Q&A: Ian Rankin

This weeks Q&A is a departure for Pub Diaries, as we hear from bestselling writer of the Rebus novels, Ian Rankin.


My name is Ian Rankin and I’m a novelist. My attitudes towards writing, beer and pubs are broadly the same: keep it simple, unfussy, entertaining.


On my 18th birthday, my dad took me to his local to have a drink with some of his pals – that was a rite of passage, right there.

Best recent beer find…

Cromarty Brewing Company – delicious ales!

Are drinking & writing a good mix…

I’ve tried writing after a few drinks – never turns out useable. But I do a lot of research in pubs – I find characters, anecdotes, stories there.

Favourite beer writing…

Not sure. But my favourite quote may come from Martin Amis: ‘Without women, life is a pub’. I’m not sure if he sees that as a good thing or not…

Advice to aspiring writers…

Read lots, write lots, accept the criticism/advice of those you respect, get lucky and then stay lucky.

Sounds while I write…

instrumental music almost always, playing softly in the background to block out the everyday world. Jazz, new age, bands like Mogwai and Errors and Boards of Canada.

Favourite pub writing…

Probably my own, if I’m honest. I use the Oxford Bar a lot, which is a real pub in Edinburgh. Fans come there from time to time.

If I wasn’t a writer I’d be…

An unsuccessful writer with a job as a journalist or teacher.

Pub heaven…

Good conversation, with few distractions.

Pub hell…

Loud ugly music; slot machines; TV blaring; people who are only there to get lashed up prior to or during a night out.

Favourite local…

The Oxford Bar, but Edinburgh has a fair number of traditional watering-holes, all of which I’ve visited from time to time. Honorary shout out to the likes of Bow Bar, Cafe Royal, Kay’s, Blue Blazer, Bennets, Golden Rule, Royal Oak, Abbotsford….

Favourite Non-Local

Chez Lucien in Ottawa; Crown in Belfast.

On the horizon…

New book out November, followed by UK, New Zealand and Australia tours.

Next week we are heading to the markets of London. Billingsgate and Smithfields that is, as we hear from Marky Market

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