Bloodtide (2004)

The child was bred to kill...he has a gun visible...even in the ultra scan...


"Bloodtide was the project I began after Junk had won the Carnegie Medal. I learned a few lessons from that time. One was, that there was a real shortage of exciting, difficult, dangerous books for young people - the sort of thing your parents wouldn't care to recommend to you. There's a market for this sort of thing in music, computer games, film and so on, but books tend to be a bit goody-goody. I hope Bloodtide will fill that gap. I wanted it to shock, stir you up, lift you up and bring you down.


My son and stepson were playing a lot of computer games at the time, which were very violent in their imagery, and watching films of the same kind of thing. I thought, well, it's exciting, and no one actually gets hurt,. Why are there no books like this? When writing the book, I had these kind of games in mind, plus magazines, like 20001 AD; also films, like Bladerunner, Alien and so on.


Although the imagery is futuristic, the story is taken from an ancient tale, a saga from the Icelandic Vikings known as the Volsunga Saga, which I read when I was a child and remembered all my life. I was always very keen on myths and legends, and Norse mythology in particular, because of the power of the stories and the dark elements in them - you always feel that the abyss is opening up at your feet. But I didn't want to write about blokes with beards in iron helmets - I wanted to write about modern people. Up dating the myth, making the imagery real for today was a real struggle. Some of it was easy. for instance, exchanging swords and battle axes for automatic weapons made the warfare and violence much more real; but the people were very hard. One character, Signy, took me several rewrites. Right at the heart of the story, she is a person of incredible will power and determination, but her life is so passive ... I just couldn't hack it, until I realized that as a female character from centuries past, she had no avenues to act in. It is impossible to imagine a modern woman behaving in the same way. So I gave her an active role to play, and then she sprang into life."

Melvin Burgess