Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Bruce McCabe?
The ‘official version’ is I’ve spent a career researching, writing about, and advising on, human factors in technology innovation and adoption and now I write fiction. The unofficial version is, I’m an incorrigible explorer, and if I don’t spend time meeting people smarter than myself and poking and prodding new ideas and daydreaming about what they might mean, I go nuts!
Your debut novel, Skinjob, will be published in paperback by Transworld in January 2015. How would you introduce the novel to a potential reader? Is it the beginning of a series?
A frantic roller-coaster ride of a techno-thriller, set over just six days. Lots of action and provocative themes. A series? Maybe. My next book follows the fortunes of another protagonist, but I love the characters in Skinjob and if the right ‘what if?’ comes along I will be bringing them back.
UK Paperback Edition
What inspired you to write the novel? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?
The initial inspiration was a demonstration I attended, some years ago, of “voice stress detection software” (aka lie-detection) being used in call-centres. I found the technology profoundly disturbing and began tracking subsequent developments — they kept firing my “what-if” synapses! I then wanted to explore where silicon valley was taking adult entertainment and all the bad things that might do to us! In general I am inspired by interesting people, and by emerging ideas and technologies I see that will profoundly impact people.
How were you introduced to genre fiction?
I can’t remember! I read everything I could get my hands on as a kid. I do remember Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea had a profound impact on me when I was very young, so let’s say it was that.
How do you like being a writer and working within the publishing industry?
I love writing. I have to do it anyway, whether it gets published or not. For all its foibles, working within the publishing industry is a joy because it’s new & fascinating territory with so much to explore. Ask me in ten years time and maybe I’ll have a different answer!
Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?
Many! Here’s a few: I write every day when writing a novel – the only way to keep everything in my head. I try to write in stimulating, colourful locations, and use long walks to resolve plot problems and to avoid deep vein thrombosis. Do research before commencing and after the first draft is finished, but not during. Write early in the mornings when no one else is awake.
When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?
I’ve admired writing and authors for as long as I remember. My first foray into writing publicly was an opinion column in a magazine in the mid 1990’s, after an encouraging editor told me I had to write and wouldn’t take no for an answer. After that I kept doing magazine and newspaper columns and the odd essay. Always non-fiction. Skinjob was my first work of fiction and a revelation – it let me communicate so much more provocatively! Now I’m only writing fiction.
What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?
I love crime and techno-thrillers and I love novels with big backdrops and something to say. There are great novels coming out all the time. I see myself as a cross between Robert Harris (Fatherland, Pompeii) and Michael Crichton.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline, and what are you working on at the moment?
I am well down the path of my next thriller. I can’t give away too much just yet, but most of the action takes place in Japan and it also deals with provocative themes, just like Skinjob.
Michael Connelly’s The Lincoln Lawyer. A terrific yarn.
What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?
Once upon a time, a long time ago, I carried a gun for a living.
What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?
Travel. I have no idea where the next trip will be, but I love exploring and meeting strangers, and it inspires the hell out of my writing.
A bomb goes off in down town San Francisco. Twelve people are dead. But this is 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 the Bureau’s latest piece of technology. 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…