Alexander Gordon Smith

Archive for the Category Edinburgh


Festival Frenzy!

I’m just back from a couple of days in Dublin for the truly wonderful CBI Festival. I’ll be blogging about it imminently, but until then here’s a roundup of some of the other festivals I was at over the summer!

First up was the Guardian Pop-Up Festival in London, where I ran a zombie workshop. I thought it was a workshop for zombies, so did my best to look the part. But it was actually a spooky creative writing workshop for young writers. Still, it’s always nice to dress up! I even made up a zombie quiz to work out exactly what kind of zombie you are, which was fun. I think I ended up being a demonically possessed zombie who eats nothing but livers and cheese, who travels on the bus, smells worse than a rubbish bin and who spends his days trying and failing to get into the best parties. Which actually sounds a little bit like me…

Livers and Cheese, mmmmmmmmm...

I did a couple of really fun events for the Stratford-Upon-Avon Literary Festival, including one in Shakespeare’s old school. How awesome is that! While I was down there I got a chance to look around Warwick Castle, which looks like something out of Game of Thrones. That’s one of the best things about being on tour, you get to do the touristy stuff!

I did have an audience, honest...

Following that I was down in south London for the East Dulwich Literary Festival, which was thoroughly enjoyable, even though I got totally lost and ended up pretty much jogging up the road in the blazing heat to get there on time. I was NOT a pretty sight when I arrived… (There is a picture, but it will give you nightmares.)

I was back in London for Tales From Moon Lane, one of the coolest and most enjoyable events I have ever done. It was organised by the lovely people who run the shop, and the ever-awesome David Maybury and the CBI crew Carrie and Nicola. There were some lovely other authors there too, including Sarah Webb, whose books my daughter absolutely adores. I was originally scheduled to have a cage fight with Derek Landy, but he was running late (if you ask me, he was just a little nervous about facing me so cowered in his limo around the corner for an hour or so until it was safe to come out) so I did the warm-up act in preparation for his main event. It was SO much fun, and great to be able to meet the legend that is Landy. He didn’t seem so pleased to meet me, though (ask me, that’s just a look of terror on his face)!

Is that fear in his eyes...?

Last, and certainly not least, I was back up in Edinburgh for the Edinburgh International Book Festival. It’s my absolute favourite festival of all time – an amazing city, fantastic people, enthusiastic audiences, the most wonderful atmosphere, and whisky! This year I was doing an event with Susanne Winnacker, author of The Other Life, chaired by the irrepressible Eve Harvey. We had an brilliant audience of about 200 people, and spent a very enjoyable hour chatting about horror, apocalypses, nightmares, and what our plans were for a zombie invasion (mine involved a sledgehammer and a boat, which in retrospect seems like a bad combination). Thanks so much to everyone who came to see us! Oh, and Susanne’s book is great, well worth a read – guns, monsters, conspiracy, and a smidgen of romance, what else could you want? It was so great hanging out in the the author’s yurt before and after the event, especially as there was free booze. Thanks to Janet and Eve and the rest of the festival staff, I love the EIBF so much!

Me, Eve and Susanne!

The absolute best thing about this year’s festival event, though, was that one of my fans travelled all the way up from Manchester to see me. Lizzii even brought me a couple of presents. It was so cool! I sat out in the sun with her and her mum for hours chatting about writing and reading and music and loads of other stuff. Thank you both for coming to see me! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, my fans are my heroes. They’re what make this job so amazing. And Lizzii, you’re one of the best! Oh, and I think we agreed officially that she could marry the warden.


Pure fan-tasticness!

A HUGE thanks to everyone who invited me to do events, I feel so lucky to be able to be a part of so many fantastic festivals!


Happy New Year!!!

Here's hoping the Mayans were wrong...

Happy New Year everybody!!!

It’s a little worrying just how many end-of-the-world images crop up when you do a Google image search for 2012…

But Armageddon aside, I think 2012 is shaping up to be a great year! Even the sound of it rolls off the tongue – twenty-twelve. That is a good-sounding year. It’s the kind of year that is made for looking back on in the future and saying: “Yeah, 2012 ROCKED!!”

I’m going to be blogging a lot more this year, mainly so I can keep track of my new year’s resolutions (I have about twenty, and counting). Some of the things I am most excited about this year include writing a new book in January, Fugitives coming out in the US in February, my US tour in March, The Fury being published in April, finally seeing Stagnant the movie getting made in May, getting a six-pack in June, holiday in July, the Edinburgh Festival in August, celebrating my gold medal at the Olympics in August as well, Execution coming out in the US in September, writing another new book in October, another US trip in November and Christmas in December!!

Okay, not all of those things will actually happen (I have yet to think of a way of getting a gold medal), but hopefully most of them!

Anyway, I just wanted to wish everybody an absolutely wonderful year. I hope 2012 is totally amazing for you all!

Meeting My (Hell’s) Hero!!!

And they say horror authors don't always wear black...


I’m just back from an amazing weekend at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. It was amazing in loads of ways, but mainly because I finally got to meet one of my all time writing heroes, Darren Shan. That’s right, DARREN SHAN!!! The guy is an absolute legend, and I actually got to hang out with him. Me and Darren, hanging out, how awesome is that?! In case you can’t tell, I was thrilled!

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a huge Shanster – I even mentioned him in Lockdown, when Alex and the others are in their cell reenacting their favourite stories. The truth is that if it wasn’t for Darren then Furnace would be very, very different, and might not even have existed at all! The Saga of Darren Shan was a huge influence on my writing – I absolutely loved those books, their non-stop pace and fantastic blend of action and horror, and reading them really gave me a sense of what kind of book I wanted Furnace to be. When I found out that Darren was reading Furnace Lockdown, a couple of years ago now, I was so delighted. And when he give me the quote “Hotter than hell and twice as much fun, sign me up for a life sentence” I think I almost went into shock!!

So I’ve always wanted to meet Darren, to say thanks and to chat about books and writing – and this year I was lucky enough to not just meet him, but to do a show with him!! It was a panel event, alongside the wonderful Barry Hutchison – whose series Invisible Fiends is one of my absolute favourite reads this year – and chaired by the inimitable Philip Ardagh (a fellow Faber author), who is simply one of the most charming and witty people in existence. We started the panel by reading out an extract from one of the books which inspired us to write horror (Salem’s Lot for Darren, Something Wicked This Way Comes for me and a choose-your-own-adventure horror for Barry – sorry Barry I can’t remember what it was called, but it was so funny!). Then we chatted about why we love horror, what makes things scary, and loads more! We finished off by reading some of our own work, including my first reading ever from Furnace 5. All in all it was awesome, although we could have ran for another hour easily!!

Afterwards we did a signing, although I have to say that I was doing considerably less signing than the others. At one point I was tempted to start signing post-it notes, tablecloths, Barry’s arm, just so it looked like I was doing something! But the people who did come up for signed copies of Furnace were all brilliant, and very nice (thanks everyone!), and it really was a smashing afternoon. And although I was a little nervous about meeting Darren, purely because he is a hero of mine, I didn’t need to be – he is a really lovely guy!

I look about five foot tall next to these guys! (And I can't remember why we were standing next to the toilet... Or why Philip has me by the ear...)

That afternoon we all went out for a drink, along with Darren’s awesome girlfriend Bas, her friend Pam, and Darren’s publicist Mary. Barry and I almost didn’t make it as we got lost in a rather dodgy part of Edinburgh (I blame him, he’s Scottish and should know his way around)! But we got there in the end and enjoyed a few whiskies in the coolest bar I’ve ever been in (the Frankenstein bar!) and a delicious meal (Haggis spring rolls!) before going to see a hilarious comedian (Sam Simmons, I think, I was a little tipsy by then). And all in all it was pretty much the best day ever.

On the Sunday I went to see Darren’s epic show, where he performed the entire Cirque du Freak series, start to finish, in just under two and a half hours. It was nothing short of spectacular. In the afternoon I did my own show to a small but perfectly formed crowd, then rushed back to the airport for my flight back to Norwich (I flew! Aren’t I brave!). It was a whirlwind trip, but an absolutely fantastic one. So thanks to everyone at the Edinburgh International Book Festival for being so lovely (and they really are), hopefully see you all next year!