Interview by Paul Salfen
In the second Fowl Twins adventure, Deny All Charges, Irish author Eoin Colfer brings his Artemis Fowl spinoff back to life to further follow Myles and Beckett’s adventures through exploding jets and run-ins with a nun, a fairy, and a troll. A house arrest can’t stop the boys from using their genius tactics to get out of every situation, imaginable or unimaginable.
Colfer, who has been quarantined in Ireland, had hoped to jetset himself to promote the Artemis Fowl film, which was moved from theaters to Disney+ to adjust to the pandemic, but that didn’t stop him from creating more adventures he could control – in a popular book series.
Here’s more from Colfer:
AMFM Magazine: You’ve said that you wish you weren’t in Ireland right now, but it does seem like a great place to write?
Eoin Colfer: Oh, yeah. Well, I think Ireland has a different attitude towards writers in that it’s very much a valued profession. Even more than that, it’s considered a valuable learning process for a young person writing a book. If you’re at the pub and you say, “I’m writing a book,” no one laughs or is scornful. It’s praised and is a rite of passage for a lot of young people and a lot of young people are writing a book or a screenplay or a stage play. The arts are considered very important, which is nice.
AMFM: It must be inspiring to have captured the imagination of so many kids. What is that feeling like?
EC: It is special and it’s really hard to get to grips with, to wrap your head around the fact that first of all, there are kids that are reading these books that were written in the spare bedroom in a small town in Ireland. And then you get to the point where these kids are growing up and now they’re becoming writers and that’s even harder to fathom that you would be one of the guys, in some small way, that would inspire them. There’s nothing I like more than to meet someone on the circuit that’s a successful writer themselves who started off reading myself or Rick Riordan or Dave Barry – I think it has to be the greatest thing.
AMFM: What do you tell those kids that are looking to you for advice?
EC: It’s very hard to give advice, but I like to tell my history or my path to publishing. I think young writers think, “Oh, if you’re a successful writer, you wrote one book and it got published right away and was a big bestseller” and that is not generally the way it happens. In my own journey, I started to write books when I was 18 and I didn’t get published until I was 32, so that was 14 years working on it and also having a job and getting married and having two kids, so it was not something that happened overnight and it was not something that came easy because I had to find the time. But if you really want to be a writer, you find the time. You make the time. Luckily when you’re a schoolteacher, you have maybe six weeks in the summer where you clear the decks and get somewhere quiet and you can write most of the book in six weeks if you really, really go for it and that’s what I did for many years.
AMFM: We always ask people their Hail Mary Moments, the moment in their life or career where they just had to go for it and it worked out. What do you suppose that was for you?
EC: I remember it quite clearly. I had written six books and they had all done really well in Ireland but it’s a small country so it wasn’t really making that much money. My wife had opened a business and we had a new baby and something had to go – that something was writing. I sat down with Jackie and said, “Listen, I’ve decided to stop writing for a couple of years” and I had been writing since Jackie met me, so she said, “Well, before you do that, why don’t you just finish the book you’re writing and we’ll try to get you an agent?” because I hadn’t tried to get an agent before and that conversation changed everything. I finished the book, I found myself an agent within a timeline and the agent I found sold it all over the world and that was Artemis Fowl. I was very close to quitting for a few years – at least until things settled down, so I was very lucky that Jackie encouraged me to finish that one final manuscript.
AMFM: What are we going to get into with this book?
EC: This book is about Artemis Fowl’s little brothers, who are now 12 year old twins, Myles and Beckett. Myles is very cerebral and he’s on a mission to amass as much knowledge as possible and his older brother is seen as one of the greatest geniuses and intellectuals Ireland has ever produced and he wants to surpass that, so it’s an unusual request because he’s not trying to find power, find gold, or fight a dragon, he just wants to be the smartest guy in any room and that’s a very unusual thing for a hero in any kind of children’s fantasy books to want to do. But of course, it’s not as simple as that: he gets pebbled by the fairy police, he gets in trouble with a human businessman that’s quite ruthless, and he gets in the crossfire of a quite famous group of dwarves that are cat burglars that are trying to steal a bunch of very special gold and they can’t do it without Myles’s help and they kidnap him and force him to work with them so his brother Beckett must try to find him and bring him home safely. So it’s very bombastic, it’s very funny, it’s very fast-paced – and hopefully hilarious and utterly ridiculous, of course, being about adventure. But hopefully the writing is intriguing enough to where you’ll read until the end.
AMFM: Of course everyone wants to know where it will go from here. Now that there’s the Disney movie with Artemis, hopefully this will get its own visual version.
EC: I would love that, but I would also love an animated version. It would work very well as a cartoon or an animated movie. I’ve always been a fan of graphic novels and comic books and I always wanted to write comics and illustrate them myself and still think in that format, so in my mind, these books are all cartoons. I would love to see what a talented team of cartoonists could do.
AMFM: What kind of headspace do you have to get into to write from the perspective of these kids and put it out on paper?
EC: I like to work on my own, so I have a little office in the backyard and I’m very lucky to have it. What really recharges my batteries is when I go out on tour and I meet kids in these libraries or school gymnasiums and I just get to feel that energy, which is a level of energy that adults don’t have. When you enter into that world, that time you’re in the gym or library we’re all away in the land of fairies and magic and that’s a very special time. When you see that people love these stories, it really makes you feel good about what you do and makes you want to keep doing it. Sometimes when you’re in a room on your own for a year by the end of the year, you start thinking, “Why am I doing it? Is it worth anything?” And then you go out and meet these people, you see how funny, smart, and engaged they are and it’s good not only for yourself, but for the future of reading. It makes you want to come home and write something that they will really enjoy. I really missed that this year because at the moment, I would just be back from doing a movie tour that was scheduled to go all over the world so I was really looking forward to meeting kids from different cultures. It’s more about meeting the fans than going to movie premieres and things like that. Hopefully this time next year I’ll be back out on the road with the third book and I’ll have recharged my batteries.
Deny All Charges is available in bookstores and online now. For more information, visit www.EoinColfer.com