Crime writer Val McDermid admits she ‘can’t stop thinking of ways to kill people’

Crime writer Val McDermid has told how, wherever she goes, she can’t stop thinking of ways to kill people.

McDermid, known to her fans as the “Queen of Crime”, has bumped off hundreds of characters over more than 30 years as a novelist.

But she admitted she dreams up grisly endings for doomed characters wherever she goes – even on romantic breaks.

Speaking in BBC Scotland series The Big Scottish Book Club, to be shown tonight, she says: “My mind always goes there.

“It’s faintly embarrassing because I seldom switch off from the idea that this is a lovely place to kill somebody.

“My partner and I were having a very romantic holiday in France, on a barge on the River Saone. In France. you’re allowed to tie up anywhere and to facilitate this they give you five sharpened metal stakes and a mallet. I mean, come on.

“We’re coasting through beautiful wooded banks and lots of forests where there are no roads and not really any paths – the perfect place for someone walking their dog to come across a body six months later. Why would you not start thinking about that?”

Recalling a visit to whisky makers on Jura, she adds: “I thought of lots of different ways to kill somebody in a distillery.”

McDermid, 66, grew up in Kirkcaldy, Fife, and has sold over 17million books around the world, translated into more than 40 languages.

The author, who now divides her time between Edinburgh and Fife, is famed for her Wire in the Blood novels featuring clinical psychologist Dr Tony Hill and DCI Carol Jordan, and her cold case series with detective Karen Pirie, among others.

Her latest novel, 1979, introduced Allie Burns, a young female reporter for a fictional Glasgow tabloid. She said the book is the first in a series of five set at 10-year intervals.

She added: “I’ve got five novels planned with the same protagonist and there will be a playlist at the end of each one. I’m working on 1989 now.”

The Big Scottish Book Club is on BBC Scotland tonight at 10pm.

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