Today I’m joined by Bruce McCabe whose debut novel – SKINJOB – is coming out with Bantam Press this month.
Welcome to the CTG blog, Bruce.
Your debut novel – SKINJOB – is out this month. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Skinjob is a thriller set in the boardrooms, brothels, churches and alleyways of the near future. It follows the fortunes of Daniel Madsen, a cop trained to deliver rapid results in high-pressure cases where lives are on the line, and Shari Sanayei, an SFPD surveillance officer. The action takes place over just six days. Underneath the surface, the novel takes a provocative look at a series of looming social challenges.
You chose to set the story in the near future, what attracted you to this time period?
I love exploring the big “what if?” and the way we are challenged and changed by technology. Plus I’m privileged, due to my professional background, to talk to the scientists and innovators creating our future in their labs. I find the combination irresistible!
Technology is obviously something you’re very knowledgeable about. Did you need to do any specific research for SKINJOB, and if so how did you go about it?
Most of the research was already done – the book was inspired by a technology demonstrated to me that I found profoundly disturbing, and which stayed with me for years. While writing I spent time in San Francisco and other cities, walking the streets, getting everything just right. I conducted a few interviews too — a special agent I was introduced to was particularly helpful in understanding FBI internal affairs and inter-agency politics!
Could you tell us a little about your writing process, do you dive right in, or plan the story out first?
A mixture. I start with a big “What if?”. After I get a very high level sketch in my head (what I want to say, the characters, the kind of ending I want to arrive at), I dive in and start writing. After two or three chapters I pause and do a basic outline, then it’s back to writing. Over the course of the novel I return and rework that outline perhaps two or three times, each time adding structure and more detail. The plot is always in flux, right up until the last page.
What advice would you give to those aspiring to publication as crime writers?
To me, good crime writing is about the ‘slow reveal’: keep the revelations coming, but don’t give away too much and don’t be in too much of a hurry! Get that pace just right and your readers are bursting by the time they get to whodunit. On writing generally: read and write a lot, and understand that all first drafts look awful; everything good was re-written and polished many times over before it saw the light of day.
And lastly, what does the rest of 2014 have in store for you?
Completing my second novel. It’s getting very close now and I’m both exhausted and excited! Then some downtime and some travel – during which I’ll probably scout locations for the next one!
Sounds great. Many thanks for dropping by the CTG blog and answering our questions.
To find out more about Bruce McCabe, pop over to his website at http://www.brucemccabe.com
SKINJOB is out now, and we’ll be posting our review shortly. In the meantime, here’s what the blurb says: “A bomb goes off in down town San Francisco. Twelve people are dead. But this was no ordinary target. This target exists on the fault line where sex and money meet. Daniel Madsen is one of a new breed of federal agents armed with a badge, a gun and a handheld lie detector. He’s a fast operator and his instructions are simple: find the bomber – and before he strikes again. In order to understand what is at stake, Madsen must plunge into a sleazy, unsettling world where reality and fantasy are indistinguishable, exploitation is business as usual, and the dead hand of corruption reaches all the way to the top. There’s too much money involved for this investigation to stay private …”