Saturday, October 18, 2014

Val McDermid

Val McDermid, the Scottish crime writer of more than 30 novels, has written a nonfiction book on the history of forensic science, Forensics: The Anatomy of a Crime.

From her Q & A about the book with Linda Geddes for NewScientist, republished in Slate:

How has forensic science influenced your writing up until now?

It helps me to anchor my books in the real world. Everybody knows crimes don't get solved the way we write about them in crime fiction; it's not one grumpy inspector and a sergeant buying the pints. But anything I can do to bolster your suspension of disbelief is valuable. If I tell you the truth about the science, it helps make you think I must be telling the truth about all the stuff I'm making up.

Where do your story ideas come from?

It's things that make me go “wow.” For instance, I once rang up the forensic anthropologist Sue Black at the University of Dundee because I wanted to know what your tattoos would look like if you'd been submerged in a bog for 200 years. She said that when you get a tattoo, the nearest lymph nodes take up the ink. It occurred to me that if the tattoo was made after death, there wouldn't be any staining on the lymph nodes: I had a starting point for...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue