Tuesday, June 29, 2010

9mm interview with Stuart MacBride

Welcome to the latest instalment in Crime Watch's ongoing series of quickfire author interviews; 9mm - 9 MurderMystery questions put to a variety of New Zealand and international crime, thriller, and mystery authors. I hope you're enjoying the series - it hasn't even been going for three months yet, but we've been building up a remarkable list of participants.

Today, for the 22nd in this regular series of quickfire author interviews I fired the 9mm questions at bestselling Scottish crime writer Stuart MacBride, author of the award-winning DS Logan McRae series - the latest instalment of which, DARK BLOOD, came out recently - as well as the futuristic thriller HALFHEAD (Under the name Stuart B. MacBride). I was fortunate enough to meet and interview MacBride when he was in New Zealand last year - it was an absolute riot, an hour and a half full of laughter, piss-taking, and humour alternating between subversive and self-deprecating, as well as plenty of chat about writing, crime fiction, and more.

I wrote a 2-page feature on MacBride for the October issue of Good Reading magazine - you can read more about that here. You can also read my review of HALFHEAD here, and BLIND EYE here, and my review of DARK BLOOD should be published on EuroCrime soon. MacBride will be MCing the upcoming Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival at Harrogate next month, which should be a lot of fun.

But for now, Stuart MacBride stares down the barrel of 9mm...

The Crime Watch 9mm Author Interview: Stuart MacBride

Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective?That has to be DI Jack Frost from the R.D. Wingfield books. A great character with more texture than a sandpaper jockstrap. Brilliantly observed and written.

What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why? The House At Pooh Corner, by A.A. Milne. I can’t remember how old I was, but not very. Pooh and friends lived this magical existence in this lovely wood, where the biggest problems were trying to catch Heffalumps. OK, so I know that’s not the most noir of answers, but I’m sticking with it.

Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything;) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
COLD GRANITE was actually my fifth book. The first was dreadful. The second was OK. And the third one was published last year: HALFHEAD. They were all crime novels, but not very similar – two and three were both near-future thrillers, number one was more comedy-crime. Book four was a big experiment in terms of style and content, and I can’t decide if it was a success, or a complete disaster. Either way it would need a hefty rewrite before it ever saw the light of day, and I just don’t have the time to do that at the moment.

Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
I like to cook. And them I like to eat. Which probably isn’t the best of hobbies when you spend all day sat on your arse telling lies about people who don’t exist.

What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider?Go for a bacon buttie at the Inversneckie Cafe down on the beachfront. Sit there, in the open air with a hot cup of tea, and watch the North Sea rage against the shore. Not for the faint-hearted, or those prone to frostbite, but it’s certainly an experience.

If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?Brad Pitt. But clearly he’d have to handsome up a bit. And grow a proper beard. And learn how to do a decent Scottish accent.

Of your books, which is your favourite, and why?My favouritest book of all time is SAWBONES, a little novella I did for a wee publishing company called Barrington Stoke. It’s designed to be accessible to reluctant readers, but I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. The fact that it was a complete change from everything else I’d done, and tiny, certainly helped.

What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication? Or when you first saw your debut story in book form on a bookseller’s shelf?
I actually kept it a complete secret from everyone until two weeks before the book came out. And as it came out first in Norway, my first experience of seeing my name in print came with a book I couldn’t understand a word of. The only word in Norwegian I know is ‘Fisk’, and that only cropped up a couple of times. So my reaction was pretty much one of bemusement. And it hasn’t changed much since then.

What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival? Someone tried to strangle me at a signing once (it was an accident, according to her...), but I think the weirdest thing was when I was doing an event at Duff House in Aberdeenshire. I was in the same room as one of Rembrandt’s paintings – worth X-millions – and there in the front row were four women, all wearing beards they’d downloaded from the internet. Somewhat surreal...

Thank you Stuart MacBride. We appreciate you taking the time to talk with Crime Watch.

So what do you think of this 9mm interview? Have you read MacBride's DS McRae novels? Or his futuristic thriller HALFHEAD? What do you think of his Aberdeen settings? Of the team dynamics on show in the McRae novels? Do you like some a few laughs and lighter moments in amongst darker crime? Thoughts and comments appreciated.


  1. Craig - Thanks for this terrific interview. These answers are great - especially the one about hobbies ; ).

    I've actually enjoyed Broken Skin very much, and I look forward to reading more about Logan Macrae.

  2. He is really funny! Great interview.