Rankin was joking! I got suckered in and passed it on, but let's blame Associated Press, which picked up and spread the story. Here's part of the CBC story someone posted the link to on DorothyL, based on an interview with Rankin in The Guardian.
Rankin quells Rowling crime-writing rumour
Tuesday August 21, 2007
Bestselling Scottish crime novelist Ian Rankin has quashed a report that speculated about Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling's next foray into fiction.
The Sunday Times had quoted Rankin as saying his wife had glimpsed Rowling — who lives in the same Edinburgh neighbourhood — hard at work on a detective novel in a local café.
"This is a joke that got out of hand," Rankin said in an interview with the Guardian newspaper.
According to Rankin, he had made the remark — which he said was a joke — on stage during an event at the Edinburgh book festival.