GrimBrother One: In Halo: New Blood, you tell the story of a much-beloved character in Gunnery Sergeant Edward Buck. How did you feel about tackling a character that fans are so obviously passionate about?
Matt Forbeck: Fantastic. I absolutely loved Halo 3: ODST myself, and I always wanted to know more about Buck and his teammates too. When you finish the game, there are so many unanswered questions about who Buck is and what’s going to happen to him. This became my chance to fill in a lot of the blanks in his past and even help chart out his future, and I could not have been more honored.
Grim: Buck’s personality and “voice” has been captured in an incredibly impressive way throughout Halo: New Blood. How did you go about studying the character to make sure you portrayed him as accurately as possible?
MF: It helps that I’d played through Halo 3: ODST twice before I got the nod to write the book, and I loved the voice work Nathan Fillion did with him. I’ve been a fan of Fillion’s work in games, television, and film, so I got to run around with his voice in my head for months, which was just as entertaining as you’d think.
I also watched a lot of cutscene and gameplay videos to make sure I had Buck’s patter down and got all the details right. He’s a complex guy, proud of himself and his team, and determined to get the job done and bring as many of his teammates home as he can. That’s the kind of hero who lends himself to all sorts of great stories.
Grim: What has been your personal favorite story told in the Halo universe up to this point?
MF: That’s a tough call. Again, Halo 3: ODST has always been one of my favorites. I also love Halo: Reach, which has a fantastic ending. On top of that, I got a great kick out of Halo 4 and how it breathed new life into the franchise and opened up a whole new chapter in the Master Chief’s tale.
Beyond video games, there are a lot of great stories to choose from. I got a kick out of Tobias Buckell’s The Cole Protocol, but that could be due to the fact I enjoyed his Xenowealth series, which starts with Crystal Rain. Of course, you can’t talk about Halo fiction without giving a huge shout-out to Eric Nylund’s The Fall of Reach. It added so much epic depth to the original game and in many ways set the stage for every bit of Halo story to come after it. When you read New Blood, you’ll see how much it owes to the groundwork Eric laid down in that seminal book.
Grim: What are your favorite aspects of the ODSTs in particular?
MF: I’ve always been attracted to human heroes, the people who don’t have superpowers but still do everything they can to help other people. I love Batman more than Superman for that exact reason.
The Spartans are the superpowers in the Halo universe, but if you want to see the best humanity can offer, you need to take a look at the ODSTs. They’re hard-bitten, well-trained soldiers who accomplish their missions through ingenuity, hard-won battlefield wisdom, and sheer determination more than anything else.
Grim: What are you most excited to share with Halo fans?
MF: Halo: New Blood!
Seriously. I’ve been a fan of Halo since before its release. Back in the year 2000, I visited Bungie’s headquarters down in Chicago (before they moved out to Seattle) to chat with them about writing for another game they had in development. While I was there, Bob Settles showed me a demo of the game, and it felt like my jaw dropped hard enough to smack the tops of my shoes.
I’ve bought and played every game in the series since, and I’ve had the pleasure of replaying them with my kids as they grow older too. I’m honored and thrilled to be able to write something of my own in the Halo universe and to bring that story to my fellow fans.