Ian Rankin takes year off after Iain Banks death

Ian Rankin said he was 'shattered' by the death of his friend, writer Iain Banks. Picture: Leon McGowran
Ian Rankin said he was 'shattered' by the death of his friend, writer Iain Banks. Picture: Leon McGowran
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ACCLAIMED crime writer Ian Rankin intends to take a year off work, citing the deaths of two close friends among reasons for the extended sabbatical.

The Capital-based creator of fictional detective Inspector John Rebus told an audience at the Edinburgh International Book Festival that he was “shattered” and had been brought back to earth by the deaths of fellow author Iain Banks and literary head Gavin Wallace.

Banks died in June from cancer, while Wallace – the Scottish Art Council’s head of literature – passed away earlier this year.

Rankin’s latest Rebus novel, which deals with the subject of the independence referendum, will be released shortly. His first stage play is also premiering at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre next month.

Speaking at his own festival event, the writer 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.

“The kids are on the cusp of leaving home or have left home. 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. “I don’t want to die slumped over my desk. So I’m taking a year off next year and doing some travelling.”

Rankin had taken part in a special event on Sunday paying tribute to Banks’ legacy. He also spoke about the death of another good friend – singer Jackie Leven – whose song titles inspired the names for Rankin’s past two books.

Rankin said: “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.”

The new Rebus novel will feature the “double jeopardy” law change in Scotland. Publicity material said the book would be set “with a referendum on Scottish independence around the corner”, with Rebus a No voter.