The Sunday Post (Newcastle)

The Dead of Winter,


He’s been dubbed the Quentin Tarantino of Scottish crime writing, but Stuart MacBride says the artist he most admires is not the American screenwrit­er/ director of Pulp Fiction – it’s British sitcom queen Victoria Wood.

MacBride has dedicated his latest book, The Dead of Winter – now out in paperback – to the Bafta award-winning comedian, screenwrit­er and singer songwriter who died from cancer aged 62 in 2016.

Zooming in from his home in Aberdeensh­ire, MacBride, the best-selling, prize-winning author of the Logan MacRae and Ash Henderson novels, says: “Victoria Wood was a genius writer. People will wax lyrical about TV shows like Breaking Bad and The Wire, but for me her sitcom, Dinnerladi­es, is the best thing that has ever appeared on television, it’s so well observed. She took what should be incredibly mundane events and turned them into gold. She was the queen of non sequiturs. She is one of the biggest influences in my work. I love the way people have their own conversati­ons and are interested in their own things and not necessaril­y in what’s going on with the main protagonis­t or the plot.

“I don’t write funny scenes. The humour in my books comes from the people and how they interact with each other. That is what Victoria Wood was so good at. Crime fiction should mostly be about people. I am not interested in reading about the ins and outs of a bank job. I switch off if a book is all about plot. Characters are what excite me about books and reading, and Victoria Wood was a master of characteri­sation.”

The Dead of Winter opens with a snow-bound scene

Stuart MacBride Penguin, £7.99 and a bloodstain­ed, muscular character, Detective Inspector Victoria Montgomery-Porter, aka “Bigtoria”, digging a grave. The corpse – Detective Constable Edward Reekie – is not impressed, he’d expected at least a headstone, he tells readers.

MacBride admits the DI’s name and the humour are another nod to Wood. And the opening scene is deliberate­ly cinematic. “I saw it very much as the opening of a film,” he reveals. “One of my favourite movie openings was John Carpenter’s version of The Thing with Kurt Russell.

“A husky pelting across the Arctic snow is being chased by two Norwegians in a helicopter who are trying to kill it. Something has happened and viewers have no idea of what or why, so they have to find out.”

The author uses a similar device in the latest novel that sees DC Reekie wind up dead after picking up a dying prisoner from HMP Grampian with his new DI and delivering him to fictitious Glenfarach in the Cairngorms, the final stop for people who’ve served their sentences but can’t be safely released into the general population.

Would MacBride like to see his work transfer to screen? In the past he says he hasn’t trusted TV filmmakers to appropriat­ely handle protagonis­ts like DS McRae, but he adds: “I am only now starting to put my toe back in the water of ‘maybe we will let people take a look’. Tarantino would be good, he says. “According to my Italian publishers, I’m known as the Scottish Tarantino in Italy. I’m assuming that is because, like him, I let my characters talk and am interested in the discussion­s that are not crucial to the plot.”

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom