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Confessions of an accidental crime novelist

05 Mawrth 2008

Ian Rankin

Moody, hard-drinking maverick Detective Inspector Rebus came about almost by accident.

His creator, best-selling author Ian Rankin, told an audience at the University last night that he never intended to become a crime novelist.

He was giving a talk as part of a seminar series run by the Crime Narratives in Context Research Group. The Research Group, under the directorship of colleagues in the Schools of English, Communication and Philosophy, European Studies, History and Archaeology and Law, and involving interested academics from a range of other schools, looks at different ways of writing about crime, from police and forensic reports to real-life crime books and fictional novels.

Ian Rankin explained that his early influences included Muriel Spark, Robert Louis Stevenson and Scottish ballads. He had never read much crime fiction but found it a useful way to explore themes about the darker side of Edinburgh life.

He said: "I think the contemporary crime novel can now take on some of the larger themes we face. With issues like 9/11 or terrorism, or racism, I think you’re more likely to find some answers in good crime fiction than in any other form. This is why it’s such a thrill to come somewhere like this University where crime fiction is being taken seriously."

Dr Heather Worthington, a crime fiction specialist at the School of English, Communication and Philosophy, one of the event organisers with Dr Claire Gorrara of the School of European Studies, said: "We were delighted when Ian Rankin agreed to come to talk at the University. He gave an excellent and engaging talk, which showed exactly why crime novel can be such a powerful way of commenting on a society."

The talk, which filled the Large Shandon Lecture Theatre, was supported by the new Cardiff Humanities Research Institute, which has just been set up to promote all the arts and humanities at the University. It was also supported by the School of English, Communication and Philosophy, the School of European Studies, and by Academi, the national agency for the promotion of literature. The event organisation also received support from the University’s Community Engagement Team.