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.
The Story of the Volsungs.
If you'd like to read the Volsunga Saga in its original, it can be found at the Berkeley Online Medieval Library This wonderous website has a host of other ancient texts.
Put VOLSUNGA SAGA in the search.- this site hates the word "the."
Julia Eccelshare in The Guardian
Review by Lyn Gardner in The Guardian
"Anyone who wants a riveting and utterly believable book with excellent twists should run out and buy this right now." Books for Keeps
"The future is a crumbling world of shocking ruthlessness, greed, destruction and hatred in this hard-hitting novel. It's a gripper - long and action packed but a page turner to the end - it will leave teen readers with shredded emotions that will last forever." Wendy Cooling
"This is a novel that eats its way into your soul as you read it .... Burgess has conjured up a dystopian vision that will rank along with the 20th-century classics." Sunday Telegraph
"Just when you thought Burgess could not get any better, he did." The Bookseller
"Packed with adrenaline and completely compulsive, though not for the faint hearted!" The Herald
"Burgess skillfully weaves his futuristic world, fashioned from the ills of contemporary society along with strands of the Volsunga Saga's shape changing characters and deep under currents of fate and vengeance. Bloodtide shies from nothing, making it both cruel and magnificent." Julia Eccleshare, The Guardian.
"The insatiable tyranny and gross appetites of this powerful mythic tale convey an implicit challenge which teenage readers will respond to." Roasenary Stones, Books for Keeps.
"This is a story to curdle the blood and capture the imagination. Burgess has a fantastic imagination and draws out adolescent strong emotions effectively." The Observer.
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