Sunday, 9 May 2010

How I Came Into a Stupendous Sum of Money

It’s 3AM and I’m huddled in a doorway in Leith with three palsied wasters, begging Ian Rankin’s butler for interesting story ideas. “Just one plot device, man!” I plead. The grizzled old fart looks us over and shakes his head. “Come on! You gotta give us somethin’ to get through the summer!” we beg.

He ain’t takin’ none of our shit. He used to write novels himself and knows chancers when he sees them. “Get off ma doorstep, man! You should be ashamed of yo’selves, beggin’ out here when you ain’t got no green. Come back here again and I’ll set the dogs on ya!”

So we scamper from the doorway, bereft of ideas, hopelessly prowling the streets for tinges of Ian Rankin’s essence. I capture a few fertile aromas and scribble down a plot idea – the killer is a bestselling author with a penchant for naming his books after Rolling Stones albums. Genius. I run from my fellow authors and pen this masterwork at once.

Granta purchase the story for £4 and a complimentary kick in the shins from handsome and well-hung editor Alex Clark. It seems I am safe for the summer. I can coast along on variations of this idea – the killer is a musician who writes books, or an author and musician who hates books, or is a character in book himself (haa, how post-bloody-modern!) Then I receive a phone call from Ian Rankin.

“You scheming thieving little bugger,” he begins.
“Who is this?”
“You know who I am. I write the incredibly popular Inspector Rebus novels. It was made into a series starring the formidable cheeks of Ken Stott. I am Scotland’s King Crime-Son,” he says.
“Was that a bad pun based on the band King Crimson?”
“Never mind! You nabbed the idea I was going to use in my next 45,737 books! Where did you get it from?”
“Your essence, Ian… my nostrils wafted your essence on the streets! I’m sorry.”
“I need to speak to you. Meet me in a car park tonight.”
“Which car park?”
“It doesn’t matter.”

So after an evening spent trawling Edinburgh’s car parks, I meet him at last at the NCP on Thing Street. He looks resplendent in his navy-green tutu with matching pink pumps and ballerina costume. I think it best not to mention his special apparel.
“Look,” he says, applying his lipstick, “I want that idea back. Take this package filled with money and move to Argentina.”

Sooo... I write this from my hotel in the Cervis De Riza where Julio Cortázar’s butler oils me up for my weekly massage. He rubs me gently on the calves, limbering me up for my "added extra" with Madame Maurice.

Let this be a lesson to desperate authors everywhere. The essence of success is out there, waiting to be sniffed. Cheers!


  1. I was thinking of writing a story about a man that screws a woman, get's reported in the newspapers, sues them for libel, wins and gets 0.5 million.
    Then one of his witnesses admits to purgery, he gets a few months in prison, writes three books called variations of "My Hell in Prison" and then makes even more millions.
    Of course, this fame helps his other book, all 15 versions of it, sell very well.
    Not satisfied with that, he does insider trading, embezzles millions from his fund raising scheme, and then wastes much of all this money on a failed coup d'état attempt.

    Nah, people would call it too unrealistic.

    I think I'll just tart up a story from the bible.

  2. I hope you're not suggesting that Mr. Archer has done anything untoward? Oh, you've already been assassinated. Never mind.

  3. You don't suppose he would dance like I like in that outfit? Then I might be just as please getting oiled up in Argentina... you have some extra room? Decisions, decisions...