FORBECK ON MOREBUCK
GRIMBROTHER ONE: Halo: New Blood features some pretty fantastic interactions between Buck and a variety of other characters such as Veronica Dare, Jun-A266, and the ODSTs of Alpha-Nine. What can you tell us about portraying the dynamics of those interactions?
MATT FORBECK: The groundwork for most of those relationships were laid down in Halo 3: ODST, of course. In Halo: New Blood, I had the chance to dive into them and explore them all in far greater depth. In most cases, it was just a matter of figuring out who these people were and what they thought of each other—and then watching those feelings evolve and grow over time. The real exception to this was Jun, who hadn’t had much to do with Buck before this book. They start out at odds in the story and grow to respect each other as they go. The scene in the bar on Draco III is one of my favorites. There’s no action in it at all – it’s one of the quieter moments in the book – but it reveals so much about both Buck and Jun and how they work.
GRIM: Halo: New Blood includes a sudden and tragic end to the Rookie, a character that players played as in Halo 3: ODST. Can you tell us a bit about what it was like to craft the Rookie’s demise, as well as the other characters’ reactions to it?
MATT: That was a hard one because you spend a lot of Halo 3: ODST in the Rookie’s boots, and you get attached to him. But death is a huge part of war – even when you win – and I felt we had to show that in the story. Still, I wanted to send the Rookie off in a way that would mean something and have a long-lasting impact. That’s the beginning of the end of Alpha-Nine right there. You can trace much of the other tension in the book right back to that defining moment, and it’s what leads us naturally to the betrayal at the end.
GRIM: How do you see the SPARTAN-IV program in comparison to the ODSTs, or even the other SPARTAN programs themselves?
MATT: If you read the last chapter in the book, I think that says it all. The thing I like most about the new Spartans is that they’re made from soldiers who have already proved themselves as heroes. They’re not robbed from their beds at age six and transformed into superhumans with little connection to the worlds they’re charged with protecting. They’re absolutely human. As I mention in another part of the book, the SPARTAN-II program created modern Titans, as in Greek myths. The SPARTAN-III program gave us modern versions of Greek gods. The SPARTAN-IV program produced demigods, people who have their feet in both Earth and Olympus and are maybe more heroic for the blend.
GRIM: Did you have a character other than Buck that you were particularly excited to write about?
MATT: Veronica Dare was great fun to write. She is Buck’s equal in many ways, and tougher than him in others. I’d love to see more of her and explore what she’s doing with ONI while Buck’s off saving humanity with the Spartans. Other than Buck, though, Romeo had a lot of the best lines. He’s such a jackass, but he’s an honest jackass.
GRIM: How would you say Buck has changed since his transition to the SPARTAN-IV program?
MATT: That’s really the point of the book, isn’t it? In addition to being faster, tougher, and stronger, he’s become older, wiser, and – most importantly – humbler. During the Covenant War, it was easy to know what you were fighting for and how to feel good about it. It’s a lot harder in the post-war galaxy, but I trust people like Buck to sort it out and get through it.
Many thanks to Matt for being so kind as to give us a peek behind the curtain. Hopefully you all enjoyed it as well! This might be a cool thing to make a habit of…