Local author on staff

Roy Mackenzie | October 27, 2016

Today’s post comes to you from the Circulation Department’s Bruce MacBain.

When I retired from teaching eleven years ago and took a part-time job as a Brookline library assistant I finally had time to pursue my interest in fiction writing. I had started a couple of novels years before but was never able to finish them. I went back to them now with new enthusiasm. I’ve completed five books so far (the latest will come out in November).

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I began with two mysteries set in ancient Rome: Roman Games and The Bull Slayer [Poisoned Pen Press, 2010, 2013]. My sleuth is Pliny the Younger, a Roman senator, lawyer, and author of dozens of delightful letters, who lived in the early second century A.D. Pliny is a fussy, punctilious man who finds himself reluctantly drawn into solving murders. Fortunately, he is assisted by the foul-mouthed, satirical poet Martial (whose poems I had fun translating) and the worldly-wise and cynical biographer, Suetonius. Both books come equipped with a glossary of words that you almost certainly didn’t learn in your high school Latin class, and each story centers around a mysterious cult (Isis, Mithras) and a mysterious disease (female hysteria, epilepsy).

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I may return to Pliny one day, but I decided to take a vacation from Rome and turn instead to my other favorite folks, the Vikings. I have completed a trilogy of novels set in the eleventh century: Odin’s Child, The Ice Queen, and The Varangian [Blank Slate Press, 2015, 2016]. My hero, Odd Tangle-Hair, narrates his life, beginning with his escape from Iceland in a stolen ship at the age of sixteen and going on to adventures and love affairs in Lapland, Norway, Finland, Russia and Byzantium. The books aren’t only, or even mainly, about sword fighting and sailing in dragon ships–although there is plenty of that too. They are about a young man, imbued with the poetry and religion of his pagan father, who comes of age in a world that is radically changing. Odd tells us about his triumphs and tragedies in a tone that is always ironic, humorous, and perceptive.

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Copies of my books are here in the library and well as for sale at Booksmith and online. If you would like to know more about them I invite you to visit my website, www.brucemacbain.com . I hope you’ll give them a try and let me know what you think; you’ll often see me behind the circulation desk and I’d enjoy chatting with you.