Val McDermid’s perspective as a woman is key to her ability to write crime fiction, but the genre is more than it seems, she tells Declan Burke.For the rest, clickety-click here …
VAL McDERMID writes crime novels about serial killers. She’s also a lesbian. You conflate those facts to call her a “blood-thirsty lesbian” at your peril, however, as her fellow author Ian Rankin discovered when a throwaway remark led to one of crime fiction’s most notorious literary spats.
“Well, the ‘blood-thirsty lesbian’ bit, that was the headline in The Times,” says McDermid, who gets a steely gleam in her eye when the topic is raised.
“But what Ian actually said was that the most graphic and violent of novels were being written by women, and of those the most violent were written by lesbians. I mean,” she shrugs, “it was a row that was entirely confected by the media. There was no falling-out between Ian and I. Ian was at my wedding, and we’ve been friends for long enough to know we’re capable of having differing opinions from our pals.
“I do think his statement was wrong,” she says, warming to the theme. “But what it led onto was a wider discussion that seemed to indicate that there was something inappropriate about women writing violent crime fiction, which is something I take extreme exception to.”
“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.
Friday, October 21, 2011
My Bloody Valentine
I had a very pleasant experience a couple of weeks ago, when I sat down with Val McDermid (right) to interview her for the Irish Examiner on the publication of her latest opus, THE RETRIBUTION. Fair to say, I think, that Val’s reputation for not suffering fools gladly goes before her, but maybe she was in particularly mellow mode that day, because she certainly suffered this particular fool at length, especially when I broached the hoary old chestnut of her being ‘a blood-thirsty lesbian’. The piece opens a lot like this: