Friends’ deaths prompt Rebus author Ian Rankin to take a year off work

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IAN Rankin has revealed he is taking a year off work because he fears he could die like close friend Iain Banks.

The Rebus author, 53, said he does not  “want to die slumped over my desk” and will take a break to travel the world.

Fellow Fife author, Iain Banks, died in June aged 59 following a short battle with cancer.

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Banks also said he had been shaken by the death in February of another friend, Gavin Wallace, also 53, head of literature at the Scottish Arts Council.

In the run up to the launch of the next Inspector Rebus novel, the author told fans at the Edinburgh International Book Festival that he is now “knackered”.

He said: “I’m going to have a year off next year. I’m knackered, basically. Bluntly, I’m just shattered. I need the batteries recharging big-time.

“Friends of mine are dropping dead. Gavin Wallace dropped dead at the age of 53 earlier this year. I’m 53. Then of course Iain Banks was taken from us at the age of 59.”

Rankin also spoke about the death less than two years ago of another close friend, singer-songwriter and fellow Fifer, Jackie Leven – whose songs have inspired the titles of his last two books.

He said: “He was largely than life; he was a troubadour. He had a whole host of stories and was a great guitarist.

“We were supposed to be doing an event together at the Belfast Festival and he was replaced at the last minute by a friend of his who told me he was very ill.

“I rang Jackie’s manager and he told me he had three days left to live.”

Rankin added: “I don’t want to die slumped over my desk. So I’m taking a year off next year and doing some travelling.”

The writer added that he would also be spending time with his two children who “are on the cusp of leaving home or have left home”.

The book festival has already held a special event to pay tribute to Wallace, who joined the arts council in 1997, becoming one of the most widely respected figures in the Scottish literary scene.

And now Rankin will attend a special event to honour Banks’ literary achievements at the festival on Sunday.

Publicity material for the Scots next Rebus novel indicate that it is “set with a referendum on Scottish Independence around the corner.”

When he was asked whether the next Rebus novel will be set up against the backdrop of next year’s referendum campaign, he said: “Not if my publisher has anything to do with it.”

He added: “There was a character in the new book who was special adviser to the First Minister. But my publisher felt it slowed things down too much, this political sub-context, so she went.

“But I did like my special adviser – I am going to have to try bring her back in some guise.”

Taggart actor Colin McCredie said on Twitter to Rankin: “Delighted you’re going to spend a year focusing on what is important. Your family, buying records & drinking beer! #enjoy

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