Eoin Colfer, author of the bestselling children’s series Artemis Fowl, is back with a new book for adults, Highfire. Last Friday, January 31st, he launched the American leg of the Highfire tour with a can’t-miss event at the Strand’s Rare Book Room.
Colfer spoke along with Charles Soule, author of comics including Star Wars and Daredevil. Both authors had a lot to say on everything from their personal writing processes to dealing with crazed fandoms and more.
How did Highfire come to be? In the book, a boy meets a dragon hidden in a New Orleans swamp, weirdness and humor ensue. Why a boy and why a dragon? When he first set out to write, the book was going to be about a boy that befriends a misanthropic old man who lives alone. After writing a chunk, Colfer realized it was similar to other ideas that had already been done better (his words, not ours). “But what if the old man was a dragon?”
He originally conceived the book as a children’s novel, but then “one day the dragon began to swear and was having a martini for breakfast” and Colfer realized it might be more appropriate for adults.
When Colfer realized the old man was going to be turned into a mythical creature, he set out to choose the right one to fit the story. Why a dragon? “My brain subconsciously had the answers and turned this character into a dragon,” said Colfer. “Also dragons are iconic as far as mythical creatures go.”
If you love reading about Vern and Squib in Highfire, you can look forward to a potential sequel. Colfer has another book planned, “if there’s an appetite for it.”
They also discussed the upcoming Artemis movie, which is finally set to be released this May after years in pre-production (plans for the movie were originally announced in 2001). Apparently, some of the delay came from a struggle to find the right creative team. In an early production meeting, they went around the table and everyone agreed to keep the film set in the iconic Fowl Manor in Dublin, Ireland – until the director asked, “But could it be set in outer space?”
Colfer and Soule also took questions from the audience. Here are selected tidbits from the Q&A:
- On advice for new authors, Soule said to, “start small, hone your talent.” “Don’t start by writing a 75-page masterpiece of a comic, don’t start with a novel, write short work, even a page and work out who you are as a writer. Soule added that it’s important to practice finishing work that you start. “No one is going to buy half a novel.”
- Per Soule, when you have a lot of projects with urgent deadlines, “you make it happen because you’re blessed that it’s happening.” Being an artist or writer is fun, but a lot of the time it’s just the same as having a job – you have to schedule your time, come up with a system, and get things done.
- Airman is Colfer’s favorite standalone novel that he’s written, as he says it’s a classic old adventure story.
- Fans are crazy: there’s a chance they’ll all turn on you for even minor things. People feel ownership of things that they love.
- One of Colfer’s biggest writing regrets is a Doctor Who short story he wrote as a bit of a joke without ever having seen the series – he feels like he let fans down by not putting in the research to get the characters right. As a friend told him, he had “written a great Star Trek episode”
- Eoin Colfer puts little jokes into his works for kids “for all the dads” he imagines reading the book to their children. He named one of the dwarfs in Artemis Fowl Kolin Ozkopy so that when read aloud, the dads would be surprised into saying “colonoscopy.” When asked why he was laughing, one dad told his kid, “There’s nothing funny about Kolin Ozkopy.”
- Colfer puts an orange key ring on his office door so his family knows not to disturb him when he’s writing. “I’m either writing or having a nap, no one knows.”
To see the Strand’s other upcoming events go here.
Highfire by Eoin Colfer is out now from Harper Collins. Click here to buy Highfire.