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An Afternoon

by Ian Rankin

"'An Afternoon' originally appeared in a collection called New Writing Scotland 2, published by the Association of Scottish Literary Studies.

That was way back in 1984. I was 24, still at university. I'd had some success in a couple of national short-story contests. One or two of my efforts had made it into magazines and been broadcast on radio, but 'An Afternoon' represents my breakthrough into a book-length collection.

By the time I wrote it, I was starting to turn my attention to the novel. I'd probably already finished my first full-length effort (the never-published 'Summer Rites') and was maybe even thinking about 'The Flood' (which would eventually be published in 1986, the year I said my farewells to student life).

It's funny, but I'd forgotten all about 'An Afternoon' until about a year ago. I'd forgotten that, long before Rebus, I'd written another story from a cop's point of view..." Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin started life trying to create comic books, but found he had no artistic talent. He couldn't sing either, but that didn't stop him creating a pop group (The Amoebas), installing himself as vocalist (Ian Kaput), and touring the world ... but only in the pages of stolen school jotters. His lyrics for the band, however, gave Rankin delusions of poetical grandeur.

After a few years of undergraduate ramblings, he turned with some relief to the short story. One of his first was 'An Afternoon', which was published in the collection New Writing Scotland 2. He has since gone on to success with his 'Inspector Rebus' series of crime novels, having served one of literature's longer apprenticeships.

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Prospect magazine short story

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Each month, Prospect magazine features a short story, some of which are available to read for free online.

May's story was David Almond's 'Slog's Dad', which was shortlisted for the 2007 National Short Story Prize.

Download 'Slog's Dad'
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