Alexander Gordon Smith

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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!!

Furious!!

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 Tor.com. 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…

Ew!

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!

Is it a bird… Is it a plane…

No, hang on a minute, it’s the SUN!!!! It’s been so long I barely recognised it. What an amazing few days, though, it felt like summer! I forced myself to put work to one side in order to make the most of this bizarre phenomenon. On Thursday Lynsey, Lucy and I went to Thrigby Hall, which was so cool. It’s basically a small zoo, but there is an impressive range of beastly beasties on display. Tigers, alligators, panthers, monkeys, you name it! My favourite had to be the otters, though. They were rolling around in the sunshine and they just looked so cute! Well worth a trip if you’ve never been before.

Lynsey and I also managed to escape to the beach on Saturday, which was lovely. We drove up to Sheringham and it really did feel like the middle of the summer holidays. I was even tempted to go for a swim… But decided to settle for a beer and an ice cream instead. We finished off the weekend with the first family barbeque of the year. It’s always so nice to have the family over for burgers and beer, and even though it was getting a little chilly by the end of the day it was still great fun!

Alas, it’s a little cloudy today so I took that as a sign to get back to work. Furnace 4 to edit and Furnace 5 to write, all before the end of May. I’ll have to lock myself away in the gloomy confines of my office if I stand any chance of meeting that deadline. Still, at least I caught a glimpse of the sun before I close the door behind me…

Back to School :-@

Well, this is the last weekend before dratted school stars again! To try and get the most out of summer (I can’t believe how fast it’s flown by, seven weeks in the blink of an eye, that’s scary!) we headed out to the beach yesterday. It was late by the time we left, and it was raining, but that shouldn’t stop you enjoying the seaside! We went to Cromer because we all fancied fish and chips, and to be honest Mary Jane’s Fish and Chips are the best in the world. We gobbled up our fish suppers in the restaurant because it was so miserable outside, then headed for the arcades to play basketball, guitar hero and the quiz machine. Great fun!

What was great about it, though, is that Lyns brought a pack of cards with her. Now, we quite often play cards when we’re eating out, usually Old Maid because it’s so easy to play. But when we were eating our fish and chips Lyns suggested playing Cheat. I haven’t played that since I was at school, and I’d forgotten how addictive it is! For those who have never played, the pack (minus Jokers) is dealt out evenly to each player. Players must lay cards face down on the table in a certain order: they have to lay a card which is the same, one higher, or one lower than the card that has just been played. For instance if the first player lays two sixes, the second player must lay fives, sixes or sevens. If they lay a seven, the next player must lay sixes, sevens or eights. The great thing about the game, though, is that because the cards are laid face down, you can cheat if you want to. So if you don’t have any sixes, sevens or eights then you can lay a queen and say it’s a six. It’s all about bluffing, and trying to work out who’s telling the truth and who’s cheating. If you don’t believe someone then call ‘Cheat’ and their last card is checked. If they were cheating, then they get the whole pile, if they weren’t, then you do. The winner is the first person to get rid of all their cards!

It’s a fantastic game, and the best thing was that when we got back to the house nobody wanted to watch TV or movies, nobody wanted to play computer games or go on Facebook. Everybody, especially Jamie and Lucy, just wanted to play Cheat. And the same thing today! It’s so wonderfully refreshing! If you’ve got kids who won’t tear their eyeballs away from the screen, get out the cards and give Cheat a go – but maybe check the rules as my instructions aren’t great!

I also read out the finished Bogey Brothers as a bedtime story and it went down very well, which is a good sign!

Anyway, enjoy the last weekend of the holiday!!!!!!!