Ian Rankin's birthday: 10 of the author’s best quotes about writing

As the popular author turns 59 this weekend, we take a look at some of his best quotes.

Friday, 26th April 2019, 9:21 pm
Updated Friday, 26th April 2019, 9:25 pm
Ian Rankin Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Ian Rankin Picture: AFP/Getty Images

Known for his Inspector Rebus novels, Ian Rankin is one of Scotland's best loved authors. Here he talks about writing - from advice to funny quips.

“I am, of course, a frustrated rock star - I'd much rather be a rock star than a writer. Or own a record shop. Still, it's not a bad life, is it? You just sit at a computer and make stuff up.”

“I still think most writers are just kids who refuse to grow up. We're still playing imaginary games, with our imaginary friends.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“You need a great idea, but then you've got to carry it through. If you get it right, you're going to be a critical success. But not everyone who works hard gets it right, or has the success they deserve: there's an element of luck.”

“I used to think that: whenever I heard that someone had taken 10 years to write a novel, I'd think it must be a big, serious book. Now I think, 'No - it took you one year to write, and nine years to sit around eating Kit Kats.'”

“I don't hang out with cops.”

“I don't want the books to become PR exercises for the police; I want to have the freedom to write about cops who cross the line: bad cops.”

“Right from the very beginning, I knew I wanted to write palpably Scottish fiction.”

“I'm often asked how I write books, but I don't think my approach is suitable for everyone. If I walked into a creative writing class, all I could say to them was 'I tend to make it up as I go along.' I'm not sure that's brilliant advice.”

“When I'm writing, I won't know whodunnit until maybe two thirds of the way through. Until then, I know as little as my detective. I just make it up as I go along. It's nerve-wracking, actually. You'll be half through and not know your conclusion. You worry one of these days the ending won't come. I'll be left with only two-thirds of a novel.”

“Why does any novelist keep writing long after they've made money? Because they've failed to write the perfect novel.”