Ian Rankin Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin

An interview with Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin discusses his favorite authors, how he reacts to his books being described as 'Tartan Noir', and talks about how his writing style has changed over the years.

In the past, there have been all sorts of weird coincidences in the writing of your books. Any to share with us this time around?
What usually happens is, I write about something, and sometime thereafter it either turns out to have been true, or it comes true. This time, I decided to take my plots from the pages of the daily papers. I took two real-life pedophiles as the models for characters in the book. And found out later that if you took the first name of one and the surname of the other, you came up with the name I sued for the bad guy in my first ever Rebus novel....

James Ellroy called your work "Tartan Noir"...
I suppose he was right, too. My work's nowhere near as dark as his, but it's not in the "cozy" tradition either. A tougher Inspector Wexford maybe. That's Rebus.

Who are your favorite authors?
James Ellroy; Lawrence Block; Ruth Rendell. Novelists with psychological depth, with 3-D characterizations, writers who challenge convention and style. So stick Michael Connelly in there, too… and Paco Taibo, Marc Behm, James Sallis, SJ Rozan….

What would you say is your special flair in writing? How has your talent changed through the years?
My later books are a lot longer/denser/more complex than the earlier ones, blending three or four plots, challenging the reader. I want to explain Scotland to myself, to fellow Scots and to the outside world. So far, I'm not sure I've done more than scratch the surface of this bizarre, mixed-up country… but I'll keep trying.

Final question. Is it true you've spent a lot of time in the States?
Back in 1992 I won the Chandler-Fulbright Prize. They gave me twenty thousand dollars and a return transatlantic flight and told me to go find out about the USA. I came, stayed six months. loved the trip. I was with my wife and our first child, Jack, who was 3 months old on arrival. We bought an old VW camper and toured, covering around 20,000 miles, staying with friends and in old motels. Saw sights, and each day thanked the estate of Raymond Chandler, whose money was paying for this most amazing experience.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

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