Rankin reveals he knows as little as his characters do when starting new material



IAN Rankin has revealed when writing new Rebus novels he knows as little as his characters do.

The Edinburgh based author, famous for his award-winning detective series Rebus, revealed that he never has a plot in mind before putting pen to paper and the direction of the story is always dictated by his characters.

Rankin, 55, also announced that a new novel is due to be completed by the end of June – despite only having written a page and a half of notes.

Speaking to fellow crime writer, Sarah Hilary, he said: “I have the feeling that if I knew what was going to happen in a story I wouldn’t need to write the story.



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The Scot said revealed he never has a plot before writing his novels.



“I know as little as my characters when I start. Their journey is mine.

“I did once plot a book – Sabbath Child – so completely that I never felt the need to write it.”

“If something works for you as a writer, you tend to stick with it, so I’ve never regretted not plotting.”

And the Scot also revealed that he is as surprised as readers when some characters don’t make it to the next series.

“I’ve had characters die on me who weren’t supposed to,” he added, “The politician in Set In Darkness was supposed to be in three books. Halfway into the first book, he was already dead.

“The story demanded it. Oh well, I thought. On the other hand, Cafferty, Rebus’s nemesis, was only supposed to be in one book, but he got beneath my skin and stuck around.”

Rankin has a number of ways to solve any problems he may face when writing – including getting advice from his wife, Miranda Harvey.

He added: “Have I ever written myself into a corner? Not radically so.

“If I let a bit stuck, I talk it through with my wife. She reads a lot of fiction, including crime novels, so she knows the terrain.

“I also find that if I lie in bed late at night and think the problem through, especially just before sleep, that my mind starts to provide answers.”

Rankin boosted the value of his company, John Rebus Limited, to more than £2.5 million last year.

The full interview can be found here.