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'I always wanted to write books, and always crime'

23 August 2021

‘I always wanted to write books, and always crime. I'd read Agatha Christie as a child and in the late 1980s I discovered the US crime writer Sara Paretsky. I thought: wow, these are the kind of books I want to write - books with strong female protagonists with a brain and sense of humour; women who didn't have to get the guys in for the heavy lifting. I wanted my characters to be three-dimensional, and if some of those characters happened to be gay, they were not defined by it...

I never wrote to be successful, so success was a happy surprise. But I don't particularly live the life of a rich person - no flash cars, no ridiculous jewellery, and I used to buy most of my shirts from Debenhams.'

Val McDermid, whose latest book is 1979, and who is the author of 45 books, nearly all of them crime novels, which have sold over 17 million copies worldwide, in the Sunday Times magazine