Rankin looks back on Rebus files at Islay Book Festival

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Ian Rankin headlines this weekend’s Islay Book Festival with organisers gearing up for the biggest edition yet of the increasingly high-profile event.

A single malt enthusiast, Rankin will be talking about how Islay’s products have featured in his life and work to leading whisky writer Dave Broom at Laphroaig Distillery on Friday.

That event has sold out but there will be another chance to hear from the award-winning master of crime fiction at the Ramsay Hall, Port Ellen on Saturday.

There, Rankin will address the huge changes that have taken place in the 30+ years of his most famous creation, Edinburgh detective John Rebus, in the company of leading historian Sir Tom Devine and author Karen Campbell.

‘If you go back to the early Rebus books, the computer is still not widely available,’ Rankin said. ‘People tend not to have them in their homes even and certainly in the police station there would be very few available. DNA analysis is not widely used. All this kind of stuff.

‘That has all changed and Scotland has changed with it. Rebus has changed. He’s older. He’s retired, he is no longer a serving police officer, he has some health issues. He is a bit of a dinosaur in some ways, he has an older way of doing things and an older way of looking at the world.

‘I guess if we talk about changes in Scotland, the biggest change in the time of the Rebus books has been devolution. And who knows what happens next.’

The evening at the Ramsay Hall is sponsored by Diageo, who will be providing complimentary drinks for those attending the Rankin session and the 8.30pm screening of new whisky documentary, The Amber Light, written by Dave Broom.

Directed by Adam Park, The Amber Light is about how whisky intertwines with Scottish culture and was partly filmed on Islay. It also features interviews with Rankin and fellow author Alasdair Gray and explores the unsung role of women in distilling over the centuries.

Other bookfest highlights include a session with Makar Jackie Kay, former Masterchef winner Sue Lawrence talking about writing historical thrillers and Lord Robertson introducing Norman Bissell’s new novel Barnhill, which deals with George Orwell’s time at the remote Jura farmhouse where he wrote Nineteen Eighty-four.

Cape Breton’s Stacey MacLean, currently on a Gaelic writer’s residency on Islay, will lead an evening of poems and songs in Porthahaven on Thursday 29th and will be talking about Cape Breton’s Gaelic traditions in Bowmore on Friday evening.

For more information, visit www.islaybookfestival.co.uk