‘Slick, gruesome and brutally intelligent, this is bare knuckles
thriller-writing.’ Michael Marshall
‘Fast-paced … ends with a dramatic twist’ Aberdeen Press & Journal
Praise for Stuart MacBride:
‘Riveting and gruesome’ Telegraph
‘Grim, gritty and great fun’ Daily Sport
‘Stuart MacBride goes straight for the jugular with a tight, thrilling novel’ Glasgow Herald
‘The action is fercious and the pace unrelenting’ Northern Echo
From the Author
1. This is your first novel not to be set in the present - what inspired you to move to the future?
It’s actually the other way around: I wrote Halfhead long before I’d even thought of doing crime novels set in the here and now. So in a lot of ways, it’s the Logan books that are the big departure from what I was doing. Which meant I had to go back and give Halfhead a thorough going over with wire brush and Detol this year to make sure it was up to scratch. One of the great things about writing a thriller set in the near future is that you get to take current themes and trends, twist them through ninety degrees, then force them to their logical (or illogical) conclusion. You can have gunships, and onomatopoeic weapons, and huge explosions, and the kind of government conspiracies you just can’t do in the here and now. It’s a vast playground for the overactive imagination, which is why I loved it.2. Why did you choose to set halfhead in Glasgow as opposed to the setting of many of your previous novels, Aberdeen?
Sometime a story just seems to fit a location, and Glasgow was the perfect place to create this big semi-dystopian world where Scotland is a world power, and a lot of the UK has disappeared beneath the rising sea levels. Plus it’s nice to have a bit of fun in a different city for a change. 3. Where did the idea of ‘halfheading’ people as a solution to crime come from?
I’d been watching a documentary on the American penal system, focussing on the impact the death penalty had on violent crime. Which appears to be absolutely none. It also went into the amount of fan mail and love letters prisoners receive on death row – seemingly normal people writing these gushing letters to convicted murders, rapists, and serial killers. That just seems utterly bizarre to me. So I thought: well, capital punishment clearly doesn’t work, and corporal doesn’t seem to either … what could a justice system do to make sure people who commit violent crime can never be seen as martyrs or sex objects. Clearly you’d need them to be instantly identifiable as criminals, something that no one is ever going to aspire to, and you’d want them to fulfil a useful, but thoroughly unglamorous role in society. And that’s where the idea of halfheads came from.4. The book is full of some truly loathsome villains - are you ever inspired by real life criminals?
I did a whole heap of research into serial killers for Halfhead, and spent a lot of time going through several of the FBI’s training manuals. They contain some truly horrific case studies, not just serial offenders, but also the kind of casual violence people are prepared to commit in order to get what they want. It was an unpleasant reminder that there’s very little we can do in fiction that hasn’t already been done in real life. And probably a lot worse. The really worrying stuff came from a book I found on ‘death row’ in my local library: 50p or it was going to be pulped. It was about the medical experiments and weapons research the Japanese military carried out during the Second World War on their own citizens. It was all the more horrific because it was state sanctioned and sponsored. Appalling brutality carried out as scientific experiments. But everything in the book is completely fictional, as far as I know… 5. The book is shot through with lots of interesting ideas - VR sets, halfheading, Social Engineers - can you imagine any of these ever coming to pass?
Dear God, I hope not… Mind you, we’re not far off full immersion VR at the moment. The military is doing a lot of research that’s going to have huge implications for the public when they’re finally released, especially with advances in quantum computing to power it all. About the only thing we know about the future is that we’ll probably still be waiting for our rocket cars, butler robots, and personal jetpacks in a hundred years time. Tomorrow’s World has a lot to answer for.