Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Selling books to John Calder

To our left is the vision that sends shivers down the spine of Ian Rankin. As he stood to welcome us all to 5 Charlotte Square, former home of 4th Marquess of Bute John Crichton-Stuart and neighbouring building of Alex Salmond's Bute House at number 6, (you should see the ceiling) for the launch event and party of Crimespotting: An Edinburgh Crime Collection, (Birlinn) thrown by Edinburgh Napier University, he revealed that this is the map on his dentist's ceiling.

This collection contains specially commissioned crime stories inspired by the city of Edinburgh ('a city the size of a town that feels like a village' said Rankin), and 'right and proper it is too, given that Scotland is becoming the IBM, Microsoft and Apple' of the crime writing world. In a swirl of canapes involving mini chicken, coriander naan and homemade strawberry and cream shortcake, I learned that when Rankin chaired Swedish crime maestro Henning Mankell at the EIBF many moons ago, only 12 people were in attendance. I also had the honour of selling a book to the legendary publisher John Calder while filling in for Birlinn's Kenny at the book stall.

Speaking of people called Ian, at Iain Banks' event immediately preceding this party, he was asked what it feels like to be a writer who straddles sci fi and fiction and he replied with this useful summary: sometimes you make a table, sometimes a chair, sometimes even a 'tair' or a 'chable'. But you are, after all is said and done, still a furniture maker. He also told a packed out Main Theatre about his upcoming title Transitions, spoke about his writing process and why you shouldn't write an entire novel under the influence of fine malt whisky.

In other news, Carol Ann Duffy obliged in signing an onion for bookseller James' daughter. If you haven't read her poem 'Valentine', you will be out of the loop here, but that gives you a lovely excuse to read it.