Rebus Festival planned to mark 30th anniversary of top cop

Ian Rankin outside the Oxford Bar - a favourite spot with the author and Rebus. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Ian Rankin outside the Oxford Bar - a favourite spot with the author and Rebus. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Share this article
3
Have your say

Scots crime writer Ian Rankin is planning a Rebus Festival to celebrate his most famous creation.

He also revealed he’d never watched any of the Rebus TV adaptations, screened as four series between 2000 and 2007, starring John Hannah, and later Ken Scott as the Edinburgh-based detective.

Ken Stott in character as Rebus, during filming in Stockbridge. Picture: Rob McDougall

Ken Stott in character as Rebus, during filming in Stockbridge. Picture: Rob McDougall

Despite that, he’d like to have either actor appear at the event.

It’s 30 years since Rankin, 56, finished the first Rebus crime novel and a year-long celebration is planned for 2017.

“I’m not intending to write a book next year but just mark the 30th anniversary of the first publication in 1987,” Rankin said.

“I’d like to have a festival in Edinburgh one weekend in June as part of it. I’m still working on it but I could do some talks, we’d have some music and maybe get some of the actors who’ve done it on TV or radio to come along.

There must be a bit of Rebus in me or else I couldn’t keep writing about him for so long. It just happens we both like a quiet life and hanging out at the Oxford

Ian Rankin

“Ron Donachie plays [Rebus] in the BBC radio versions and he’s really got the voice, but I’ve never watched the TV ones.

“I’ve got all the DVDs but I’ve never seen more than a minute or two grazing the TV late at night because I didn’t want to actors’ faces replacing what’s in my head.”

Rather Be The Devil, out this week, is the latest Rebus book and Rankin will be in London from tomorrow for a week-long blitz of interviews and promotion.

A host of festival appearances in the UK plus lengthy tours of Australia and America will follow early next year.

John Hannah, who first portrayed Rebus, seen during filming on Salisbury Crags in December 2000. Picture: TSPL

John Hannah, who first portrayed Rebus, seen during filming on Salisbury Crags in December 2000. Picture: TSPL

His first book was turned down by five publishers and for years, even after he started writing them, Rankin almost quit as he couldn’t make a living.

They have since become worldwide best-sellers.

Despite being one of Scotland’s best-known and richest authors, Rankin says he manages to lead a normal, low-key life.

He walks everywhere he can in his home city Edinburgh, getting ideas and noting changes - he concedes a Starbucks in the new book has now closed and become a restaurant, too late to include.

And, unlike JK Rowling, he insists he has no issues with the attention or fans.

“JK does her best to lead a normal life and you see her and her husband out at bars and restaurants,” Rankin said.

“But she has a lot of pressure because her fans are legion.

“I don’t seem to have that. I go to the Oxford Bar, from the books, a couple of times a week and there’s always someone there because of Rebus.

“I pick up my mail there and there are parcels and letters from all over the world.

“There must be a bit of Rebus in me or else I couldn’t keep writing about him for so long. It just happens we both like a quiet life and hanging out at the Oxford.”

Rebus is now past retiral age and is back as a former copper helping on investigations. Ian admits he did think about killing him off but says: “I thought it’d be too cruel after all I’d put him through.”

The book reflects the changes brought about by Police Scotland and Rankin sighs as he admits Scotland is too law-abiding for his professional liking.

“The murder rate’s so low it’s kind of depressing for a crime writer,” he laughs. “You’ve got to keep the books realistic so you can’t have a huge body count when there aren’t that many murders.

“The new book has Rebus dusting off a murder that happened in a posh hotel back in 1978.

“Although the case is fictitious I’m using a real hotel, the Caledonian. It’s now the Waldorf Astoria Caledonian and I actually asked them if I could set a murder there.

“They asked when it happened and when I said it was 40 years ago they said it was fine as they didn’t own it then!”

Rather Be The Devil by Ian Rankin is released on November 3