No, not more Egyptian mummies, Ian Rankin’s latest novel. It is the second book in the series featuring Rankin’s new protagonist Malcolm Fox. Does Fox rank as high as Rebus? In police terms, yes – they are both DIs. In terms of readablity and unputdownableness (spellchecker eat your heart out) then also yes. Rankin has got it right. It must have been hard for him to drop Rebus but it was the right thing to do, he quit when he was on top. For a while I wondered if he would ever get into it again, it seemed to take him a while. Real writers just can’t stop. They get there in the end.
More Ian Rankin here
If you want to follow the bidding, the eBay page isn’t that easy to find. It’s here: pie and pint
My ten year old granddaughter wants me to write another book for children. She knows I wrote three novels for her dad, and that he passed them around his friends when he was at school. She has read Keewatin, the first of the three, and now she is passing it to her friends. After she read it she said it was better than Harry Potter (if only that meant something in the real world!). Keewatin took six months to rewrite and then another two to edit, but it was worth it just to hear her comments.
Except for these blogs I haven’t written much original stuff lately. I am trawling through my older novels, rewriting and editing. It is a full time job and nowhere near as satisfying as writing new material. Every writer goes through it. The stuff you wrote years ago was put aside for reasons best known to yourself: stories that seemed to go nowhere, plots that got lost. There are moments of ‘did I really write that?’ – either because it now seems exceptionally good or appallingly bad.
Ian Rankin (Doctor Ian) is auctioning on eBay a pie and a pint in the Oxford Bar. In his company, of course. The last time I checked the site the bids had reached £460 (not much for a meal, judging by the money I saw being spent in St.James and Mayfair last week). All the money raised will go to Rankin’s favourite charity.
If you know Edinburgh, or have read Ian Rankin’s latest book The Complaints, you will know about the traffic chaos caused by the city’s trams. Well, not the trams themselves, because there aren’t any yet. It’s the disturbances caused by the road works. They can’t have anything beneath tram tracks, so before laying them they have to dig holes big enough to hide a bus in so they can reroute the water and gas mains, electricity and telephone cables and the sewers and drains. To complicate matters there are bricked-up cellars under some of the roads. Again, Rankin fans will know about these. The cellars should have come as no surprise to the planners, because in 1979 Princes Street was closed after the supporting legs of high scaffolding punched their way through to a cellar – though no doubt it did come as a surprise to the engineers in the site offices up on the scaffolding. The offices were left sticking up at an angle, like a ship on a very big wave. Been there. Seen that.
Talking of catastrophies befalling site offices, I have a tale to tell about that…
While I’m dropping names, I met Ian Rankin in Costa’s in Edinburgh’s George Street a few years ago. He was next to me in the queue for coffee. I’m ten years older than him and age gives you that extra bit of cheek and confidence. ‘Mr Rankin,’ I said. ‘Loved your last book.’
‘Fleshmarket Close, you mean?’
I nodded. ‘Met you in Manchester, you presented me with a prize. I was one of the runners up for the Debut Dagger Award. I was writing as Alan Frost.’
I didn’t expect him to remember me. He didn’t. At the awards we’d chatted for some time. I was living in Edinburgh at the time and I remember him joking that he’d rather I didn’t set any of my novels there.
No competition from me, Ian. Six years on and I still haven’t been published. I just haven’t been sending my stuff off. Perhaps I should try harder – not at writing, because I have no problems there. Try harder to get published, I mean.
Rankin has a stock saying for prospective authors, ‘Keep writing!’
I came away feeling good, but kicking myself that I’d forgotten that he had just been awarded an Honorary Doctorate and I could – should, actually – have addressed him as Doctor Rankin, not Mister.
Now that really would have been a nice touch.