Britain’s bestselling crime writer found himself condemned as “offensive” by a leading female rival yesterday after suggesting that women authors, and gay ones in particular, are more bloodthirsty than men. The acclaimed writer of the Inspector Rebus novels said in an interview last year: “The people writing the most graphic novels today are women. They are mostly lesbians as well, which I find interesting.”
Speaking to an audience at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Val McDermid quoted the remark almost word for word, attributing it to “a very prominent Scottish male writer”. She then dismissed it as “arrant rubbish”.
The author, who is a lesbian, added: “I find that statement so offensive, I can’t even begin to start — apart from the fact that a lot of what is being written by the very talented young Scottish male writers is not shying away from depicting violence very directly. But there are certain kinds of books in which the only way in which you can be honest is to write about violence in a very direct way, to say, ‘This is what it is’.
“It’s not something that is amusing, it’s not something that is a cheap thrill, it’s not something that is a groovy pornography to get off on. It hurts, it damages the lives of everyone it touches.”
McDermid is the author of The Wire in the Blood, which has been adapted for television. She has received a clutch of awards for her books. A miner’s daughter from Fife who was admitted to Oxford University when she was 16, she was a crime reporter for many years before turning to fiction.
She worked in tough, allegedly sexist newsrooms in Manchester and Glasgow and believes that the world of crime fiction is no better.
“I’ll tell you what pisses me off more than almost anything: when people say, ‘As a woman, how do you feel about writing on violence?’ Have you ever heard a male crime writer being asked, ‘As a man, how do you feel about writing about violence?’