,FlIe-born crime writer Ian Rankin, whose two latest Inspector Rebus books have just been published, talks to Sue Wilson about his pre-writing career.

, e"; . ‘When I left university in 1982 I went off to France to a kind of commune- a vineyard plus a self-sufficient farm which had been set up by these ex-60s hippies. Everyone worked on the vines, and we each had other jobs as well

mine was looking after the pigs. I

accidentally murdered one of them, it

was terrible all the skins and stuff from the grapes thatyou don’t use got fed to the pigs, but I led them some which were fermenting, so the pigs got absolutely pissed and one of them died of a heart attack; the other one just had

a terrible hangover.

‘When I came back to Edinburgh I got a job researching alcohol abuse -I had to go round getting schoolkids to fill in forms about whether they drank, how much, what effect it had on them; it was fascinating. Then afterthat I got a job in the tax office for about eight months, until I got the go-ahead to do a PhD. I never finished it- it ended up being free time for writing; that was when I wrote my first two novels.

‘I got married in 1986, the PhD money ran out, and we went down to London. I worked in Middlesex Poly for a bit in the National Folktale Centre, which I collected stories from all the minority I groups in London; it was great, all : these old guys coming in and telling i you stories, it was wonderful. Then I i went for a job on a hi-Ii magazine-I i wanted to get some experience as a journalist because I was thinking of going lull-time as a writer, and thought ; I‘d need to subsidise itwith freelance : work, and this magazine was the only

one that would take me. I knew nothing

: about hi-fi I was writing these articles

: about this system being better than that

one, woofers and tweeters and all that;

I didn't have a clue.

‘It’s been useful doing all these

i different things— ityou want to bring in

i minor characters it helps if you can

i give them a profession and know what

they’re doing; also, to begin with I was

i writing short stories and they were

] basically about different jobs I’d done.

i I must have written the only short story

I about an Inland Revenue office everto

i be translated into Mandarin Chinese, for the BBC World Service. It’ll all crop

up —I know writers who’ve dredged up

5 very old material; my first novel, for

j instance, has never been published

it's a kind of 8th comedy based in a

: Highland hotel that's run by cannibals. It sounds pretty zappy, now I think

about It; maybe I should dig it out one of these days.“

bears to campers‘ tents; farting in galleries damages paintings while a detailed examination of action around the world to clean up our


I Holidays That Don't Cost The Earth John Elkington and Julia Hailes (Victor Gollancz. £5.99) The green consumer gurus turn their attention to travel, with particular focus on the impact ofdifferent holiday pastimes. from ballooning and birdwatching to sunbathing and ‘smokestack tourism'. along with a look at tour operators‘ environmental policies. Intriguing titbits illustrate the sometimes bizarre conflict between tourism and the environment the smell ofcanoodling couples attracts


for the green traveller.

Tourism. the world‘s fastest- growing industry. is destroying the environment. causing cultural (and physical) prostitution and forcing national economies into an increasingly tight corner. This timely alternative holiday guide exposes the industry‘s worst effects. pinpoints the problems and suggests practical ways of relieving the pressure.

(Donald Greig)

Charlottenberg. Feinstein boldly launches her creation into the cabaret Berlin of the 20s. the mythic early years of Brecht and Weill. and Freida fits. She is simply a vivid background colour in an impossibly l lush tapestry. but it is through the g , persuasive talc ofher doomed love _ , ' affairthat we glimpse the wider

scandals: Brecht‘s abusive genius. I Loving Brecht Elaine Feinstein Nazism‘s remorseless rise. a typist‘s (Hutchinson. £13.99) Frieda Bloom authorship ofAlubama Song. A never existed. yet she fell for novel of handsome European Bertholt Brecht, confided in Lotte literary sensibility. which triumphs Lenya and played a bit part in The above all as an audacious portrait of Threepenny Opera. Not bad for a Brecht‘s charmed. perverse milieu. troubled Jewish girl from (Stuart Walker)


I Glas and Storm (Russlitin £5.95. Storm £5) With so much previously censored material to chose from. the 3 high quality ofthese two literary l journals is hardly surprising. The quarterly Storm doesn‘t limit itself ; by sticking rigidly to east European writers. though all the short stories it E M Evgcm popmns talc of a Contains have a?“ undeniably restaurateur imprisoned for passing post-Communist feel. The works are Off do2 men, as pork In Closing characterised by an excellent prose style. while their content invariably reveals the hollowness created by a “camels SUbSchlcncc I" about that properly.‘ he says. ‘but amboritarian rcglmcs- I‘m afraid there might be problems

Though Similar in many “iii/X (Ii/“5 5 getting it published.‘ That Popov and is SPCClficaHY ‘RUSSiEm‘ mlhcrthan his contemporaries need no longer 9351 European and the heritage M be afraid is good news for all ofus. that country‘s great short-story (phmp pa”)

' writers is immediately apparent.

1 Most ofthe writers find the use of

3 humour irresistible. and all seem to : revel in their new-found freedom. No matter how sombre the subject. there is 100 per cent more zest than was ever found in the samizdat literature of the 60s. The whimsical quality of the writing is epitomised

' Popov makes a fleeting note that the 1 story reminds him of a Siberian cannibalism case. ‘I‘d like to write

holidays reveals the best destinations t


I ‘6

t 3:; I Philip Parr has the rough-hewn shirt torn ' from his back and gets down to swooning overthe latest romantic fiction. ln Marius Gabriel‘s The Original Sin (Random 1 Century. £14.99) Mercedes. fighting for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. 5 is not a car but a woman; the type of . woman who likes to be flung around by a ; dominant (and usually hirsute) man. ln the 7(ls. her daughter Eden (the product of i one such fling) is kidnapped. and the ; action shifts between Mercedes‘s ; anti-fascist escapades and Eden‘s burgeoning love for her captor. i Emphasising what a diverse genre i romantic fiction is. Susan Lewis‘s Darkest ! Longings (1 Ieinemann £14.99) features a l beautiful woman called Claudine. a j fighter for the French Resistance. She likesto be flung about . . . you getthe picture. Less sex than The ()rigt'nalSt'n but enough to get your teeth into. I From her cover photo. Anne Rivers l Siddons looks like a non-anorexic Nancy 1 Reagan but her book. Outer Banks (Harper | Collins £14.99) contains descriptions of i bodily functions which would give the 3 ex-First Lady a stroke. The story offour é college debs on a holiday reunion who I ‘discover themselves and each other'. its 1 not as bad as it sounds. surprisingly. The i life of Erin Pizzey‘s leadingladyin ; Morning Star ( l larper (.‘ollins £14.99) l echoes her creator‘s for all of ten seconds— ! her marriage breaks up and she finds her 1 true vocation working for a charity. i Unlike Pizzey (one assumes). she is swept : away in a whirlwind of romance and ! copulation where charming men prove to g be dangerous bastards. Finally. a true icon ofthe genre in Kate l Stevens's Sisters in Arms (Pan £4.99). No gratuitous descriptions of fornication for Ms Stevens; the novel is stacked with the kind of euphemisms embroidered onto the , soul ofevery Mills and Boon author. Against the backdrop of the American 1 War of Independence. mysterious things : occur such as: ‘How it happened. Jim did ; not know. but suddenly she was naked to the waist‘; and ‘her very mind melted at the loving investment of his body.‘ Great 3 stuff.


I Elaine Brook 1 iillhead Library. Byres Road. info 334 8338. Mon 6. 7.30pm. £2 1 .50). Slide-illustrated talk on the culture and wildlife of Bhutan. bythc author of the Himalayan travel books Land ofthe Show Lion and The ll'irttlhnrst'.


I Dr Who Celebration with Terence Dicks \N'aterstone’s. 13 Princes Street. 556 3034. Sat 28. 2pm. Free. The long-time Dr Who script editor and paperback writer launches a week-long promotion for the ever-popular Time Lord. complete with a ‘life'-sizc Dalek.

I Willie Hamilton Waterstone‘s. 83 (ieorge Street. 225 3436. Tue 31 . 7.30pm. Free. The arch-anti-royalist will talk about and sign copies of his autobiography Blood on the Walls (Bloomsbury. £17.99). I Shiatsu Evening Waterstone's. 83 (ieorge Street. 225 3436. Thurs 2. 7.30pm. Free. Talk and demonstration ofthis



I Alan Spence, Tom Leonard, Janette Shepherd Castlemilk Library. 1111) Castlemilk Drive. 634 2066. Mon 30. 7.30pm. Free. Reading and discussion with a trio ofweel-kent Scots writers. Wine and creche provided.

I Southside Writers Scotia Bar. 112—1 14 Stockwell Street. 552 8681. Tue 31. 8.30pm. Free. lnformal readingand discussion session.

I Glasgow Book Fair James Moir I lall. Mitchell Library. Granville Street. info (1436 76453. Fri 3 noon—7pm & Sat 4 1(1am—5pm. 3(lp. Sale ofantiquarian books. maps and prints.

I Iain Banks John Smith {4: Son. 57 Vincent Street. 221 7472. Sat 4. 1—2pm. Free.The acclaimed Scottish author will be signing 3 copies of his new novel The (row Road (Macdonald Little. Brown. £15.99). See

! ancient acupressure massage by Elaine Liechti. author of Shiatsu (Element. £4.99).

I Iain Banks Waterstone's. 13 Princes Street. 556 3034. Sat 4.4.30—5.3(lpm. Free. The acclaimed Scottish author will be signing copies of his new novel The

( ‘rms- Road (Macdonald/Little. Brown. £15.99). See feature.

I Ben OkriWaterstone‘s. 13 Princes Street, 556 3034. Mon 6. 7pm. Free. antlJames Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. Tue 7. 7pm. Free. Last year‘s Booker winner for The Furnished Road . now out in paperback (Vintage. £5.99) will read from and sign copies of his new poetry collection An African Elegy (Jonathan (Tape. £4.99).

I Women in Publishing In Scotland Filmhouse. Lothian Road. info 3321300. Thur 2. 7pm. Non-members£l .50. Lorraine Fannin. Director of the Scottish Publishers Association will give a talk on ‘Twice as Many. Halfas Powerful? —the

Status of Women in Publishing‘.

66 The List 27 March 9 April 1992