June 2006

Well, I’ve finally delivered the next Rebus novel to my publishers. It’s called The Naming of the Dead and will be published on 18 October. Although I’d been planning and plotting the book since June 2005, I didn’t start the actual writing until the beginning of this year. When I appeared at the Pitlochry Festival at the end of January, I read out the opening few pages to the audience. No doubt I’ll read out a few more ‘teaser’ pages at my Borders Book Festival event at the end of June. Some of you will know that the book revolves around G8 week, last July in Scotland. The fun for me was that Rebus would naturally be the only cop in the whole of the country whose masters didn’t want him within a mile of the G8. So while his colleagues are clashing with rioters, patrolling peaceful marches, and chasing anarchists through the fields surrounding Gleneagles, Rebus is left pretty much on his own to solve a series of murders. I’m not going to say much more than that… except to add that Rebus does get to meet President George W. Bush. Other celebrity walk-ons include Bono, Geldof, Annie Lennox and Bianca Jagger. Curiously, I shared a car with Bianca a few days prior to the G8. A previous Lord Provost of Edinburgh had offered me a lift home from a party, failing to mention that we would be dropping Ms Jagger at her hotel first…

In the midst of writing called The Naming of the Dead, I still found time to pick up an honorary degree from Hull University. What a great city, and a thrill to be in Philip Larkin’s old stomping ground. I also found time to be burgled – or ‘housebroken’, I suppose, as there’s no such term as ‘burglary’ in Scots Law, though we do have the wonderfully-named offence of ‘hamesucken’ (meaning assaulted in one’s own home). I was not assaulted – slept through the whole thing. The swine took my ipod, however, which means I have to start this whole new technology downloading thing again from scratch. Also means some poor sod is going to end up paying a tenner in a pub for a small digital machine featuring my selection of Hawkwind, Secret Machines, PIL, Mogwai, My Bloody Valentine, etc. Cue one-liners about police looking for a deranged-looking deaf man…

The smoking ban entered Scotland on 26 March, and I duly went on radio to say how wonderful it was… mind you, that was before I discovered how fantastic cigarette smoke had been down the years at covering the personal hygiene shortcomings of many a bar-room punter. Didn’t impinge on the new novel, which is cannily set last summer, but apparently the Rebus TV series is having to take it into account.

Alas, a few days before the ban, my friend John Skinner passed away. I’d only known him a few years, but he was a joy to talk with. My short appreciation of him was posted on this site soon after the funeral and you can still find it.

As you can see, the four months of this year have really been taken up largely with writing – just the way I like it. Over the next few months, my public appearances will be similarly scant, though two promotional trips to The Netherlands and one to Iceland are pencilled in. I’m also due to give a talk at Edinburgh’s The Hub at 7.30 on May 31st… though I’ve no idea what I’ll be talking about. All it says on my calendar is ‘twenty minutes’, which I’m guessing is the expected duration rather than an actual title. Mind you, back in 1976 when I was sitting my O Level English, one of the essay topics in the exam was the single word ‘2000’. You had to imagine life in the future, but one guy thought you simply had to write exactly 2,000 words on any topic…

Some future collaborations are being spoken of. Vertigo Comics in the US, currently enjoying great success with Denise Mina’s run on ‘Hellblazer’, are still interested in me trying out some ideas. I may also do some work with renowned Scottish artist Douglas Gordon, and am contributing liner-notes to a special reissue of the album ‘KC Rules OK’ by the magnificent King Creosote. Oh, and there’s a project afoot which links authors with musicians for an album… I’ve been paired with Aidan from Arab Strap and L Pierre. Hard not to succumb to a Scottish version of Brecht/Weill’s ‘The Whisky Song’. And finally… check out a fantastic new band called St Jude’s Infirmary. Their first album is a cracker, and they’ve asked if I might like to contribute something to their second.

See, even when I’m not writing, I’m busy, busy, busy.

Along with the St Jude’s Infirmary debut, you should also listen to ‘The Ballad of the Broken Seas’ by Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan. It’s terrific.

I’m guessing my editor at Orion will want some tweaking done to the new book – she’s never happy unless she can send me a ten-page e-mail of ‘suggestions’. I’ll fight my corner, but will probably do at least one more draft of the book. That’s the problem with novels – they’re never quite finished. But until she gets around to pestering me, I’m going to start mulling over next year’s book. To my mind, this will still be the final instalment in the series, the book in which Rebus hits the mandatory retirement age for detectives in Scotland. I’ve already got a title in mind, but not much else. Hmm… maybe we should run a contest on the website to see if any readers can come up with a better title than the one in my head. That might be fun. Meantime, I will try to get another newsletter written for the summer, which will be able to outline my tour dates for October (UK and Ireland only – the next book won’t be published Stateside until spring 2007, which will be when I next visit the USA). I’ll also be doing a few things at the Edinburgh Book Festival. (Some of you will know that these events tend to sell out quickly, so you need to keep an eye on when the booking office opens.) I’m also guesting at the Theakston’s Harrogate Crime Festival between 20 July and 23 July. Again, book early and book often.

Right, I’m off to the pub…



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