Val McDermid is a best-selling Scottish crime writer, with 25 novels under her belt. From the gumshoe-reporter Lindsay Gordon (the UK’s first openly lesbian detective) to the dark to the seamy underbelly of Dr Tony Hill’s Bradfield, McDermid has traversed the spectrum of crime and transfixed her readers for decades. But she’s never shied from controversy. The Tony Hill series, featuring the eccentric criminal psychologist and DI Carol Jordan, is renowned for its violent and disturbing narratives. Often involving sexual violence and torture, it’s fiction that challenges our perceptions of traditional gendered storytelling. As such, McDermid has been subject to some recent unedifying criticism – in 2007, The Times infamously ran the headline ‘Revenge of the bloodthirsty lesbians’, while other critics have labelled her work as full of dead bodies and gratuitous violence towards women. Yet at the heart of McDermid’s fiction is a profound control of story – deftly plotted and populated with authentic and endearing characters – and you’re drawn into these worlds, however blood-splattered they may be.
Kill Your Darlings spoke with Val McDermid about her new novel, why she writes crime and the changing landscape of UK publishing.
– Rebecca Starford
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