I first met Ian Rankin in 1983 when I held a fellowship in creative writing at Edinburgh University. He was working on a PhD thesis on Muriel Spark and supporting himself with a part-time job as a clerk in the Inland Revenue. He used to bring short stories for me to read, criticise and advise on. They were sensitive and perceptive stories mostly about childhood in the old mining communities of Fife. Some years later, he turned, sensibly, to crime, and after he had published one novel, I recommended him to my then editor, Euan Cameron at the Bodley Head.

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