• Thumbs up for Furnace!!

    21 July 2009
    Finished reading the first Furnace book by Alexander Gordon Smith. Top-notch stuff!! VERY dark, fast-paced, action-packed, with a cliffhanger to die for!!! It reads very smoothly, which is one of the highest compliments I can pay a book. I know that many people think that the mark of a great book is the complexity of the language, that if you don't have to struggle to read it, it can never be anything other than average. I think that's elitism gone mad!! The very best authors -- Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolstoy -- always wrote in a way which was accessible to the people of their time. They were crowd-pleasers who knew how to keep their audience entertained, even while exploring all sorts of dark, complex areas and themes. It's extremely difficult to get a story to "flow", to create a true page-turner that will drag readers along without them even being aware of how much they're reading in any given stretch. As I've often said on this blog, I spend between 2 and 3 years working on any individual book, trimming it down, fine-tuning it, trying to get it to move from A to B to C as swiftly and effortlessly as possible. At the end of the day, I'm sure some people sniff at what I've created and dismiss it for being such an easy read, mistaking the ease of the read for the ease of creation. But there's nothing easy about what I do!!! The art of good writing is to MAKE it look easy! That's what Gordon has done here, the same thing that Anthony Horowitz does so well -- he put in a lot of hard work to create a swift, exciting ride of a story. I highly recommend it!!!

    On my own front, I edited another 50 pages of my fantasy book. This one actually doesn't move as swiftly as most of my books. The nature of the story is such that I have to slow things down quite a bit and let the story ebb along rather than rush forward at breakneck pace. That's not to say it's a stagnant, slow story -- I very much hope that it isn't!!! It just works in a different way to most of my other published novels. It's good to try different approaches every now and then. There's always room for improvement in a writer's career, but you generally learn a lot more by experimenting than you do by simply sticking to what you're good at. For the most part, I prefer writing books like The Saga and The Demonata, where I can roar along at maximum speed, throwing twist after twist out at my unsuspecting fans!! But every so often it's nice to move down a few gears and try something a little less hectic. But for those of you who might be worrying that I'm moving into sweet Jane Austen sort of territory -- there's no need to panic!!! This book features beheadings, slavery, grave-robbing, religious zealots, and killer bats galore!!!!! There are slow, easy-going books -- and then there are slow, easy-going books Darren Shan style!!!!!!!!
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