3/22: Scottish author Ian Rankin at Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale
With his Scottish police inspector John Rebus, novelist Ian Rankin created an immensely popular protagonist that lived in 17 books and inspired a popular British show. But after retiring the character, Rankin stayed in police mode with "The Complaints," which introduces readers to Malcolm Fox, an internal-affairs cop.
Rankin is already wrapping a new book featuring Fox; first up for the charming writer from Edinburgh is a U.S. tour to hype the book. He'll be at the Poisoned Pen on Tuesday, March 22.
Question: How did you come up with the idea for "The Complaints"?
Answer: The internal-affairs department gave me a lot of opportunities to look at a side of the police that I hadn't done before. I thought the main character would very different character from Rebus.
Q: How so?
A: He's a professional voyeur. He's like a spy. He's not gung-ho in the way that Rebus is. He's careful and circumspect. He's a different kind of character, and I thought it would be fun. I was intrigued by the cops that do this job. Why would you do a job where you own colleagues don't like you?
Q: So why do cops take internal-affairs jobs?
A: I spoke to a few people who no longer serve with internal affairs. A lot of it boils down to idealism. They want the police to be on the side of the angels. They think there is nothing more important than that. And it is also a good career step. If you've done a few years in internal affairs, then you can go to a higher position.
Q: Why did you choose to write about another cop?
A: I retired Rebus, but I still wanted to write about contemporary Scotland and the social problems we have. For me, the best way is using a police officer. I was very aware people were worried they weren't going to enjoy the book as much because it wasn't Rebus. It was quite heartening when the book was published in the U.K. and I got a lot of positive feedback.
Q: Why retire Rebus if he was still so popular?
A: I made a problem for myself deciding early on that he would live in real time. I was 25 when I wrote the first one and I'm 50 now. I knew he had to retire at 60. It's funny, too, because since the last book, they've actually changed the law here. Not because of me! (Laughing) But they changed the rules and now you can stay on past the age of 60. So, there is a possibility that we may not have seen the last of him.
Q: When you retire a popular character, does your publisher call you and say, "What are you thinking?"
A: My publisher said, "Why can't we just stop the clock?" (Laughing) But I wasn't going to stop the clock, because I made a point of saying that the clock is still running.
Q: How do cops react to your books?
A: Usually very positive. Usually everywhere I go in the world, there will be a cop or an ex-cop in the audience, and they'll say they know guys like the ones in the book. The police are a large, bureaucratic organization, and many of us have worked for large, bureaucratic organizations, so much of it is universal.
A: I do and I don't, if you know what I mean. I'm not bringing a laptop to the U.S. I don't do Facebook. But I'm completely infatuated with Twitter. That's where fans can keep up with me. I've already arranged to go for drinks with people in various cities on this tour through Twitter that I've never actually met. If I end up in the trunk of a with duct tape on my mouth, look to my Twitter for possible suspects.
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/thingstodo/stage/articles/2011/03/15/20110315scottish-author-ian-rankin-poisoned-pen-scottsdale-complaints-book.html#ixzz1Gid4HxOX