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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 August 2007, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
Lesbian writers' fiction defended
Ian Rankin
Author Ian Rankin was criticised for his comments about lesbians
Author Ian Rankin has been criticised by a fellow writer for suggesting lesbians write the most violent crime novels.

Val McDermid, who is homosexual, dubbed Mr Rankin's comments as "offensive" and suggested his books were among the most violent she had read.

Ms McDermid, 52, was speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Edinburgh-based Mr Rankin, 47, who is heterosexual, made his original comments during an interview last year.

He said: "The people writing the most graphic novels are women. They are mostly lesbians also, which I find interesting."

I find that statement so offensive, I can't even begin to start
Val McDermid

Ms McDermid, originally from Kirkcaldy, Fife, made her comments while speaking at the festival on Tuesday.

Referring to Mr Rankin's remarks, she said: "I find that statement so offensive, I can't even begin to start, apart from the fact that a lot of what is being written by the very talented young Scottish male writers is not shying away from depicting violence very directly.

"But there are certain kinds of books in which the only way you can be honest is to write about violence in a very direct way, to say, 'That is what it is'.

"It's not something that is amusing, it's not something that is a cheap thrill, it's not something that is a groovy pornography to get off on.

"It hurts, it damages the lives of everyone it touches."

'Profound disassociation'

Ms McDermid said: "Have you ever heard a male crime writer being asked, 'As a man, how do you feel about writing about violence?'

"There's a profound disassociation, it seems to me, as if somehow it's wrong for us to be writing about violence against women, as though somehow we need permission to write about violence against woman."

Best-selling Ms McDermid is renowned for her books, The Mermaids Singing and Wire in the Blood, which have become major TV successes.

She has also penned the Lindsay Gordon series, which focuses on a lesbian journalist.

Fellow best-seller Mr Rankin, from Cardenden, Fife, is known for his Inspector Rebus series, the last instalment of which is released this October.

Mr Rankin declined to comment.

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