Eoin Colfer (pronounced Owen)is the very funny author of the best-selling fantasy series, Artemis Fowl, which began with the eponymous first book in 2001 and is now wrapping up with the eighth and final book in the series, Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian.
In Colfer's guest blog post below we get the scoop on the Artemis series and more--including (but not limited to) speculation on Thor's underpants and a little Ridley Pearson roasting. I'm sad to say goodbye to snappy Artemis Fowl, but Colfer convinced him to leave us with a list of his top five favorite books and why he likes them, after the jump.
People often ask me how come I'm so good looking. No wait, that was a dream. But people actually do ask me where I got the idea for Artemis Fowl, the teenage criminal mastermind featured in my book series, which is cleverly called Artemis Fowl, the series. And I say to them: Are you saying I stole the idea from Ridley Pearson? Is that what you're saying? Because it's a lie! Did Pearson send you? You can tell him from me that he's barking up the wrong tree. In fact, he doesn't even have a tree. And if he did, I certainly wouldn't be up in it watching him work through a telescope.
And then when I calm down and realise that nobody is accusing me of anything, I say that I got the idea for Artemis from my little brother Donal, or more specifically, from a photo I saw of him taken on his first morning at school. He was wearing trousers with razor creases and holding a briefcase, and I thought that he looked just like a James Bond villain, and wouldn't it be funny to write a book about a kid villain who was just as much of a genius as Bloefeldt or Goldfinger but only four feet high.
Apparently a lot of people agreed with me that this was a funny idea, because over the next decade or so more than 20 million people picked up a copy of an Artemis book for themselves. And if you factor in the number of people who shared the book with their little brothers, then that makes 20 million and four readers, because kids do not share with their little brothers, as little brothers tend to store their boogers in between the pages of their big brothers books.
So, I imagine Ron Burgundy asking: you've got a really successful series going, why in the name of Zeus's beard would you finish it after 8 books? After all, Tolkien wrote twenty four Lords of the Ring books including all the manuscripts, unfinished manuscripts, rough sketches, cartoons, and stick figures that have yet to turn up in his step-grand neighbour's attic. And that's not even counting the ones co-written by James Patterson.
This is a good question. And one I often ask myself in the dead of night when I awake weeping, having dreamed of spiralling sales and obscurity. Why in the name of Thor's enchanted underpants would I kill the goose that lays the golden egg? This is obviously a metaphor, as I would never personally kill a goose, unless the goose had been genetically modified to threaten the security of our nation (Take that, Ridley!) and I do not get paid in golden eggs. Although I wish I did, as gold holds its value pretty well in our uncertain economy. Also I happen to know that Thor doesn't wear underpants, as he finds they slow him down when he needs to go potty in battle situations.
So why finish Artemis? The short answer is: the story is finished. When I wrote the Last Guardian I realised that Artemis had become a hero and therefore was of no further use to me. This may sound callous, like I had sucked all the use out of a beloved character and then tossed him aside, which is essentially true. Once Artemis became a good guy I left him to (SPOILER ALERT) raise his Shetland ponies with his new dwarf friend Flemm of the Red Feet, who has a birthmark in the shape of a birthmark that reveals him to be one of the Atlantis Red Feets and the lost heir to their crock of gold, which must be worth at least the equivalent of a Big Mac with fries and large beverage.
Fine. I admit it. That was not a spoiler. I just made it up to prove the point that I can make up things and don't need to rummage around in other writer's trash in the dead of night to find ideas. Anyone with half a brain can tell that that isn't me on that surveillance tape. I am much taller than that and do not own a pair of lady's stockings to put on my head.
But seriously, Artemis is done. He is finished. I want to let him bow out with one last glorious adventure that can sit comfortably on the shelf with the other seven so that when I am an old guy (but still good looking, with hair on my head and none in my ears) I can look up at the shelf and say: them're my books, and I am proud of every one. And my son can say: We're in Safeways, you old git, those shelves have washing powder on them. And he may be right, but the sentiment stays the same: I am happy with all eight books, but if I wrote a ninth then I would know deep in my heart that the story is over already and I am flogging a dead horse. Once again, I am speaking metaphorically. I would never flog a dead horse. What's the point? The dead horse won't learn any lessons and good whips don't grow on trees. Unless they're wooden whips. Which are rare except in AndalucÃa, Spain. Do you see what I'm doing here? I am metaphorically flogging a dead horse by waffling on about flogging an actual dead horse.
Double literary whammy!
Let's see Ridley Pearson try that!
Even teenage masterminds have some downtime to read. Here Artemis Fowl shares what he likes about some of his favorite books.
- Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain - Tom Sawyer is generally credited with being the brains of this juvenile outfit, but he was a mere buffoon compared to Huck. Tom with his fence painting con thought small while Huckleberry could see the big picture.
- The Dark Knight Returnsby Frank Miller - Nice Gothic artwork and Miller's Batman shows us that sometimes you have to be bad to be good. A nice motto to live by.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams - Adams puts forward some interesting hypotheses and sometimes his predictions have actually come to pass. And even when his ideas have been proven wrong they were mildly amusing to read.
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens - A classic tome, nicely written apart from Dickens' characteristic overuse of adjective and adverb. All very realistic until the last chapter when Sydney Carton sacrifices himself for another. Highly unlikely given the man's character. To give one's life for another when both bodies contain roughly the same amount of energy? I fail to see the point.
- Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie - Of course this book should be entitled The Adventures of Captain Hook. What a character? The perfect villain. Sadly Barrie bowed to conventional storytelling by allowing the Pan character to vanquish James Hook, but in real life I'll wager that the Captain would prevail.