Book Nerd Interview
Alexander Gordon Smith, 32, is best known as the author of the Escape From Furnace Series, made up of Lockdown, Solitary, Death Sentence, Fugitivesand Execution.
He also wrote The Inventors - which was runner-up in the national Wow Factor Award - and The Inventors and the City of Stolen Souls, both of which were co-authored by his eleven-year-old brother Jamie. The first novel in his third series, The Fury, will be published in 2012, alongside an as yet untitled book for younger readers. He is the author of two creative writing handbooks, Inspired Creative Writing and Writing Bestselling Children�s Books, a number of screenplays that are currently in development, several non-fiction books and hundreds of short stories and articles.
Gordon is the founder of Egg Box Publishing, an independent, non-profit imprint designed to publish and promote talented new writers and poets, and is the co-owner of Fear Driven Films, a production company filming its first feature in 2011.
He is also the founder of Inkling Studios, a brand new venture which specialises in creating books, films, television programmes and computer games for children and young adults. He actively encourages people of all ages to read and write, and runs creative writing talks and workshops across the world. In 2009 he was named by the Courvoisier Future 500 as one of the most promising young entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom.
He is called Gordon, rather than Alexander, because his Mum and Dad liked the name Gordon but didn't want his initials to spell GAS, so called him by his middle name.
“I don't know if I am the executed or the executioner. I don't know who will die, me, Furnace or the entire human race. All I know is that one way or another, it all ends today.”
Alex, the main character in the Escape From Furnace books, speaks these words – and he’s right. The final book in the series, Execution, is released today, and at long last readers can discover the terrifying secrets behind Furnace Penitentiary and its creator, Alfred Furnace. It’s the final stop on an incredible journey, a voyage of nightmares and terror, of friendship and loss, of excitement and danger, of mystery and fear and, most of all, hope. It all ends here, in the most fast, furious and ferocious book I have ever written.
It has taken five years to get here, which is why it’s actually quite an emotional day for me. I’ve written before about how close I am to Alex. We’re the same person. For those that don’t know, I went off the rails as a teenager, started drinking and fighting and stealing – nothing as bad as Alex, but it was getting close. Thanks to my family I managed to get back on track without ever getting into too much trouble (a few missing teeth, a couple of scars, I was lucky), but Alex wasn’t so fortunate. He was the version of me who never got a second chance, and the punishment for his crimes was life in Furnace. His story was my story – it’s what would have happened to me if things had turned out differently in my own life. Sure, he’s his own person, a hell of a lot cooler than me for one, but I was there alongside him for every step of his journey, everything he went through I experienced too. I was the ghost in his cell, invisible but always there.
I didn’t plan these books. I didn’t want to know what was going to happen further down the line. I figured that was cheating, because if I knew how, or if, I was going to escape then so would Alex, and that knowledge would make him a completely different person. I just threw myself into the prison alongside Alex and did my best to survive. Back then, five years ago when I started writing the first book, I had no idea about the true nature of the prison, and the identity of Alfred Furnace. It was as big a mystery to me as to every other inmate. The only thing that mattered was staying alive, and finding a way out. I wrote the whole series like this, and Alex was so real to me that I didn’t feel like I had any control over his actions – all I could do was try to keep up with him. Writing this way – writing at the speed of life – made the whole thing real. I don’t remember much at all from my own life during those years, but I remember every second in Furnace – every chase, every fight, every moment of terror and hope – like I lived through it. This world is more genuine to me than my own life.
I clung on to the story tooth and nail, knowing that it had to end somewhere but with no idea where. It was so powerful that it just picked me up and carried me along. This is why Execution was such an incredible story to tell, because Alex and I were desperate to find out the truth. We had to know what was going to happen to us. The answers, when we found them, were astonishing – as much of a shock to me as they were to the characters. I think this is why readers will find it hard to guess the outcome – because I had no idea myself until Alex and Furnace finally came face to face.
Five years in the making. Five years of my life that I’ve given to these books and these characters. It’s why the end was such a relief, because it honestly felt like I was there. I was locked up inside Furnace. I had to endure the horror of the blood watch, had to look into the soulless abyss of the Warden’s eyes, had to endure solitary confinement and then be butchered by the wheezers, had to find a way out, find a way to survive. It was a prison sentence for me, as a writer, because I had no option but to serve it. There was no way that I could not see it through. And then, finishing the last word of the last page, that sudden blast of light at the end of the tunnel, of freedom (for me, at least, I don’t want to spoil anything…). It was incredible.
I hope readers feel the same way when they finish Execution, because you guys have all been through it too. You’ve all lived inside Furnace since Lockdown was released, you’ve fought the same battles, experienced every emotion alongside Alex and his friends. You are as much a part of this story as any one of the inmates inside Furnace, which is why this book is for you.
Execution is a wild ride, an unstoppable collision course between Alex and Furnace. It’s the most terrifying book in the series, and the most action-packed, and in some ways the hardest to read because the nightmare becomes darker than ever. But it’s worth it. The end is in sight.
I hope you enjoy it! :-)
Thanks for letting me write a guest post for your blog, Jean!
The whole world has become a prison, and Alfred Furnace is its master. Monsters rule the streets, beasts of pure fury that leave nothing but murder and madness in their wake. Those who do not die are turned, becoming slaves to Furnace's reign of cruelty. It is a war to end all wars, one that will leave the planet in ruins. I am a monster too. I am one of Alfred Furnace's children. And I am the only one who can stop him. I have to find a way to use my powers to destroy Furnace, but in doing so I risk becoming the very force that kills us all. I don't know if I am the executed or the executioner. I don't know who will die: me, Furnace or the entire human race. All I know is that one way or another, it all ends today.
The series as a whole certainly had all the elements for a dark and compelling story. This dark future Mr. Smith has created will pull readers right in. Perhaps the best part of the series is the characters. Mr. Smith unquestionably knows how to create highly engaging people and the story he places them in allows readers to sympathize with their journey. The writing style delivered real pain, despair, and desperation that readers will feel. Readers will also witness the incredible character growth of Alex and his friends. This is one of the best ending of a series I have come across in a long time. From the imprisonment of Alex to the last battle with Furnace, Execution wraps up the series nicely. Satisfaction is aimed and it will be met.