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AFC Eoin Colfer Interview (4)

On the 28th of September 2007, AFC met up with Eoin Colfer in London for an exclusive one-on-one interview. It contains lots of information on Book 6 (AKA AF:TTP), the movie, and so much more! ‘M’ is the interviewer, and EC is, of course, Eoin Colfer.

Please BE WARNED. This interview contains information on upcoming novels and the movie. This interview contains the plot for book 6 aswell as lots of other information that could be considered spoilers in the eyes of some readers.

The Interview

M: So, how do you get inspiration for your books?

EC: Erm… I get it everywhere, you don’t know sometimes, it’s old, something that happened years ago, I tend to remember things, like if someone says something funny or does something I remember then often the story tends to build around that something. In the case of Artemis Fowl, I saw this funny little wordplay around Leprechaun and I thought “It sounds like ‘Recon’”

M: How many hours do you find yourself writing a day?

EC: Normally, it tends to be anything from around 6 to 8 hours.

M: So it’s a lot like a normal working day then?

EC: Yeah, that’s the way I like to look at it, I don’t want to find myself getting lazy!

M: And what do you find is the best environment for you to work in?

EC: I’ve got an office in the garden, I like to do a lot of my work in there. I find it really hard to work on things on the go.

M: A while ago, there was mention of a charity fund-raiser you were organising, called Fowl is Fair?

EC: Yes! ‘Fowl is Fair’ is a charity I’ve set up with a man named Padraig Grant, from Wexford. We want to raise money for orphans in Liberia by selling T-shirts. Kev Walker let us use the image for the first Artemis Fowl book for free. Anyway, in Liberia, there was a sort of shack there, and it was started by two teenagers who wanted to help out other kids. And when the Irish Army got there, they… the Irish Army are kind of good because when they get to a place their policy is to build stuff, so they helped to build this orphanage, then one of the guys got in touch with me and I was really touched by it so I’ve been doing a lot, working with them for the past year or two and now I’ve started this. It won’t be a whole lot of money, I don’t think, but it should maybe raise awareness. And I think young people do want to help, and if they know that the money for the T-shirt is going to charity I think it’ll help. And besides, it’s a cool T-shirt. So, that should be up next month

M: I know I’ll be getting one!

EC: Good man.

M: A lot of authors kind of… inject parts of themselves into the characters that they create. Have you based any characters, apart from Butler, on yourself?

EC: Oh, ha ha. Fletcher Moon in HMI is possibly a lot like me, he did what I always wanted to do when I was a kid. He’s a detective, and I spent a lot of time day-dreaming as a kid about being one, but he actually went out and did it. So he’s, in a way he’s wishful thinking for me, he’s doing what I’d have liked to have done. Cosmo Hill a little too, but only really because of the uncertainty I had when I was a teenager, becoming into adolescence, he has that as well. He’s not like Artemis at all, who’s so sure and confident. He’s unusual.

M: Have you got any ideas for any more upcoming books?

EC: Well, I’m working on Artemis 6, which involves a lot of time travel, which you have to be clever and careful about, as to not contradict yourself. I did a bit of time-travel in the last book, well, it wasn’t really time travel, more dimensional travel, and you have to be really careful with that. When I’ve finished that I’m doing an adult thriller which I’ve been asked to, and I’m hoping to do that very quickly, as it’s quite short.

M: Could you give us any idea what that’s about?

EC: Erm, I did a story last year for a collection called Dublin Noir, which is a collection of detective stories based in Dublin or something, it’s a part of a series called New York Noir, Chicago Noir, and it’s a fantastic series, and I was asked to do this story for it. And I thought ‘Oh my God,’ all these guys are famous detective writers, so I thought ‘I’m going to do the funniest story I have ever written,’ and all of the swearwords that have been stored up over the years are going into this!

M: Ah, it all came out then!

EC: Yeah, I thought of quite a funny story, and it went really well, so I’m doing another thing similar to that, as an American company have asked me to do something like that. And then after that, I think I’ll do next Supernaturalist…

M: Ha! You seem to have predicted what I was going to ask next. Have you got any ideas for a Supernaturalist sequel then?

EC: Well, the main idea is, well, at the end of book one, Stefan dies, but, being that they can see supernatural beings, in the second book, Stefan appears to Cosmo and tells him that they’re all stuck in Limbo and can’t get through to the afterlife, because something terrible is happening there, so it’s an environmental thing as usual that’s blocking the passageway to… forever, so they have to take care of that. But at the same time, they’ve got the corporation, the Myishi Corporation trying to track them down. I always liked the rooftop thing, going across the rooftops like Batman or something.

M: Or The Matrix?

EC: Yeah, they run along with their sort of ladders. I’ve always loved science-fiction like that, movies like Blade Runner and such. I love that feel, so I’m going to try and recreate that some more.

M: Is there anything else going to happen with Half-Moon Investigations? That sort of has a lot of availability for a sequel.

EC: I have another idea for a Half-Moon book, I’m just reluctant to start on another series, I should really just build on one rather than starting more. I don’t know though, I’ve got a very funny idea for another Half-Moon book, where he goes undercover with a group of Goths, listening to Kate Bush and Metallica, I think it could be really funny. I might do a short book with him, it’s just a matter of getting around to it. I really like that character. There’s a lot of potential for humour with in there. I think I could go expand on the history of his sister, Hazel too. I’ll see how things go, that’s sort of two years into the future. I’m reluctant to finish with Artemis too, so I might do another one in three or four years.

M: With your upcoming book, Airman, it is aimed at a slightly older audience… what made you want to go for that?

EC: Well, I just wanted to write that sort of story. I wanted it to be fairly scary, and obviously there is some violence in this book. I thought it might not be suited for younger people, but you couldn’t write a book like this, with revolution and regicide without anyone killing anyone. If you did that, it would really… de-fang the whole book. You can’t imagine Robin Hood where no one gets shot with an arrow. It’s not the same, so I thought it might be better aimed at older kids.

M: Where did the inspiration come from to write the book?

EC: Well, I’ve always been interested in the science of flight. I also love books with a very simple premise. Like the invisible man, where basically, a man turns himself invisible. It’s just a one line deal. Now, it seems a lot more different with things turning invisible all over the place in fiction and movies, but back then, people might not have even known the meaning of the word invisible. So, it was just genius: ‘Man turns invisible’ WOAH! Genius! I mean, Jekyll and Hide is the same, “Man turns into alter-ego.” I just love the really simple ideas, and I was trying to think of one that would have seemed amazing at the time, but we’re looking back thinking “they’re not so bright,” and also, you know what’s coming so, “boy flies,” basically. I put it together with the feel of The Three Musketeers, or The Black Arrow. I think the term was ‘high adventure.’ I just love really simple concepts. I know the story is far from simple, but the simple summary of ‘boy invents the plane 10 years before the Wright Brothers,’ it’s a good hook. A good strong hook to get people into it.

M: I was amazed at how such of a good book it was. It followed him in his life, taking the reader on a journey from his birth onwards.

EC: I don’t know if you’ve ever read it, but there’s this book called ‘Perfume,’ where it follows this guy from the moment he was born, and I just wanted to do that. Just the way Conor was born would determine how his life would be, with the hot-air balloon and such. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

M: I really did! So, with Artemis Fowl, do you think there eventually will be a movie?

EC: Maybe when I’m dead? I think there will eventually, everybody keeps asking me and I’m rather cynical. I mean, I came over here on tuesday, no, monday, and I got six-pages of notes on the script, and I say ‘why are you sending me notes, I thought the script was dead and buried?’ And they say ‘no, no, no it just takes time,’ so, apparently, everybody’s still working on it, I think it will take another year or two.

M: Are you worried about the outcome of the movie?

EC: Not if it goes ahead with the current people, I’m sure that if Jim Sheridan does it that it will be brilliant, because he’s just a brilliant film maker, and because I’ve worked on it a bit myself. So, we know… well, the first scripts were a lot like ‘Scary Movie,’ apparently, so it wasn’t a real story, it was more like that kind of ‘Date Movie,’… I don’t know… it was more of a parody than anything else at the start. So, I was really glad that that didn’t happen. The script as it stands is a lot better.

M: Are you worried that they might change things?

EC: Well, I was in the beginning, but now I’m the one trying to change things, they’re trying to stop me changing too much, because I have loads of ideas. I want to put something new in there, so, they have to pull me back up. The main thing I want to do is to put up a new ending, we have the original ending, but then I wanted to add on another kind of adventure at the end. So if you’re an Artemis Fowl fan you get that, and THEN you’re going to get something new at the end. And if you’re not a reader, it makes no difference.

M: Are you excited for it?

EC: I’ve got past that, I’ll be excited when they actually start doing things. I’ve been waiting for so longs, and for the first two years I was hoping everyday that today would be the day, but now I try not to think about it. I put it to one side and when they ring me and say “we’re doing this,” I’ll be like ‘great,’ but I’m not hoping too much. I just try not to get excited any more. Movie people tend to operate on a kind of… seat-of-your-pants method.

M: So, have you got a title for Artemis Fowl six?

EC: The current title I have is Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox, and there are actually several paradoxes, but there’s one main one.

M: Have you got a good idea for the plot yet?

EC: Well, I do, I can give you the bones of it. At the beginning of the book… well, I’ll give you the plot outline. Artemis’ mother is dying, and the only thing that can save her is the brain fluid… it’s a rare condition… the brain fluid of an extinct species of animal. He knows it’s extinct, because he killed the last one five years ago. So, now he has to go back and get this animal, before he kills it, well, before his younger self kills it. So, the nice Artemis that has become fairly decent goes back in time to face himself, who was pretty despicable. In the past… so, that’s it, in a nutshell. So really, it’s not that simple, and there’s a lot of different characters that get involved and it doesn’t go smoothly, of course. But I wanted some really strong motivation on this one, and all his other adventures that have been really strong have been to do with his parents, and now his mother is dying and she has like three days to live. He believes that he’s caused her to have the disease, and also destroyed the only cure. So it’s quite ecological, about different species and extinction. I mean, he didn’t stab the last lemur in the head, but he is responsible. He’s absolutely torn, and in order to get the LEP to let him go back, he has to make Holly believe that she is the reason his mother is dying. That it’s down to her.

M: So, he’s again playing around with her to suit his own needs?

EC: He feels terrible, because he really likes Holly. He has to tell her this though, so she believes that she has almost killed his mother. And also, we go back a little into Holly’s history, and how her own mother dies in a radiation accident caused by humans, and all of her history about why she really hated humans in the first book. The Hamburg Incident is also mentioned a lot in the first book, so we go back to that when she goes back in time. It’s a way to tie up a lot of stuff.

M: So a lot of the things that have been mentioned but not actually shown through the book will be brought up?

EC: Oh, yes, just the things that have been mentioned in passing will be tied up, but not in a way that get… clunky, or interferes with the current plot.

M: Will Holly be back with the LEP in this one? Or will she be back with Mulch as a detective, or maybe even back with Section 8?

EC: Well, you see, Section 8’s whole purpose was to monitor the demons’ appearances, so now that there will be no more appearances, they’ve kind of… merged with the LEP. She has been away for three years, and things have kind of moved on, Foaly’s married and he’s kind of settled down a bit, she’s feeling a little bit displaced, and she’s brooding on her mother and where her life is going, so she’s kind of vulnerable.

M: So it makes things worse when Artemis messes her around?

EC: Yeah… it’s probably one of the worst things he has ever done. To do that, but he needs No.1 to take him to the past, but they won’t release him, the LEP won’t allow it, unless he kind of… emotionally black-mails them, which he does.

M: Will we see any other characters returning? Ex-villains perhaps, like Jon Spiro?

EC: One villain comes back, but it’s kind of a twist, so I won’t talk about that… There is a new group of bad guys in this one though, and they’re called The Extinctionists, and they’re humans, and they believe that – and there are groups of people like this around – they believe in the supremacy of… they’re not racists, they’re… they believe in the supremacy of the human race. They’re supremacists. They believe everything else is just taking up oxygen. They come into contact with the fairy people… anyway, I don’t want to give away too much, it’ll ruin the book!

M: So we’re looking at a release of next year, sort of, yes?

EC: Yeah, I’m hoping to get it done within a few months. I find as it goes on, I usually go downhill and it takes longer. The best parts of writing a book are at the beginning when you’re excited about writing it, and at the end when the end is in sight. 

M: So with the graphic novel, will we see any more of them?

EC: Yeah! We’ll definitely be seeing a second one, because they’re working on it now, which is a great show of confident for us, because usually in these cases they’ll wait to see how the first one does. But with this, as soon as they saw the first one they told us to get working on the second.

M: So we should be seeing the second by next year, too?

EC: I’m hoping to start releasing a new book and a new graphic novel each year. It’s high-quality, and I’m a fan of graphic novels so I know what the standard is like, and it’s as good as anything. Another good thing is that it follows the course of the original book.

M: I do believe that I’m out of questions! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us!

This interview was conducted by AFC Staff. You may only copy small portions, and not the entire article. A link must also be given back to the source.