Fan helps encourage Ian Rankin to re-release forgotten book

John McCutcheon encourged the author to re-read Westwind, which has now been republished.

When John McCutcheon managed to track down a long forgotten Ian Rankin novel, he had no idea he would play a part in helping the book be re-released by the famous crime author.

A fan of Rankin’s work, John had made his way through all of his novels, having first picked up Strip Jack in a jumble sale.

But after making his way through almost all of the author’s back catalogue, he realised there was one novel he hadn’t read – Westwind.

“Originally after I read everything that was there, I thought, ‘This is the only one I’ve not read’,” John said.

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“It wasn’t a big problem because I thought all I need to do is go onto the internet, order it and it will come through my door a couple of days later.

“But when I found out it was more or less out of stock everywhere and if I wanted to buy it, it was going to cost a small fortune, I thought, I think I’ll put that one on hold.

“When I was at Glasgow University one day, I had one of those wee lightning flashes that came to me and I thought ‘I think the library might have it’.

“I went and had a wee look about and there it was.”

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Having sped through the novel in just a couple of days, John later went to an event at Glasgow University where Rankin would be speaking and signing books.

Lining up with other fans, he produced a copy of one of Rankin’s older books to sign, mentioning Westwind in passing to the author.

“I said I had just finished reading Westwind and I thought it was quite good and he just looked at me and said it was rubbish,” John said.

“I said it thought it was quite good. He said he would maybe give it a wee re-read then. I didn’t think he would, I didn’t expect it to have the knock on effect it has had.”

Eighteen months on, Westwind, which was originally published in 1990, has now been re-released by the author.

Rankin says he initially had some reservations, as the book had been through so many rewrites in order to become published that he didn’t feel it was his own work any more.

“It went through so many permutations, it took a few years to get it published,” Ian said.

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“Every editor and every agent who came along with a suggestion, because I was young I would make the changes they suggested until it felt like other people’s book, not my book.”

Rankin adds that upon reading the book, he found some similarities to modern day issues.

“I was glad to re-read Westwind and see the contemporary resonances, because that was one of the things I liked about it,” he said.

“It was written in the late 80s and yet it’s about America pulling out of Europe, falling out of love with Europe, troops are leaving Europe.

“The Soviets are looking on rubbing their hands thinking they can make some mischief with this situation. People are paranoid because they’re being spied on by satellites and people are wary about new technology that is coming along.

“I just thought wow, there’s a lot of contemporary resonances in this book that I didn’t realise when I was writing it that have come to pass 30 years later.”

Re-released on Thursday, John says he feels good about the fact the novel will reach a new era of fans and helped Ian to fall back in love with his own book.

“I think it’s good because it lets people know the author listens to their fans, it’s not just a case of giving them lip service.

“The very fact that he’s changed his opinion on it as well is quite good and makes it more accessible to fans who maybe didn’t know it was out there.

“It’s good to know that maybe I’ve had a wee part to play in getting a book more accessible for more people.”


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