One Minute With: Val McDermid, crime novelist

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm sitting at my office at home in Northumberland, looking out at the garden and the sky. It's the converted tack-room of a stable.

What are you currently reading?

'The Radleys' by Matt Haig. I like his work: there's something that cheers you up about it.

Choose a favourite writer and say why you like her/him

Peter Temple. He's one of the select band of crime writers who does it so well that he sets the bar really high. He puts us all on our mettle. The fact that he won the Miles Franklin Award [in Australia] should put an end the "Is it proper literature?" argument abourt crime fiction.

Decsribe the room where you usually write

It's this study, around 12 by 12, with walls about two feet thick, high ceilings, skylights and two windows. On the wall I have a copy of [Scottish artist] Stephen Conroy's painting, 'Healing of a Lunatic Boy'. It's mysterious and has an unexplained quality.

What distracts you from writing?

Anything. On a micro-level, "I need to go to the shop and buy a new pencil". On a macro-level, travel.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

My answer to that for some reason causes mirth: James Bond. The easy swagger, the success with women, the ability to juggle different tasks. I mean the Sean Connery Bond, of course – with the accent.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

People email you with... details that you got wrong. Face to face, they are so delighted to meet you that all the carping bits fall away. That's what keeps you going on the bad days, when it feels like carving granite with a teaspoon. It's a huge privilege.

Who is your hero/ heroine from outside literature?

I adored, and still miss, my Dad. He was a working-class guy who loved football and his family, and was the life and soul of the party. He was a good man, who encouraged me to be the best I could be.

Val McDermid's 'Trick of the Dark' is published by Little, Brown