Playing God with Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin

**Article obtained from The Guardian**

My working day varies. Sometimes I’m traveling to a festival or am on the road/in the air as part of a promotional tour. One particular day on a US tour, I woke up at dawn in Houston, flew to Chicago for a signing, then traveled to Milwaukee for an evening event, where I was expected to be wise and witty.

My favorite days, though, are spent at home – planning a new novel or writing it. I’ll start with coffee and the papers, then maybe move on to emails. But eventually I’ll knuckle down. I have an office of sorts in my house. There will be music on the hi-fi, and I’ll sit on the sofa (if mulling), or at one desk (if writing longhand notes) or the other (if typing on to my laptop). My writing computer isn’t exactly state of the art – it can’t even access the internet – but I’ve written my last seven or eight novels on it, and it seems to work fine.

If the writing is going well, the hours melt away. I may skip lunch. I may look at my watch and find it’s four or five in the afternoon – where did the time go? I almost always break for dinner, but my mind is still upstairs, involved in the plot. On a really good day I might go back and work until 10 or 11pm. Other days, nothing happens – I sit at the desk and words, scenes or characters won’t come. So I walk away and go to a bar or cafe, then try again later. There’s always correspondence to deal with, bills to pay, shopping to be done.

Sometimes I’m neither touring nor writing; but it doesn’t mean those are empty days. I may be phoned by a journalist, canvassing my opinion on anything from Scottish independence to Valentine’s cards. Or I may have an interview in town – journalists from across the globe like to meet me at the Oxford Bar, as that’s where Rebus drinks.

Not having an assistant or secretary, it’s me that queues at the post office to send signed books to charity auctions and the like. And I do have a family I like to spend time with. For years my wife vetoed work commitments in July – that was holiday time – but just recently a few appearances and festivals have crept in.

About a dozen times a year I need to visit London – my agent and publisher are based there. I take an early train, walk from King’s Cross to my publisher’s office in Covent Garden, see my agent in the evening, then take the sleeper home. I get more done that way than I would if I flew.

I can’t write a novel when I’m traveling, but I can revise or edit, send emails and resolve plot problems. I’m envious of writers who can work on their books when they’re traveling, but I need my home comforts and certitudes – coffee, music, biscuits. I need to be in my office. It’s where I get to play God.

From Wikipedia:

Ian Rankin, OBE, DL (born 28 April 1960) is a Scottish crime writer. His best known books are the Inspector Rebus novels. He has also written several pieces of literary criticism.

Rankin did not set out to be a crime writer. He thought his first novels Knots and Crosses and Hide and Seek were mainstream books, more in keeping with the Scottish traditions of Robert Louis Stevenson and even Muriel Spark (the subject of Rankin’s uncompleted Ph.D. thesis). He was disconcerted by their classification as genre fiction. Scottish novelist Allan Massie, who tutored Rankin while Massie was writer-in-residence at the University of Edinburgh, reassured him by saying, ‘Do you think John Buchan ever worried about whether he was writing literature or not ?’

Rankin’s Inspector Rebus novels are set mainly in Edinburgh. They are considered major contributions to the Tartan Noir genre. Ten of the novels were adapted as a television series on ITV, starring John Hannah as Rebus in Series 1 & 2, with Ken Stott taking on the role for Series 3-5.

In 2009, Rankin donated the short story “Fieldwork” to Oxfam’s Ox-Tales project, four collections of UK stories written by 38 authors. Rankin’s story was published in the Earth collection.

Ian Rankin signing copies of his debut graphic novel Dark Entries in the Edinburgh Forbidden Planet International store.

In 2009 Rankin stated on Radio Five Live that he would start work on a five or six-issue run on the comic book Hellblazer, although he may turn the story into a stand-alone graphic novel instead. The Vertigo Comics panel at WonderCon 2009 confirmed that the story would be published as a graphic novel called Dark Entries, the second release from the company’s new Vertigo Crime imprint.

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