Dead’ serial, starring Julie Hesmondhalgh. And in the last couple of years, she has returned to writing for the theatre with Margaret Saves Scotland as well as creating the TV series Traces based on her original idea and starring Molly Windsor and Martin Compston, which has now completed two series, airing on primetime BBC One slots, in 2021 and 2022. The ITV adaptation, Karen Pirie, based on Val’s eponymous series character, was aired to great acclaim in 2022 starring Lauren Lyle, and a further series in in the pipeline.
Val has won many awards internationally, including the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year, the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger, the Grand Prix des Romans D’Aventure, the Lambda Literary Foundation Pioneer Award, the Stonewall Writer of the Year and the LA Times Book of the Year Award. Uniquely, she has been shortlisted in four different categories in the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Awards. In 2016 she received the Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction award at the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Harrogate Crime Festival and in 2017 received the DIVA Literary Prize for Crime She is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Val has served as a judge for both the Man Booker Prize and the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and was the Chair of the Wellcome Book Prize in 2017. She co-founded the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate (now the largest of its kind in Europe) in 2003. She has participated in innumerable festivals on five continents and she plays an active role in Scottish civic society. She is the recipient of seven Honorary Doctorates, is an Honorary Fellow of St Hilda’s College, Oxford and Professor of Scottish Studies and Crime Fiction at the University of Otago in New Zealand. She is Patron of the Scottish Book Trust, a Trustee of the Homeless World Cup Foundation and founding sponsor of McDermid Ladies football team.
Val is also an experienced broadcaster with regular and hugely popular appearances on TV and radio. Val has guest edited BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, fronted features for BBC Two’s The Culture Show, written and presented many radio documentaries and appeared on a remarkable range of TV shows from Question Time to Have I Got News For You. She further added to her broadcasting credentials in late 2016 by captaining the winning University Challenge alumnae team, having previously become Celebrity Mastermind champion! She has also been a member of winning teams in Eggheads and Only Connect Sport Relief.
Val was born in Kirkcaldy, a coastal town in the heart of the Scottish mining community. She graduated in English from St Hilda’s College, Oxford – the first from a Scottish state school to do so – before going on to be an award winning journalist for sixteen years. Val is also lead singer of the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a rock band who have performed at Glastonbury as well as many book festivals. Her civil partner is Professor Jo Sharp, the Geographer Royal for Scotland. Together they edited Imagine a Country, a collection of more than 100 short essays with the aim of fostering debate and discussion. They divide their time between Edinburgh and the East Neuk of Fife.