One of the UK’s leading crime novelists has been denounced by a lesbian writer amid claims of prejudice.

Ian Rankin, best known for the Inspector Rebus series of novels, said last year that women writers are now writing the most explicitly violent books, and that most of those authors are lesbians.

Rival novelist Val McDermid used an appearance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival to lambast Mr Rankin, calling his comments “arrant rubbish.”

Ms McDermid, who is gay, is best known for her Wire In The Blood series of books, which were adapted for television by ITV and starred Robson Green.

She said she was deeply offended by Mr Rankin’s comments.

“A lot of what is being written by the very talented young Scottish male writers is not shying away from depicting violence very directly,” she said, according to The Times.

“But there are certain kinds of books in which the only way in which you can be honest is to write about violence in a very direct way, to say, ‘This 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.”

Ms McDermid, 52, a former journalist, also attacked the general sexist attitude towards female writers and violent content in the press.

“I’ll tell you what pisses me off more than almost anything: when people say, ‘As a woman, how do you feel about writing on violence?’

“Have you ever heard a male crime writer being asked, ‘As a man, how do you feel about writing about violence?’” she said, according to The Times.

“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 women,” she added.

Mr Rankin defended himself yesterday, saying that he feels women authors who write gory scenes are at an advantage over men when it comes to sales, regardless of their sexual orientation.

He conceded that the entire crime fiction genre has become more violent.

Today Ms McDermid told her local paper there is no feud with Mr Rankin, who she did not name during her comments.

She said that Mr Rankin had been a friend for several years and his wife had attended her civil partnership ceremony.