Freedom From The Mundane - A Writer's Blog

Friday, October 06, 2006

East v West

The NaNoWriMo forums are coming to life with more and more writers coming on board. It's getting quite exciting. There seems to be a lot of sci-fi writers, which is not something I'm interested in writing at all, but at least there's quite a few people from Edinburgh.

Poolside Poetry is all but complete. I finished the preface tonight and I think all the poems are now in satisfactory order. I'll be giving the manuscript a full going over in print to check for errors and improvements that can be made, but all in all, it's done. All that remains is the photo shoot for the cover.

After several feature length episodes of Rebus over the past few Friday evenings, with the pleasure of seeing Edinburgh and Leith as the backdrop to Rankin's novels, and how the books adapted to the TV screen, something else. Tonight in the same slot, Taggart; the Glasgow-based police drama of the same ilk.

Taggart isn't derived from novels but is a similar kind of drama; local and criminal, hard and street-wise. While the outdoor shots of Rebus were filmed in Edinburgh and the interior in Glasgow, all of Taggart is filmed in the West of Scotland.

Watching it, I felt less guilty (?) about writing about Edinburgh locations. I'm not an east-coaster and all this worry I've had of late to do with basing stories in Edinburgh seems less apparent when I watched Taggart. It was good to see the Dear Green Place on screen, but I realised that my unique view of Edinburgh is what can help me pull it off.

If I want to write a story based in Edinburgh, I always feel it might be compared to or in some way mistaken for plagiarism from Rankin, Welsh, McCall-Smith et al. I would need a new angle, a different perspective to what has already gone before. Edinburgh is, after all, a small city and it is too much to expect not to write about the same places from time to time.

Rankin's a Fifer, Welsh is a Leither and McCall-Smith is from Zimbabwe. I am from Glasgow and the West of Scotland, which none of them obviously are. And now I think I can use this to make my voice more unique.

As far as the programmes themselves go, Rebus is better, mostly because of the actors involved. Ken Stott is Rebus, and is a gifted actor. Taggart on the other hand, is comparable, but not since Mark McManus died and the programme continued without him under the same banner. McManus wasn't as good an actor, but the Taggart production was always top-notch. All things considered, Rebus pips it, although seeing Glasgow again, well, it's home and I miss it.

I remember when I interviewed Rankin last year, I asked him what Rebus would have thought of Taggart should they ever have their paths cross. "Rebus wouldn't have liked him," he said. "They're quite similar in some ways, but he wouldn't have liked him because Taggart's a Glasgow detective and Glasgow detectives and Edinburgh detectives just don't get on. It's to do with territory."

East v West. It's everywhere.
Colin 8:24 pm


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