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The art of writing teenage horror books to go under the spotlight at Norwich Playhouse

PUBLISHED: 16:49 20 May 2014

NNF14 - author Alexander Gordon Smith

NNF14 - author Alexander Gordon Smith

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From a prison full of monsters to bloodthirsty savages on the rampage in Norfolk - the art of writing teenage horror books is set to be put under the spotlight as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival’s City of Literature programme.

Norwich-born author Alexander Gordon Smith will be spending Friday afternoon at Norwich Playhouse talking with Irish author and master of horror Darren Shan whose books include the Zom-B series.

“We both love horror and are looking to have a fun conversation on stage about horror, writing, and what scares us,” said Gordon, who has published eight novels.

Gordon, 35, wrote his first two books with his brother Jamie Webb. The books formed The Inventors series which Gordon describes as “fast-paced action adventure.” Then he turned to horror writing.

“I have been a horror fan since I was about six years old,” said Gordon, whose first horror series was called Escape from Furnace and followed the story of 14-year-old Alex Sawyer and his quest to escape a prison full of monsters.

Next he wrote The Fury, a zombie story with a twist which gave Norfolk a starring role and saw Hemsby, Caister-on-Sea and Great Yarmouth destroyed as The Fury took hold and the entire human race became bloodthirsty savages.

“It’s nothing personal. I love Yarmouth, and the Norfolk coast is one of the most beautiful places in the country. We go out to the beach all the time. But in the book, sadly, it needed to go,” he said at the time of the book’s release last year.

Now Gordon, who lives in Brian Avenue in Norwich, is poised to pen a new horror trilogy which has the working title The Devil’s Engine and is described by Gordon as a “Faustian horror story for teenagers.”

“I think the most important thing for me is that horror in general gives you so much freedom,” said Gordon, when asked what he enjoys most about the horror genre.

“It’s the only genre where there’s no rules. Horror lets you go absolutely anywhere because people completely suspend their disbelief, you never feel like that you have taken something too far because it’s too unbelievable.”

He added: “I like horror for teenagers particularly because there is also a real sense of heroism and hope. With adult horror it often gets very, very bleak, but with teenage horror you get a real sense of heroism and hope - that no matter how bad things get you have got what it takes to get through.”

He said he was looking forward to sharing more of his views on Friday and taking part in the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

He said: “I think the festival is a fantastic event. I love the Spiegeltent and I love the atmosphere the festival brings to the city. I am Norwich born and bred and I am very proud to live in Norwich, especially now it is renowned as a literary city, and the festival just emphasises that.

“I think it’s fantastic the city has UNESCO City of Literature status. Norwich has always been a city of writers for hundreds of years, and I think the title is our chance to tell the world that this city is a fantastic city for writers and for all types of creative people.”

• Darren Shan and Alexander Gordon Smith are at Norwich Playhouse on Friday at 4pm. The event is suitable for people aged 13 and over. Tickets £7.50.

To book visit www.nnfestival.org.uk or call 01603 766400.

• For more NNF Festival Focus features click here.

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