Hi Maniacal Bookworm! Thanks for interviewing me on your blog, it's awesome to be here!
1: What are you 5 favorite songs?
That's a tricky one, as I listen to so much music. My favourite songs tend to change depending on what sort of mood I'm in, and what I'm doing. There are way too many to list here, but there's a good chance that my favourite songs would be by one of the following bands / singers / composers: Counting Crows, Metallica, Regina Spektor, Smashing Pumpkins and Hans Zimmer. My favourite song of all time has to be Tonight Tonight by the Smashing Pumpkins, it’s the anthem to my life.
2: What is the worst movie of all time?
Ha! Great question! I’m quite easily pleased when it comes to movies, I just like to be entertained. And the trouble is that some films are so awful that they’re actually entertaining! I’m going to go for Batman and Robin. It’s the only film that has made me walk out of the cinema in disgust. I’m a huge Batman fan, and Joel Schumacher nearly put me off the Dark Knight for life.
3: What is the worst song of all time?
Umbrella, by Rihanna – only because once it’s in your head you can’t get it out again!
4: What is your earliest memory?
It’s actually a dream. I’m not sure how old I was when I had it, maybe four or five, but I was walking along the beach with my family and suddenly a caveman dropped down from a palm tree and told me it was time to change moms. I vividly remember waking up and feeling terrified!
5: What was your favorite school subject?
English, without a doubt. I have always loved reading, and it seemed totally awesome to me that there was a subject a school where all you did was read books and talk about them. I was lucky enough to have some seriously great English teachers who encouraged me to write stories. It’s one of the reasons I’m a writer.
6: What was your least favorite subject?
Maths!! I hated it!
7: What is your favorite color?
8: You're walking down the road and a big dog cuts you off, raises his hackles, and starts barking at you. You try to run but he bites at your ankles. You have nothing to defend yourself except an empty water bottle, a squashed Skittle, and a stretchy sweat band. How do you get away?
Wow! This has to be the weirdest question I have ever been asked! :-) Okay, so I throw the squashed Skittle to distract the dog – because everyone knows that dogs love to eat squashed Skittles. While it’s snuffling it up, I use the stretchy sweat band like a slingshot and load up the bottle, firing it away into the distance. The dog is now hyper because of the sugar in the squashed Skittle, and has completely forgotten that it hates me, and it sees the bottle flying and chases it. And I walk calmly away. Win.
9: Tell us a little about your books.
I write scary, thrilling, gory action horror books – because they are the kind of stories I love to read! Escape From Furnace is about a teenage criminal called Alex who gets framed for murdering his best friend during a break-in. He is sentenced to life without parole in Furnace Penitentiary, the world’s most secure prison for young offenders. Buried alive at the bottom of the world, Alex realises that not only is this hellhole full of vicious gangs and sadistic guards, it’s also full of monsters. It’s a non-stop rollercoaster ride of excitement and terror as Alex and his new friends try to stay alive long enough to uncover the horrific secrets of the prison – and find a way to escape…
My next book, out in 2013, is called The Fury, and it’s about what would happen if one day, without warning, every single person in the world tried to kill you – and only you. Your mum and dad, brothers and sisters, friends, teachers, strangers in the street – they all try to tear you to pieces. The weird thing is, though, that as soon as they have, or as soon as you escape, these people go back to their lives as if nothing has happened. They totally forget that they attacked you. It’s all about a group of teenagers who are trying to work out why the world wants to murder them – why the world has The Fury.
10: What character was easiest for you to write about?
Definitely Alex from Furnace. Mainly because we were the same person. When I was a teenager I went off the rails and started hanging out with a bad crowd. I started drinking, getting into fights, and stealing too. Luckily for me my family are amazing, and they pulled me out of trouble before I got in too deep. But I always had this version of me in my head, a version of me who didn’t get saved. Years later I was looking for a scary story to write and I realised that this version of me was screaming at me to let me tell his story – what would have happened if I’d carried on getting in worse and worse trouble, and been sent to the world’s worst prison. So I let him tell his story, and that became Furnace. Alex and I are the same person, at heart, so I knew exactly what it was like to be right there in the story. It made the whole experience infinitely more terrifying for me, and hopefully for the reader too!
11: What character was hardest for you to write about?
I’m not sure if any character has been that hard to write about. I make it a point to get to know my main characters as well as possible before I start writing. I don’t plan stories – I don’t like to know what’s going to happen before the characters do because that feels like cheating. But I do try to know everything about the people I’m writing about – their favourite things, their family life, their worst experience, everything. It’s weird, because if you know your characters well enough then they write the book for you, because they react to circumstances in a very honest and believable way. I would always have ideas in my head of where I wanted Alex to go and what I wanted him to do, but as I was writing he’d yell at me that he would never do that, he’d do something different, something that mybrain hadn’t thought of. It really is like having other people live inside your head. Always let your characters do what they think is right, trust them. They know the world of the story better than you do.
12: Do you have any ideas for more books?
Always! Finding ideas is the easiest part of writing, I think, because ideas are everywhere and they’re just begging to be found. The trick is to use two simple words wherever you are: what if. Those two words are magic, they’ll reveal ideas all over the place. It takes a little while to get used to it, but everywhere you go – school, work, shopping, the bathroom – ask yourself ‘what if…’ What’s the weirdest thing that could happen here, what’s the scariest, what’s the most exciting? Take events from your past and ask ‘what if they turned out differently?’ I do this all the time, and I have more ideas than I know what to do with. The hard part is finding time to write them all! My next series is called Mercenary (though that’s a working title at the moment), and combines action, horror, battles and monsters. What more could you want?! Oh, and that's an exclusive, I haven't announced it anywhere yet! :-)
13: What or who was/is your greatest encouragement as an author?
Books. Like I said, I have always loved to read. The moment when you open a new book and suddenly get swept away into a world of limitless possibilities, it’s addictive. I love it. When I was a kid I’d look at books and dream of having one of my own on the shelf, I wanted it so much. Books were proof that it could be done, that I could be successful as an author if I worked hard enough at it. So I worked hard, I wrote, I read, and I got there!
Humans are amazing creatures. I honestly believe that we are capable of achieving anything we want to, of reaching any goal. No matter what that goal is, the most important thing is to never give up. Giving up is the only sure fire way that you won’t be successful. Never let people tell you that you can’t do it, never let that little voice in your head tell you that you can’t do it. If you want it enough, you can do anything. Never give up on your dreams.
14: Do you have any favorite sayings?
I guess ‘Never give up’ would have to be my motto. If you want it, go for it! And, on similar lines, a line from my favourite song, which I honestly believe too: ‘The impossible is possible.’ It is if you believe it!Thanks again for interviewing me, Maniacal Bookworm! :-)
Thank you, Mr. Smith! That was an awesome interview! And for those of you who read all the way through you get to enter this FABULOUS giveaway! (seriously, i want to win it. but i can't because i'm picking the winner and that would be too tempting. :) It's open INTERNATIONALLY so everyone say a big Thank You to Mr. Smith!
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