Criminally good career
Stuart Macbride is the author of 14 books including 10 crime novels featuring Sergeant Logan McRae.
WHERE IS THE NEW BOOK SET?
In The Cold Dark Ground is set in a culmination of places, a wee bit of Aberdeen, a wee bit of Banff and MacDuff and a wee bit of Cults. The missing-persons investigation has just turned up a body in the woods – naked, hands tied behind its back, and a bin bag duct-taped over its head.
The Major Investigation Team charges up from Aberdeen, under the beady eye of Sgt Logan’s ex-boss Detective Chief Inspector Steel and as usual she wants him to do her job for her. Meanwhile a new superintendent is on her way up from the Serious Organised Crime Task Force, hell-bent on making Logan’s life miserable.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER?
I grew up in an era when the space race was well and truly on, with moon landings and other exciting stuff happening. I also read a lot of science fiction and adventure books so, as a child, I wanted to be an astronaut, but was ruled out because I wore glasses.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST BECOME INTERESTED IN READING AND WRITING?
I was always read to as a child but was about four or five when I became really interested in books. One of my favourite childhood books, and it’s still a favourite today, is Winnie the Pooh.
It’s a magnificent and magical book. I loved it as a kid and going back to it now find it’s still a superb book. Re-reading other childhood favourites such as the Hardy Boys mystery novels, I find that while they are great stories, they are terribly poorly written.
My love of writing didn’t start until I was in my 20s. I had a couple of friends writing fantasy novels as a hobby and suggested I give it a go which I did. I never thought I’d have a career as a writer and when I got my first publishing deal, I carried on working as a project manager for an IT company for 14 months with only my family, agent and Harper Collins knowing my book about an Aberdonian detective sergeant and his dysfunctional colleagues: Cold Granite, was going to be published.
WHY CRIME FICTION?
I’ve always loved crime fiction since I was a wee boy. The Hardy Boys mystery novels were the first books I took out of the school library, I’d read one straight after another.
I’d love to write a children’s book at some point as those are the books we take with us, and carry with us our entire lives. It would be an honour to write that type of book for somebody.
Lots of books have had an influence on me with the closest to what I do now being, Red Harvest by Bashiell Hammett, which is very much in the hard-bitten American private investigator style.
WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING AN AUTHOR?
I get to spend a lot of time with my cat but the best thing is not having to commute to work which means avoiding the Haudigaun roundabout. There’s nothing worse than spending hours stuck in traffic.
WHAT’S YOUR ROUTINE?
I write for eight to 10 hours a day and throw away more words than I keep. I spent a lot of time doing research, some of which can be quite disturbing while other research is a lot of fun. For the last couple of books I spent a lot of time with B Division Police in Banff and MacDuff.
That was an eye-opener. I think if everyone spent one shift with our uniformed police officers, society’s attitude towards the police would be very different. The scope and range of things they have to deal with is enormous.
They spend 90% of their time dealing with 5-10% of the public, but it’s the same people time and time again which must be soul destroying.
DO YOU ENJOY DOING READINGS?
Yes if it’s a good audience and so far I’ve been reasonably lucky. The best question I’ve been asked was at the Salt House Stonehaven Folk Festival when a six year old asked me if I was an alien.
Stuart is undertaking a tour of Scotland to promote his new book, In The Cold Dark Ground, which includes a talk and signing at The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, on Tuesday, January 12; a talk and signing at Waterstones, Inverness on Friday, January 15 at 7pm and a book signing at Waterstones, Elgin at 12.30pm on Saturday, January 16.