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London, Ont., author’s Ian Rankin companion book up for Edgar Allen Poe award

Erin E. MacDonald, author of 'Ian Rankin: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction.'. Robert Muhlbock

A Fanshawe College professor and author in London, Ont., is among those nominated for the 2021 Edgar Allen Poe awards, known as the Edgars.

Erin E. MacDonald’s Ian Rankin: A Companion to the Mystery & Fiction is one of five nominees in the Best Critical/Biographical category.

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“He’s got a really great mix of everything,” she said of Rankin’s books, which number over two dozen and include the popular Inspector Rebus detective series.

“He was studying for a PhD himself at one point and then decided he didn’t want to do that. He wanted to write full-time instead. So he was influenced by people like Muriel Spark and Robert Louis Stevenson, sort of the Gothic Scottish authors. And you can see some of that in his books.”

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MacDonald says Rankin’s novels are still “really accessible to people” and also include social commentary “but not in a heavy-handed way.”

Her companion book took several years to compile and is part of a series from publisher McFarland.

“The bulk of it, the companion itself, is these alphabetical entries of the books, the characters, the themes,” MacDonald explained, adding that it sounds “a lot simpler than it actually is.”

She says the book includes entries on everything Ian Rankin has written that she was able to get her hands on as well as a biography of his life, a chronology of his professional life, a glossary of terms and even some maps.

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“I was in contact with Ian Rankin himself and sort of asked him where to locate a few things. And actually, I found some things that he’d completely forgotten about, that he forgot he’d ever written.”

MacDonald says Rankin is “a great guy to talk to” and has been very supportive of her work, which she’s very grateful for.

In a tweet following the nominations, he wrote “special congrats from me to (Erin) — I know how hard she worked!”

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Due to the ongoing pandemic, the 75th annual Edgar Awards will be held virtually on April 29.

“Normally what happens is they have a big black-tie gala banquet in New York City and I would have been going to that and, you know, getting to hobnob with the authors and everything,” MacDonald says.

“They might actually hold it (in person) in 2022, they’re saying. So they might invite the nominees who weren’t able to attend in person from the previous years to that one. So there’s still some hope I might get to go to that.”

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Also nominated in the Best Critical/Biographical category alongside MacDonald are:

  • Howdunit: A Masterclass in Crime Writing by Members of the Detection Club edited by Martin Edwards and published by HarperCollins,
  • Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock by Christina Lane and published by Chicago Review Press,
  • Guilt Rules All: Irish Mystery, Detective, and Crime Fiction by Elizabeth Mannion & Brian Cliff published by Syracuse University Press, and
  • This Time Next Year We’ll Be Laughing by Jacqueline Winspear and published by Soho Press.

Click here for the full list of nominees.

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