First event up for me today was Charles Nicholl, which was chaired by Stuart Kelly. Charles started by welcoming the audience into what he described as “the graveyard shift of The Edinburgh International Book Festival.” Traces Remain is a book full of essays, each one taking on a different time period and aspect of surgery, to Charles this book is made up of recycled articles that he had already written, this is why the book does not have a single unifying theme throughout. Charles then gave the audience a brief introduction to his book.
These essays aimed to look at the people and events that are on the edge of the canvas, rather than focusing on the main characters that readers feel they know really well. In some aspects they are stories about famous historical events that are caught in a unfimiliar light.
Charles described his fascination with people who had disappeared within their own life for example Jack the Ripper. “These short-lived lives have an attraction for the biographer for obvious reasons. There is always the aspect of the mysterious absence of the person and how as a writer you want to make that absence feel present.”
My second event of the day was Ian Rankin, which was chaired by Jenny Brown. Jenny opened up by stating that “Ian Rankin is the Gold standard on which every crime writer is judged.” This was a wonderful introduction which received a wondrous round of applause from the audience.
Jenny – “Why do you put real characters and place in your novels?” When ever you are a real person in a book, you are walking on egg shells. There is always a possibility to blacken that person reputation. Various places have paid a charity to have their restaurant, bar, alter ego and even a woman’s cat mentioned within his books. Ian admits there is nothing he won’t do for charity, he even went as far as to describe himself as a “prostitute for charity.”
“What character do you relate to more Rebus or Malcolm?” Ian’s answer was simple he sees a lot more of himself in Malcolm than he does in Rebus. Especially Malcolm’s relationships with his family members is something he can relate to.
The conversation then turned to the ending of the Impossible dead, Ian said that Jenny had asked his wife if there was any questions she should ask Ian. His wife’s response was ask him about how he had to change the ending. “I had to change the ending as my wife read it and didn’t like it. She thought it was lazy.” Jenny asked if he takes this criticism from his wife well? A simple “No” was the answer, he went on to elaborate that by the time his wife reads the novel it is in its second or third draft, so in his eyes it is pretty perfect as he has read every draft.
The conversation then turned to the Imagine documentary that Ian has been filming with the BBC. It is all about a year in life of an author writing a novel. Ian schedule is well set out, “November/december is when I gets the idea for the next novel and does some preliminary research. January to June is when I writes the novel and July is for editing the novel. The novel is then usually published and I goes on tour to promote it and then the process starts all over again. When the words flow and the schedule works it is the best felling in the world. As writers are really just children that haven’t grown up, they get to play in their imaginary worlds every day.”
At that moment that rain was pounding of the roof of the RBS Main theatre, this rain was described by Ian as “Rebus Rain of biblical proportions.”
This year is the 25th anniversary of the very first Rebus novel. To celebrate this anniversary, Ian has decided that it would be the perfect time to resurrect Rebus. Plus they have changed the retirement age for police officers in Scotland, so in reality Rebus could really come back. Also Ian felt wouldn’t it be interesting if Rebus and Malcolm were to met in a novel. I have to add that sitting in front of Ian was a proof copy of Standing in Another Man’s Grave, just to tease the audience. He then read us a taster of Chapter 2, and from what I he read I can tell you that I am even more excited for the novels release than I was when I walked into the event. This novel will bring Rebus out of Edinburgh, which all die-hard Rebus fans will know it will be something he will hate. Cafferty, Siobhan and Malcolm all feature within the novel.
At first the publishers didn’t like the title Ian had given it and said he had to change it as it was to long. “I told them that it had exactly the same amount of letters as The Girl with the dragon tatoo, so they let me keep the title.”
With that the event drew to a close and Ian moved into the signing tent to sign books and what was sitting on the desk next to him, that proof copy of the next Rebus novel just to tease the excited audience members even more.