Ian Rankin: Rebus sex ban was publisher's idea

Crime novelist Ian Rankin says he was banned from writing sex scenes involving his famous detective Rebus.

Monday, 19th April 2021, 2:06 pm
Updated Monday, 19th April 2021, 2:42 pm

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The author revealed that he had penned a passage involving the unorthodox Edinburgh detective in bed with a woman in one of his early novels – but his editor insisted that the scene was cut and ruled that would go down well with readers.

Rankin insisted that he was told to avoid any graphic descriptions of sex in his books and leave it to the reader's imagination.

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Sex ban: Ian Rankin

He said: "There is not much romance in my books.

"In the third novel, when I was still very young, I did put a sex scene in. I thought 'If you're going to do crime novels there should be a bit of sex in there as well.'

"I had Rebus having sex and my editor said 'No, please don't. For God's sake, leave us at the bedroom door and leave something to the reader's imagination.'

"Since then I have never written another sex scene which I'm very happy about because I found it really toe-curling to try and write that sort of thing."

Rankin also told how female fans of his books have wanted to tell him what they get up to in bed.

Speaking on the Cultural Coven podcast, he said: "I do know writers who get sent weird stuff but I tend not to.

"Years and years ago when I was living in France I did get letters sent to me via my publisher in London from a woman who said she felt like a character in a Rebus novel.

"These were all long, handwritten letters which would always eventually get on to her sex life."

He added: "There have been a number of times when I have been at a signing and a woman has come up and her husband is shuffling along behind her and she will say 'Oh Mr Rankin you have given me so many hours of pleasure in bed.'

"I have got to be very careful then to say 'No I think you'll find that's Rebus who's given you hours of pleasure not me,' as the husband looks on forlornly."

The Rebus series has sold more than 20 million books and new television series featuring the detective is also being planned.

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