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Financial Literacy - Emergency fund
Ian Rankin
The crime novelist had a special purpose: to create a deep fund that would always provide for his special-needs child.
Creating an emergency fund

Interview: Ian Rankin

There are behavioral challenges with Kit as well. I mean, he bites; he goes through stages where he likes to try to bite you because he gets a reaction. He thinks that's hilarious, so he wants to do that again. It does throw up challenges, but on the other hand it opens your eyes and mind to a whole other part of the world that otherwise would have been closed to you. I've met so many ordinary heroes, parents and caretakers looking after these kids, people who work in special-needs schools and hospitals, whom I would never have met otherwise.

Your writing career was just barely taking off by the time Kit came along. How did you survive in the early years, much less manage to live in the south of France?

Writing was a hobby to start with, then it became a paid hobby. My first novel was published in 1986 and I went full time in 1990, having written five books. Even then I was having to write two books a year just to survive because I was getting $2,000 or $3,000 a book. So going full time was a big risk.

My wife and I were living in London and we both had full-time jobs, and she said, "Look, if you want to be a full-time writer, we can't afford to live in London anymore." She persuaded me to move to southwest France, to this old ramshackle farmhouse in the middle of nowhere; which we did. But the problem with that was, there was no fallback position; if the writing didn't make us any money, we had no other source of income. I couldn't speak French, so I wasn't going to get a job. She had trained to teach English as a foreign language, but because we were in the middle of nowhere, there was no one there who wanted to learn English.

Money changes your life in all sorts of ways.

I started having panic attacks. I would go driving late at night and just scream and scream and scream, because I knew we were always on the verge of having to give it up because the books weren't that successful. I was on the verge of being dropped several times. And then I wrote "Black and Blue," which won the Gold Dagger Award, and suddenly my sales quadrupled, and for the first time I realized I was going to make a living. But it was the eighth book in the Rebus series and was the 13th or 14th book I'd actually written before I was making a good enough living to afford things like a mortgage.

Did it change the way you lived?

It did, because we moved out of the apartment into a nice big house. Money changes your life in all sorts of ways. Two big things it's done for me: One is I could buy a nice big house, and two, since my youngest son has special needs, it means that anything he needs we can buy straight away. If he needs a special wheelchair or special bed, or guys to come in and take him out for walks, take him swimming, get him dressed, we can afford to buy him help. That has made a vast difference to us. And it means that when I die, there will be a fund of money sitting there to keep looking after him.

-- Posted: July 23, 2007
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