It’s always a pleasure to have Alexander Gordon Smith, author of The Furnace series, on the blog, and I’m very excited that he’ll be launching a brand new series starting with THE FURY tomorrow, so please welcome him back!
We’ve also got a copy of THE FURY up for grabs courtesy of Macmillan, so be sure to check out the details after the post!
Welcome back to the blog! Your brand new novel, The Fury, is out tomorrow! Will you tell us a bit about it, and its heroes, Cal, Brick, and Daisy?
Thanks Kristin, it’s awesome to be back on My Bookish Ways!! Yes, the Fury is out tomorrow, which is so exciting! It’s an action horror novel, based around the idea of what would happen if one day, without warning, the entire world turned against you and tried to kill you. I absolutely love zombies, they are my favourite horror creature, and I have wanted to write a zombie story for years. But there is so much amazing zombie stuff out there already, and I wanted to have my own unique spin, something that hadn’t been done before. I was going over the different things that could be responsible for a zombie outbreak – the virus, the chemical leak, and so on.
Then it struck me: what if the catalyst was you. What if you turned people into feral, bloodthirsty, mindless freaks just by being near them? And what if, as soon as you died, or you escaped, those people went back to their lives as if nothing had happened. For me, that idea is even more horrific than a zombie apocalypse, because you’re the only person who knows something is wrong. For everybody else, life is normal; they go shopping, they watch telly, they hang out with friends. But you have to hide, have to fight to survive, because every single person you meet – friends, family, strangers – will try to murder you. And in essence, you become the bad guy, because you put everyone else in danger.
As for the main characters, they kind of just appeared at the front door of my brain one day and asked to be in the story. I didn’t want to go down the ‘bunch of teens the same age with possible love triangles’ route. Cal, Brick and Daisy are very different ages, from different parts of the country and different social circles. They would never normally hang out together, but they form this incredible bond of friendship. That just felt more believable to me. Brick is my favourite, he’s based on the teenage me a little bit. Likewise Daisy is based on my daughter Lucy. And I think Cal is the guy I always wanted to be when I was at school, but I was never cool enough!
Did you do any kind of research for the novel?
I did little bits and pieces of research, such as spending a lot of time on the beautiful Norfolk coast, soaking up the sun and touring round old amusement parks (I know, it’s a tough job). I learned to fire a few guns as well, both here in the UK and in the States, just to make the action scenes as realistic as possible. To be honest, most of the research was done when I was a teenager, at school. I was terrible at sport, and our class had the world’s most evil teacher. His idea of fun was a game called Murderball. Our sadistic teacher would give you a rugby ball and a five-second head start, then he’d send the rest of the class after you. You’d literally be attacked by thirty people – thirty friends – who would pile on top of you and punch you and kick you and bite you and try to stop you breathing. Every time it happened I honestly thought I was going to die! The memory of my friends, chasing after me with demonic expressions, looking as though they wanted to rip me to pieces, was certainly great research, although I didn’t know it at the time!
What did you enjoy most about writing The Fury, and what do you enjoy most about writing horror in general?
Writing The Fury was an amazing experience. It was tough at times, I mean I knew it was going to be a huge, immersive story, but there were moments when I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it, moments when I thought this story was going to roll right over me and leave me for dead. That’s kind of what it felt like, like I was steering some giant beast that I only had a modicum of control over, which might break free. It felt dangerous. I pour my heart and soul into every book; you have to, I think, when you write horror, and when you don’t plan your stories out, because you’re right in there with those characters, right in the middle of the nightmare. Your survival depends on their survival. You have a vested interest in getting to the end of the book because if you don’t then you’ll never truly escape this world that you’re trapped in. And you are trapped. Once you begin a story like this, this is the world you inhabit until you get out the other side. If you don’t get there, then you can never truly move on with your life. At least, that’s what it’s like for me! But that’s what I love about horror in general. It feels like an adventure. When you start writing, you’re opening up a door onto an unexplored world, a world where anything can happen, and you have no idea what you’re going to find there, or who you might meet, or what could happen. You have unlimited creative freedom, something that’s maybe unique to horror. That is one of the most exciting feelings ever, it’s addictive. All you can do is say goodbye to your friends and family, step through that door to see where it takes you, and hope that one day you make it back!
Why do you think apocalyptic stories are so appealing?
I think there is something about the idea of an apocalypse that equally fascinates and terrifies us. We are bound by so many rules, so much convention. We have to go to school, we have to go to work, and so on. In some ways, an apocalypse means freedom. It’s going back to how we started as a species. I for one love the idea of running around the streets with a sledgehammer (zombie killing weapon of choice) clubbing the undead. Of course in reality it would be awful, unimaginably hard and sad and lonely. But that’s the great thing about fiction, we can experience it without actually having to go through it. It’s also interesting when I speak to teenagers about the end of the world. Without fail they all love the idea. For them, it’s a total adventure. Which is why apocalyptic fiction is so popular with teenagers, I think. It’s such a tough time of your life in many ways, it really feels like it’s you against the world anyway. It feels like everyone who loved you when you were a kid has suddenly turned against you. I vividly remember that sense of being alone, of being isolated from the world, shut off from my friends and family. For me, being a teenager already felt like the end of the world. I read a lot of apocalyptic fiction when I was in this stage, and even though I didn’t really know it at the time it was helping me get through it, it was teaching me how to survive – it wasn’t showing me how to cope with the end of the world, it was showing me how to prepare for the beginning of a new one.
What are some of your favorite apocalyptic stories or novels (or even films!)?
Wow, I think there are too many to list here. When I was a teenager John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids was my absolute favourite. I read that book so many times. It really upped the ante, because it was the first true apocalyptic book I read. That led me on to other things, like I Am Legend – one of the best horror books ever written, I think – then The Last Man, On The Beach, Childhood’s End, The Drowned World, right to the way to The Stand, which blew my mind. My favourite current apocalyptic book would probably be Justin Cronin’s The Passage, which is extraordinary.
Will you tell us a bit about your writing process? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am absolutely a pantser! I can’t plot to save my life, I just don’t have the patience for it. The only time I ever ‘plot’ is when I’m forced to do a synopsis for my publisher, which I hate doing. I tend to just write any old thing down with a big disclaimer at the end saying: ‘This will definitely change as I write!’ I have total respect for people who plot, I know a load of writers who plan every single detail out before they write the first line. But for me, I find that it stifles the book. I get bored, because I know what’s going to happen. It takes all of the fire out of it, and it becomes a simple act of getting from A to B to C as efficiently as possible. It also destroys my characters, because if I know what’s going to happen to them, then so do they, and they spend the whole book knowing they have a safety net beneath them (or knowing they’re going to kick the bucket), which completely changes their behavior. They are so real to me, these people, that they will behave differently if they already know the outcome. They just won’t bother trying. If they don’t know what their fate is, whether they will live or die or worse, then they fight tooth and nail from the first page to the last. They drive the story forwards because their future is still in their hands. I have no doubt that if I had plotted The Fury it would be a shorter book, which is maybe a good thing… But I know for a fact it would lose so much more, it would be a book without fire, and fire is so important in this story.
How are you spending your free time these days?
It’s weird, because I never used to have any free time, I was always trying to do new things, filling every waking hour with something productive. I feel like I’m slowing down a bit now, which is nice. You become more focused as you get older. That’s certainly the case with me, anyway. I no longer want to have a go at everything, I’m happy to just do what I love best, writing. Saying that, my free time is usually filled up with writing related things, like travelling to the places that I’m writing about (I’m off to Prague and Budapest this year, as well as New York, to research a new project). I also love to watch movies and TV shows, play video games (I do way too much of this) and read. I love to read, it’s one of life’s greatest pleasures, nothing really beats it. All of these things are part of the process, though, because they spark off new ideas all the time, they fill your head with stories and people and atmospheres that kind of get recycled. Like I say, it’s a tough job!
What’s next for you? Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
There are a couple of new projects in the pipeline, I’m not sure which one is coming out first. There are hopefully two new series due soon, both YA action horror. The first is called Mercenary, and is about a guy whose family gets kidnapped and he has to fight his way around the world, battling governments and armies and monsters, to get them back. The other one doesn’t have a name yet, and I’m not completely sure what it is going to be, but rest assured it has monsters and explosions and gunfights and more explosions, all the things I love!
About THE FURY:
From the creator of the Escape from Furnace series, a ferocious epic of supernatural terror, perfect for Stephen King fans
Imagine if one day, without warning, the entire human race turns against you, if every person you know, every person you meet becomes a bloodthirsty, mindless savage . . . That’s the horrifying reality for Cal, Brick, and Daisy. Friends, family, even moms and dads, are out to get them. Their world has the Fury. It will not rest until they are dead.
In Alexander Gordon Smith’s adrenaline-fueled saga, Cal and the others must uncover the truth about what is happening before it destroys them all. But survival comes at a cost. In their search for answers, what they discover will launch them into battle with an enemy of unimaginable power.
2.) Giveaway is for 1 copy of THE FURY by Alexander Gordon Smith to 1 winner
3.) Giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents
4.) You must enter on or before 7/30/13
5.) Giveaway book courtesy of Macmillan
6.) Please see my Giveaway Policy.