The ever work-shy witch has today been replaced by some Irishman. I believe he’s eminently suited to visit us here on this blog tour for a new anthology titled Haunted (how Halloween is that?), since his usual main character is a skeleton. So, even on a normal day, he’s halfway to some perpetual Halloween existence.
Here’s the one and only Derek Landy to tell you about the great ‘failure’ of planning his writing career. (Well, he’s Irish…)
‘When Skulduggery Pleasant was first published, I had a plan.
The plan was simple: in between every Skulduggery book, I would come out with a brand new book, something completely different. These brand new books could be for younger readers, or for adults, they could be horror or fantasy or crime, they could be comedies or tragedies… they could be whatever I wanted them to be. It was a wonderful plan, a magnificent plan, just the kind of plan that would ensure that I wasn’t going to get to the end of the Skulduggery series and then have a mild panic attack while I tried to figure out how to top a skeleton detective as a central character.
But, like most of my plans, it kind of drifted to the side a little once I realised the enormity of what I was doing with Skulduggery. This was a nine book series, after all, with one book released per year (the exception being 2010, when we released both Dark Days and Mortal Coil. Now that was hectic).
So flash-forward to 2011 and I still don’t have a non-Skulduggery book out. Does this worry me? Well no, quite frankly, because I’m not the type to get worried. But I did get annoyed – annoyed at how easily my wonderful plan fell apart when confronted with the realities of a writer’s life.
And then Haunted came along…
It was a simple phone call from my agent, telling me about a collection of short stories about ghosts. She asked me if I’d be interested in contributing. I started to grin, thinking of all the delicious possibilities.
But actually, writing a short story is hard. Sure, it takes considerably less time to do than writing a book, but it’s a whole other discipline. The pacing is different. The execution is different. You don’t have the luxury of time to build up your characters so you really have to focus, zero in on who these people are and figure out a way to convey that in as short an amount of time as possible. Then you’ve got to condense your story, give it a beginning, a middle and – if you’re feeling generous – even an end.
Did I manage it? Of course I did. Did I get to tell a story that I wouldn’t normally have been able to tell? Yes indeed. Did I succeed in fitting in as many jokes as humanly possible? Oh hell, yeah.
So, finally, my first non-Skulduggery story has seen print. It’s not a book, but it’s a first step. It’s called Songs The Dead Sing, and it’s but one of a multitude of great ghost stories in Haunted.’
Well done, my boy! That story of yours isn’t half bad. (In fact, I quite like it.) Though I did get a wee bit worried about this ‘topping’ of the skeleton. For a brief moment I thought Skulduggery was about to be killed, however impossible that might be. But now I realise it’s just a case of finding someone even better than Detective Pleasant. (Impossible.)
I apologise for the swearing, btw. (Derek’s Irish.) And more about the book another day… Avoid graveyards this week. Just to be sure.