… author of Escape From Furnace, The Fury, The Inventors, and the brand new Devil's Engine series

WOW!!!

Wes, my editor in the States, has just sent over the cover treatment for their edition of Furnace: Lockdown (Escape From Furnace: Lockdown over in the US). How cool is this!!! It’s totally different to anything I was expecting, but it’s utterly eye-catching and chilling and unique, and just brilliant. I love it!

Let me know what you think…

Anyway, loads been happening, I’ll blog again soon!

My New Best Friend!

Yesterday was an amazing day, I got to meet the legendary Guillermo del Toro! He has been a huge inspiration for me, creating such darkly fantastic visions and telling such wonderful stories, and it was so exciting to actually meet him in person. He was signing books at Forbidden Planet, and despite the fact the queue was almost round the block he took his time with each person, shaking everybody’s hand and talking to them. He was very impressed by my Flash Gordon T-shirt, telling me that the film had inspired some of his creations in Hellboy. So cool! I also managed to slip him a copy of my book, which I know was a little cheeky but I couldn’t really pass up on an opportunity like that, could I? Maybe he’ll read it on the plane home and think ‘I’m going to make Furnace into a film!’ You never know… Anyway, he is a wonderfully personable and friendly man, and I am convinced that he is now my best friend.

It was a really smashing day all round. I finally had the chance to meet up with some intermates who I’d met through blogs and Twitter, including the wonderful Liz and Mark, from My Favourite Books, the delightful M. G. Harris, author of The Joshua Files, three other lovely bloggers, Gavin from Next Read, Ana from Book Smugglers and Sharon from Dark Fiction Review, the charming Matt the Librarian, who I have met before at a Faber event, and the delightful Kaz Mahoney, a YA writer whose first novel is currently doing the rounds. They were a fascinating bunch of people to hang out with, all absolutely obsessed with books, which is brilliant! We all went for lunch at Wahaca, a Mexican place near Covent Garden, and just chatted about writing and publishing and the like. Truly awesome!

Here is everybody:

After that I headed up to the Royal Academy to see the Utagawa Kuniyoshi exhibition, which was just wonderful. His prints are spectacular, especially the ones full of ghosts and skeletons and demons and bloodshed. I was hoping to buy a couple of prints but they hardly had any left, and none of the ones I wanted, boo. It finished today, but if you’re in London and at a loose end I’d definitely recommend it. The only drawback is that it was so busy. This was my favourite print, spooky!

So anyway, I haven’t blogged for a while, sorry about that. It’s been a chaotic few weeks of editing, trying to get Furnace: Death Sentence – the third book in the series – finished. Now I absolutely love writing, the flow of it, the way you feel pulled along by the words, like you’re on a raft bombing down a category five whitewater stretch, with periods of calm in between the rapids then moments of sheer explosive drama as you catapult off the waterfalls. I love being on that ride with the characters, feeling out of control, not knowing what’s about to happen or who will survive. I LOVE it! But I hate editing. For me it totally ruins the flow, ruins that adventure. Instead of speeding along the river at full pelt feeling the spray in your face and the adrenaline in your veins you are plodding along a pathway occasionally splashing in a puddle or picking dog poo from your shoe. Okay, that’s a crap analogy, sorry, but you get the idea. It’s just a slow, lumbering, unrewarding process and I HATE it! But at least it’s done now, Furnace 3 is wrapped up and ready to go to print, which is soooooo exciting!!!!

And speaking of exciting, Furnace Solitary is now back from the printers!!!! Which is awesome!!!! Seeing it next to Furnace Lockdown on the shelf is amazing, they complement each other so well. I can’t wait to see all five in a row! I only have a few copies at the moment, but there are enough to send out to a couple of people and I’ll be sure to do so. I imagine another box will be arriving very soon, so the rest of you won’t have to wait for long!

Because of the editing I haven’t been doing a huge number of school visits, but I did have the pleasure of visiting Monk’s Walk School in Welwyn Garden City last week. I had a brilliant time, thanks to all the brilliant Year Nines and especially the enthusiastic Year Sevens who made the visit so much fun (and yes, Abel, I do remember how to spell your name…). I hung around for some lunch afterwards with Adam, the librarian, who is doing some really innovative and brilliant things in the library to encourage the kids to read. And a thoroughly lovely chap as well! Thanks for the invite, it was a fantastic day!

In other news, my good friend Tim has just had his first book published, which is actually a book about getting published. It’s called ‘We Can’t All Be Astronauts’, and has the hilarious subtitle ‘Your friends are successes. You’re a failure. One last chance to reach for the stars…’ It’s one of the funniest books I’ve ever read, and also very poignant too, and very frank about the Publishing Dream in a way that I think all authors should understand. But mainly just laugh-out-loud funny – I was getting some very strange looks on the train yesterday as frequent snotty chortles burst out of my nose. It’s also pretty cool that I’m mentioned in the book, albeit as one of Tim’s ‘talanted, spawny, b*****d friends!’ This makes more sense when you know that the jist of the book is Tim’s lifelong quest to be an Author, and the fact that quite a few people in our friendship group got there first, including me, as Tim writes: ‘Gordon, whose first novel came runner-up in a national televised competition, then got bought for an advance five times the size of the winner’s – a book that he wrote in a week.’ I really can’t praise this book enough, and it is worth reading by all writers, published or unpublished.

Another bit of fantastic news lately is that I am now a godfather! Me, a godfather, who’d have thought it?! My great friends Luke and Sally have just had their first baby, a very healthy boy called Aidan John Wright. I’m so thrilled for them, and I can’t wait to meet my godson and start teaching him bad habits! Thanks guys for the honour of making me godfather, I’m stoked!

What else… I guess most of my free time of late has been spent hanging out with the gang and doing fun stuff during half term. My cousin Allie was down for the week as well, which is always brilliant as he’s a total star. He’s a musician, and his latest tracks are just stunning. I’ll see if I can get permission to post one here. We went to see Coraline 3D, which is superb, if TERRIFYING. We went to see Night at the Museum 2 as well, which was disappointing. I loved the original, but this just felt remarkably flat and unoriginal. I hated Frank Azaria’s cheap jokes most of all, I think, and the whole script and performance just felt lazy. Having said that, Lucy loved it, so that was cool. We also went to the beach, which was gorgeous in the sun, although I think in retrospect it was maybe a little too cold for swimming in the sea…

I’m bound to have forgotten something that I meant to blog about, but never mind. I’ll try and stay more regular in the future, I bought some fig rolls yesterday so they should help… With the editing now over I’m going to try and get back into the swing of writing, as it’s been a good long while since I did any. The trouble at the moment (not that it’s any trouble at all, actually, it’s wonderful) is that I’ve just got too many ideas and I want to write them all, so I start something, then start something else, then something else, and nothing gets finished! But I’m going to pick something this week and stick to it!

See ya soon!

Guest Blog Number One

I recently guest blogged over at the brilliant Trapped By Monsters, thanks to an invitation by tremendous author Sam Enthoven. Here’s my post for those of you who missed it!

For your further edification I present the following tale of woe. Prepare yourself, gentle reader, for the grisly saga of Alexander Gordon Smith (author of the awesome FURNACE: LOCKDOWN, reviewed here) and his valiant, imaginative yet sadly doomed attempts to rescue us all from captivity.

His last words as he disappeared head-first into the bucket of monster solids were “It reads better if you imagine The Two Ronnies singing it.” Let us hope these cryptic words don’t prove to be this terrific author’s epitaph.

NOW READ ON…

ESCAPE!
by Alexander Gordon Smith

Eight intrepid authors met up one winter night,
To write a book of horror lore and give the kids a fright.
It was meant to be a tome of monster pain and slaughter,
A terrifying nightmare for our nation’s sons and daughters.
(Yet soon it would be these poor souls who found out about torture!)

Trapped by monsters in a cave, so far beneath the ground,
That even when they screamed for help we could not hear a sound.
Forced to do their captors’ bidding in their cells of slime,
Made to write – dear god forbid – poetry that rhymes!
(And doomed to serve their beastly masters till the end of time…)

They’re only let out now and then to spread the monsters’ word:
“We monsters truly aren’t that bad” – it’s really quite absurd!
On such a day, in London Town, I met Sam Enthoven,
And nervously he challenged me to come up with a plan.
(“Get us out, for heavens sake – just save us if you can!”)

Now I really am no hero, I’m the opposite of brave.
“There is no blooming way,” I said, “I’m going near that cave!”
But then I watched as poor old Sam was dragged into the drains,
By a brutish beast with forty toes that loved inflicting pain.
(And then I vowed: “Sam don’t you fear, you’ll see the sun again!”)

My first plan of action was to blow up all the doors,
So I packed my bag with detonators, fuses and C4.
I’d blast their prison open, my brilliant plan was flawless!
Until I went and realised that the bloomin’ cave was doorless…
(The cells are locked up tight with goo, it’s really quite a raw mess.)

Plan B: trick the monsters, it couldn’t fail to work!
“Sam,” I said, “just dress up like an ogre gone berserk.”
Sam spread himself with bogeys, an incredible disguise,
He was so convincing that the monsters let him by!
(Until Gwyneth took a fancy and made herself his bride!)

Next I thought I’d bake a cake and smuggle in a file,
Those eight pour souls could saw right through their windows with a smile!
But I passed the cake to Gurt Theeg, that wretched bad luck goblin,
And the goblin gobbled it down his throat, even with the file in!
(And judging by his groans of pain it’s filing his intestines…)

“Ali, why don’t you charm them with some of your poetry?
Sing them a nice lullaby and make them go to sleep.”
She composed a masterpiece and sung it to her guard,
But when he fell asleep she didn’t manage to get far.
(The beast had fallen on her and squished her with his a*$e!)

I started watching prison shows to get some fresh ideas,
And thought of drugging monsters with some chloroform tortillas.
It would have knocked them out for hours on that cold cave flooring,
But Joe scoffed all the poisoned snacks, it really was appalling.
(He’s been asleep for three weeks now and hasn’t once stopped snoring!)

“Why don’t you try and sneak out through the prison laund-er-y?
Jump into the trolley and then soon you’ll be home free!”
Andy followed my advice, he thought he had a chance,
But ended up beneath a pair of slimy monster pants.
(He needed to be rescued by a digger and some clamps!)

I told Mark and David: “You can get out through the sewer!”
Not knowing that inside it was a world-class monster poo-er.
As soon as they dropped through their loo they found it overflowing.
Are they still alive down there? There is no way of knowing!
(Except for the occasional sound of something human groaning…)

“Tommy, try to start a fire and set off the alarms.
You’ll be evacuated before you all come to harm.”
But the instant that he lit a match and held it to some dry rot,
A monster aimed his snozzle in, extinguishing it with snot!
(And now poor Tommy’s covered, there really was a lot.)

“I know what to do,” I cried. “Tunnel through the walls!”
But when Barry tried to do so he found there was no wall at all –
His cell was a vast stomach, a gooey gloop of guts,
Belonging to a monster who had tried to eat him up.
(“Argh, the only way I can escape is crawling out its butt!”)

Yuk!

Oh dear, Oh dear, Oh dear, I thought, this isn’t going well,
All I’ve done is make those writers sleep or sink or smell.
If I’m going to break them out I’ll have to risk my health,
Sneak into the prison, take those monsters on myself.
(And hope that I’m rewarded with a great degree of wealth.)

So that very afternoon I ventured to their lair,
With every single trembling step I’d offer up a prayer.
With stakes and silver bullets, and holy water too,
I stepped into that cave to do just what I had to do…
(Although quite how to do it? I didn’t have a clue!)

The moment that I entered, I came under attack,
I knew I was in trouble but there was no turning back!
My weapons were all useless, the beasties were too tough,
My holy water scared them but it just wasn’t enough.
(Though it did manage to make them smell a little less like guff!)

Then just when things seemed futile, when I thought that I was dead,
I threw down all my weapons and tried something else instead.
Monsters do love poems, perhaps they’d like this one?
And whilst I read it out to them my dear old friends could run!
(And somehow we would ambush them as soon as I was done.)

So I began to read aloud, the monsters crowded round,
The writers slipped out of their cells, they didn’t make a sound!
As soon as I had finished I said, “Now it’s time to fight!
Come on writers, finish this… Let’s give these beasts a fright!
(Er… Hello? Is anybody there? Please don’t leave me behind!”)

Guys?!

Guys!!!!!!!

Aaaaaaaaaaargh!!!!!