GUEST BLOG! Alexander Gordon Smith19 April 2012
For the first time ever, I'm going to allow someone else to post on my blog -- maybe this will make up for me not posting much here myself recently!! Our guest blogger is ALEXANDER GORDON SMITH, author of the Furnace series, who has a new book out called The Fury. I haven't yet had a chance to read the new work, but I'm a big fan of Furnace -- it rocked with a vengeance! So, I hope you all enjoy Gordon's guest blog, and that it intrigues you enough to go out (or go online) and pick up a copy of The Fury. High-quality young authors like Gordon need all the support that we can give!
I’m so excited! This is the first post on my blog tour, to celebrate my brand new book, The Fury, and it’s on the website of one of my heroes, Darren Shan! How awesome is that!! Thanks, Darren, for letting me kick-start my blog tour in Shanville! :-)
The Fury, my eighth book, was released exactly five years to the day after my first. So April 5th was a double book birthday this year! I had a little party to celebrate, with all eight books sitting in a circle wearing paper hats and holding tiny little teacups. Needless to say, as most of them are horror books, it ended up in a mass brawl with shredded paper and spilled ink everywhere… But it was still a cool day!
And it almost never happened. I almost gave up.
That’s what I want to talk about, but I’d better start from the beginning. I’ve always dreamed of being a writer. For as long as I can remember it’s the only job I’ve ever wanted – well, that and lorry driver. I used to publish my own little books when I was a kid, giving them covers and hand-drawn bar codes. I wrote stories all through school, usually gruesome ones about serial killers that murdered my teachers (I remember my English teacher once kept me after class to ask me if everything was okay at home), and by the time I was seventeen I decided that I was going to start writing my first novel.
This novel was a nice, gentle piece about angels… that ate people. It was called Asylum, and funnily enough it was set in a place called the Furnace Penitentiary for the Criminally Insane. The plot revolved around the idea that the owner of this prison (Alfred Furnace!) had found a way to bring angels back to earth, but these angels were actually ferocious winged predators who would tear people to pieces before gorging on them. Lovely! I had absolute faith that this novel was going to instantly make me incredibly rich and famous, the next Stephen King. I was so convinced of this, in fact, that I decided I didn’t actually need any qualifications, and that I was too cool for school. I stopped working, stopped revising for my exams, and ended up failing my A-Levels. At the same time I got my results, I also began to get rejections for my novel. These weren’t nice rejections, either, they were brutal. I remember one said something along the lines of, ‘This is disgusting, what’s wrong with you? Please never send us anything again.’
I was devastated. Not only had I failed in my bid to become a multi-squillionaire author, I also had to go back to school for another year and re-sit all my exams (I did eventually pass and go off to university). And I did the worst possible thing you can ever do in life: I gave up. I thought, ‘Nobody wants to publish my books, nobody cares, I’m an awful writer, there’s no point in me ever putting pen to paper again!’ And I stopped writing, for years, because I was convinced I couldn’t do it. I had tried, and I had failed. Game over.
And that could easily have been the end of my writing career – no Inventors, no Furnace, no Fury. But I was lucky, because a few years later one of my little brothers wanted to write a book and convinced me to write it with him. That book was The Inventors, and it made me realise how much I’d missed writing. The other reason was that I started to read The Saga of Darren Shan books, and I loved them. I devoured them, like a zombie devouring a nice, fresh brain. They made me realise how much I loved stories, the pace of them, the action, the emotion, the incredible journey they take you on. More importantly, they gave me the confidence to believe in myself as a writer, the knowledge that as long as I was telling the stories I wanted to tell, and that I was enjoying telling them, then what I was doing was worthwhile whether I got published or not. And that’s what’s important, I think, believing in yourself, believing that you can do it. I swore, right then, that I’d never, ever give up on anything ever again.
That’s why stories are amazing, as well, because the theme of so many books is never giving up – fighting for what you believe in, fighting for your life, fighting for your freedom, fighting for your friends and family, fighting for what is good and just and right. The Fury is a horror novel about what would happen if everyone in the world suddenly turned against you and tried to murder you – your mum, your dad, your brothers and sisters, your friends, your teachers, everyone becomes a mindless, bloodthirsty savage intent on killing you and only you, and once they have, they go back to their lives as if nothing has happened. In this book (and in most of the books I love), if you give up then you get torn to pieces! But even in the real world there’s a certain truth to that, only it isn’t you that dies, it’s your dreams.
Giving up is the worst thing you can ever do. Humans are amazing creatures, we’re capable of doing incredible things, of achieving absolutely anything we put our minds to – anything. I honestly believe the only thing that can stop us is ourselves, that little (and sometimes huge) part of our brains that tells us we’re no good, that we’ve got no talent, that we’ll fail, that there’s no point even trying, that we should just give up right now. That self-doubt is like a nagging voice that never stops for breath, refusing to let us really go for the things we want. It’s a little bad guy that lives in our heads and doesn’t want us to achieve our goals. We have to learn to banish that voice, to lock it away in a part of our minds where we just can’t hear it any more. Because once it’s gone you realise that there is nothing to stop you, that you can make your dreams come true.
And don’t let other people tell you that you can’t do it either. If you get rejections, just remember that every single writer in the world has had them (including Darren Shan!). Put them behind you and move on, never let it make you believe that you can’t do it. Like I said, the only person who can stop it from happening is you, and that little bad guy in your head. It doesn’t matter what you want to be – writer, doctor, artist, acrobat, athlete, musician, truck driver, bank robber – just wake up every morning and say ‘I AM AMAZING, I CAN DO ANYTHING, NOBODY CAN STOP ME FROM MAKING MY DREAMS COME TRUE!’ You’ll be amazed at how those few little words can help you unlock your full potential.
I had the honour of meeting Darren Shan last year – not only meeting him, but doing an event with him at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. It was so incredible to be able to say thanks in person, and being there on stage next to my hero made me realise how lucky I had been to find the right inspiration at the right time to shift those doubts, to silence that bad guy in my brain, and to finally believe in myself again. Of course there are still days when I think I can’t do it, when that voice breaks free and starts yelling at me to give up. But at least now I know how to ignore those doubts and focus on the things I really want. I know that giving up is the only way those dreams will remain just dreams.
So thanks again, Darren, and to everyone out there, you CAN do it, just never, ever give up! :-)
To find out more about The Fury, visit my website at http://www.alexandergordonsmith.com/
And if you’re aged between 13 and 18 and are interested in filmmaking, then you might want to enter The Fury trailer competition over on Facebook!