Eoin Colfer is a former elementary school teacher whose Artemis Fowl series has become an international bestseller. He is also the author of The Legend of Spud Murphy, The Wish List, and the New York Times bestseller The Supernaturalist.He lives in Ireland with his wife and two children.
Author biography courtesy of Miramax Books/Hyperion Books for Children.
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Some fun and fascinating outtakes from our interview with Colfer:
"My original ambition was to be a comic book artist. I would still love to write a comic one day."
"I have a real hatred of queues. If I see a queue of more than four people, I will leave the building and come back another day."
"I have four brothers and they are the inspiration for several of the sprites and gremlins in my books."
"I did a parachute jump recently and loved it. I would definitely take it up as a hobby if we had more clear sky over here in Ireland."
"I am a big theatre fan, and I go as often as possible with my wife. I actually started out in the theatre, writing plays for my actor friends."
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What was the book that most influenced your life or your career as a writer?
I remember being amazed by Huckleberry Finn. Huck was the original antihero, and I found it amazing that this less-than-perfect individual could so readily garner my sympathy. He was a bit like me, I suppose, a bit like most young boys -- mischievous and often up to no good, but his heart was in the right place. I think Huckleberry Finn is directly responsible for me creating Artemis -- an antihero of my own.
What are your ten favorite books, and what makes them special to you?Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain -- It made me realize that ordinary people were the real heroes. Also I loved the quirky first-person narrative.
The Princess Bride by William Goldman -- One of the funniest books ever written, but a classic adventure tale at the same time. Anyone with aspirations to be a comic writer should have to read this.
Marathon Man also by William Goldman -- My favorite thriller. Goldman's characters are so believable that you accept any plot twists he throws at you.
True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey -- A wonderful, authentic-sounding narrative where Carey succeeds at taking a highly intelligent character and making him sound uneducated.
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stephenson -- The classic pirate tale. Contains some of the most terrifying scenes I have ever read. The tap-tap of the blind beggar's cane as he searches for Jim, for instance.
The Mortdecai Trilogy by Kyril Bonfiglioli -- A journalist friend recommended this to me, having read Artemis Fowl. When Artemis grows up, he could turn out like Charlie Mortdecai. A hilarious journey into the slightly dodgy world of the London antique dealer.
The White Trilogy by Ken Bruen -- My favorite crime writer. Ken's books are gritty, hilarious, and tragic. Nobody gets a break. Ever. If it's happily-ever-after you want, give Ken a miss.
Star of the Sea by Joseph O Connor -- The epic story of a famine ship's journey to the New World. Reading this makes me want to write historical fiction. A masterpiece that makes you forget that history is past.
A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle -- A historical dramatic thriller, this really is difficult to put down. Doyle's writing makes you feel like you are right there beside his characters, watching their adventures.
Perfume by Patrick Suskind -- One of those amazing books that comes out of nowhere and stops you in your tracks. The descriptive writing in this book is so exquisite that I got really depressed and resolved to try harder myself. A book about smells that is absolutely captivating.
What are some of your favorite films, and what makes them unforgettable to you?Shakespeare in Love -- One long, delicious word game. On the surface it is a beautiful love story, but there is also social commentary here and dozens of wonderful Shakespeare references that you get as you become more educated. Joseph Fiennes is magnificent.
The Silence of the Lambs -- Loved the book. Loved the film. Anthony Hopkins is the best baddie ever. Ever! And that is what made the film.
Highlander -- A beautifully shot fantasy film. A rarity, with a cleverer than usual plot. The action never lets up and the past is imaginatively interwoven with the present.
Adam and Paul -- A low-budget Irish masterpiece that follows two Dublin down-and-outs around for 24 hours. Heartbreaking and hilarious. A clever sparse script and two masterful central performances hold this movie together.
Thunderball -- My favorite Bond movie. This was the first movie I ever saw in a cinema -- albeit a makeshift sheet-on-the-wall cinema. I literally could not believe what I was seeing. A lifelong Bond fan was born.
What types of music do you like? Is there any particular kind you like to listen to when you're writing?
I like all kinds of music, from classical to heavy rock. At the moment I have been listening to John Mayer a lot, and David Bowie. My brother is in a band called Salthouse, so they are always in the player too. If I am feeling a bit lethargic, I will put on something from AC/DC or Rush to wake myself up.
If you had a book club, what would it be reading?
My book club would be for children, and we would be reading some of the classics, like To Kill a Mockingbird or Ivanhoe, to show the kids that there is more to literature than the latest thing.
What are your favorite kinds of books to give -- and get -- as gifts?
I never give my own books as gifts, because I get them for free. I like to give books that I know the person likes, and if I can I get them signed. So at festivals I keep my friends in mind. A signed book is a great present, and I am always touched when I get one. One of the best presents I ever got was when Ken Bruen told me he was dedicating his next book to me.
Do you have any special writing rituals? For example, what do you have on your desk when you're writing?
I always work in an office/shed in the bottom of my garden. I set myself up with the phone and a bottle of water and off I go. Not very exciting, I'm afraid. What I need, mostly, is peace and quiet.
Many writers are hardly "overnight success" stories. How long did it take for you to get where you are today? Any rejection-slip horror stories or inspirational anecdotes?
I was writing for years before I got the phone call from my first publisher. I remember the day clearly because I was holding my newborn son in one arm and taking the call at the same time. I got very excited and swung my boy high in the air. With a new baby and a publishing deal, it was a very good week for me. I was glad that I persevered and was not put off by the first 50 refusals.
If you could choose one new writer to be "discovered," who would it be?
There is an Irish writer called Gerard Whelan who is working on a fantasy trilogy for teens. I think he could be the next big thing. I love him because his style is lyrical and exciting -- not an easy trick.
What tips or advice do you have for writers still looking to be discovered?
Once the book is written, approach getting published as a business project. There is nothing creative about finding an agent or publisher. Present your work clearly and cleanly, and make sure you send it to the right people. There is no point sending a western novel to a computer manuals publisher.
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|Eoin Colfer Home
Good to Know
|In Our Other Stores|
Signed, First Editions by Eoin Colfer|
|Benny and Omar, 1998|
|The Wish List, 2000|
|Artemis Fowl, 2001|
|Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, 2002|
|Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, 2003|
|The Legend of Spud Murphy, 2004|
|The Supernaturalist, 2004|
|Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception, 2005|
|Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony, 2006|