Welcome to my
online journal...

My name is Alexander Gordon Smith, and I'm the author of various books including The Inventors series and the brand new Furnace series.

This is my blog, and is where I talk about books, writing and, well, probably other stuff too...

The 12 DEATHS of Christmas!!!

Christmas is almost upon us – just 19 days to go until the jolly old fat bloke squeezes down our chimneys and deposits sweet little droppings beneath the tree. I can't wait! It's my favourite time of year! I've already got a Christmas tree (actually I got two this year, one for the front of the house and one for the back) and everywhere you go there are sparkling lights, cosy greetings and merry music.

Well, almost everywhere you go... Because this year, to celebrate Christmas, the Chainsaw Gang (the group of bloodthirsty YA horror writers to which I proudly belong) have decided to shun colourful baubles and fluffy red stockings and celebrate with our very own version of The 12 Days of Christmas. Rest assured there are no pipers piping, maids a milking or turtle doves in this version (not unless you count the pie that Sarwat cooked for us all to eat whilst we were writing it), just plenty of... You'll have to wait and see!

Starting today, and running for the next 12 days (duh!) we'll reveal our masterpiece on some of our favourite blogs, along with our answers to a whole bunch of questions the bloggers posed to us (if you want to know which of us has really seen a ghost then check it out)! The schedule, and first line, can be found on the wonderful My Favourite Books blog, along with instructions for the next stop!

Enjoy, and have a very bloody Christmas!!

Solitary is Here!!!

There was a package waiting for me outside my door this morning, and when I opened it I found myself face to face with just about the best looking book I've ever seen in my life!! The hardback US version of Furnace 2: Solitary, is absolutely stunning, and I'm so thrilled to finally see it. It's only six weeks now until it's released in the States, but I wanted to give you a sneak preview of what it looked like!

I've also had another couple of reviews in for Solitary, which I've pasted below. Right, I'm off to sit and drool over the book for a few more hours!

Thanks to everyone at FSG for making this so AWESOME!!!

The first review if from the School Library Journal:
Alex Sawyer, 14, is in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. He tried to escape the horrors of the underground prison known as Furnace in Lockdown (Farrar, 2009), and now he must battle the nightmare that is solitary confinement. The cells open from the top through a sort of manhole cover, and they are more like coffins standing on end than cells. Alex must fight the monsters and mutants that are his captors and tormentors, including the dreaded wheezers that have gas masks sewn to what should be their faces and the vicious rat and doglike creatures that spoiled their escape attempt. Alex’s friend Donavan was thought to be dead, but as it turns out is part of the horrors going on in the infirmary. There are several disturbing episodes when Alex is alone with his thoughts in his cell, and his fatalism or depression leads him to contemplate suicide. The rest of this story is fast paced and packed with nail-biting scenarios, and the gross-out factor is high in many sections. Alex is coaxed into a leadership role by some of the creatures and his friend Zee, who occupies an adjoining cell, and through their attempt at another escape, discovers what is really happening to inmates in the infirmary. This is a dark story with a dark ending, but the gritty action and compelling characters will have reluctant readers enthralled.
Jake Pettit, Thompson Valley High School, Loveland, CO

And the second is from Booklist:
In a sequel to Lockdown (2009) that is just as breathlessly paced and soaked with blood, mucus, and less savory substances, teen jailbird Alex’s escape from the futuristic underground prison and experimental lab called Furnace leads first to recapture and then to a second flight that involves frantic chases through dark caverns and tunnels, face-to-face encounters with flesh chewing human-rat hybrids, and visits to a gruesome “Infirmary,” in which prisoners are modified into hideous monsters. Readers who relish lurid imagery and melodramatic prose will continue to be riveted and left eager for the next disgust-o-rama episode.
John Peters

"Disgust-o-rama" I love it!

I've been Chainsawed!!

Brilliant Changeling author Steve Feasey has reviewed my books and given me the infamous Chainsaw Gang interrogation over on his blog! Check it out!

Steve Feasey's Blog!

Thanks Steve!

Solitary Reviews!

Two great reviews for Solitary have just come in. The first is from the Voice of Youth Advocates:

Alex Sawyer has been sent to Furnace Penitentiary, a place where teenagers are sent to disappear. Alex and his friends have seen many horrors—the wheezers with their black suits and gas masks, the monstrous dogs that chase them through the corridors of Furnace, and the infirmary where the inmates are turned into creatures that are far from human. Alex wants out, and in a bad way. He and his compatriots have managed to blast their way even deeper into the confines of Furnace, but a way out still eludes them. Alex and Zee have now been sent to solitary, a place where most prisoners lose their minds. In the small confines of his cell, Alex begins to hallucinate, seeing the ghostly image of his friend Donovan who was captured by the warden. Donavan tells Alex to snap out of it, and thankfully he does, recapturing what little sanity he has left to formulate a plan. Will the plan work? There’s no way of knowing, since everything in Furnace has a way of going horribly wrong.
            Once again, Smith has created a thrill ride that will leave the audience wanting more. Smith’s prose is fast paced, witty, and sometimes downright terrifying. Some of the images he creates could manifest into a nightmare or two. Teens who are looking for a great thriller/horror story will definitely want to pick up these novels. Look for the third installment in this series to debut in June of 2011.—Jonatha Bayse.

And the next, slightly less positive review, is from Kirkus:

After being swept away in an underground river moments after escaping from Furnace Penitentiary, Alex is quickly recaptured by the cruel blacksuit guards and placed in an isolation cell. Though confined, he clings to hope through tapped communiqués with his fellow failed escapee Zee, hallucinatory appearances from his friend Donovan and strange visits from a mysterious creature named Simon. Adrenaline-fueled action infuses the narrative as it did in Lockdown(2009), keeping the pages turning. Alex's forays into self-reflection are less convincing; in Smith's effort to create an antihero, he has given Alex too many flaws to generate much sympathy. Donovan's dialogue is an especially transparent device to create emotional growth. The twisted monsters that patrol the prison are still satisfyingly brutal, however, even though readers now know to expect them lurking around dark corners. While the revelations and ending are not surprising, the author knows what keeps his readers locked to the page and delivers it soundly. (Thriller. YA)

Donovan's dialogue wasn't an attempt to create emotional growth at all, it was Alex's (subconscious) way of staying sane and staying alive, but never mind!

Awesome reviews, though, thanks everyone!


It gives me great pleasure today to host the second stop in our gore-soaked Chainsaw Gang tour!

For those of you who don't yet know, the Chainsaw Gang is made up of the most twisted and talented horror and dark fantasy authors writing for young people today. If you like adventure, action and most of all horror then you're right at home here – demons, zombies, ass-kicking Knights Templar, monsters, dragons, gunfights, sword fights, explosions, quests to hell and back, werewolves, armageddon, yetis, witches... The list of cool stuff is endless!

Remember to check the bottom of this post for a chance to win the Chainsaw Library!

During the tour each Chainsaw Gang author will introduce and interview another member of the club, and I'm absolutely thrilled that I get to give you one of the best YA horror writers ever to dip his quill into a pot of blood and guts, a writer so well versed in horror that he may as well have invented the genre. Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to DAVID GATWARD!

I've just finished reading Dave's debut YA horror novel, The Dead, and my ears still feel like they're ringing. Why? Because this is just about as good as horror novels get. Let me start with a quote: 
"The figure’s body was bathed in firelight, the rocking chair horribly still. Its head was bald, the skin ripped away in strips and in places Lazarus, horrified and scared beyond anything he’d ever experienced in his life before, could see the milky glow of bone. Its ears were gone, nothing more than stumps that looked like melted candles. The face was a mass of tears and cuts, slicing across it this way and that, the nose severed in half. The mouth had no lips; just great, bloody wounds where they looked like they had been torn off. Its teeth reflected the fire."

How awesome is that?! The figure in the quote is Red, and one night he tells Lazarus Stone – the brilliantly named teenage hero of the novel – that the thin veils between the land of the living and the land of the dead are failing. And what happens when they fail? The Dead can cross over... Without wanting to give too much away – the plot is full of twists and turns that you'll want to experience for yourself – Lazarus discovers a terrifying secret about his own father, and finds himself on a quest that will literally take him to hell and back!

There are so many reasons why I love this book, and one of the main ones is that David Gatward is so obviously a horror junkie. There are references in the book to some of my favourite movies (if you're a horror fan too see if you can spot them) and it's clear that he really, really loves the genre. What this means for the writing is that this isn't just an all-out mindless gore-fest (although it is very bloody and gory, don't get me wrong) but a beautifully crafted tale that can stand proudly amongst the stories and movies that inspired it. There is nothing about The Dead that feels like it's copying what's gone before, it really is uniquely unnerving and thrilling.

So, in short, if you want a book you can't put down, if you like to be scared and excited at the same time, then read The Dead! Or click here to read Chapter 3 and see for yourself. And the good news is that there are two sequels to follow, the first of which, The Dark, is already out (and trust me, at the end of this book you will need to go straight out and get this)!

And now, so you know more about the man behind The Dead, here are his answers to the critical Chainsaw questions...

1. What's your favourite book?
I can't say I've ever come across a book that's my all out favourite. Why? Because I fall for so many different books for so many different reasons. Biggest influence might be Weirdstone of Brisingamen, by Alan Garner. It was the first book I didn't just read, but experienced. I was 11. It made me want to write stuff that would make people feel the same way I did when I read it. Particularly the bit in the cave, where they're being chased by the svarts and the cave gets narrower, they can hardly move... then they come up against water and they've no choice but to go through. Unreal! And terrifying! I loved Lord of the Rings. I was really in to the Dragon Lance Chronicles. I think Bravo Two Zero is tremendous. If I want to be somewhere hot and lovely and delicious I'll read Under a Tuscan Sun. Then, if I want to go dark and feel like the world's seeping in through the cracks in the walls of my house, I'll grab something by Lovecraft. Joe Hill's 20th Century Ghosts is annoyingly good. Jack Ketchum can confuse and horrify all at once. I've just read Mr Hands by Gary Braunbeck and loved it, the world he's created, his writing, the sentences that go on for not just a few paragraphs but a few pages. Clive Barker's Hellbound Heart, Books of Blood, Damnation Game. Arthur C Clarke's Songs of the Distant Earth. See my problem?

2. Who's your favourite monster?
I love Pinhead! Something about that crazy cat just makes me shiver. It's that at his centre is not simply mindless evil, but humanity twisted and gone wrong, our own primitive drives left to go wild. I love that. I'm all for mindless killing machines, like Jason, but Pinhead does it for me.

3. Who's your favourite bad-ass monster-slayer?
Well, it's not a literary one this, and it's a pretty short-lived moment, but in a film by Peter Jackson, called "Dead Alive" he has a crazy vicar who goes all karate on some icky undead creatures. Just before the fight begins (and despite the fact he gets totalled during it) he yells out, "I kick ass for the Lord!" I love that! Brilliant!

4. If you could make a pact with the Devil, what would you want in exchange for your immortal soul?
Does it have to be one thing? I'm guessing not, because this is my immortal soul we're talking about, right? So, here's a few things to start with:
- A house with a deep, dark wine cellar that would never run dry of the best fermented grape juice known to humanity. And a plentiful supply of candles to place on the little table I'd have down there to sample them at.
- A hotline to serious cheese. Seriously. I love the stuff. And I'd want the best and rarest I could find. Even that maggoty one that's illegal...
- The ability to fly. Surely I don't need to explain why...
- A chainsaw that never runs dry or falls blunt.
- The house off the film Casper the Ghost.
- My own creepy graveyard.
- A ghost called Gerald who enjoys horror movies and lives in the attic.
- A room dedicated to my record deck and my drum kit.
- A climbing wall.
- If you've read my book, the vehicle driven by Arielle.

I'll stop, but trust me, that list could go on!

5. The Chainsaw Gang are all trapped on a desert island with no food. Who would you eat first and why?
Well, of all the Chainsaw Gang, I've only met Sarwat in person, so I think it would only be polite to at least consume him as a starter to the main course. Like the rest, though, I'd have to tenderise him first, so I'd have to dig a big pit and thrown them all in to it. With no way to escape, they'd go crazy, beat each other up to get out, and that'd get them all nice and soft and juicy. Then, when they were exhausted, bleeding in to the sand beneath them, I'd despatch them as cleanly and humanely as possible, then bury them in the sand to not only continue with the maturing process, but also preserve them. I might also consider distilling some sea water to a brine and seeing what effect that had on the meat. And wouldn't it be great if the desert island had some coconuts on? Boil the meat up in some coconut... yum. Ooh, I'm salivating already.

Thanks Dave, those were awesome answers! Right, I'm off to go baste myself in some tikka spices. But just before I do, here are the rules for the Chainsaw Gang competition – it's free to enter, and it's really worth it because you could win a set of signed books from every single Chainsaw author!!!

Here’s how the competition works:

To win the Chainsaw Library you need to score votes. Each vote goes into a vast hat at the end of the competition and one winning name will come out. The great thing is you can enter per blog: that’s nine chances to win! So make sure you visit each and every blog on the tour. 

Votes are scored as follows:
+1 if you link this blog/website to yours
+2 if you stick our Chainsaw banner (found at the top of this blog) up somewhere (and let us know)!
+1 if you’re a Facebook fan/friend.
+1 if you comment on this blog post.
+1 if you reTweet this competition.
+1 if you follow us on Twitter.

The closing date of the competition is Friday 5th November and the competition is open to UK residents only. Good luck!

The Carnage Begins...

Prepare for bloodshed, screams, spattered brains and the nostril-burning stench of gasoline... The Chainsaw Gang tour has begun! It begins today on the blog of our gang leader Sarwat Chadda, who is interviewing fellow death merchant Sarah Silverwood.  Tomorrow I'll be interviewing Lord of the Damned David Gatward, and over the next couple of weeks the rest of the gang will be introducing each other. It's going to be bloody brilliant...

Not only will you get to know some of the best up and coming writers in the genres of horror and dark fantasy, you will also stand a chance of winning signed copies of the latest books by every single Chainsaw author! That's a lot of books.

Here’s how the competition works:

To win the Chainsaw Library you need to score votes. Each vote goes into a vast hat at the end of the competition and one winning name will come out. The great thing is you can enter per blog: that’s nine chances to win! So make sure you visit each and every blog on the tour. Votes are scored as follows:
+1 if you link the blog/website to yours
+2 if you stick our Chainsaw banner up somewhere
+1 if you’re a Facebook fan/friend.
+1 if you comment on the blog.
+1 if you reTweet this competition.
+1 if you follow us on Twitter.
The closing date of the competition is Friday 5th November and the competition is open to UK residents only.
Good luck!

Workshop Part Four!

Part Four of my horror-writing workshop is now live over on the Trapped By Monsters site!

Have fun!


Fantastic Review! :-)

A fantastic review of Lockdown can be found on the awesome Book Zone for Boys site. Thanks Darren!!!



A great review for Fugitives has just appeared on the Bookbag website. Thanks John! :-)


My Riviera Tour!

I had an amazing time this week during my whirlwind tour of the south coast! Five days, seven cities and 800 kids, awesome! I started off driving to North Swindon Library on Monday where I did a show for two schools followed by a brilliant Headspace horror-writing event in the evening. After that I headed to Calne, then the following morning did another show in the local library there. A quick trip to Trowbridge followed, together with awesome event number four, then without pausing for breath I headed south.

I had a bit of spare time so I popped over to nearby Stonehenge on the way. It was full of tourists to start with, but it was quite late in the day so by the time I'd walked around it there were only a handful of people left and it was easy to imagine that it was just me and the stones. Spooky! It's really well worth a visit to Stonehenge if you get the chance – over 5,000 years of history and some amazing stories. Try and come up with your own mythical explanation for why the stones are there!

An hour or so later and I was in Bournemouth. I've never been before so I left my clifftop hotel and wandered down to the beach in the dusk. It's a gorgeous place, beautiful gardens right next to the beach and even a tethered hot air balloon you can float up in! I grabbed some fish and chips (it's law that when by the sea you have to indulge in fish and chips) then headed back to the hotel. Unfortunately, thanks to my neighbours, it was the worst night's sleep ever! They were arguing until six in the morning, throwing things around the room and at one point the police showed up! Nightmare!

I started again first thing on Wednesday, doing two school events in Kinson Library, both of which were great fun. After a lovely lunch with Denise (my minder!) I returned to the library for another event in the evening – not just any old event but the opening of the library's Headspace area! The Mayor of Bournemouth was there (in some incredible Mayoral bling, I have to say), as well as a huge crowd of teenagers, parents and librarians. I talked for nearly an hour about my love affair with horror, and everybody seemed to enjoy it! It was a great honour helping to open the Headspace area, especially as the people in the steering group had done such an amazing job setting everything up. Well done, and I hope you have loads more cool events there in the future!

On Thursday, after a bacon butty on the beach in glorious sunshine, I drove across to Poole for two more school events, this time in the Hamworthy Library. I even managed to get another quick trip to the beach in between them, this time glimpsing Poole Harbour. It is beautiful around there! I wanted to drive to Sandbanks and eye up a future mansion for myself, but in the end I drove to Corfe Castle and had a nosey around there. Even though it's a ruin it's an amazing place to visit, full of history. After that I bolted down to Swanage for an evening event with a fantastic group of readers and writers.

I drove across to Chichester that night, doing my best not to fall asleep in the car... After a night in a Premier Inn (always really comfy) I headed to Kingsham Primary School where I met up with the incredibly enthusiastic Colin and his boy's reading group. They were recording a podcast and asked me some brilliant questions. If it goes online I'll let you know where to find it. They even changed the tone of my voice to make me sound like a demon (and a chipmunk, although the demon sounded better)! Awesome! I did a talk to the year 6's, then to the year 5's (and some girls from the nearby girl's school), and all in all had a fantastic time! After lunch (a MacDonald's...) I zoomed over to the Chichester High School for Girls and did a show for about a billion year 7's, which was a brilliant way to finish off the tour!

I just wanted to say a huge thanks to everyone who helped organise the tour, and who came to listen to me speak. I had a fantastic time! :-)

See you all again soon!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines...

Like most horror writers, I love chainsaws. Nothing quite sums up the concept of a relentless, inescapable, gut-wrenchingly terrifying threat as a man charging after you with a roaring engine of death gripped between his fingers. I can't really imagine a more agonising way to die, either... As far as horror icons go, chainsaws are up there with the best of them.

Which is why it gives me immense pleasure to announce that I am officially a member of what is probably the coolest club in existence – the Chainsaw Gang. The Brainchild of author Sarwat Chadda, this exclusive, blood-splattered, chainsaw wielding, nightmare inducing gang of goremasters includes some of the best new wave YA horror writers around today. You won't find sparkly vampires or cuddly werewolves here. No, they've all been chopped up and eaten by the real monsters, the genuinely scary ones. Because that's why the Chainsaw Gang is here – to rescue you from the PG rated horror of recent years and give you some old school frights that will truly inspire nightmares!

Let me introduce you to the rest of the gang:

First there's our founder and grand master, Sarwat Chadda, author of the amazingly awesome Devil's Kiss and Dark Goddess. Devil's Kiss was one of my favourite books from last year, genuinely unputdownable, and trust me when I say there are scenes in there which will keep you awake for nights on end. Chainsaw of choice is the MS 880 STIHL Magnum, the beast of chainsaws.

Next in line is Steve Feasey, author of the Changeling books and wrangler of some of the nastiest werewolves you'll ever meet, not to mention djinns, demons, vampires and sorcerers. You want fear? You want adventure? Then he's your man. Chainsaw of choice probably a Efco MT4100S, good for instant decapitation.

Following Steve through the exhaust fumes is none other than Sam Enthoven, one of my all time favourite authors. The Black Tattoo was incredible, TIM Defender of the Earth was astonishing, but Crawlers is his best yet – a book so utterly horrifying that you'll never want to leave the house again, especially on a school trip... Don't believe me, just check out the cover! Chainsaw of choice, the CS 536163 Pneumatic, designed to cut through walls, floors and columns in a single pass.

Don't be fooled, boys aren't the only ones who can handle a chainsaw. Take Alex Bell, for example. Author of The Ninth Circle and Jasmyn she delivers real, blood-chilling grown up horror scary enough to send even us running for cover. Chainsaw of choice is a MS 460 R STIHL "Rescue" chainsaw, although if you think she'll be using it to rescue you you're in for a nasty shock.

Next to march down the hallowed Chainsaw Boulevard is the fantastic Alex Milway, author of the Mousehunter books and the brand new Mythical 9th Division. Now Alex wouldn't call himself a horror writer, but with pirates, monsters, killer mice and yetis in his books he's perfectly at home in the gang. Chainsaw of choice is most likely to be a two-person tree saw powered by nothing but elbow grease, but don't let the lack of an engine fool you, it's as deadly as they come.

There's still more to come, with William Hussey emerging from the smoke. Bill is the author of some genuinely creepy adult horror books – which I love – and he's brought his twisted imagination to younger readers with Witchfinder. But if you think these are any less scary, or any less gory, then forget it. You won't know what's hit you. Chainsaw of choice an AirFORCE F4 Diamond Chain – designed to cut though solid rock.

And last but certainly not least is Jon Mayhew, master of the macabre. His new book, Mortlock, is fantastic, but not for the faint hearted! Enter dark, fog-bound Victorian London and the scariest circus since Cirque du Freak, but be sure to leave a light on... Chainsaw of choice, a steam-powered Victorian nightmare of a machine that billows smoke and blood in equal measure.

What about my choice of chainsaw, you ask. Well I'd probably go with a  Homelite Zip chainsaw. Rusty, smoky, noisy and old school.

The Chainsaw Gang will be blitzing the UK over the Halloween period. This is our 'beta-testing' phase, so we're going to go nice and easy on you. We'll crank it up later. The website will be up later this month and there'll be additional stuff galore, but I wanted to give you a heads up NOW, so you can get your diaries out and mark these dates in RED.

I will be here:

9th October 11.00, Cheltenham Festival Screenwriting Workshop
13th October, 4.00, Thornton Heath Library, Croydon
14th October, 4.00, Coulsdon Library, Croydon
19th November, 4.00, Worksop Library

Jon Mayhew will be ruling the north.
21st Oct: Crosby Civic Hall: Scarefest
26th: GobbledeBook Festival Chester: Teen Panel AM, Full Event PM
27th: Newport Big Read, Riverfront Theatre Newport
29th: Booka Bookshop Oswestry: A Hallowe'en Party
30th: Lancaster Castle

Steve Feasey will be at the 
Cheltenham Festival on Oct 10th.

Sarwat Chadda be at GobbledeBook Festival, Chester on Monday 25th, 2.30pm to 4.30pm.

Then, there are the BIG THREE events. True and pure Chainsaw.

Crystal Palace Children's Book Festival on Sat 23rd October with Jon Mayhew, Alex Bell, me, Sam Enthoven, Steve Feasey and Alex Milway and Sarwat Chadda. Honestly, be there or be forever disappointed that you weren't at THE author gathering of the year, so far! This event is ticketed (tickets are free) so BOOK NOW!

Norwich Millenium Library on Friday 29th October, 2.30pm with me, William Hussey, Sam Enthoven and Sarwat Chadda. There's even a poster for this one!

Foyles, Charing Cross Road. Their big Halloween Angels and Demons extravaganza running Saturday and Sunday, 30-31st October. Guess which side we're representing on Saturday? It'll be the experts in all things demonic: William Hussey, Sam Enthoven and Sarwat Chadda. There will be others, prepare to be surprised! Contact the store and book your place now.
So there you have it, the Chainsaw Gang. There will be more events listed throughout the year, so keep your eyes peeled for a show near you.
And beware the sound of chainsaws in the night...

Cover News! (Again!)

The brand new cover for Death Sentence has just been sent to me, and I love it! Okay it's certainly not as creepy as the original (posted below), but I do agree that it will appeal more to teenage readers, plus it definitely catches the dark, action-packed tone of the novel and it won't give me so many nightmares by being on my shelf!

What is everyone's verdict? Veiny Alex or scary warden?

Also FSG, my publisher in the States, have just sent through this awesome advert showing all the covers together. I like!

Cool Advert!

Thanks so much to Liz at the awesome My Favourite Books for sending me an email this morning pointing out the new advert for Lockdown over on Tor.com. You might have to refresh the page a few times before it comes up, but it's worth it!


(And no, it doesn't have anything to do with Harry Potter!)

Thanks Liz!

New Poster!

I've just put together a new poster for the Furnace series, what do you think?

It's here!!!!

Awesome news just in!! My author copies of the fourth and penultimate Furnace book have just arrived, and it looks amazing! It's very yellow, but it goes perfectly with the other books in the series. It's not out for another month, but check back here very soon for a chance to get your hands on a copy before anyone else!

Thanks to everyone at Faber for making it look so great! :-D

PS. That mess behind me is because the office sofa and chair have just arrived and I stuffed all the packaging in the corner!

Write Your Own Scary Stories Part Two!

The second part of my horror writing workshop is now up over on the Trapped By Monsters site!


Furnace 5!

I've just had the finished cover copy through for Furnace 5, what do you think?

The whole world has become a prison, and Alfred Furnace is its master.

Monsters rule the streets leaving nothing but murder in their wake. Those who do not die become slaves to Furnace’s reign of cruelty.

I am a monster too. I am the only one who can stop him, but in doing so I might be the one to destroy everything.

Am I the executed or the executioner? Who will die? Me, Furnace or the entire human race?

All I know is that one way or another, it all ends today.


I'm still enjoying a bit of a break after finishing Furnace 5. Well, I say a break, but it's actually been a busy couple of weeks catching up on admin (yawn), fan mail (yay), moving into the new office (awesome) and DIY around the house (argh!!!!). I've also been doing a short business foundation course (eek!) which has been really interesting. It's provided by the Norwich and Wensum Enterprise Centre (NWES) for free, and is designed to get people thinking about their finances, especially with limited companies. I figured that as I've got three limited companies, I should probably try and find out what a profit and loss chart is, and what the laws are regarding taxes...

Anyway, the aim of it all is to make sure Inkling is set up properly, especially as we're going for Arts Council funding. I want to make sure the company gets off to as positive a start as possible. And in other Inkling news we've had our first submission, which is awesome! We're taking it away to Centerparcs with us next week so we can start reading it at bedtime.

Other than Inkling stuff and DIY (I finally finished decorating Jamie's room!) I've not been up to much, really. I started work again on a horror novel for adults that I began late last year, and I've been getting into it. However, it's a long-term project and I imagine that after a couple of chapters it will end up back on the shelf while I start the new YA series. Still, it would be cool if something happened with it one day. I've also started learning Japanese again, although as this is the third time I've begun and I've never kept with it before I'm not incredibly optimistic...

Right, I'm off to wrap up a last few bits and pieces before I head home and start packing. We leave for Centerparcs on Monday morning and I can't wait to get in the pool!! Have a great week everyone!!

First Post from the New Office!

I'm writing to you all now from my lovely new office in the heart of Norwich (which, for those of you who don't already know, is the cultural, financial and political heart of, well, the world)! It's so amazingly cool to have a proper office again – the last one, inside an amazing old shoe factory, is fast becoming an Asda as we speak. This place is great, an old hotel where Laurel and Hardy once stayed. It's full of weird-shaped rooms and strange, narrow corridors that lead all over the place. I'm pretty sure it's haunted too... Cool!

Anyway, that's my office in the photo above. It's partly mine, and partly Inkling Studios', which will be nice as it means I won't be in here by myself all the time. That's one of the best things about having an office that's separate from the home – you get to speak to real people, rather than just the cats! Essentially, though, an office isn't about having a place to go to work, it's about having a place to go home to. When I work at home, my house becomes an office – I end up spending all day working because there's no divide between work space and leisure space. Now I have vowed never to work at home, only in the office (apart from actual writing, that is, which isn't really work at all). Which is great because I can get home and really enjoy being there, rather than thinking I should be working all the time!


Anyway, aside from moving into the new space I've mainly been chilling. I'm still pretty frazzled from writing Furnace 5, so I'm treating myself to a break. We've been going swimming loads, which is great, and we've been to the cinema a few times too. Karate Kid was good fun, made even more so as we could identify some of the moves from our own classes (yes, it's Kung Fu he learns this time, not Karate). Although the martial arts were better in the remake, and this one had the legendary Jackie Chan, I think I still prefer the original...

We saw Inception too, which is amazing. Just one of those films which is immensely satisfying on every level. Really, really worth going to see. The soundtrack is brilliant too, as you would expect from Hans Zimmer – great writing music!

On the writing front, I have pitched the synopsis for my new series, so I should hear back from my agent about it pretty soon. Faber sound keen on the idea, so keep your fingers crossed for me! I'll let you know all about it as soon as I get some news...

Right, off to unpack some more office stuff!

Oh, I nearly forgot the most exciting news: I booked a week in Centerparcs for later this month, yay!!!

Write Your Own Scary Stories!

Learn how with the first part of my horror-writing workshop, over at Trapped by Monsters!


The Holidays!!

It seems to have come around so fast, the summer holidays are here again! I love this time of year, though, as it's an excuse to do fun stuff every day. Yesterday we went swimming, which was great. We were going to go and see Toy Story 3 as well but after two and a half hours in the pool we were absolutely cream crackered! We'll probably head off to see that today, and I'm really looking forward to it!

Of course, this is also the time of year when I never seem to have any time for work... What with all the trips out and stuff, as well as a week in Centerparcs at some point. It's good in one sense, as I was planning to take a little time off after finishing Furnace 5. However, I'm itching to get started on the next project. I've just sent my agent a pitch for the new series. I can't say too much about it yet, but it's a trilogy of horror books – very different to Furnace in subject, but similar in the level of violence and gore! The working title is The Hated, but this may change. Anyway, I should know soon whether I've got the deal, so I'll tell you all about it then! I've also pitched two more series ideas, but they are for later on down the line. There's loads on anyway!

In some ways this is my favourite part of being a writer, the ideas stage. It's a chance to just let your imagination go utterly wild and come up with as many book ideas as possible. I used to find it tough finding inspiration, but now I just use the age old "what if..." technique and see new books everywhere! If some of you don't know about the "what if..." technique then swing on over to the Trapped By Monsters site this afternoon for my guide on how to use it to write your own horror stories!

On the Inkling front, I'm taking out a new office next week in the building above. I'm really looking forward to it, for a couple of reasons. The first is that it will give Inkling Studios a really cool base of operations, a wonderful atmosphere in which to start up and hopefully grow. The second is that I'll be able to work down there myself. Sometimes I enjoy writing at home, but it's so nice to be able to go somewhere else to work. It really lets you appreciate your house when you get home at the end of the day! I'll also be starting our Arts Council application this week, which should be fun!

Right, off to book tickets for Toy Story...

The End of an Era!

Earlier this week I put the finishing touches to the fifth and final Furnace book. It was a weird experience, one which came with a bittersweet mix of emotions. On the one hand it was amazing to bring the saga to a close, to see Alex and his friends get to the end of their journey. And it's been a hell of a journey, quite literally in some cases!

It was a huge relief to make it to, and through, the last few chapters, especially as I had no idea, really, about what was going to happen. I said from the start, from the very first word of the very first book, that I wasn't going to plan these stories – I wanted to experience them from exactly the same place as Alex, not knowing what was going on or why. That way his actions and his thoughts would appear more realistic, more genuine. Of course there was always the danger that I'd get to the final book and not know what was happening, or why, and that was a big worry. But the story just seemed to know where it wanted to go, and it went there of its own accord and under its own steam. I just wrote it all down! It really was an amazing feeling being able to wrap up the series in a way that makes sense, and which hopefully leaves everyone satisfied.

But along with the joy of finishing the series comes sadness too – grief, almost. Because it means saying goodbye. I'm not going to say who makes it to the end alive, you'll have to read it yourselves to find out! But even the ones who survive have to say farewell. This is the end of their adventure, and even though in my head they'll be going off to live the rest of their lives I will no longer be part of it. It may seem like a weird thing to think, but I'm not lying when I say that I'm closer to Alex and Zee and Simon and Donovan than I am pretty much any of my actual friends! For the last three years we've been through so much together, and for the last six weeks especially it's been an incredibly close bond made even more intense by the fact that we all knew this was our final journey together. Writing those last few pages was so good because it was the end, but it was so sad too because it really did feel like I was losing my friends.

It was pretty much exactly three years ago, in July 2007, that I started writing the first Furnace book, Lockdown. It feels like a lifetime! Three years, 375,000 words, and a story that is far from perfect but which I'm pretty proud of. I don't really want to let it go. I'll drop in on Alex and the others every now and again. They live in that weird place in a writer's brain, a home for old characters. They'll be there with Nate and Cat and Clint from The Inventors, so they'll be in good company! And you never know what might happen in the future...

But for now, I just want to say a huge thank you to Alex Sawyer, Zee Hatcher, Simon Royo-Flores, Carl Donovan and everybody else who was inside Furnace with us. You've made the last three years some of the best in my life!

Cover News!

I've been talking to my editor in the States about what to do for the cover for Furnace 3, Death Sentence. They had already mocked up something, which I've posted below. I absolutely love this, it's terrifying!!! And it goes so well with the other covers. However, they have decided that they want to go with something a little different, as they're not sure how well teenage readers will respond to a cover with an old man on it. I can't wait to see what they come up with. But I just wanted to to show this to you because it's so incredibly creepy and they've captured the warden's evil so well!

Win Books!

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting the wonderful Australian author Simmone Howell, who is over in the country as part of a national UK tour. We went for a drink and had a great chat about writing and loads of other stuff too. It was great to meet her, and I'd highly recommend checking out her books, which are wonderful. She is doing events all around the country, so if you get a chance to go and see her then do!

Simmone has a set of Furnace books to give away, and she is running a competition on her blog now. If you fancy winning the first three books in the series, all signed, then get over there!


Thanks Simmone!!

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