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Ian Rankin biography

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Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin Biography

Born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960, Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982, and then spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish Literature.

After university and before his success with his Rebus novels, Ian had a number of jobs including working as a grape-picker, a swineherd, a journalist for a hi-fi magazine, and a taxman. Following his marriage in 1986, he lived briefly in London where he worked at the National Folktale Centre, followed by a short time living in France, before returning to Edinburgh.

Ian's first novel Summer Rites remains in his bottom drawer, but his second novel, The Flood, was published in 1986, while his first Rebus novel, Knots & Crosses, was published in 1987. The Rebus series is now translated into twenty-two languages and the books are bestsellers on several continents. In addition to his Rebus and Malcolm Fox novels, he has also written standalone novels including Doors Open, which was televised in 2012, short stories, a graphic novel – Dark Entries – and a play (with Mark Thomson, the Royal Lyceum Theatre's Artistic Director) Dark Road, which premiered at the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, in September 2013. A second play, Long Shadows, starring John Rebus, was co-written with Rona Munro and staged in 2018. There are also a number of novels under the pseudonym 'Jack Harvey' and in 2005 he collaborated with singer Jackie Leven on a CD. His non-fiction book Rebus's Scotland was published in 2005.

Ian Rankin has been elected a Hawthornden Fellow, and is also a past winner of the Chandler-Fulbright Award. He is the recipient of four Crime Writers' Association Dagger Awards including the prestigious Diamond Dagger in 2005. In 2004, Ian won America's celebrated Edgar Award for Resurrection Men. He has also been shortlisted for the Edgar and Anthony Awards in the USA, and won Denmark's Palle Rosenkrantz prize, the French Grand Prix du Roman Noir and Germany's Deutscher Krimipreis.

Ian Rankin is also the recipient of honorary degrees from the universities of Hull, Abertay, St Andrews and Edinburgh as well as The Open University. In 2019, he donated his archive of over 50 boxes of manuscripts, letters and paperwork to the National Library of Scotland.

A regular contributor to BBC2's Newsnight Review, he also presented his own TV series, Ian Rankin's Evil Thoughts on Channel 4 in 2002 and Rankin on the Staircase for BBC Four in 2005. In 2007, Rankin appeared in Ian Rankin's Hidden Edinburgh and Ian Rankin Investigates Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde also for BBC Four. Ian has been the subject of ITV's South Bank Show and BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs where his choice of music included Joy Division, The Rolling Stones and Van Morrison.

Ian has received an OBE for services to literature, opting to receive the prize in his home city of Edinburgh, where he lives with his wife and two sons.

Ian Rankin's website

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Interview

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/...

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Books by this Author

Books by Ian Rankin at BookBrowse
A Heart Full of Headstones jacket In a House of Lies jacket Rather Be the Devil jacket Standing in Another Man's Grave jacket
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