So, some five years after I first met Ian Rankin, we met a second time when I hosted him at the Ottawa International Writers Festival.
Ian changed my life after a brief encounter in Harrogate, UK. I saw him in an empty bar and asked if I could take his picture for a Canadian website. I am not in that picture; I was too embarrassed to ask for a what we now call “selfies.” But here it is.
When Ian found out I was there because The Beggar’s Opera had been shortlisted for the Debut Dagger but had been rejected for publication 156 times, he suggested I use his name and contact his publisher. As it turned out, I ended up represented by his agent, and my unpublished manuscript showed up on the hot list at the Frankfurt Book Fair, and as you can see from the sidebar, not only got published but has done pretty well.
Because of our connection, the folks at the Ottawa International Writers Festival asked me to spend an hour on stage with Ian last Thursday evening and have a chat, which turned out to be a really great chance to get to know him properly. (He didn’t even know my name in Harrogate; I’d forgotten to introduce myself.)
I had asked folks on Twitter and Facebook (and here as well) if they had any questions they wanted me to ask during our session.
Most wanted to know what would happen between Rebus and Siobhan. At the mere suggestion of a romantic relationship, Ian bristled. “Jesus, no!” he said. “He’s old enough to be her father. People who work together don’t have to sleep together. Jesus!” And that was pretty much the end of that.
As for the authors he reads, which was another common question (there are too many to list), he says he tends to go back to the classics like Dickens but at one time had planned to do a doctorate about Muriel Spark, who wrote The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which continues to be a perennial favourite of his.
At the end of the session, I did manage to get a second picture of Ian, and once again, for the same reason, I’m not in it.
But here it is. Thanks, Ian – that was fun!