Ian Rankin interview for Emirates Lit Fest

Time Out Dubai has an Ian Rankin interview for Emirates Airline Festival Of Literature 2016. Read more about the Dubai festival taking place March 1-12

Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

From crime writers to historians, novelists to fitness gurus, the 8th annual Emirates Airline Festival Of Literature has all bases covered, with more 150 literary brains taking part. And that's just the experts.

From Tuesday March 1 to Saturday 12, writers, illustrators, publishers, poets and more will gather at the InterContinental Dubai Festival City to celebrate the written word across more than 300 events.

You can read our full preview of the fesival by clicking the link - Emirates Airline Festival Of Literature preview - or read on to hear from one of the authors taking par.


Scottish author Ian Rankin has sold more than 20 million books and has had his works adapted into a TV series. He tells us what inspires a bestselling novel.

Ian Rankin is best known for his Inspector Rebus novels, which have been made into a television series in the UK. His books tell tales of murder and mystery and address questions about morality, society and the human mind. On his way to achieving a doctorate in Scottish literature in the late ’80s at the University of Edinburgh, Rankin began writing his debut novel Knots & Crosses, about a grim detective inspector named John Rebus. The idea soon turned into a series of books, of which there are now 23. “Rebus accesses every layer of society, from top to bottom, so he can be investigating politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen,” Rankin explains.

Since his first book was published in 1987, Rankin’s work has been translated into 22 languages and is a fixture on bestseller lists worldwide. So where do his ideas come from? “Everywhere where people are telling stories,” he says. “In a bar, in a café or from a newspaper. I can pick whatever idea I think would look good in a book. I guess this is one of the main characteristics of the novelist. They have to be able to pick ideas from everywhere and manipulate them into their work.”

In the quest for a good story, Rankin has interviewed murderers and prisoners on death row, and has tried to tap into the mind of police officers and detectives to understand every aspect of a crime. “I gather information on a crime, to try and understand what evil is. It is indeed easy to judge an act as evil, but how do you know if a person as a whole is evil?” he asks. The experience of visiting prisoners on death row, he says, drew various emotions from him. “After 40 minutes of chatting to an inmate behind bulletproof glass, I started to feel sorry for him. Other inmates were being visited by their families, but he was only visited by his lawyers. As a human, I felt sorry for him. I was aware of his crime – he murdered someone, though didn’t mean to kill. However, he still murdered someone, so I think he deserves to be punished.”

Aside from the emotional challenges that come with writing a book, Rankin says the fear of failing never goes away. “It doesn’t matter how many good books you have written, you are going to be judged on the new one. However, rejection doesn’t have to interfere with your passion. Write what you want to write and think about the industry later.” With a new book due out in November, we’ll have to wait and see if Ian Rankin can remain the king of his genre, but the evidence would suggest yes.

Fri Mar 11 & Sat 12 at Festival City

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