Crime writer Val McDermid

SCOTTISH-born Val McDermid is one of the UK’s leading crime writers and has a home in Alnmouth on the Northumberland coast.

Val McDermid

SCOTTISH-born Val McDermid is one of the UK’s leading crime writers and has a home in Alnmouth on the Northumberland coast.

Her novels have been translated into 30 languages and have sold over 10 million copies worldwide and were the basis of the ITV1’s series Wire in the Blood. Her most recent novel, The Retribution, is currently topping the UK best-seller list.

A collection of her short stories called Stranded, which she donated to Northumberland Theatre Company for adaptation to the stage, form part of the company’s latest production called 4Words – currently on tour around the region until March 31.

When she’s not busy touring around the world, Val divides her time between Manchester and her Northumberland home.

What’s your first memory? Christmas time in the town square in Kirkcaldy, where I grew up. I remember the big Christmas tree and the hut where we could post parcels for the orphan children. There was a machine where you put a penny in the slot and plastic pipers marched up and down to Scotland the Brave.

What were you like as a child? My mum always said I was a show-off, but I think that was because I always felt a bit of an outsider and I desperately wanted to belong.

What childhood games did you play? I played a lot with my Lego. With my friends, we played tig, hide and seek, chap door run and all sorts of games of pretend in the woods and the caves – pirates, superheroes, cowboys and Indians.

What music did you like and what was the first record you bought? My dad was a singer with the Burns Club, so there was always traditional music in the house.

I liked pop music and folk music. I loved the Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour was the first record I bought – then later Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen and the Incredible String Band.

Did you have a family pet? A golden Labrador/retriever cross called Bruce.

Were your school days the best days of your life? No. But they gave me the foundation for the best days of my life.

Were you ever bullied? A bit. Mostly for being too clever by half.

What were your favourite TV programmes? Do Not Adjust Your Set, Top of the Form, The Liver Birds.

What did you want to do when you grew up? Either be a writer or a singer/songwriter

How did you spend your weekends? I played sport – hockey, ice skating, swimming – and spent time at my grandparents’ house.

They lived in a mining village on the coast where there were woods and caves nearby. It was great for playing out.

Do you remember your first kiss? Yes. It was unreasonably slobbery.

Who was your first love? Dusty Springfield. I had her picture stuck to my wardrobe. I loved her voice.

What was the most important thing in the world to you? It’s a toss-up between books and my guitar.

What did you wear then, that you would never wear now? Dresses.

How have you changed from your teenage self? I’m more at home in my own skin.

Where did you go on holiday? Caravans and Butlins.

Would the young you be pleased with the adult you? I think so, yes.

If you could go back in time what would tell your 15-year-old self? Don’t drink gin.

For more information about 4Words go to


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