Posted on June 27, 2011 in Fantasy
, Young Adult
with 99 Comments
Hi gang! I’d like to kick off Dystopian Week with an interview and giveaway with Alexander Gordon Smith! Gordon is the author of the Furnace series (and more), and is one of the nicest guys in the business. He was kind enough to answer a few of my questions and is also offering 2 copies of Lockdown: Escape from Furnace #1 to two lucky winners (please see giveaway details at the bottom of the post.)
Thanks so much for stopping by the blog! I thought I’d do a fun Q&A with you, since there’s a rather exhaustive interview in the back of your first novel, Lockdown!
Hi Kristin, thanks for having me on your blog, it’s awesome to be here!
Out of all of your novels, what was your favorite character to write, and why?
Great question! It’s tricky because there are several answers to this. I get so attached to each and every character in a book that all of them are favourites in one way or another. You become their soulmates, their family, fiercely loyal and protective of them. It’s an amazing feeling! I think the character that I’m closest to is Alex from the Escape From Furnace books. We are one and the same person, because he’s based on me when I was a teenager. When I was sixteen or so I went through a… I guess you’d say troubled stage of my life. I skipped school, hung out in biker bars, spent my time drinking and getting into fights and even stealing. It was terrible, horrible, and even though I wanted to stop I couldn’t. My family were brilliant, steering me gently back onto the right track. They saved me, and I went and lived my life. But in my head there was always this version of me as a teenager who didn’t get saved, who carried on down the wrong path. I always wondered what his story might have been if he’d had a chance to tell it. When I was looking for a new book to write, this version of me, Alex, was jumping up and down yelling for me to give him a chance to finally live his life. So I did, and the story of Alex Sawyer and Furnace was born. In the original draft his full name was actually Alexander Gordon Smith, but my UK publisher asked me to change it.
Writing the Furnace books wasn’t always easy, though, especially as I was so close to Alex. I experienced every single thing with him – the fear, the pain, the hope – and it was pretty intense! Writing The Inventors series was a completely different experience. I wrote these books with my brother Jamie when he was nine years old, and we actually tried to make most of the inventions in the story for real. We built traps and gadgets and robots and rocket boots and all sorts, it was so much fun. When it came to writing the books we knew exactly what it was like to be inventors, so the story just flowed. I think for that reason Nate and Cat from The Inventors were my favourite characters to write.
What is your most unusual writing habit?
Chewing. I used to write longhand, but I would chew through my pens. Seriously, I’d do it without thinking and suddenly have a mouthful of splintered plastic and ink. I must have chewed through hundreds before I switched to writing on a laptop. I don’t chew the computer, which is a relief, but I do chew the collars of shirts and T-shirts when I’m writing. I kind of zone out, and then when I’m back I realize I’ve gnawed a hole in the fabric! It’s weird, but I just accept it now as a sign that I’m lost in something good. The bigger the hole in my T-shirt, the better the chapter will be!
Do you have any current favorite authors?
Pretty much every time I read a new book I find a new favourite author. I love starting a book by an author I’ve never read before, it’s so exciting to see how other people craft stories. Discovering an author who really moves and excites you is an incredible experience. My newest favourite authors are George R. R. Martin and Jonathan Maberry. Martin made me realize what a fool I’ve been all these years for not reading fantasy. I always preferred horror, but that’s because I never gave fantasy a chance. His Song of Ice and Fire books are just mind-blowingly good, and I feel like a whole new universe has been opened up to me. Maberry’s books are pure awesomeness, I cannot put them down once I’ve started them. Reading the Joe Ledger books made me realize that I had to up my game when it came to writing action, which I’m very grateful for! They’re just brilliant, brilliant fun, and Maberry himself is a truly inspirational guy.
Are there any movies that you’re looking forward to this summer?
I love movies almost as much as I love books, and will probably end up going to see most things at the cinema. I think, like most people I know, the one I’m looking forward to most is the final Harry Potter film – it’s going to be epic. I’m hoping that one day I’ll be able to go and see a Furnace movie – I don’t think I’d ever leave the cinema!
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
This is going to sound pretty lame but… the place I love to travel to most is home. I travel quite a bit to do research for books and for events. I love travelling, seeing the world, visiting new places and experiencing different cultures (although I HATE flying!). The world is so huge in some ways, and yet it’s so small too – you can travel pretty much anywhere in a day or two. And there are so many astonishing places. If I could choose anywhere then I think it would be Antarctica – it must be the closest you can get to being on an alien planet. But for me nothing beats that last leg of a journey, the moment when your home city comes into view. There’s a tiny bridge that you cross on the train on the way back into Norwich, and when I hear that hollow drumroll of the wheels rocking across it I can’t help but smile. Going away is wonderful, but being homeward bound is better.
What’s one of your pet peeves?
When people read books written by other authors instead of by me.
Only kidding, I don’t think I have many pet peeves, apart from the usual ones that annoy everybody. People are people, sometimes irritating, sometimes wonderful, always complex, and you just accept them for who they are! I do hate it when people don’t wave a thank you when you’ve let them pass in the car, though…
Is there any news of upcoming events or projects that you can share with us?
Yes! I have a new series starting in the UK next March. It’s called The Fury, and it’s essentially a zombie book… without zombies! I wanted to write something that felt like a zombie book, because I’m a huge fan of the genre. But I wanted to try to do something different, because other authors (namely Jonathan!) have done the zombie thing so well already. So The Fury is about a group of kids who trigger a reaction in everyone around them which turns friends and family and strangers alike into mindless, bloodthirsty savages. Everybody tries to kill these kids, but as soon as they have – or as soon as the kids are out of their ‘radar’ – they go back to normal and totally forget what they’ve done. So the main characters in the book are stuck in their own Armageddon while the world carries on without them. The explanation for it is totally out there, but I hope people will enjoy it! I’m writing the second and final book now. Hopefully it will be out in the States very soon as well.
Other than that there’s lots going on. My first feature film, which I wrote with my sister and brother-in-law, is being filmed later this year (or early next year depending on the schedule). It’s called Stagnant, and it’s a comedy horror set on the Norfolk Broads about a mutant bride who kills stag parties. We’ve just finished filming a short zombie film too, called Sola Gratia, which we’ll be taking to the horror festivals later this year. There are a couple of books for younger readers in the pipeline too, as well as a horror novel for adults, but I’m not sure what’s happening with them yet! It’s good to be busy anyway!Thanks again for interviewing me on your blog, Kristin, it was great!
Visit the author at his website (where you can also enter to win an IPod Touch)!
**GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED**
About the book (from BN.com)
Furnace Penitentiary: the world’s most secure prison for young offenders, buried a mile beneath the earth’s surface. Convicted of a murder he didn’t commit, sentenced to life without parole, “new fish” Alex Sawyer knows he has two choices: find a way out, or resign himself to a death behind bars, in the darkness at the bottom of the world. Except in Furnace, death is the least of his worries. Soon Alex discovers that the prison is a place of pure evil, where inhuman creatures in gas masks stalk the corridors at night, where giants in black suits drag screaming inmates into the shadows, where deformed beasts can be heard howling from the blood-drenched tunnels below. And behind everything is the mysterious, all-powerful warden, a man as cruel and dangerous as the devil himself, whose unthinkable acts have consequences that stretch far beyond the walls of the prison.
Together with a bunch of inmates—some innocent kids who have been framed, others cold-blooded killers—Alex plans an escape. But as he starts to uncover the truth about Furnace’s deeper, darker purpose, Alex’s actions grow ever more dangerous, and he must risk everything to expose this nightmare that’s hidden from the eyes of the world.
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