Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mortuary named after Val McDermid

In case you missed this quirky news item: Val McDermid has had a mortuary named after her.

From The Guardian:

Scotland's murder mystery supremo Val McDermid has just discovered that she is to be given a rather more unusual accolade, after the University of Dundee said it would be christening its new morgue in her honour.

The Val McDermid Mortuary will also feature the Stuart MacBride Dissecting Room, after another of Scotland's top crime writers, and a collection of new submersion tanks named after the likes of Jeffery Deaver, Kathy Reichs and Harlan Coben. The unusual choice of names follows a campaign from the university to raise £1m to build a new morgue, which the crime authors backed, asking members of the public to vote for the writer for whom they would like the morgue to be named, and donate money. McDermid came in first.

Winner of the Crime Writers' Association's Gold Dagger for fiction, its Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement and the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year award, among many other prizes, McDermid called her latest win "a very proud moment for me". "It is kind of weird though," she told the Guardian. "Nobody starts their career thinking 'one day I will have a mortuary named after me'. But it's absolutely up there with winning book prizes, even though it's a different kind of honour."

The author has known Professor Sue Black, who heads the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at the University of Dundee, for years, often asking Black for help on the "grisly" technical details of murder when writing her novels, and said that when Black told her about the mortuary project, she felt it was a chance to "give something back to a community that is of tremendous value".

"All crime writers rely on the help of professionals like Sue to make sure we get the details right. Giving a bit of help back in return is the least we can do," said McDermid. "The work that's being done in this mortuary and the knowledge it will communicate means better life chances for all of us. For once, we crime writers have had a chance to put life ahead of death and I'm thrilled to have been part of it."

Black said she was "truly delighted" that the morgue would be named after McDermid, but that "Stuart [MacBride] has been so pivotal in our success that we have also now chosen to name the dissecting room after him". "All of our authors also now have a Thiel submersion tank that carries their name as our way of thanking them for the generosity of spirit," she added. The other writers taking part in the campaign were Lee Child, Jeff Lindsay, Tess Gerritsen, Peter James, Mark Billingham and Caro Ramsay. Child, said McDermid, "was the one writer they really didn't want to win, because it would have been the Child Mortuary. And Lee's said he wants his tank to be the Jack Reacher tank [after his most famous character], for reasons of taste."

MacBride, author of the Logan McRae thrillers, said the news of his dissecting room was a "really big honour". "As runner-up prizes go it's pretty damn special," said the novelist. "It's a really important project and every pound the public have donated is going to make a huge difference to the future of anatomy, forensic science, and medical training."

The new morgue - the Val McDermid Mortuary - will be the first in the country to use the Thiel method of embalming, which the university said "gives surgeons, dentists, scientists and researchers a more realistic method of testing techniques, practising procedures and developing new equipment and approaches".


vallery said...

That's so cool. another honor for Val. and congrats to everyone for the project.

Priscilla said...

This is one of those things that is an absolute hoot and a delightful hono(u)r all rolled into one. What a great idea! Hurrah for Val!