Podcast episodeCover image for of Ian Rankin with Shane Maloney

Ian Rankin with Shane Maloney  /  Crime & pulp

At Melbourne City Conference Centre, the king of tartan noir talks mystery, human nature and the dark side of cities with Shane Maloney.

'To me, the character of a detective is the same as the character of a writer … We’re trying to find the shape from something that seems quite chaotic.'

Ian Rankin

Edinburgh, like Melbourne, is a City of Literature and home to a disproportionate number of brilliant writers – from Muriel Spark, Robert Louis Stevenson, Irvine Welsh, to best-selling crime writer Ian Rankin. Rankin’s most famous fictional creation, Inspector John Rebus, is woven into the city’s character and mythology. The cranky, dram-swilling Rebus has starred in a staggering 21 crime novels set in Edinburgh, written by Rankin over the course of 30 years; in recognition, Edinburgh is this year hosting a festival, RebusFest, to celebrate the anniversary.

But Rankin’s enormous creative output is by no means limited to one series. He has also written plays, graphic novels, featured in TV series and documentaries and even collaborated on an album. Across a huge body of work, Rankin has revealed a gift not just for telling cracking stories, but also for chronicling social shifts in modern-day Scotland.

'All crime fiction forever and a day is predicated on this one question: why do we keep doing terrible things to each other?' says Rankin. 'We can’t answer that question, but we can keep asking that question in different ways, and making you, the reader, think about it. Is it a natural thing about being a human, or living in a capitalist society, that human beings will keep doing things again and again?'

Shane Maloney and Ian Rankin — Photo: Jon Tjhia

See also   Ian Rankin  /  Crime & pulp

With Ian Rankin

Podcast episodeCover image for of Picnic at Hanging Rock

Picnic at Hanging Rock  /  Australian stories

‘She felt herself choking and tore at her frilled lace collar. “Miranda!”’

Fainting spells, frilly collars, mystery, hysteria and a truly awesome backdrop – Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock might be 50 years old this year, but it remains a point of Australian cultural obsession. The book – written by Lindsay in just four weeks back in 1967 – has inspired a film, a radio play, stage adaptations, fashion spreads, music videos and a new miniseries coming out this year.

Why do we keep coming back to Lindsay’s eerie tale of a Valentine’s Day school picnic gone wrong? Perhaps it’s the ambiguity around fact and fiction; perhaps it’s the striking combinations of imagery or maybe it’s the maddening obscurity of the ending.

At this celebration of Joan Lindsay’s iconic novel (and its enduring myth), Helen Withycombe hosts a conversation between Lindsay's biographer Janelle McCulloch, theatremaker Tom Wright (who adapted the play for Malthouse Theatre in 2016) and Helen Morse, who played the French teacher in Peter Weir's film version of the story.

They discuss the true story (and the mysticism) that inspired Lindsay, the book's refractions of nature and time, the troubling history of Hanging Rock itself and why Lindsay’s tale continues to haunt and provoke Australian storytellers today.

Left to right: Helen Withycombe, Janelle McCulloch, Tom Wright and Helen Morse — Photo: Jon Tjhia

You may also enjoy   Podcast episode Australian Literature 102: Joan Lindsay: Picnic at Hanging Rock  /  Australian stories   Podcast episode Australian Literature 101: Patrick White: Voss  /  Australian stories   Podcast episode Australian Literature 101: Christina Stead: The Man Who Loved Children  /  Australian stories

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