Author Interview: Stuart MacBride

Stuart MacBride Photo

Stuart Macbride is a Scottish writer, born on the 27th February 1969 in Dumbarton but was raised in Aberdeen. As it turns out this would be an important element of his success because he is most famous for his crime thrillers set in the “Granite City” of Aberdeen and featuring Detective Sergeant Logan McRae.

Before becoming a writer his careers include scrubbing toilets offshore, graphic design, web design and IT/computer programming. He studied architecture at Heriot-Watt University.

MacBride’s publishing deal was secured with the writing of Halfhead, however the publishers were more interested in Cold Granite, concerning DS Logan McRae. He was signed on a three-book Logan deal, which was further extended to six books. In 2009 he signed another deal, allowing him to write two more Logan books, and two standalone novels, the first of which is due after the sixth instalment of the Logan McRae series.

You can purchase some of his most popular books on Amazon by clicking here, here and here.

So that’s my introduction and now on to the interview:

Tell me a little about what you enjoy reading, and are there any authors that you like to read?
I enjoy a huge range of books, not just crime fiction. For me, the genre a book’s in has nothing to do with the quality of the writing. That’s down to the author, not the genre. So I’m quite happy to enjoy ‘chick­lit’, historical fiction, romance, comedy, non­fiction, and even ‘literary’ fiction, as long as I like the writing. But I do read more crime fiction than anything else, because a lot of my friends are crime writers, and I like to see what they’ve been up to. Some great authors I always enjoy are, Allan Guthrie, Ray Banks, Charlie Williams, Adrian Hyland, Zoë Sharp, Val McDermid… etc. etc. etc.

What attracted you to writing in the first place?
Peer pressure – I’ve talked about this thousands of times, so the whole story is online in many places.

Can you think of a few tips of the top of your head for writing the perfect antagonist/protagonist?
The best tip I can give is make them human. It doesn’t matter who they are in the story, which part they play, they should all be people with wants, needs, and desires that make sense to them, no matter how strange they might seem to everyone else. An antagonist shouldn’t be antagonistic for the sake of it – they should be able to justify what they’re doing because, for them, that seems like the right thing to do.

So after a few years in the creative industry, do you have any tips for newcomers?
Write a better book. Don’t expect success to flop into your lap on your first book – in fact, expect your first book to be rubbish. It won’t feel like it at the time, but if you’ve got any interest in improving as a writer, you’ll look back on that first attempt in a couple of years with near crippling embarrassment. So look on it as a learning experience, practice, something that you can lock away when you’re finished it and take everything you learned from writing it to write a better book. No one thinks they can pick up a cello for the first time and launch into Bach. So practice. Learn. Finish. Then write something else, and write it better.

Do you have any rules for writing that you think have served you well?
Nope. I think ninety percent of the rules I have for writing make my life a lot more difficult than it probably needs to be.

In your opinion should you avoid easy answers and strive for complexity?
Depends what the question is, who’s asking it, and when. For me, the best answer to strive for is always the honest one.

Could you give me some tips for writing a police procedural?
Do your research. Treat everyone in the story as a human being (all of them, not just the protagonist, the supporting cast, the walk­-ons, the victims, and the antagonists). Make sure that whatever happens, it makes sense to whoever’s instigated it. Focus on what makes your story, the scene you’re writing, your characters different. And, most importantly, have fun.


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