Tag Archives: Eoin Colfer

Bookwitch bites #120

Bah, rubbish! And I mean google and unresponsive websites. I went looking for the link to Peter Dickinson’s essay A Defence of Rubbish and found nothing. I understand the origin is a talk from 1970, but I read about it not long ago. Unfortunately, as this rubbish stands, I can offer no link.* Sorry.

I was reminded of this when I came across another – not quite so old – piece on reading rubbish, by Clémentine Beauvais on ABBA. I don’t know how I missed it, seeing as it stirred lots of feathers, and quite rightly so. Clémentine is against, but a lot of people believe in rubbish.

So do I, although there is good rubbish and bad rubbish. I’m probably most in favour of the better stuff.

John Connolly Edgar award by David Brown

Not rubbish at all is what I can say about John Connolly’s recent Edgar Award for Best Short Story for The Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository. (I’ve not read it, but I very much doubt he’d win anything if it was bad. Or that John would write bad stuff.) The photo of John and Edgar is pretty appalling, however. Could almost have been taken by me, but wasn’t.

More Irish excellence with the news that Eoin Colfer is the new Laureate na nOg, which I believe means he’s their Malorie Blackman. Congratulations to Eoin, and here’s to the great work he’s bound to do, for books and reading!

Someone who definitely gets young people reading is Liz Kessler, who recently reported that there is now a fantastic screenplay of her Emily Windsnap, written by a Hollywood-based producer and an amazing scriptwriter. As Liz points out, that’s still a long way from it becoming a film, but it’s a start. We’ll be waiting!

You don’t have to wait quite as long, and there’s more certainty, for the Borders Book Festival. The programme is out now, and the festival itself will happen in five weeks’ time. Who knows, I might even make it there this year. Bring on the famous Scottish sunshine!

*Below are two screen caps of parts of what Peter said:

Peter Dickinson, A Defence of Rubbish

Peter Dickinson, A Defence of Rubbish

Bookwitch bites #116

I am really grateful to the kind people of Wexford, Ireland, for arranging somewhere I could park my broom the other night. (Not that I have actually been to Wexford, but its proximity to Eoin Colfer makes it seem like a very nice place. That, and the broom parking.)

Broom parking

So, I’m resting a little. No flying while it’s windy. Besides, you can’t trust people not to be setting off fireworks at the moment. And that is very dangerous for witches on brooms. For others, too, but I am mostly looking after me.

We can’t all be like that lovely man, Terry Pratchett, who is a wee bit more modest than he needs to be.

Terry Pratchett

And so was the poor woman in Ystad who was locked into the library. 91-year-old Dagmar sat comfortably reading something, as you do, when it was time to close and staff claim to have ‘looked’ but seem to have missed Dagmar, so set the alarm, locked up and went home for the weekend. (It was Friday the 13th.) When eventually Dagmar moved, she set off the alarm, and someone came to find her, and even let her out. And being 91 and polite, she apologised for having caused trouble…

But you already knew that Ystad is a dangerous town. Just ask Wallander. Bet he’s never been locked in a library, though.

Locked in, is something we connect with Al Capone, among other things. Gennifer Choldenko’s third Alcatraz book Al Capone Does My Homework, is already out in the US, but the rest of us have to wait a while. Sob.

Gennifer Choldenko, Al Capone Does My Homework

And I can just sense that you like being told about books you can’t buy yet, so I’ll show you the cover of Ruth Eastham’s to-be-published third novel, Arrowhead. Like Al Capone, it will come. One day.

Ruth Eastham, Arrowhead

As I go to pick up my broom, I will leave you in the capable hands of Meg Rosoff. Although, considering what she can do to a piece of paper with a pair of scissors, I’m not so sure about those hands. If I think about it.

Wheee!!!

You’re never too young to write a book

And then they all turned around and looked at me.

Yes, you!

(That should teach me to sit by the emergency exit.)

I had just enough time to leave the Royal Exchange on Monday and make my way to the People’s History Museum for an afternoon with Eoin Colfer. It was for schools only, so don’t fret if you feel you’ve missed it. Well, you obviously have missed it, but unlike me you are not a school. Just outside Kendals (House of Fraser) I encountered the Waterstones team bound for the same place. The boxes of books almost fell off their trolley, but righted themselves at the last moment.

At the museum a very nice helper asked me to pick a stool (adults had to rough it, as it was fully booked) and to sit at the back (like by the emergency exit), and then as I went to look at the book display I returned to find my stool almost walking away. (You’ll be pleased to hear I wrestled it back.) Left my stool again for ‘other business’ and was rewarded by meeting Eoin’s publicist Adele. (I know her. I don’t have to ask stupid questions like I did the other day.)

Eoin Colfer

In case any of the children were upset to miss an afternoon of school, Eoin mentioned that as a teacher he is legally qualified to hand out homework. He sounded very Irish when he said that.

So, WARP, the new book, is about time travel, and the reason Eoin picked this ‘original’ subject is all to do with Ireland in the 1970s. They had nothing (although Eoin had – still has – three younger brothers, and he hates younger brothers). Television offered only the bible channel and the farming channel, until a friend got BBC, which had wonderful things like Doctor Who, which they could watch through the window…

Eoin Colfer

There were more tall stories about how Eoin came to watch BBC and Doctor Who, which had to do with semi-nudity, a fierce dog and an air rifle. But anyway, this confirmed his determination to write about time travel one day.

Then he told us some rubbish about trying to scare his sons with his writing, but they have watched the Powerpuff Girls, so don’t scare easily. His eldest son is a cruel teenager who flicks his hair and no longer tells his father, who is in charge of all the money, that he loves him. Or whatever.

(For that kind of money I’d be more than willing to tell Eoin I love him.)

The younger one has a wrestler’s death move he uses on his defenseless dad, and there was a long story about the little one’s toilet habits. It sort of makes you want to go, but you can’t very well amidst all the peepee and poopoo and old Frenchmen.

Eoin Colfer

When Eoin returned to his teen disco experience, I knew I’d heard it before and recently. But where? I remembered after a while only to forget it almost immediately. (Preston.) Then remembered again.

There were more dancing memories. Someone very sweetly asked how he met his wife. At a ceilidh, at a very young age. His wife was also responsible for getting Eoin writing, because he was forever saying things like ‘he could do it better’ until she snapped and told him to do it then. Thank you, Mrs C.

His goal is to write fifty books. Current tally is 24. Eoin loves books, but has no plans to marry one. The second WARP instalment will be Hangman’s Revolution which will be published in April.

Kaye Tew for mcbf

Eoin Colfer

Eoin Colfer

Before Eoin went over to the signing table, he signed some books standing up. They were prizes for the winners of the various categories of the Postcards from the Past competition, launched a year ago. I rather liked the one from the iceberg that did for the Titanic. I didn’t know icebergs could write postcards.

Eoin Colfer with Adele Minchin

This time I almost succeeded in being last in the signing queue, and I’d brought my adult Eoin Colfer books along, seeing as I missed him a few weeks ago. I hope none of the short ten-year-olds in the audience has even an inkling as to what they are about. But they’ll grow up one day, and then they will be allowed to read them, and they will be taller than they are now, and Eoin will be forced to hate them. (I am very short, btw.)

Eoin Colfer

Good craic

I heard several people say Good craic yesterday, and each time I thought ‘oh, so that’s how you say it’ and immediately knew I’d never be able to replicate it myself. (Or is it so simple as to be ‘crack’?)

Whatever this craic is, it’s what Colin Bateman was scheduled to do with fellow funny Irishman Eoin Colfer, and ended up sharing with newcomer James Oswald instead. James might look like a benign younger version of Gerry Adams, but he sounds as English as, well, as the English. He was described as a farmer from Fife, who self-published his first two books and sold hundreds of thousands of Kindle copies, and won prizes, before being given a ‘real’ paper book contract.

James Oswald

They were talking to Liam Bell, who asked if they wanted to do rock, paper, scissors over who would go first…

James realised within minutes what I could have told him from the beginning; you just don’t want to do a reading after Colin Bateman. Eoin might have got away with it, but only just. So the fact that James’s book actually sounded pretty good in its funereal setting, even after Colin’s reading of The Prize, has to mean it’s not a bad book at all. (I got a copy, so one day I might be able to tell you if I was right.)

Colin Bateman

Colin talked about how he started out, and then he moved on to this collection of short stories that he has recently published himself (which he sold under the signing table). The Prize was one of the stories from Dublin Express, and if you want a copy, I suppose you first need to find a table from which it can be sold.

Then James talked about his first book Natural Causes, and why he went down the self-publishing route. Basically, no one fancied a police procedural teamed with the supernatural. Or at least not until it got attention and won things. Having an editor is brilliant, apparently, and his could see immediately that stuff he’d added to the book for all the wrong reasons, should be the first to go.

He might live in Fife, and he might have lived in Wales when he wrote the book, but he set it in Edinburgh, with the help of maps and memories from his student days. Although James did – accidentally – change the reputation of some areas of the city. He likes Ian Rankin and Stuart MacBride, but otherwise prefers non-crime by Iain Banks and Neil Gaiman, as well as comics and writing fan-fiction.

The reason Colin writes so fast is he has a short attention span. He writes so fast that he frequently has too much time on his hands, which could be why he embarked on his Dublin Express venture, and also the musical he wrote, based on 21 songs by the Undertones. Once it was all ready, they changed their minds and would only allow him the use of one song, so it is now more of a play…

Coming from middle class Bangor, he felt unable to write fiction set in the tough cul-de-sacs (sic) of that town, and went for the mean streets of Belfast instead. No planner, Colin makes it up as he goes along. And he doesn’t necessarily have to know what he’s writing about, having written a 500-page book set in the Empire State Building, based purely on a tourist leaflet.

Asked if either man would be happy to write about someone else’s characters, James said he’s not brave enough, and there is a risk he’d put ghosts in as well. Colin has written a Rebus for television, with Ian Rankin’s blessing. He could do what he wanted to Rebus, but mustn’t change his taste in music.

We finished on the note that crime writers are very nice, while romance writers are ‘catty as hell.’

Friday the 13th

Fascinating Aïda used to sing a song called Taboo. One line was about inviting a vegetarian to a barbecue. In the case of Daughter yesterday, it was more about the wisdom of asking the vegetarian to order the food for the AstroSoc barbecue for Freshers’ week. I have no wish to ask for more details as to what she actually bought. (Grilled mushrooms anyone?)

The event was shared with the Physics students (might be Quantum Soc?), who wanted them to have a plan B in case of rain. It won’t rain, Daughter told them. And, you know, Astrophysicists are surely that little bit closer to any potential rain, so would know what’s coming. That’s my theory.

It was Friday the 13th. Did you notice? My travelling went better than the date made me expect, but I suffered the ignominy of being mistaken for a woman who goes to Blackpool. By the time I got to Manchester Piccadilly the platform was full of (superficially) similar women, all heading for fun in Blackpool. I changed trains in Preston, and the Grandmother later told me about the time when she did that, and a kindly man tried to tell her she didn’t have to, because it was a through train to Blackpool. (He found it hard to grasp that she wanted to go to Glasgow.)

I spent part of the day reading about devils and demons. In two separate books. What are the odds? I expect the date helped. First I read a short story about The Good Little Devil (with my breakfast, if you want to know). Then I moved on to John Connolly’s latest Samuel Johnson book, which as the disCERNing fan knows features CERN and the Higgs Boson.

Once Daughter had got the barbecue going, starring whatever devilish veggie-burgers she could muster, she left the two Socs to their fate and grabbed her gown (academic, not dressing) and dashed downtown for her meeting with Hillary Clinton and Peter Higgs.

Hillary Clinton at St Andrews

It wasn’t a threesome, but when people like that come to town, you go and see them. At least if you’re so boring as to having applied for tickets before the star turns became publicly known. As it happens Professor Higgs didn’t come. But what Daughter forgot to mention was that Hillary Clinton wasn’t exactly alone.

Rowan Williams. Mary Beard. Tim Berners-Lee. Jane Goodall. To name but a few ‘nonentities’ who were there. Apparently the former archbishop said his only claim to St Andrews fame was having married two of its former students.

Hillary Clinton at St Andrews

I mentioned Glasgow. Like the Grandmother, I went to Glasgow, where I overheard someone talking about crayfish kebab. Walking from Glasgow Central to Glasgow Queen Street I came across a poster for safe sex. No, I didn’t. I looked again. Surf and Fax was being offered. So did I hallucinate that crayfish kebab?

Once I’d reached my destination I learned that the Hungarian Accountant is in town. But also that Eoin Colfer isn’t.

Sob.

Bookwitch bites #113

The train will be late. Actually, the whole railway is running late. Perhaps it’s the wrong kind of leaves. If they have leaves in Discworld. I don’t know. Anyway, that perfect publication date (24th October) for Terry Pratchett’s Raising Steam has been moved to the 7th of November. But I suppose that will be all right, too.

Terry Pratchett, Raising Steam

To make up for it – or so it seems – the film of How I Live Now has moved in the other direction, and I understand it will be with us on the 4th of October. I just hope I will be ready in time. What am I saying? It’s the film of my favourite book. I’ll be ready. The trailer is looking good. Saoirse Ronan is not a bad Daisy, as far as I can see. (And Edmund has grown older. I suppose he had to.)

Another film on the horizon – although a more distant kind of horizon – is the one about Artemis Fowl. It will be a Disney production, and I hope that doesn’t mean they will make a hash of our favourite juvenile Irish master criminal. Or pick the wrong Butler, or worse still, don’t understand Holly has to be a pixie. A real pixie.

Eoin Colfer is one of the big names coming to the Manchester Literature Festival this October. The programme has just gone public, and I almost had to stop myself from gasping with delight. I obviously didn’t gasp at all, because I am a professional bookwitch, but you know, that’s a pretty good programme.

It’s almost as if you don’t have to go to Edinburgh to see certain authors. I’m supposed to have overseas visitors the weekend before MLF. I’m going to have to get rid of them really swiftly.

Meanwhile I am practising daily on getting the pronunciation of Saoirse right.

The EIBF 2013 programme

It’s not exactly a bad programme this year. It’s not exactly short on authors, either. I’ve probably missed a few, seeing as I have only browsed the pdf  in a hasty fashion, but even so, were it not for the fact that I actually know I am unable to cover the full two and a half weeks of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, I’d sign up for the complete works. Again.

I’d been thinking a weekend. Maybe a longish weekend, but no more than four days. But which longish weekend? And what about the fantastic midweek offerings?

This is going to be an easy post to write! I could simply list authors, one after the other. But that would be boring.

For the time being I will not cover the adult writers, although I noticed Salman Rushdie is coming. Roddy Doyle. And Patrick Ness is an adult this time.

So, first weekend ‘as usual’ we have Meg Rosoff, as well as her stable (yeah, right…) mates Eoin Colfer and Cathy Cassidy. Anne Fine, Tommy Donbavand, Helena Pielichaty, Linda Strachan, Andy Mulligan. Carnegie winner Sally Gardner. Obvious choice. First weekend it will be.

Meg Rosoff

On the other hand, during the week when it grows a little quieter we have Elizabeth Wein. Hmm. Debi Gliori with Tobermory Cat. Nicola Morgan. Lari Don and Vivian French. Damien M Love. Well, that would be good!

But Elen Caldecott is someone I’ve always missed. She’s there the second weekend. It will have to be the middle weekend. Charlie Fletcher, Teresa Breslin and Eleanor Updale, Jon Mayhew and Darren Shan. Need I say more? OK, Tom Palmer, Chae Strathie. Melvin Burgess. Keith Gray.

Jonathan Stroud has a new book coming, which I like the look of. And he’s there the second week. So are Julie Bertagna and Teri Terry, and Daniel Hahn is talking translation. That is interesting.

Having said that, the last, extra long weekend looks by far the best. Doesn’t it? Judit Kerr. Neil Gaiman. Our new children’s laureate, Malorie Blackman. Our own Liz Kessler, and Tim Bowler. Philip Caveney from ‘home’ and Derek Landy, whom I’ve not seen for a long time… Jo Nadin and Spideyman himself, Steve Cole.

Yes. No competition there. Except maybe all the other days.

What do the rest of you think?

(Sorry. I see I have done a list after all.)

Programmes, programmes everywhere

They just keep coming. I am almost beyond even a quick browse. But I will persevere and do my utmost.

First came the Gothenburg Book Fair programme. The full one, in Swedish, which was rather a treat after years of having to get by on the abridged English language programme.

And I find I have changed. I used to look only for English language events, and then preferably children’s authors. There’s been less of them in recent years, and I’ve had so many festivals closer to home, to feed my obsession.

This time I noticed lots of talks on other, related, things. Children’s reading, libraries, stuff in general. Maybe I’m growing up? Anyway, I could see myself going again this year. There is the small matter of cost, not to mention my stamina (hopefully not my lack thereof) and the annoying fact that you have to decide all this well in advance.

But a programme with an event like ‘Dewey – could libraries in 138 countries be wrong?’ It’s tempting, isn’t it? I suspect the answer is ‘yes,’ they can be wrong. After all, 9 million Swedes can’t possibly not be right.

The next programme to pop up was Bloody Scotland. And luckily for this exhausted reader, it’s a short one. I was about to say it’s because it’s only on for three days, but Gothenburg is only four. It’s because it’s a fledgling festival, and anyway, size doesn’t matter.

I found lots of good events in it, and the funny thing is that Daughter, who was most definitely not going to mess up her fresher’s week by attending this year, called to tell me about what she can’t possibly miss. So I might not be as lonely as I had been counting on.

Although,  you can’t go wrong with the lovely Eoin Colfer. (What is so Scottish about him??) Or the very Scottish and lovely Linda Strachan. And then we have all the Swedes and other murderous ‘Nords’ who are also not terribly Scottish. Bloody, though. Lee Child. I don’t know what he counts as, but the ladies will swoon.

My mouth is watering, and I will have to be strict with myself to make sure I don’t attempt too much, again. They’re only two weeks apart, and I can tell already I will be ‘less keen’ when the time comes.

Restraint, witch. Restraint!

More Eoin noir

It could be that Eoin Colfer’s Screwed is a better crime novel (strictly adults only!) even than his Plugged was. Or it could be that I have got used to the sweet creator of Artemis Fowl using such foul language and generally writing noir crime novels. Funny. But dark, and bloody.

Then there is second book syndrome. It could be that. Somehow I’m happier when I know my characters and their friends and foes. So, I enjoyed Screwed very much.

Dan McEvoy is that typical noir hero; rough and capable, while still lovely and intelligent (well, so so…) and caring. I was surprised to find him hankering after the crazy woman upstairs. Or maybe I wasn’t.

Eoin Colfer, Screwed

In one short day, which starts so well, a lot of very bad things happen to Dan. But he gives as good as he gets, so some people will live – if they’re lucky – to regret messing with him.

He meets his grandmother in what must be one of the book’s funniest moments. It made me wonder if I’d forgotten something about Dan’s personal background, or if we simply weren’t told last time round.

I have great hopes for the female cop, who is shaping up nicely. But then Dan is surrounded by women, be they the law or family, mad neighbours or pretty waitresses. Or the porn stars and film crew.

Basically, everyone would like to kill our hero. The crooks, the police, more crooks, the beautiful Swede, the Irish (probably). Having a crazy ‘best friend’ seems to be standard noir issue, and isn’t that internet a wonderful thing? Twitter, especially.

I want more of this. (But it’s not exactly for the eyes of the Resident IT Consultant.)

Life after Artemis

What to do now that Artemis Fowl, that loveable rogue, has ‘retired?’ Luckily, the fact that Eoin Colfer writes hardboiled adult crime novels these days, has not prevented him from coming up with more outlandish plot ideas for us younger readers.

Eoin Colfer, W.A.R.P.

In W.A.R.P. The Reluctant Assassin he returns to the Victorian era, with a crime thriller complete with a sci-fi twist. As Eoin warns in his author’s notes, there are neither vampires nor werewolves on offer, but he can give you mutants, murderers, magicians, and other dreadful types. And an ‘Injun princess.’

We have Victorian urchin Riley and 21st century FBI agent Chevron Savano, age 17. (So, totally unrealistic. Or not. How are we to know what those alphabet agents really get up to?) What’s more, we have a wormhole. And Riley and Chevie couldn’t meet without one or other of them travelling through said wormhole.

Other people go through the wormhole, too, and in some cases it doesn’t end so well. W.A.R.P. is the witness relocation scheme with a difference. Witnesses are stashed in 1898, which is so safe.

There is a villain, who – I think – is actually quite charming. The blurb describes Garrick as a terrifying assassin – which he is – but I quite liked him. Not sure if I was meant to.

So, a thriller set in London, now and in 1898. The advantage being that even an FBI agent will recognise the landmarks in the past. They are the same, but smell worse. And Riley’s reaction to television was quite something.

This book has the usual humour that you come to expect and crave from Eoin, and whereas at times I was afraid that it would turn out to be only a Victorian FBI through the wormhole kind of affair, when you get to the end – which is not really an end at all – you understand that there is much more to it. Temptingly so.