What do Hoboken and Edinburgh have in common? Colorful language, shady characters and plenty to write about.
Rankin was nice enough to take a few questions from hMAG leading up to his visit…
hMAG: As we’re sure you are aware, you have written a lot of books. What is it about writing crime novels that lends itself to such prolific output?
Ian Rankin: “When you have a serial character such as John Rebus I think readers relish a regular ‘fix’ and we authors are thrilled at the thought someone wants to read our work. So we keep writing.”
h: Where are the challenges in crime writing?
IR: keeping it fresh; finding new ideas and new angles; keeping au fait with the methods used by criminals and the forces of law and order…
h: You’ve written from multiple points of view—male, female, contemporary, historical, good guy, bad guy. What inspired you to be so experimental? What’s the toughest one to write?
IR: I found thrillers hard to write because they demand a level of technical detail when you’re writing about weaponry or gadgets. In a crime novel, a gun can just be a gun. I’m also not as comfortable writing screenplays as novels; not sure why. I know that I’m not a born collaborator.
h: We noted with some amusement that your “first novel” remains in your bottom drawer. What was the process like, deciding to break off such a significant project and redirect your energy into something else?
IR: It’s all part of the learning curve. That book wasn’t good enough, so I studied the feedback and looked at the book again and thought about how to write a better book next time.
h: How well do you know Hoboken? Are you familiar with Northern New Jersey’s colorful criminal history?
IR: I know very little about Hoboken but I’m looking forward to making its acquaintance!