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Famous Fifers

Is it the long and dark nights of winter that promote dark thoughts of criminal misdeeds and murder and where the craft of mystery writing is honed to sufficient degree as to create masterpieces of fiction that sell in droves in other countries around the World? In this darkness, Fife and Scotland is blessed with some of the best crime fiction and science fiction writers in the World.

Ian Rankin, OBE, DL was born in the Fife town of Cardenden on 28 April 1960 and is best known for fictional work including the character of police Inspector Rebus working in Scotland’s Capital City and regularly discovering the often vicious underbelly and underclass social rejection carefully concealed by popular advertising and in common with many other cities desperate to seek tourism. It’s gritty and highly engaging stories have often translated to the medium of television and on a par with similar dramas like Taggart and Morse.

Rankin attended Beath High School in the Fife town of Cowdenbeath and before achieving literacy success. He graduated from Edinburgh University and moved t Tottenham in London and where he remained for four years before living in rural France for a further six years while steadily improving his craft as a novelist. He was a literature tutor at Edinburgh University and where he retains interest and involvement with the James Tait Black Memorial Prize; four winners of which have subsequently received Nobel prizes for literature.

It’s alleged that before becoming a full time writer, Ian Rankin variously worked as a grape-picker, swineherd, taxman, alcohol researcher, hi-fi journalist, college secretary and punk musician. Today, he lives in Edinburgh with his wife Miranda and their two sons.

Val McDermid  hails from Kirkcaldy in Fife and was born on the 4 June 1955. She was the first student to be educated at St Hilda’s College, Oxford from a state funded school in Scotland having attended Kirkcaldy High School beforehand. Upon graduation, she worked as a journalist and worked as a dramatist. Her first major success asa novelist; Report for Murder: The First Lindsay Gordon Mystery, was published in 1987.

The characters created by McDermid include a lesbian journalist, Lindsay Gordon who works asa private investigator, Kate Brannigan and a phychologist, Doctor Tony Hill, the latter afflicted by sexual dysfunction and where this latter creaton has achieved greatest notoriety in adaption to televisual entertainment under the name of ‘Wire In The Blood’ starring Robson Green in the principal role. The first story in this series, ‘The Mermaids Singing’ won the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year.

Her novels are typically dark and grissly with torture and violence featuring as a centre stage portraying a much darker side of human nature. She includes her work in the collective genre of ‘Tartan Noir’ – a preserve of Scottish crime writers often adapting ideas from foreign shores and where the exploits of Kurt Wallander from Swedish media and Tatort (translates as ‘Crime Scene’) from Germany are on a similar level. McDermid regularly contributes content to several newspapers and in BBC radio broadcasts.

She’s an avid fan of the Raith Rovers football team based at Stark’s Park in Kirkcaldy and sponsors a reserved area where the McDermid Stand often displays billboards of her latest work.

Iain Banks was born in Dunfermline, Fife on 16 February 1954.He writes mainstream fiction under Iain Banks, and science fiction as Iain M. Banks, including the initial of his adopted middle name Menzies. In 2008,  the Times newspaper voted Banks in their list of "The 50 greatest British writers 1945"

Banks's father was an officer in the British Navy Admiralty and his mother was a professional ice skater.Banks studied English, philosophy and psychology at Stirling University. Upon graduation, he moved to London and the South of England until 1988 when he returned to Scotland and Fife.

Banks met his wife Annie in London before the release of his first book and they were married in Hawaii in 1992 but fifteen years later, in 2007, they separated and Annie died in 2009, just two months after their divorce had become final. Banks currently lives in North Queensferry in Fife and with Adèle Hartley, a published author in her own right and founder of the ‘Dead by Dawn’ film festival in which mainly independently produced horror films feature at the Filmhouse venue in Edinburgh during April.    

In February 2007, Banks sold his extensive car collection, including a 3.2 litre Porche Boxster, a Porche 911 Turbo, a 3.8 litre Jaguar Mark II, a 5 litre BMW M5 and a self-modified Land Rover Defender whose power capability had been boosted by about 50%. Banks traded all of these for a Lexus RX 400h hybrid vehicle and later replaced it with a more conventional Toyota Yaris powered by deisal.

He has vowed only to fly in emergency situations and although highly aware of new technologies and the Internet, his main work station computer is a stand alone computer devoid of connection to the outside World. A separate computer performs the functions of research and email.

In his writings, there’s a left-wing leaning and where ‘technology solves all’ kind of belief and where even the most mundane raw materials can be broken down to molecular level and recreated as something entirely different; something that ‘Star Trek’ addicts would immediately associate with the replicator systems aboard the mythological ‘Starship Enterprise’. He was a signatory to the Declaration of Calton Hill in October 2004 calling for Scottish Independence and where he also sought impeachment of Prime Minister Tony Blair following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Such real life events are reflected in his novels.

Credits:
All photographs by Tim Duncan.
Text by Alandon.

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