26 October 2011

Alexander Gordon Smith's True Scary Story!

The most terrifying thing to ever happen to me almost stopped me being a horror writer, but ultimately made me love the genre even more. I was eleven, and had recently made the decision to write horror for a living. I didn't just want to be an ordinary horror writer, though, I wanted to be more like a paranormal detective. The idea was to go out and encounter genuine spooky things – hauntings, monsters and the like – and then write stories about those things. And they would be the scariest stories ever, because they would be based on real life! In short, I wanted to be the Ernest Hemingway of horror fiction.

Close to where I used to live as an eleven-year-old was an abandoned house. This place was huge, much bigger than most of the houses in the area. It was an old manor house, half-timbered and falling apart, surrounded by primeval, overgrown gardens. Nobody really knew why this place had been abandoned but we all told stories in the playground about a family that had been butchered there, or the human sacrifices made inside, or the ghost of a witch. All anybody knew for sure was that this place was haunted.

So I did what any eleven-year-old wannabe horror writer would do: I made the decision to spend a night inside this old house, find out for sure why it was haunted, then write the most terrifying story the world had ever seen.

I didn't want to face this nightmare alone, however, so I recruited my best friend at the time to come with me. His name was Bob*, and he had no interest in being a horror writer. He did, though, want some comics from my collection, so we made a trade – one night of his time for five of my best comics. We did a very silly thing for eleven-year-olds: I told my mum I was spending the night at Bob's, Bob told his mum he was staying at mine, and we met after dark outside the gates of the house, equipped with nothing more than a small flashlight and a bottle of Coke.

This place was seriously creepy. It looked like some of the old houses in the Hammer films I'd just started watching at my dad's. All of the windows had been boarded up, yet it still seemed to be looking at us as we scaled the fence and started hacking through the jungle of the front garden. It took us a good half hour to find a way inside. One of the boards had been pulled away from the window – probably by a squatter or a drug dealer, but we weren't even conscious of how dangerous this might be – and we squeezed inside.

There was nothing in the house but rot and rats. Our tiny flashlight barely illuminated five feet of corridor, and every now and again we'd see a flicker of movement and the scuffle of needled claws on the decaying wooden floors. I was scared, but I forced myself to think 'this is my job now, I am a horror writer and a paranormal detective,' so we set forth one trembling step at a time. And it was all going well until we heard the noise.

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.

It sounded like a clock, one of those big old grandfather clocks with the swinging pendulum. But how can there be a clock in here? I remember thinking. This place has been abandoned for years! I swallowed my fear and carried on, knowing I had a job to do. After a minute or two we found a huge room, probably a dining room or a ballroom – such a vast space that our pathetic flashlight didn't even reach the far wall. We decided to camp out here until dawn, but seconds after we had hunkered down we began to hear that noise again, only this time it had doubled:

Tick-tick. Tick-tick. Tick-tick.

That did it. I freaked. I suddenly thought this house has a pulse. This house is coming alive. THIS HOUSE IS GOING TO EAT US!!! And the sheer white heat of that terror was so overpowering that before I even knew what I was doing I was running, screaming, out of the room. I heard a horrid, choking, fear-filled shriek behind me and knew that the house had taken Bob, and that just made me run even faster, bouncing off the walls, tripping on the soft, wet wood. Now I know that Bob was only shrieking because I had left him in the dark (I had the flashlight), but back then I was yelling something along the lines of 'You can have Bob, you can have Bob, just let me go!' I ran, stumbling, banging on the boarded windows, unable to find a way out in the maze of rooms and passageways, knowing that my life was over, that this evil house was going to devour me and nobody would ever, ever know where I'd gone.

Eventually I found the window we'd climbed in through and I squirmed into the garden, bolting back towards the road. I have to confess that I was so panicked I was throwing up as I was running, spewing half digested macaroni cheese all over myself until I had scaled the fence and stood by the edge of the road – streetlights, cars, people – feeling more relived than ever before. After a moment or two Bob came screaming through the garden, and for the next few minutes we both stood there panting, sobbing, covered in tears and snot. One glance at Bob let me know that he hadn't been sick over himself, and I was so disappointed. Not only had I failed in my new job, but I wasn't even as brave as my best friend. And I honestly believed that for about five minutes until I realized that Bob had been so scared that he had peed himself.

Despite the small amount of satisfaction I got from being slightly braver than Bob, that experience let me know that I wasn't brave enough to be a paranormal detective. And for a while I thought that meant I wasn't cut out to be a horror writer either. But I started to write stories anyway, drawing on the feeling of terror I had experienced inside that house, and loved it so much that I've been writing them ever since! I still try to capture that genuine emotion when I'm writing scary scenes. As for the house, I never found out what that ticking noise was, and a couple of years later the building was pulled down and rebuilt. It's a pub now, and in the corner of the bar is a grandfather clock with a swinging pendulum going tick, tick, tick, tick...

* Name has been changed so he doesn't get too embarrassed!

The first three books in the Escape From Furnace Series are currently available from Farrar, Straus and Giroux!

Synopsis for Lockdown:
Furnace Penitentiary: the world’s most secure prison for young offenders, buried a mile beneath the earth’s surface. Convicted of a murder he didn’t commit, sentenced to life without parole, “new fish” Alex Sawyer knows he has two choices: find a way out, or resign himself to a death behind bars, in the darkness at the bottom of the world. Except in Furnace, death is the least of his worries. Soon Alex discovers that the prison is a place of pure evil, where inhuman creatures in gas masks stalk the corridors at night, where giants in black suits drag screaming inmates into the shadows, where deformed beasts can be heard howling from the blood-drenched tunnels below. And behind everything is the mysterious, all-powerful warden, a man as cruel and dangerous as the devil himself, whose unthinkable acts have consequences that stretch far beyond the walls of the prison.

Together with a bunch of inmates—some innocent kids who have been framed, others cold-blooded killers—Alex plans an escape. But as he starts to uncover the truth about Furnace’s deeper, darker purpose, Alex’s actions grow ever more dangerous, and he must risk everything to expose this nightmare that’s hidden from the eyes of the world.

Order the first 3 books in the Furnace Series Online:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository

Find Alexander Online:

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Series Website

 Enter to WIN the FIRST THREE Books in
The Furnace Series! 
One winner will receive the first three books!!

Rules and now to enter:

You must be at least 13 years old to enter.
To enter, please fill out the form provided below.
Giveaway open US Only, Sorry!!
Giveaway ends: November 9th, 2011

Don't forget to stop by and check out who Jessica is featuring today for Haunted Halloween!

REMINDER: *If you are interested in the COMMENT CONTEST, remember to include your email address with your comment for an extra entry.
Please ready full entry rules >>>HERE<<<

Gordon, Thanks so much for sharing your true scary story! You were/are much braver than I am. There's just no way I'd go into that house! And a huge thank you goes out to Macmillan for providing the books in this giveaway.

*I am not compensated at all for any of the links within this page.

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  1. You must have been scared @#$!-less. Great post Thanks for the chance.

  2. OOh interesting! Cover's kinda cool and creepy!


  3. That was scary! Anyway, thanks for the great post and giveaway! :)

    Email: osnapitzAngiex3(AT)aol(DOT)com

  4. Mary DeBorde [M.A.D.]
    zenrei57 (at) hotmail dot com

    For such a creepy experience, I have to admit Alexander had me laughing out loud while I was reading about *poor Bob* [You can HAVE Bob! rotflmao]... oh, that was epic :D

  5. Thank goodness nothing like this has ever happened to me!

  6. Scary, for sure!


  7. I have to agree with M.A.D. This story was actually kinda funny, even though it was scary for the author at the time. I was never brave enough as a kid to ever do that (or lie to my mother) and I'm kinda jealous of people who have these kind of stories to tell :)

    Thanks for the great post! Love the covers of the books and the premise. Hope I get a chance to read them.


  8. That sounds exactlt like something my brothers would have done. :)


  9. Wow! I need a breather after that.

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  10. That is WAY too scary for me. I would have flown the heck out of that house!


  11. Well I have been properly thrilled and chilled today. I certainly admire the gift of being able to share the creeps with a good read. Thank you so much for sharing with us today.


  12. OOO that's every kid's dream! To have a creepy, old house to sneak into and what not. Not that many of the outcomes would be different from yours but it's still fun to gossip about as a kid and SAY you'd be brave enough to go in when in reality you never would. I've always wanted to test myself by going into a creepy house like that but alas, I never got the chance and I'm afraid I'm too old now. Great story though and great giveaway!!


  13. Another fun post!

    ashleysbookshelf at gmail dot com

  14. You are far braver than me. There is no way I would have even attempted to get into a house like that. Great Post!


  15. Totally reminded me of that movie called "Monster House" lol I wouldn't have been able to stay all night either =P


  16. I have seen way too many horror movies to even attempt that. It was actually quite funny reading it. Now, its a funny memory.

    thenarcissuslibrary at gmail dot com

  17. Hahahaha! How kind to change the name for embarrassment sakes! Great post:)

    bchild5 at aol dot com

  18. I would have freaked out and cried like a baby if went to one of those spooky houses! Especially as a kid. People said the school I went to was haunted b/c it was built on top of a graveyard. Freaked me out!

    jadedlittlegirlx AT gmail DOT com

  19. Oh my God! I'm the only one awake in our house and it's like midnight here. I'm officially creeped out and i don't think i can go to sleep with the lights off.. :S although this part 'You can have Bob, you can have Bob, just let me go!' made me giggle a bit. Poor Bob! XD



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