| Author set to mark his hero’s 30th anniversary with a festival in Edinburgh
Is it really 30 years since the debut of Rebus? Ian Rankin discusses his Scottish cop.
With book titles inspired by many of his favourite albums, including Black And Blue and Let It Bleed by The Rolling Stones, Ian Rankin is clearly a music obsessive. March 2017 will mark the 30th anniversary of the publication of Knots And Crosses, Rankin’s first novel to feature John Rebus, and the bestselling author is planning a summer festival in Edinburgh dedicated to his detective.
“It’s going to be a weekend in late June,” Rankin tells Crime Scene. “There will be some live music, spoken word, maybe a walking tour, a film. Maybe we could show the documentary [ BBC One’s 2012 film about Rankin].
“It’s just a chance for fans to get together and celebrate 30 years of Rebus. So we’re still exploring what it might consist of and who might be available.”
The author is also interested in the festival bill featuring a discussion about adapting the books with a TV scriptwriter, plus appearances by radio and screen actors, although Ken Stott is “often busy”. The other challenge facing Rankin is that the bands who inspired his Rebus titles are either out of reach (The Stones, The Cure) or no longer with us. Scottish songwriter Jackie Leven, who died in 2011, was a friend of Rankin’s and his lyrics for “Another Man’s Rain” inspired the title of the 2012 Rebus comeback novel, Standing In Another Man’s Grave.
“I’m looking at people who might do Rory Gallagher tunes and John Martyn numbers,” says Rankin, “or young singersongwriters who are in the style that Rebus would approve of. And it would be nice to get a Jackie Leven element in it. He was a mate of mine, we worked together – he was a huge fan of the books, I was a huge fan of his music.”
Although Rankin is a fan of Rebus’ favourites, including Black Sabbath, The Who and Jethro Tull, he admits that their tastes don’t completely tally.
“He wouldn’t like the stuff I listen to these days,” says the author. “He’s not bought an album since about 1975. But I do like the stuff he listens to, yeah – Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and John Martyn.”
Rankin was in a short-lived student band called The Dancing Pigs, who he fictionalised for his book Black And Blue, and last year he was guest DJ for The Charlatans at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall.
“I might do some Djing – we could have a whole night of music from the books,” he says of the festival. “It’s 30 years of Rebus, it’s not 30 years of me.”
The 21st Rebus novel, Rather Be The Devil, features a fictional rock star who crops up in a cold case from 1978. For a special Waterstones edition, Rankin penned a short story set at the time of the murder, which chronicles the first time that Rebus met Ger Cafferty, the gangster who became his nemesis. With Rankin’s detective not getting any younger, it’s an experiment that’s got him thinking about a prequel novel: “I enjoyed doing it so there’s potential there maybe to go back in time.”