Alexander Gordon Smith

Archive for the Category Editing


Back in the Real World!

Editing feels a bit like Sisyphus being told he doesn't have to push the rock up the hill any more, only for Sisyphus to say, "Actually, I'll just do it a few more times to make sure I got it right..."


I’ve been editing. Which means I have been in hell. It’s weird, it’s something that has to be done with each and every book, but I seem to hate it even more each and every time. It’s not that I’m precious – I don’t mind the books being changed and cut down. It’s more that I’m just lazy. When I finish writing a book I feel like I’ve, well… finished it. The story is done, set in stone. I take a deep breath and step back onto planet Earth where all my friends and family are patiently waiting for me. That feeling is great, because most of the time (or all of the time) bad things happen in my books. Horrible things. And when you’re writing you really feel like you’re in there, smack bang in the middle of the nightmare. It’s an exciting process, but it’s always a relief to get out of the other side with your life and all your limbs.

Editing feels a bit like running back in to a burning building to make sure the flames are in the right place. Or leaving your safe hideout and going off in search of the monster / vampire / serial killer that you have only just escaped. It’s not like reading a book, because you still have the power to change things. But some of the things you might want to change, like characters who perish in the action, you can’t, not without ruining the story anyway. So it’s like having to go through the whole gruelling, exhausting, terrifying adventure all over again. It’s like being back there with your characters (who, by this point, are your friends) and saying “Wow, look guys, we’ve gone back in time, we can do things differently! Oh, except for you, you still have to die horribly. Sorry about that!” For ages I’ve been trying to work out why I hate editing so much, and it has literally just occurred to me that this is the reason. It’s the responsibility of having to change the story, but the inability to make things any better for the characters inside it. It is a cruel and unusual punishment.

Anyway, I’m rambling, sorry! Editing also does that to me. I spend so long muttering to nobody but myself that I come out the other side of it chattering like an excited dolphin to anyone who will listen.

There will be more news on The Fury soon, including some awesome new covers! But, to answer some questions that I know will be coming, here’s the deal with how it’s going to work on both sides of the Atlantic:

In the UK, it will be two books: The Fury (which is already out, yay!) then The Storm (coming out in March 2013).

In the US, both of these books have been condensed into one monster of a read, which is just going to be called The Fury. And that comes out in March or April 2013.

So, if you buy the US version of The Fury, it will have both The Fury and The Storm inside it (bargain)!

But, of course, before we get too excited about the Fury, remember that Escape From Furnace: Execution comes out in the US IN JUST OVER A MONTH!!!!!! Keep an eye on the official Lockdown Facebook page for some competitions to win free copies!

More soon! :-)

Weekly Update, 14th August 2011!

So, this last week has mainly been spent doing quite possibly the worst job in existence. No, I’m not talking about working in a mine, or being one of those people that clean corpses out of the Ganges. I’m talking about EDITING! I’ve made no secret about how much I hate this vile practice, but no matter how many times I tell my publisher that my work comes out absolutely perfect first time and doesn’t need any changes, they insist on sending me a raft of ‘suggested edits’ for each book. And by suggested they mean ‘change them, mate, or we’ll send the boys round’.

The current edit is the copy edit for The Fury. It’s already had a structural edit, which is essentially when the great big block of stone that you’ve been sculpting actually starts to look like what you wanted it to – with a rough face, some arms maybe. The copy edit is when the features get chiselled out and people can actually see what it is, largely thanks to Trevor, the awesome chap who has copy edited all my books so far. It will go through another couple of smaller edits, which are just polishing, and then we’re done! It’s a beast of a book at 125,000 words (nearly twice as long as Furnace), which makes the edit even more annoying! But I’m sure all the hard work is worth it…

On a positive note, the cover is almost finished, and here it is! It will need some tweaking, and a proper quote obviously, but I LOVE it!!


I’ll post the final version just as soon as I have it!

As if editing one thing isn’t bad enough, I’ve also been editing the novella I have written for It’s called The Night Children, and tells the story of how Warden Cross first meets Alfred Furnace. It’s hopefully a genuinely terrifying story – it certainly creeped the hell out of me when I wrote it! Below is the blurb and the AWESOME cover illustration. If you look closely, those faces aren’t actually attached to people…


It is December 1944 and Europe is still gripped by war. In the densely forested mountains of Belgium one of the conflict’s most brutal battles is raging. Cut off from the front, a ragtag group of young British and American soldiers finds itself being hunted by a patrol of elite German Special Forces, including a newly commissioned officer called Kreuz—a teenage boy who will grow up to become Warden Cross (the fearsome prison director who will one day rule Furnace Penitentiary, the terrifying underground prison specially built for teen offenders). As both sides fight for their lives in the unforgiving terrain, however, they start to realize that there are worse things hiding in the snow than soldiers. There are creatures out there with gas masks and piggy eyes (ancestors of Furnace prison’s “wheezers”)—demonic entities that cannot be killed by guns and grenades, monsters who do not care what uniforms their victims are wearing so long as they bleed, and so long as they scream . . .

Find out how to read it here!

So, other than the evil witchcraft that is editing, not much else has been going on. We went to Waxham on Sunday for a swim in the sea and game of American football on the beach, and we went to see the final Harry Potter, and I’ve been reading more George R. R. Martin, but that’s about it! Next week is very different, though, with my shows at the Edinburgh International Book Festival – I’m so excited about these!! Plus a very cool meeting that I’ll tell you more about in the next update.

That’s about it for now, see you next week!

Oh, wait, I almost forgot about the brand new trailer for Furnace from the US. Metal or what!

You’ll have to watch it on YouTube because I can’t figure out how to upload it!

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!