A life of writing sparked by town library ...

Val McDermid''Author, Born Kirkcaldy
Val McDermid''Author, Born Kirkcaldy

BEST selling author Val McDermid would never have become a writer had it not been for Kirkcaldy Central Library.

As a kid she even borrowed her mum’s library ticket to get her hands on more novels!

Now she is looking forward to returning to see first-hand the transformation of a building which played such a huge part in her life.

When Val was growing up in the town, books were a luxury her family could not afford, and the library introduced her to everyone from Dickens to Enid Blyton’s Famous Five.

In the countdown to the grand re-opening, Val recalled her first visits to the library.

“I grew up in a house where there was no money to spare and the only way to get books was as prizes from the Sunday School - they were the only books I had,” she said.

“So when we lived in Templehall, my mum used to take me to the library years before I could read, find a quiet corner of the children’s section and tell me the stories by pointing to the pictures.

“As I got older and we moved to Sang Road, opposite Kirkcaldy Central Library, I spent more and more time there. The library became a home from home.

‘‘I read a huge amount of fiction although we were only allowed to take out four books at a time and two of them had to be non-fiction. After all, this was Presbyterian Scotland in the 1960s!

“I became quite expert at which ones were the most readable on the non-fiction shelves. I used to enjoy reading Enid Blyton and I liked the series fiction like Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, as well as the classics like Dickens and Conan Doyle. They were fledgling detective stories for me and Kirkcaldy Central was a well stocked library.”

As her appetite for non-fiction books grew, Val managed to find an ingenious way of borrowing books from the adult library - she borowed her mum’s ticket!

She explained: “You had to be 14 years of age to get an adult ticket, so I used one of my mum’s library tickets to get fiction books from the adult library.

“I told the librarian my mum wasn’t well and that I was getting the books for her and she accepted it!

‘‘I remember some of the staff were quite scary and strict - you couldn’t make a noise in the library. You had to be quiet - but some were also quite friendly and would chat about the books you were reading.

‘‘I’m really looking forward to seeing how Kirkcaldy Galleries has been refurbished. It is terrific for the people of the town to have access to such a tremendous resource.”