Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Blood Road: Guest Post by Stuart MacBride

Stuart MacBride:
The Blood Road

I’ve been writing about the northeast of Scotland for about sixteen years now. Which is a lot of time. That’s about the same length of time you’d serve over here for murdering someone. I suppose, to be fair, I have murdered dozens and dozens of people, but they weren’t real people – I made them up, so that’s OK.

Most of my murderous rampage has been in and around Aberdeen, the city where I grew up. This is for two reasons. 1: it’s my hometown and why should Edinburgh and Glasgow get all the serial killers, and 2: there’s a lot less travel involved when I have to research something. That kind of thing is important when you’ve not had to commute to work for thirteen years. These days my journey to work involves making a cup of tea in the kitchen, then wandering through to the study and the desk where I seem to spend about 90% of my life. The only traffic jams I get stuck in involve cats.

Which is all very different to how it used to be, struggling along tiny winding back roads, in one huge line of traffic after the next, in order to get to an industrial estate in the Bridge of Don for half eight in the morning. And then back again after six. Always in rush hour. Which makes me appreciate my feline traffic jams even more.

Of course, that’s all about to change. Because, at long last, Aberdeen is getting a bypass!

This probably seems like a weird thing for a crime writer to bang on about in a piece for Mystery Readers International, but bear with me.

In some ways a bypass is like the aftermath of a crime. It allows us to skirt around something without ever having to face/drive through it. It keeps what it bypasses hidden. But more than that – and a lot less pretentious – is the fact that it provided the inspiration for THE BLOOD ROAD. See, I told you I was going somewhere with this. I was driving into town last September, caught in yet another long line of slow-moving traffic, so had time to look around as we crawled between the lines of orange cones. There, up on the hill to the right, in the distance, was the bypass being built. A swathe of brown churned-up earth reached down from the top of the hill towards us, bright yellow earth movers growling away on the brow. Flapping lines of tape, caught between marker pegs.

Now, Aberdeen has been waiting for its bypass for over forty years. Eighteen wheelers thunder along the little side roads for miles around the city, trying to avoid going through it. We’re talking the kind of road that has passing places. Not much fun when you turn the corner and come bumper to radiator with an articulated lorry (or “truck”, if you’re of the American persuasion) doing sixty. That’s change-of-pants time (or “underwear”, if you’re still American after the whole “truck/lorry” incident). They could have built it decades ago, when the Oil industry was at its peak. Back in the seventies, the oil companies actually offered the city council millions of pounds to build a ring road, but the council, like the stalwart geniuses that they were, turned the money down and left Aberdeen to be crushed under the weight of its own traffic. Ah, politicians – aren’t they great? But at long last we’re getting a bypass to relieve the city’s clogged arteries.

And as I sat there in the crawling traffic, looking up at the earthmoving equipment bringing our new bypass down the hill, I thought, “What would happen if those diggers and bulldozers found something buried? Something that someone would kill to keep hidden?”

From that dark and twisted seed THE BLOOD ROAD grew.


Stuart MacBride is a Scottish writer, most famous for his crime thrillers set in the "Granite City" of Aberdeen and featuring Detective Sergeant Logan McRae. Stuart MacBride was born Feb 27 1969 in Dumbarton, Scotland and raised in Aberdeen. His careers include scrubbing toilets offshore, graphic design, web design and IT/computer programming. MacBride's publishing deal was secured with the writing of Halfhead, however the publishers were more interested in Cold Granite, concerning DS Logan MacRae. His books have sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide, been translated into 18 languages and won numerous awards, including the ITV crime thriller award. In 2015 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Dundee University. He now lives in north-east Scotland with his wife, Fiona and their cat Grendel. He is reputed to be a passionate potato grower, but claims to have a "vegetable patch full of weeds". The Blood Road, the latest in the Logan McRae series, will be published on September 4.


Mike Crowl said...

Blood Road is the first of your books I've read, Stuart. It was great, though it took me a while to sort out who was who. Plainly I should have read the other dozen or so titles first!
I'll be keeping an eye out for the others now...

Memarge said...

When's the next one coming? My mother was from Glasgow., so I love all those great Scots idioms.

Frances said...

Love this writer. I grew up in Aberdeen myself and emigrated to Australia in 1970, mostly due to the wonderful Aberdeen "summers". His books keep me up to date with my roots and have helped the surprise factor when I visit my old stomping ground. Still waiting for a TV series!!!!!!!! If it was good enough for Rebus it is good enough for Logan and the inimitable Roberta!!!