Best-selling crime writer speaks out in defence of libraries

Local libraries enrich lives, are a breeding ground for the next generation of authors, and should not fall victim to spending cuts, said international award-winning writer Val McDermid,.

“I would not be here without the public library system,” she told yesterday’s Yorkshire Post Literary Lunch. “I’m not posh – both my grandfathers were miners. I spent hours in the library and it’s still a home from home for many kids – not because their parents can’t afford books but because they have no interest in them.

“My son brings home books I’d never have picked out for him – it enriches his life and broadens his knowledge. So this is my impassioned plea – save our libraries!”

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Best-selling crime writers Ms McDermid, who was awarded the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association Diamond Dagger last year, also spoke about Trick of the Dark, her novel set in the world of Oxford University’s colleges, and how it was inspired by seeing a wedding party and realising the bride was someone she’d babysat as a child.

“Most people would dismiss it as coincidence, but my mind started wondering – what if it wasn’t? Clearly the answer was that the bridegroom would be dead by bedtime!”

Also speaking at the lunch, at Harrogate’s Cairn Hotel, was Marc Abraham. Veterinary advisor to the Kennel Club of Great Britain and a familiar face on television, his first book – Vet on Call – tells of his time running an emergency out-of-hours clinic. The book isn’t intended to be solely a James Herriot-style memoir, however.

“My passion is animals. I want to educate people about looking after their pets,” he explained.

The third speaker was Felix Francis, youngest son of champion jockey and author Dick Francis, who died in 2010. Crossfire was the fourth father-and-son collaboration.

“People ask me what it was like to have a famous dad,” he said. “He was great friends with the Queen Mother and she was like an extra grandparent.”