I recently attended three events at the Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival; in the first TV personality and President of the festival Sue Lawley interviewed crime writer Val McDermid. The lady in front of me complained she could not hear Sue Lawley, which was a relief to me because I am having some trouble with my ears, and thought I had gone completely deaf.
But Val McDermid was much clearer and I heard and understood everything apart from a rendition of her original Fife accent.
Why are crime writers so much nicer people than you would imagine from their violent books and TV series? Val McDermid came across as a very intelligent person, and her talk was full of amusing anecdotes mostly about her working class Scottish roots.
She did say that success in writing was due to a modicum of talent, a lot of hard work, and the good luck of writing the sort of book that was wanted at a particular time.
One story she told [and I apologise if I have got the details wrong] was that Agatha Christie had driven her to a life of crime.
The only book in the house was Agatha Christie's Murder in the Vicarage and after reading that several times she wanted to read the other Christie novels which were in the adult library, therefore Val "stole" her mother's library card.
She presented the card to the librarian with the story that her mother was ill and taken to her bed and needed a book.
Many years later when the librarian met Mrs McDermid, she exclaimed that she thought she was dead, after all those years as a bedridden invalid.
Of course I purchased a copy of her latest novel Fever of the Bone, and Val was kind enough to sign my copy and pose for a photograph.