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Ian Rankin








Rebus’s return is being widely celebrated.  Can you tell us a little about your latest novel, Standing in Another Man’s Grave?


Standing In Another Man's Grave: well, yes, Rebus is back. He is still retired and working cold cases (unsolved crimes) for a unit in Edinburgh - in other words he is a civilian working for the police. A woman comes to him about her missing daughter. The daughter disappeared on December 31st 1999, and the mother has been searching for her ever since. Rebus begins to wonder if the case may have ties to a current investigation. At the same time, he has reapplied to join the police full time (the retirement age having been lifted). This brings him into the orbit of Malcolm Fox, who is an internal affairs cop. Fox knows Rebus has 'previous' and he is determined Rebus won't be alllowed back into the police.



In at least one of your interviews, you mention that you studied guns for one of your novels.  For the sake of research, have you taken any other courses?


I've not taken courses. I have visited prisons, mortuaries, and so on, and I do talk to a lot of professionals to make sure I get the details of the books right.



Have you ever sat in on an autopsy?


I was asked if I wanted to attend an autopsy but I declined. I was happy enough to ask questions of the pathologist, and to take a tour of the mortuary itself, speaking to the staff. I've also looked at medical textbooks - enough to know I'd probably keel over at an actual autopsy.



Who is your favourite literary character?


Favourite literary character? That's a tough one. Maybe Miss Jean Brodie.



Who do you read for guilty pleasure?


I don't think any reading should make you feel guilty, but people are often surprised that I've read as much Jilly Cooper as I have.



Would you like to see any of your novels as feature-length films?  If so, which?


I'd love to see my books on the big screen - Edinburgh demands a big screen role! Maybe 'Black and Blue', but I'd settle for any of my books.



Some people have difficulty separating actors from their fictional characters.  Have any of your fictional characters received love or hate mail?


Not as such, though I know lots of readers worry about Rebus and his lifestyle - and more than a few have professed love for the man.



Would you consider bringing out a compilation CD of yours and Rebus’s favourite music?


I've considered this in the past, but the cost of getting access to the right songs would be prohibitive - maybe a Spotify playlist is the way to go.



Which song is talking to you now?


Right this minute? For some bizarre reason, it's 'Wordy Rappinghood' by Tom Tom Club



Which songs will feature in Standing In Another Man’s Grave ?


A lot of Jackie Leven lyrics - as featured at the start of each of the book's sections. The title is a mondegreen from a misheard line by Jackie - 'standing in another man's rain'. Plus Siobhan will listen to the latest Kate Bush album, and Rebus goes for the likes of Rory Gallagher and John Martyn.



Did BBC Radio Scotland ever respond to your heart-felt “DON’T DO THIS, YA BUNCH OF FANNIES!” protest poem about the axing of The Janice Forsyth Show?


As far as I know, Janice's last show goes out very soon. They promise she'll be back but in a different slot. Still puts a hole in my Saturday morning though.

(This interview took place shortly before the last Janice Forsyth show was aired on 14th July 2012)



Do you ever feel under commercial pressure?


I suppose I do, in that my publishers are always keen for me to be writing the next book.



As a crime writer, you no doubt have a number of oddities in your book collection? Can you name one or two?


I've got a book listing all the public hangings in Edinburgh, and a book written by serial killer Ian Brady. Research, in both cases.



Have any of your baddie characters affected your sleep or played out in nightmares?


I never dream about my characters - I wonder if I should.



Bass player Stuart David bid at an auction to have his name used in “A Question of Blood”.   He paid £650, and gave his alter ego name Peacock Johnson.  Have you ever based any of the victims in your books on people that you know?


Victims? No, but I still do auction characters to each book for charity - I think there are half a dozen in the new book. And the reason 'The Impossible Dead' was set in Kirkcaldy is because a restaurant owner in the town paid for me to mention his restaurant.



Who designs your book covers?


I'm pretty sure jacket design is done in-house at Orion. I'm consulted on the process, but I always reckon others know better than me what sells and what doesn't.



Can you name some of the biggest challenges you have had to face psychologically as a crime writer?


Big psychological challenges? Hmm, not sure. Plotting is a challenge - all those threads and motives and the need for them to be believable and consistent. Oh, and in one book there was a paedophile and originally I was going to be writing him in the first person, but I found I didn't really want to be inside his head, so I bottled out.



You misheard the Sex Pistols lyrics “They made you a moron/a potential H-bomb” as “They made you a moron/ touching your wife’s bum”.  Do you have any other amusing antidotes on misconstrued lyrics that you would like to share with us?


I'm always mishearing lyrics - standing in another man's grave instead of standing in another man's rain is just the latest. There was one Talking Heads lyric that I thought said 'there's a lot of women in Mesopotamia'. Turned out to be 'ruins' in Mesopotamia, but by then I had convinced myself that that ancient culture must have been a matriarchy...



With regard to the future of e-books, would you consider using website links or mini-films within the pages of your e-books?


Yes, though I'm not convinced the outcome would be a book any more; it would be a mongrel, like a role-playing adventure.



Do you have any events planned with King Creosote or any other musicians over the coming year?


Not exactly, though ideas are always being bounced around. I'm in occasional talks with a number of musicians at the moment; maybe nothing will ever come of it.



We agree with you that it is time to knock the Scandinavian authors off the bestseller lists.  How would you advise aspiring crime writers to do this?


I'm not sure there's anything we can do. Taste and fashion flow and ebb. I just hope Celtic crime writing gets its fair share in time.







The Impossible Dead


Malcolm Fox and his team from Internal Affairs are back. They've been sent to Fife to investigate whether fellow cops covered up for a corrupt colleague, Detective Paul Carter. Carter has been found guilty of misconduct with his own uncle, also in the force, having proved to be his nephew's nemesis. But what should be a simple job is soon complicated by intimations of conspiracy and cover-up - and a brutal murder, a murder committed with a weapon that should not even exist. The spiralling investigation takes Fox back in time to 1985, a year of turmoil in British political life. Terrorists intent on a split between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom were becoming more brazen and ruthless, sending letter-bombs and poisonous spores to government offices, plotting kidnaps and murder, and trying to stay one step ahead of the spies sent to flush them out.

Fox has a duty to get at the truth, while the body count rises, the clock starts ticking, and he fights for his professional and personal life.








The brand-new crime novel from number-one bestselling author Ian Rankin.

It’s twenty-five years since John Rebus appeared on the scene, and five years since he retired. But 2012 sees his return in STANDING IN ANOTHER MAN’S GRAVE. Not only is Rebus as stubborn and anarchic as ever, but he finds himself in trouble with Rankin’s latest creation, Malcolm Fox of Edinburgh’s internal affairs unit. Added to which, Rebus may be about to derail the career of his ex-colleague Siobhan Clarke, while himself being permanently derailed by mob boss and old adversary Big Ger Cafferty. But all Rebus wants to do is discover the truth about a series of seemingly unconnected disappearances stretching back to the millennium. The problem being, no one else wants to go there – and that includes Rebus’s fellow officers. Not that any of that is going to stop Rebus. Not even when his own life and the careers of those around him are on the line.


STANDING IN ANOTHER MAN'S GRAVE will be available in hardback, eBook and audiobook on 8th November 2012.


Find out more about Ian Rankin at his official website













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