by Ann Chadwick

REBUS, the misanthropic detective who has dominated our bookshelves for 30 years, has inspired a whole tourism industry. Edinburgh has Rebus tours, a map, an App. It could have so closely been Bradford swarming with tourists.

“Whenever I’m in Yorkshire, I try catch up with family because my mum was born and brought up in Bradford," said Ian. "I’ve got cousins and aunts and uncles in the neighbourhood. I’m half Yorkshire! My mum's maiden name was Vickers, and her dad ran a pub, way before my time so I don’t know its name. I think it got knocked down and turned into a car park. We used to go to Bradford for summer holidays which was always fun. But that was back in the 60s and 70s, the place has changed beyond all recognition since then.”

How cool it would be if he wrote a crime novel set in the city?“Wouldn’t it yeah? We’ve got a lack of Bradford crime writers at the moment," said Ian. "The nice thing about crime fiction is it tells you about the place, anywhere I get interested in around the world, I find crime fiction set there because it tells you about the culture, history, social issues, places to go, places to avoid - you get all that from crime fiction. Bradford needs more of it.”

Rankin has sold more than 20 million books. He’s been ranked as one of the most successful authors of all time. He's a regular at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, now in its 15th year. It features TV panels on Vera, with Brenda Blethyn, and Grantchester, with Robson Green, and a special Graham Norton style chat hosted by comedian Sarah Millican. Guests include Lee Child, Arne Dahl and Shutter Island author Dennis Lehane, whose books are so routinely adapted for Hollywood it’s said he can’t write a shopping list without Leonardo Di Caprio starring. “It’s as much as meeting the fans as the authors," said Ian. "The nice thing about Harrogate is everyone is focussed on one setting, when you walk around you bump into fans and see them in bars and restaurants and get chance to chat.”

Rankin’s last appearance in Harrogate was in 2013 to interview his hero, Scottish novelist William McIllvanney, who died in 2015. “It was really moving actually,” Ian said of the event. “William McIllvanney’s crime novels had been out of print for years then they came back into print, his first one had been published in ‘79 and had probably been out of print about 20 years, and you know, he said to me back stage, 'It’s a Sunday morning, nobody’s gonna come to see me'. I said, 'you might be pleasantly surprised'. And as we walked into the hall you could see it gave him such a lift because it was standing room only, and he got a standing ovation. It was heartening to see him realise how loved he was, and how loved his work was.”

It’s been a busy year for Ian with his own RebusFest marking 30 years of Rebus - what can audiences in Harrogate expect from him? "I’ll still happily be talking about him, hopefully a different approach, maybe my favourite 10 scenes from the series or something.” It was recently announced Rebus will have a new TV outing, something Ian is keen to revisit, although he didn’t watch any of the John Hannah or Ken Stott versions. He doesn’t, he says, watch TV. “I’ve not got Netflix, not got Amazon Prime, I’ve not got anything…I’m looking out at the world through Rebus’s eyes.”

* Ian Rankin is at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival at the Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, 20-23 July. Call (01423) 562 303 or visit