Val McDermid: ‘Best kiss? Debbie Harry, and it wasn’t a peck on the cheek, either’


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Born in Fife, Val McDermid, 64, published her first crime novel in 1987 and has sold more than 16m books, translated into 40 languages. The long-running ITV drama Wire In The Blood, starring Robson Green, was based on her novels about psychologist Tony Hill. She discusses the latest in the series, How The Dead Speak, at Essex book festival on 28 February. She lives with her partner in Edinburgh.

When were you happiest? 
I am happiest right now. Things are going really well – my professional life, my personal life, my family life.

What is your greatest fear?
Still the fear of failure.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? 

What is the trait you most deplore in others? 

Aside from a property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?
A BMW 6 series convertible. It was smashing.

What is your most treasured possession? 
A paperweight that contains a spiral made of my mother’s ashes. My son has cuff links with her ashes embedded in them. I think it’s important to remember where you come from.

What would your superpower be?
Invisibility. I would go round snooping on people and garner material for books.

What makes you unhappy? 
Being idle.

What do you most dislike about your appearance? 
I am too fat. My partner says I have a body of two halves: I have slim, shapely legs and a fat belly.

If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
For the drama of it, a sabre-toothed tiger.

Who would play you in the film of your life? 
Ideally Sigourney Weaver, but probably Kathy Bates.

What is the worst thing anyone’s said to you? 
I had a play, Like A Happy Ending, performed in Plymouth and one of the reviews said, “This play reduces emotion to the level of sucking gobstoppers.” It was nearly 40 years ago, but I can still quote the bad review.

Is it better to give or to receive? 
To give, because overwhelmingly people give you the wrong things.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why? 
To my mum, for never being able to live up to what she would have liked me to be. She always wanted me to be a little princess and I was never going to be that.

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