Book of the Month competition: Queen Macbeth

Start date: 30 April 2024, 00:00

Closing date: 31 May 2024, 23:59

Topics: Competitions

Cover of Queen Macbeth by Val McDermid

We are proud to offer five signed copies of Queen Macbeth by our patron Val McDermid in our May Book of the Month competition, courtesy of our friends at Polygon.

To be in with a chance of winning this latest addition to the excellent Darkland Tales series, all you need to do is answer the question at the bottom of the page by midnight on 31 May 2024. All entrants must reside in the UK and full terms and conditions apply.

Check out our competitions page for other giveaways.

About Queen Macbeth by Val McDermid

A thousand years ago in an ancient Scottish landscape, a woman is on the run with her three companions – a healer, a weaver and a seer. The men hunting her will kill her – because she is the only one who stands between them and their violent ambition. She is no lady: she is the first queen of Scotland, married to a king called Macbeth.

As the net closes in, we discover a tale of passion, forced marriage, bloody massacre and the harsh realities of medieval Scotland. At the heart of it is one strong, charismatic woman, who survived loss and jeopardy to outwit the endless plotting of a string of ruthless and power-hungry men. Her struggle won her a country. But now it could cost her life.

Q&A with Val McDermid

Photo of author Val McDermid in front of greenery in a wooden structure

How did you first get into writing?

I got into writing through reading. I was an only child and books were my escape hatch from boredom with the grown-ups. We lived opposite the central library in Kirkcaldy, so it didn't matter that we couldn't afford to buy books – I could feed my habit just by crossing the road! I began to make up stories in my head, then I read a book where one of the characters grew up to be a writer. She got a letter from her publisher that also contained a cheque and I experienced a moment of epiphany – people got paid for writing books. That was that. I had a dream!

What can readers expect from this book?

It's probably easier to say what they're not going to get. We all think we know who Lady Macbeth was, thanks to Shakespeare. But he wrote his play to please the new king, James I and VI, who was descended from the line of Banquo, not Macbeth. I'm opening the lid on the real Macbeths – no assassination of the old King Duncan, no psychodrama, no handwashing, no damned spot. And no witches. Just three women who protected and supported their queen all her life. I've gone back to the real Macbeths, who ruled peacefully for 17 years and actually unified Scotland – well, part of it, anyway.

What drew you towards reimaging Lady Macbeth?

I was invited to join the Darkland Tales project – a reimagining of the stories of Scotland's past that most of us grew up with. I saw this as an opportunity to rescue Lady Macbeth's reputation from the historic slurs of our enemies and reveal something of who she was. It was a harsh and brutal time to be alive but there were many redeeming features we would recognise today – the power of love and friendship, the corruption of fear, the importance of survival. I hope people enjoy it!

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In which century did the Macbeths rule Scotland?

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If you are under 16, you can still enter the competition but will be asked to provide an additional contact email for a parent or guardian.