Tuesday, 1 May 2012
Blog Tour- All Round Interview with Alexander Gordon Smith, author of The Fury
It's the final day of the blog tour for Alexander Gordon Smith's The Fury And so, we have an interview. Yay!
Review of The Fury (strength 4) http://deathbooksandtea.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/book-review-fury-by-alexander-gordon.html
The Book Depository http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Fury-Alexander-Gordon-Smith/9780571276165
Hi Nina, hi Katy, thanks for interviewing me on your awesome blog!!
Twitter style, describe The Fury in 140 characters or less.
Oh dear, I'm really no good at keeping things concise. I always talk way too much. Let me see, where to start: The Fury is a terrifying horr
Oh… can I have another go?
A rollercoaster ride of mystery, excitement, and supernatural terror – what if one day, without warning, the whole world tried to murder you…
Furnace was fairly realistic. What made you write something leaning towards the supernatural?
I’m not sure. When I started the book I had no idea where it was leading, what was causing the Fury. I’m not big on planning, I don’t like to know what’s going to happen, it ruins the surprise for me as the writer and I think it ruins the surprise for the reader too, because you pick up on subliminal hints in the text, clues that events have been preordained by the author. You know that the writer has planned the end of the story, and that’s almost like a safety net, or a parachute, when you’re reading. I don’t really like that, I like to be smack bang in the middle of the action with the characters, only discovering things when they do, and reacting to them rather than following a plan. So yes, Furnace started off being realistic, but by the time we get to the fifth book there is definitely a supernatural angle there. I didn’t really see it coming, it just happened! The same with The Fury – all through the book I was wondering why this was happening, why the world was trying to kill these kids, and I only really discovered the truth of it when they did.
This is why I love horror so much, why it’s my absolute favourite genre, because anything can happen – literally anything. You’re not bound by any rules as a writer, because horror works by breaking down the rules – of science, religion, psychology, geography, everything. It gives you unlimited creative freedom. The Fury could easily have been something more realistic, could have had a scientific explanation, but it turned out to be something completely different, something that took even me by surprise. But that really is the beauty of horror, it can take you anywhere, and make anything real.
Did you do any research for The Fury, or did you imagine it all from scratch?
It’s quite tough to research a book which involves the whole world trying to kill you! The only research I did was actually years ago, when I was a kid (although back then I had no idea it was actually research, I just thought it was torture)! At school we had an evil, sadistic PE teacher who made us play a game called Murderball. One kid, usually the slowest one in the class (me!), would be given a rugby ball and a five-second head start. Then the teacher would blow his whistle and the rest of the class would chase after you. Their goal was to get the ball back, but they didn’t care about the ball, they wanted to murder you. Within a few seconds you’d have thirty other kids on top of you, biting you, punching you, kicking you, sticking mud up your nose and grass in your mouth so you couldn’t breathe. I have never, ever felt so much like I was going to die as I did at the bottom of the pile playing Murderball. And the weird thing was that the people attacking you were your friends, the guys you hung out with at lunch and after school. But for some reason during Murderball their faces would warp into evil masks, their teeth would be bared and they looked as if they just wanted to tear you to pieces. So years later, when I was thinking of a story to write, that memory just jumped into my head and The Fury was born!
How long did it take to write The Fury?
It took me longer than any other book I’ve written. In fact, thinking about it, The Fury took me longer to write than all five Furnace books put together! It was about four months from the first word to the last in the initial draft (the book was over 150,000 words to start with, but got trimmed down in the edit). For me, the writing process has to be fast, or the book doesn’t have that relentless pace. It’s the only way I can write – if I slow down too much then the story loses momentum. Besides, when you don’t plan you have to write fast to find out what’s going to happen – I was desperate to know what the Fury was, and what the fate of the characters was going to be!
If The Fury became a film, who would you want playing the main characters?
Wow, The Fury becoming a film would be the most awesome thing ever!! I try not to think about it, because I tend to get ridiculously overexcited. As for the cast, what I’d really love for The Fury would be a cast of brand new actors, people who have never been on screen before. I think that sometimes works best, especially with horror, because it makes the experience more realistic – your brain isn’t saying ‘oh that’s so-and-so from Eastenders’ – and therefore more immersive. It makes it easier to believe that what’s happening on screen is genuine, that these are actual people experiencing the horror of the Fury. Saying that, I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet some celebrities on set!
What influences your writing?
Well, in short, everything. I guess mainly other books; I love to read, and everything you read teaches you something about writing (even if it’s what you don’t want your books to be like). But I’m influenced a great deal by movies and video games too – that’s one of the best things about the job, research involves sitting around playing on the Xbox! People, too. Most writers tend to be people watchers. You can learn so much by just observing how other folk live their lives. So much of being a writer is about taking things in, not just typing stuff out.
What book do you wish you'd written, but didn't?
There are too many to count!! It’s quite rare that I read a book and don’t wish I’d written it! Top of the list would probably have to be Holes, by Louis Sachar. I absolutely love that book.
When did you write your first novel?
I wrote my first novel when I was about seventeen, a horror novel for adults called Asylum. It’s a pretty disastrous story, actually, as I was so convinced the book was going to make me rich and famous, the next Stephen King, that I decided I didn’t need to work very hard at school, and I failed my A-Level exams the first time round! I actually fell asleep in my English exam. At the same time I got my results, which were mainly fails, I started to get rejections for the novel, really mean ones like “this is disgusting, please never send us anything again.” Okay, it was a horrific novel about angels that ate people (set, weirdly enough, in a place called Furnace), and I only sent it to about three people and didn’t even check to see what sort of books they published. I was so arrogant I thought everyone would want it! It’s still lying around in a drawer somewhere, and from time to time I read it. I may rewrite it one day!
Which of your books is your favourite?
That’s tough! I think writers put so much of themselves in their books that each one becomes their new favourite. That’s certainly the case with me anyway. I loved writing The Inventors books because I wrote them with my nine-year-old brother. I loved Furnace because Alex and I were one and the same, it was so much like I was there, alongside him, trying to get out of the prison. But I threw myself into The Fury too, it was an intense, emotional ride, and right now that and the sequel – The Storm – are my favourite because that’s the story I’m living in.
What do you do when you're not writing?
If I’m not writing then I’m usually touring. I love travelling and I love talking about the books, so it’s perfect! I’m just back from a three-week tour of the States – Seattle, San Francisco, Philadelphia and New York – which was just amazing. Last year I did tours in England, Scotland, Ireland, America and Sweden too. I am hoping to visit Poland this year because the book is out there too, and when it comes out in Brazil (maybe next year) I’m definitely heading over there. It’s one of the most incredible things about being an author, that you can travel the world and talk to readers about the books, and about writing. I’m so lucky!!! When I’m not writing or touring I’m usually reading, watching movies, or playing video games – all of which are research, of course…
Anything else you want to say?
Just a HUGE thanks for interviewing me on Death, Books and Tea (the best blog name ever)! And an even HUGER thanks for your amazing review of The Fury. I hope your readers enjoy the book too!