THEIR global sales can far exceed the population of their homeland. Dozens of well-known fiction writers live in Scotland, but which occupy the best sellers’ lists more than others?
JK ROWLING (Estimated global sales: 400 million)
We cannot sing the praises of Rowling enoughNational Literary Association
The story of how a single mother living in Edinburgh began writing the children’s books which would become the biggest publishing phenomenon of modern times in two southside cafes has passed into legend. The Harry Potter series of fantasy novels came to an end in 2007, but the books continue to sell in huge numbers and inspire a generation of young readers. “We cannot sing the praises of Rowling high enough,” Charlie Griffiths, director of the National Literacy Association, told the Scotsman in 2003. “Anyone who can persuade children to read should be treasured and what she’s given us in Harry Potter is little short of miraculous. To see children queuing outside a store, not for concert tickets or computer games, but for a book, is brilliant.” Rowling has since published four novels aimed at adults, including three under the pen name Robert Galbraith.
IAN RANKIN (30 million)
The first Inspector Rebus novel, Knots and Crosses, was published in 1987 and the most recent, Even Dogs in the Wild, hit the shelves last week. Rankin (55) was raised in Cardenden, Fife, and was a postgraduate student at the University of Edinburgh living in Marchmont when he first had the idea of writing a crime novel based in his adopted city.
ALEXANDER McCALL SMITH (20 million)
McCall Smith is Emeritus Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh and an authority on medical law and bioethics. Not content with reaching the top in one profession, he has since become a globally successful author. The first book in The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series was published in 1999 and was soon a best seller. Set in Gaborone, Botswana, it has been followed by 15 more books - a rate of one per year. McCall Smith has also written a number of children’s novels, as well as the 44 Scotland Street series, which was first published as short stories in the Scotsman.
VAL McDERMID (10 million)
Kirkcaldy native McDermid began her working life as a journalist and published her first novel, Report for Murder, in 1987. She began writing fiction full-time in 1991 and is now one of the most successful crime writers of modern times. Her series of novels featuring psychological profiler Dr Tony Hill was adapted by ITV as the hit drama Wire In The Blood.
IRVINE WELSH (2 million)
Welsh (57) grew up in Muirhouse, Edinburgh, and worked in a variety of jobs before the publication of his first novel, Trainspotting, in 1993. That title has now sold more than one million copies in the UK alone, thanks in part to the success of the 1996 film adaptation by Danny Boyle. Welsh’s 10th full length novel, A Decent Ride, was published in April.
CHRISTOPHER BROOKMYRE (2 million)
Brookmyre’s debut novel, Quite Ugly One Morning, introduced the world to investigative journalist Jack Parlabane in 1996 and was followed by the best seller Country of the Blind a year later. Brookmyre, who grew up in Barrhead, has since published 18 further works of fiction. He can call upon a variety of singular protagonists in his novels, which are known for their gripping narratives, black humour and social comment.