Friday, 4 January 2013

Top 12 of 2012: 3 Alexander Gordon Smith

Welcome to day 3 of my Top 12.

The author I am featuring today is one I never would have pictured myself reading, let alone LOVING. But after being hooked in I've never been able to look back.

I met him at a book day at work and have featured him on my blog before with interviews and book reviews, but now it's time for another one. I am of course talking about Alexander Gordon Smith.

Firstly known for his 'Furnace' series, these books will captivate you. Terrifying in places but full of scenes that will pull you in and refuse to let you go. The characters become like old friends, you can't help but feel connected to them.

Book 1 - Lockdown
Book 2 - Solitary
Book 3 - Death Sentence
Book 4 - Fugitives
Book 5 - Execution

But these are not the books I want to talk to you about today. The book that has made it into my Top 12 is the awesome new book - 'The Fury'.
I read 'The Fury' in April of this year, if you want to read my review click here.
The Fury (The Fury, #1)

Even the cover is awesome, I love that flame effect in the letters!

Here's the synopsis:
Imagine if one day, without warning, the entire human race turns against you. Every single person you meet becomes a bloodthirsty, mindless savage, hell-bent on killing you - and only you. Friends, family, even your mum and dad, will turn on you. They will murder you. And when they have, they will go back to their lives as if nothing has happened. The world has the Fury. It will not rest until you are dead. Cal, Brick and Daisy are three ordinary teenagers whose lives suddenly take a terrifying turn for the worst. They begin to trigger a reaction in everybody they meet, that makes friends and strangers alike want to tear them to pieces. These victims of the Fury - the ones that survive - manage to locate each other. But just when they think they have found a place to hide from the world, some of them begin to change . . . They must fight to uncover the truth about the Fury before it's too late. But it is a truth that will destroy everything they know about life and death.  

I know what you are thinking, this is so far from my usual type of read, which is part of what makes it so awesome. If someone as wimpy as me can fall in love with this book it has to be good. There were places that truly had my heart pumping at a mile a minute, but it was a great feeling and I can't wait for the next part of this book.

As Alexander Gordon Smith is so awesome, he agreed to do an interview for this post and his answers are so good!
So here it is:

Hi Becky! Thanks for interviewing me on your blog, it's great to be back! :-)

1)      Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes! It's the only thing I have ever really wanted to be (except a truck driver…). I wrote my first book when I was six, and quite appropriately it was a monster book! I still have it, and I take it to schools with me when I do events. It's a lovely thing to have, and I'd love to be able to go back in time and tell the six-year-old me that one day he'll be writing novels for a living. :-)  I'd also tell him to never give up, the single most important piece of advice for writing and for life in general, I think. If you want something, go for it, and don't ever give up.

2)      If you weren’t a writer, what other profession would you choose?
Truck driver! I've always had a fascination with trucks, ever since I was a kid, and still dream of driving one of the big rigs coast to coast in the States. Maybe one day I'll give it a go just to see what it's like!

3)      What inspired you to write ‘The Fury’?
When I was at school I was really bad at PE. I was quite chunky (well, I still am!) and not very good at sport, and every single year I was in the bottom set. We had a really evil PE teacher (I know all PE teachers are evil, but this one was especially evil), and his idea of fun was making us play a game called Murderball. The idea was that somebody in the class would be given a rugby ball, then the teacher would blow the whistle and the kid with the ball had to start running. After five seconds or so, the teacher would blow the whistle again and everybody else would chase the first kid. The idea was to get the ball off him, but nobody cared about the ball – in fact, if you were the one with the ball you threw it away as soon as you started running because it would only slow you down. The mob just wanted you. You'd be running along, and the ground would start shaking, and this roar would rise up behind you, and if you dared to look over your shoulder – which was always a mistake – you'd see thirty people tearing after you with expressions of pure and utter fury.

The weird thing was that these people were my friends, but for the duration of the game they became feral, like animals. You could see the hatred in their faces. And when they caught you, you would be on the floor with thirty people sitting on top of you punching and kicking and biting you. I have never in my life felt so much like I was going to die as I did playing Murderball! Years later this memory was still with me, and I added the two magic words of writing: What if. What if everyone in the world suddenly tried to kill you – and only you? And The Fury was born!

I am so glad this was not my P.E class - I would have been terrified!!!

4)      What was the hardest thing about writing ‘The Fury’?
It was a tough book to write, partly because of the scope – there are a number of main characters, and the action spans continents and, in a way, aeons. With the Furnace books I was only ever telling the story from Alex's point of view, which made the process easier. I only ever knew what he knew. But with The Fury there was so much to juggle. I didn't plan the books, I never plan. I wanted it to grow organically. When I started out, I had no idea what was causing the Fury, I wanted to find out at the same time as the characters. I definitely made things harder on myself by writing this way, but I think the book is better as a result. Writing like this is also difficult because it feels more like you're right there in the heart of the story – because you only know what the characters know, you have no idea what's coming. It can be insanely stressful and scary at times! Again, though, I think it makes for a more genuine, believable, exciting kind of story.

5)      Do you ever hesitate to kill off a character or is it just something that needs to be done?
Hesitate, no. Regret, yes, all the time. It's not really like killing off a character, because you don't always see it coming. Hesitation would imply premeditated murder, and it never really feels like that. I'd love it if nobody in the books died, the same way I'd love it if none of my real friends and family died. And these guys, the characters in the books, really are your friends and family. But because I write in real-time (in the sense that I write as I see things happen, rather than planning), sometimes events in the story lead to a death. And it's heartbreaking, because you know that if you could go back in time then you could save these people, make them take another path. But you can't do that in real life, so it doesn't seem right that you should be able to do it in writing. I get letters and emails from people all the time telling me how sad they are after the death of one of my characters (one in particular, from Furnace), but so many of them say he lives on in their hearts. How amazing is that! I mean, these characters may be dead in the story, but they are alive in the hearts and minds of readers all around the world. It's genuinely incredibly humbling.

6)      Are any of your characters based on people you know?
Yes, definitely. Bits and pieces, anyway. I'd never write about a whole person that I knew, but I borrow things from everyone. Daisy, from The Fury, is very much based on my daughter Lucy. I'd never have been able to write Daisy without knowing Lucy. And some of the more unpleasant characters in all my books have their roots in people I don't like very much! That's one of the great things about writing. :-)  Most of all, though, they are based on me. I think every person on the planet is made up of various different characters – we are different people depending on where we are and who we are with. We are different people all through our life. Both Brick and Cal are based on slightly different versions of me – although I was never as cool as Cal and never quite as angry as Brick – but as soon as they hit the paper they grow into their own people and do their own thing. It's a fascinating process.

7)      If you could meet one of your characters and hang out with them for the afternoon, who would you choose and why?
Great question!! I'm honestly not sure. I guess I'll always feel closest to Alex from the Furnace books, as we've been through so much together, so I think I'd say him. It would be so great to actually meet Donovan and Zee too. I think Zee would be the most fun! Out of The Fury I'd probably say Brick, because I'd do my best to cheer him up! :-)

8)      Do you write in a set place or at a certain time, or do you do it wherever and whenever you can?
I usually only write in the morning. I just feel fresher then and the words flow more easily. Not that I'm ever up early, though. I usually start at about nine then work through to lunch, then in the afternoon I catch up with admin stuff, plus read, watch films, and play video games. But it's okay because all of those things are technically research… It's a tough life!

9)      Was it hard leaving the world of Furnace behind to begin with Fury? Does Alex ever yell at you to come back?
Yes, definitely. I mean, in some ways it was okay, because the Furnace story wrapped up so nicely at the end of Execution, I felt okay to leave it. It's like having kids, I guess. They reach an age when you're okay for them to move out, to be on their own, but you still miss them, and still worry about them and think about them. I was sad saying goodbye to the world of Furnace because it had been my world too for so long. The Fury was such a powerful idea, such a terrifying and compelling story to write, that it utterly consumed me for months, there was just no room in my head to think about Furnace or Alex or anything else for that matter. For me, starting a new book is the most exciting part – that huge open world that's just begging you to explore it. It's fairly easy to be caught up in that. I do miss Alex, though, and am working on some ideas that might see him thrown back into the action...
YAY! Bring back Alex. :D

10)     Can you give us any clues as to what book 2 holds?
The Storm is… It's kind of beyond words! I just decided not to hold back, to let the story go wherever it needed to. And it went completely crazy. Hopefully it's just as action-packed and intense and terrifying as The Fury, but with a very different feel to it. The scope is way bigger. I'm actually not sure what's happening with the publication side of it, though. In the US, both books are being released as one huge book, and my UK publisher is thinking about doing the same thing in 2013 – with the full edition of The Storm available as a separate ebook. Hopefully I'll have more information about that soon!

Thanks again for interviewing me, Becky, it's been fun! :-)
Thanks Gordon! you rock!

I hope that has made you want to pick up his books. They are definitely worth a read. 
If you want to get hold of it check out these links:

Now, I'm off to wait for 'The Storm' *excited* :D

Come back tomorrow for my next pick of 2012.

Don't forget you can win one of the featured books from any of the days if you go to the 'Introduction post', any time during the duration of this feature (1st - 14th Jan) Earn extra entries for spreading the news.

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