Crime novelist and creator of the sassy, kick—boxing private investigator Kate Brannigan, Val McDermid talks to Ann Donald about her world of books.

.+ A“ K

All dressed up

‘It just makes me want to puke; it makes me want to start a TRA, that’s the Transgender Republican Army . . . They’re just A1 party poopers. They’re


Jayne County is talking, nay spitting out a rather damning verdict on the American fundamental right-wing. As ‘3 you might expect from a 48-year-old

~ 1 cross-dressing transsexual, ex-

‘l‘m never without a book. I'm one of these people who will actually walk down the road reading a book. so I‘ve developed a radar system that allows me to avoid larnposts and people. I think it all stems from when l was a kid and had a paper-round. We took the Daily Record at home so on my round I’d read the .S'mtsman. the Herald. the Daily Mail and the Daily I:'.t‘press as l ptit the papers through letterboxes.

‘l'm a crime reviewer for the Mane/tester Evening News so of necessity 1 read a lot of crime novels. To me that‘s the perfect job: publishers send you books. you get to read them and then you‘re paid for doing something you love. Even better for a Scottish Calvinist ~ you can read without guilt. Lying on a settee. feet up with a cup of tea and that's you working.

‘Right now I've got a Barbara Vine/ Ruth Rendell book No Night Is Too Long on the go. It‘s about the exploration of a murderer‘s brain and what provokes an act and its consequences. I think Ruth Rendell is a really excellent writer. Even when the situation is preposterous 1 find them psychologically credible.

'l’ve also been reading a book about polio and its survivors called A Summer Plague. l‘ve got an idea in my head about writing a thriller that would have something to do with virology, so after reading a review of this book I thought it would be quite useful to me. it's eminently readable and is basically split into two halves. On the one hand it‘s a history of the disease and the struggle to find a cure and the other half is the stories of the polio survivors. It's a story of tenacity where people are talking about their strength in overcoming rather than succumbing to the disease. The factual side of the disease is quite a harrowing read but the stories of the people with polio and their lack of bitterness are quite extraordinary.‘

Val McDermid '5 latest crime novel Clean Break is published by HarperCol/ins at £14.99.

i prostitute, avant-garde theatre actor

; and punk rock singer, Jayne - formerly 5 Wayne - doesn’t even begin to see eye

5 to eye with the moral majority. Her

» autobiography, Man Enough To Be A

Woman written with Rupert Smith,

covers her life from her earliest

memories - his mother pulling a tapeworm out her mouth up to the present day. Bitchy, glitzy and kitsch, but not without a sense of humour or human warmth, the book gives a taste of the high life and the low life of the times.

Born in 1947 in Dallas, Georgia,

County swiftly realised living in a one- horse hole in the sticks was not going to be the key to life-long happiness, especially for a young boy who preferred wearing his grandmother’s frocks to trying out for the football

I team. The bright lights beckoned and

, County headed to flew York just in


evil . . . I mean what the fuck is family

Jayne County: What you looking at?

i time for the Stonewall Riots, the Summer of Love and the underground : theatre scene headed up by such

} luminaries of trash culture as Warhol, i Jackie Curtis, Divine and Tony

j lngrassia.

i Twenty odd years after the heady

T days of the 70s Jayne County

j herself still knows how to have fun.

‘We were in Madame Jo-Jo’s last night. There were lots of trashy drag queens there and it’s fun to get together with the girls and terrorise the boys, make their girlfriends

I nervous,’ she chuckles. (Jonathan

5 Trew)

Man Enough To Be A Woman is published by Serpent’s Tail at £11.99. Two of her albums Let Your Backbone Slip: the Best of Wayne/Jayne County

3 Vol II and Deviation are being released

- by RPM records. See Rock listings for live dates.


I The Blood Brother Gavin Esler 3 (HarperCollins £14.99) David Kerr. a l bumed-out war correspondent has just discovered he has a brother he never i knew about in America. There is only ! one problem: this brother is dead. l Crossing the Atlantic for the funeral. l Kerr stumbles on a new girlfriend; a l right-wing conspiracy indulging in i economic terrorism and a rather . spn'tely dead sibling. What follows is a plot full of cross. double-cross and i cross-sights. Throw in the FBI and ' watch it all combust.

Gavin lisler‘s third thriller has more , than a hint of the airport novel about it. Plotting by numbers. stale characters. villains frankly far too stupid and a few lines that rate highly on the . cringeability meter. all undermine the writer’s good intentions. To be fair. Eslei' has a neat facility for changing narrative voices. and when : dealing with the larik and file bad guys. - manages a passable L‘lniore Leonard imitation. Btit the whole thing has the ; consistency of crepe paper and only tired business types racking up the airmiles will find li/uml Brother a worthwhile diversion. (Teddy Jamieson)


I Aren’t You Happy For Me? Richard Batisch; Mariette In Ecstasy Ron Hansen; Victoria Sami Michael (all Macmillan £8.99) Following last year's launch. Macmillan Firsts paperback originals return with a diverse trio of authors. Bauscli's strong short story collection

I focuses on familial discord. his forte

being convincing dialogue. while Hansen

has produced an esoteric if irritating tale of a young posttilanl displaying signs of stigrnaia in turn-of-the-century New York. ()utstandiiig is Baghdad-born Michael‘s melancholic and evocative reflections of Victoria. the oppressed daughter of a tribal leader in pre-World War | Jewish Baghdad.

I The Girl I left Behind and Deep River both Shusaku Endo (Sceptre £5.99) B.2led. arguably. as 'the leading contemporary Japanese writer". Endo's translations are accomplished and full of oriental charm. in The (Iirl I Left Behind. set in post-war Tokyo. a salaryrnan and a factory worker. who subsequently contracts leprosy. have an ill—fated dalliance with far-reaching effects while Deep River. which resurrects characters from lllt’ (ii/“l. . .. is the more sombre tale of live Japanese visiting the Ganges. each with a mission.

I Dispatches From The Front Line of Popular Culture Tony Parsons (Virgin £7.99) Octopus-like. Tony Parsons has reached out and grasped myriad subjects. chewed each tip and spat it out. firme imprinted with his often witty. occasionally sexist. fleetineg non-PC but always entertaining vistas. From his beginnings as an iV./l’l.l:‘. music journalist. this collection of published pieces continues through his expansion into the arts. travel and social commentary. and ubiquitous presence in the national dailies and monthly glossies alike.

; I A Fish In The Water Mario Vargas

l.losa (Faber and Faber £8.99) A twitt- pronged attack from Latin America's foremost writer. this is his autobiography from his birth in 1936 including an account of his role in the reform movement which led to his standing for Peruvian president in 1990. One for politicos and bibliophiles alike.

I A Private View Anita Brookner (Penguin £5.99) George. life-long bachelor. has retired. his plans shattered by the death of his best friend. his life empty. Can the influence of new neighbour Katy persuade him to inject some meaning into his remaining years? Wordy. alluring and pathos-ridden. (Susan Mackenzie)

i Glasgow

3 I Chenjerai Rove Wed 21 Juti. 7pm. (‘CA

Studio. 350 Sauchiahall Street. 332 7521. Zimbabwe writer Hove reads from his novel Bones.

I Maryhill Writers’ Group Tue 27. 8.30pm. Clutha Vaults. 167 Stockwell Street. 552 7520. Live readings and music. featuring James Havlin. Barbara Weightman. Alex McLarty and others. Copies of the group‘s latest anthology An Old Man Dances In George Square (Smeddurn Press) will be available.


I Listen Up: lesbian And Gay Pride ten 16 Jun. 7.30pm. £1. Waterstone‘s. 13—14 Princes Street. 556 3034. Peter Tatcliell.

; Terri Murray. Simon Edge and Chris

3 Woods head a discussion based around their latest books. including Tatchell‘s We ' Don 't Want To Walk Straight and Woods‘ . State Of The Queer Nation (both Cassell 1 £4.99). Proceeds go to Pride Scotland.

i I Rosie Thomas Mon 19 Jun. 6.30pm.

i James Thin. 57 George Street. 225 4495. l Thomas reads front her latest novel A

;£vsnrs l

Simple lite tlleinemanii £16.99).

I S. E. Hinton Tue 20 Jun. 2.30pm.

Waterstone's. 83 George Street. 225 3436.

Children's author S. F. Hinton reads from a compilation of her most popular works

; written during the 1970s - The Outsiders.

Ramble l’lS/l and That Was 'I‘lien, This Is

: Nim- (HarperCollins £7.99). Her books

tackle the angst of adolescence.

I All Smith Thurs 22 Jun. 7.30pm.

Waterstone's. 83 George Street. 225 3436.

Signing her first collection of short stories

l-‘ree Lure (Virago £7.99) will be Scottish

writer Ali Smith.

I Michael Dibdin and Mark Lawson

Waterstone‘s. 13—14 Princes Street. 556

M134. Leading crime author Dibdin reads

frorn his latest novels Dark Sceptre (Faber

.rtid Faber £14.99) and Dear] Lagoon

TFaber and Faber £4.99). He is joined by

novelist and late Show presenter Mark

Lawson. who reads from his new novel

i lrllewilil (Picador £9.99). See preview.

1 I Duentin Jardine Mon 26 Jun. 6.30pm.

i James Thin. 57 George Street. 225 4495.

Quentin Jardine will read from and sign

his latest paperback Skinner 's Trail

. (Headline £5.99). a crime novel set iii


= I Lucy O’Brien Wed 28 Jun. 7pm.

Waterstone‘s. 128 Princes Street. 226 2666. A musical evening with Lucy

()‘ Brien. author ofS/te Bap (Penguin £7.99). charting the role of women in

. rock. O‘Brien will be joined by musician

Talitha MacKenzie. whose album Salas has just been released by Riverboat Records. Free tickets are available at the branch. Wine will be served.

Peter Tatchell: say it loll

__1QIhc_ListJ§+29 Jun 1995