Chaired by Allan Little
Jackie’s Leven song, Standing in another man’s rain, was playing as we awaited Ian Rankin coming onto stage. This is the sing that inspired the title of Ian’s novel Standing in another man’s grave as when listening to the song he misheard rain as grave and thought it would make a good title for a book. In Ian’s mind at the end of Exist Music, Rebus was gone so in a way he is returning from the grave. He thought that Rebus would be working in the cold case unit, as they employ retired cops. When they changed the retirement age, he knew that Rebus would apply to be back on active duty and have one last chance at being a cop.
Those of you who have read any of Ian’s novels know that music features in all of them. Ian’s reason for this is that most crime writers are just frustrated writers
Did you have doubts about bring Rebus back?
Of course, replied Ian. He hadn’t written about Rebus in 5 years and was wondering if Rebus’s voice would still be there but when he started writing he realised that Rebus had been sitting in a little compartment in his brain this whole time.
In a way Rebus is a dinosaur, he is the kind of cop that doesn’t exist any more. He always is doing things for the correct reasons but he is willing to break the rules to get the correct result. In a way Cafferty is a dinosaur as well, he is a gangster who has a moral code and they rarely exist in this day and age. Due to this Rebus and Cafferty have a lot of empathy towards each other.
In the new book, Saints of the Shadow Bible, Malcolm is no longer working in the complaints department and he is back in CID with Rebus. The two of them are forced to work together. Ian hopes that Malcolm will be more likeable in this book. The title of the new book is also inspired by a Jackie Leven lyric. The lyrics will be in the first page of the book. The title came to Ian first and then had to think what does this title mean?
Ian then read a short extract out of Chapter 5 of the Saints of the Shadow Bible.
When writing you have to find a writer’s style that you admire and try to steal it and make it work for you. You have to trust that the reader will get what you are trying to do. Ian thinks that “Dan Brown doesn’t trust his readers as he lays the plot out for the readers”.
Time for some audience questions.
Who Inspired Rebus? Is he your darker side?
He is becoming my dark side, replied Ian. In the first few novels, Ian couldn’t see the similarities between himself and rebus but gradually over time they have become apparent. In a way authors are all their characters. After all Cafferty lives in Ian’s house in the books.
Edinburgh has everything that a big city has but doesn’t feel like it is a big city. There is plenty of green space and you can always find somewhere to be alone. There is always a new angle of Edinburgh to discover.
Your name appears a lot in Scotland Street series, is there a reason for this?
Alexander McCall Smith lives down the street from Ian. He knocks the door once a year, to tell Ian that he is going to appear in his latest novel. Ian told the audience that revenge is a dish best served cold and Alexander McCall Smith will appear in one of his books in the future. However Ian does put people in his book, that have paid money in a charity auction to be in his book.
We spotted you in Oxford Bar last night, what is it about that place that makes you go back?
In the older books, everywhere Rebus went was a fictitious place. After the first few novels, Ian moved Rebus to a real police station, he lives in a real street and drinks in a real bar. The Oxford Bar was where Ian started drinking as a student. It is a hidden side of Edinburgh and you have to know it is there otherwise you will not be able to find it. There is no music, it is a place to have a conversation and a drink. People leave notes for Ian at the Oxford Bar all the time.
What do you think about Scandinavian crime?
As a UK crime writer you regularly have to walk past table after table of Scandinavian fiction. Some of it is fine however there is a lot of good Scottish crime fiction that is not getting enough attention.
Do you feel there is a certain level of snobbery when it comes to the Man Booker prize and crime fiction?
If crime fiction gets longlisted it does not tend to get shortlisted. If it does it become literary fiction not crime fiction. However crime fiction is not dealt as bad a hand as Si-Fi or fantasy. There is less of a stigma attached to crime fiction and there are creative writing courses that focus solely on crime fiction. Why do we continue to do bad things to each other? Is the central question that crime fiction is trying to answer. Crime fiction can give you a sense of what the social and political problems are at a given time.
You have developed Siobhan as a character, did you consider giving her a book where she was the main character?
It was one of the options, after Rebus retired. However Ian got interested in the Complaints department and Siobhan would not fit into that storyline. Maybe in the future, Ian stated that he has a lot of time for Siobhan.
How would Rebus vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum?
Rebus would vote no, Siobhan would vote yes and Ian is somewhere in the middle. There is some stuff about the YES/NO campaign in the new book.
Will there be a new book next year?
No, Ian is planning on taking a year off and going traveling. He paid tribute to Gavin Wallace and Ian Banks, both who died this year.
With that final thought a very entertaining hour was brought to a close.