R is for Rankin


Ian Rankin was born in Fife, Scotland in 1960. He started writing whilst still a student at Uni, and after leaving held down various jobs (grape-picker, swineherd, taxman, alcohol researcher, hi-fi journalist, college secretary and punk musician) before becoming the UK’s most widely read crime author.

He didn’t set out to be a crime novelist, believing that his first 2 novels (the first of which was published in 1986) were actually mainstream fiction. But it is for the creation of Inspector Rebus that he has become famous, having written 18 novels featuring the Inspector.

To date he has written 25 novels (virtually one a year since the first publication) and begins each novel by looking through his idea folder (a folder where he places notes and cuttings) for something to inspire the next plot line. Edinburgh, where Rankin still lives, plays a very important part in his novels, becoming a character itself.

My favourite Rankin quotes:

“The novel will decide which way it wants to go.”

“The first draft is me getting to know the characters and their motives. So I start the book knowing almost as little as Rebus does. So it’s a process of investigation and finding out for me, as it is a process of investigation for them.”

“I think writers have to be proactive: they’ve got to use new technology and social media. Yes, it’s hard to get noticed by traditional publishers, but there’s a great deal of opportunity out there if you’ve got the right story.”

“Whenever I heard that someone had taken 10 years to write a novel, I’d think it must be a big, serious book. Now I think, No – it took you one year to write, and nine years to sit around eating Kit Kats.”

“It’s a lovely pair of furry handcuffs to be in, but the more successful you get, the less time you get to write. It seems that the actual writing is taking up less and less of my life, and I’m not happy about that.”

Rankin being interviewed.

I love the whole idea that Rankin becomes a detective himself when it comes to writing his novel. It’s almost inspired me to write crime myself…I said almost 😉 Do you feel comfortable working that way? Discovering things about your novel as you go?