Val McDermid was born in Scotland on June 4, 1955. She was the first student from a state school in Scotland accepted to read English at St Hilda's College, Oxford. She graduated in 1975 and became a journalist. She wrote her first novel at the age of 21. It didn't get published, but she turned it into a play entitled Like a Happy Ending. It was performed by the Plymouth Theatre Company and was later adapted for BBC radio. Her first book, Report for Murder, was published in 1987. She is the author of the Lindsay Gordon Mystery series, the Kate Brannigan Mystery series, and the Dr. Tony Hill and Carol Jordan Mysteries series as well as several stand alone books including The Distant Echo, A Darker Domain, and Trick of the Dark. The Mermaids Singing won the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year.