Transcription provided by Katrina Antonette King. Who’s house? Katrina’s house!
Perhaps best know for the Artemis Fowl series of books, Eoin Colfer took on the daunting task of writing an new book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, the first not written by series creator Douglas Adams. Many thought this an impossible task, yet And Another Thing…, published in 2009, was both an entertaining read and an excellent continuation of the popular series. During his tour in support of the book last year I was able to sit down with Mr. Colfer and discuss the book and his writing it in depth.
POP CULTURE ZOO: First of all, congratulations on writing a new Hitchhiker’s book.
EOIN COLFER: Thank you.
PCZ: I guess the first question that comes to mind, especially with this being toward the end of the tour, what has been the reception?
EC: The reception’s been great. I think my biggest critic is kind of myself, that I never have 100% accepted that it was a good idea in the first place. And I had to think long and hard before I said I would do it, and then I immediately began to worry about doing it. And now that it’s out, and it’s been well-received, I kind of have to worry about something else. So, I worry about should I have done it. But overall I’m glad I did, and it was a good thing to do, and it’s done it’s job. It’s fulfilled it’s brief to bring the Hitchhiker [Universe] back a little bit for people. And that seems to be the reception I’m getting in that the people who come to the readings are kind of glad that the Hitchhiker is back up at it again, and they’ve all gone and read the books again, and now they’re recommending to their kids. And the people who don’t like it, don’t hate it enough to come and tell me.
PCZ: (laughs) That’s good.
EC: I thought people would be hugely offended and come and say “How dare you?” but the reaction has been so positive from the critics, I think that people are just saying “Ok, we will not publicly humiliate you.” So I’ve been very glad. I shouldn’t say that now, because tonight someone will, the guy will turn up tonight!
PCZ: That’s right!
EC: Superfan will be there!
PCZ: The people in Portland are fairly vocal.
EC: Yeah, I’ll be ready for it. I’ve been imagining someone turning up for so long, that I’m ready for any possible accusation or question, I think. Well, except “You’re crap!” which is not really a question technically. I’m a nervous person anyway, so this was… I mean of all the books, of all the books to try and do, why did I try to do this one? I suppose because this was the one I was asked to do. I wouldn’t do it again, and I won’t be doing more Hitchhiker’s, and I certainly won’t do the next James Bond or whatever else. I’ll probably be sequel guy now. The go to guy! Revive your series! No, once is enough.
PCZ: Reading the book, it was interesting for me, because reading the previous five books multiple times, your brain kinda gets hardwired into “What is a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book?” And so I almost sort of had to approach the book sideways and pretend not to read it, and then suddenly realize I was reading it. But I think overall it turned out better that you wrote it as a Hitchhiker’s book, as opposed to writing “Douglas Adams writing a Hitchhiker’s book.”
EC: That was a hard line to walk. Because initially I thought, well, should I just mimic Douglas and try and write it exactly as he would’ve written it. And that idea lasts for about a half a second, and you realize that would be the stupidest thing you could do. First of all, you can’t mimic Douglas Adams successfully, and many people have tried. And it’s so horribly embarrassing and cringe-worthy when it fails. Because it has to fail, it’s like trying to mimic Charles Dickens. Nobody else can do that. They’ve actually almost originated their own style of writing. And secondly, why was I asked to do it? I was asked to do it for me. So, I think it’s my style, but it does nod to Douglas. It has to be done in a way where you don’t feel a jarring that you’re in a different universe, that this is not a Hitchhiker’s book. So, I think what you said is a fair assessment. That I wanted it to be a Hitchhiker’s book, but not a Douglas Adams book. So you feel comfortable with it, but you’re under no illusion that the writer is trying to pretend that he’s an excellent satirist.
PCZ: When you were asked to do this, was your first reaction “No way!”?
EC: Yeah, my first reaction was no. ‘Cause I’m such a fan of the originals, I couldn’t really comprehend what they were saying exactly. “What do you mean, write the ending? Why do you want to do that?” And it did end pretty conclusively. So it was laid out for me what the idea was behind it, that they wanted someone to finish the story. And Douglas had wanted the story finished — not the exact way that he wanted it — but he wanted to finish his series and never got the chance. Which I kind of didn’t really realize, to be honest, at the time, I thought it’d just finished. But apparently, that wasn’t the way it happened. He said he was finished, but then he returned and revised some of it, and said that he would do one more to finish it off. So with that in mind then, and with the request being approved by Jane Belson, Douglas’ widow, and Polly, his daughter. And they were so happy about it, and enthusiastic about it, I found it hard to say no. And eventually it boiled down to, “I would really like to do this, and it would be good fun for 6 months.”
And the only reason I wouldn’t do it, would be that people wouldn’t want me to do it. And that’s.. I felt that wasn’t enough. I mean, now it feels more real to me because I’m out on the road. But when you’re in a shed in Ireland, you think, “Oh, I’ll worry, I’ll deal with that when it comes. I won’t worry about that now.” Which is just as well I think, I mean I think I took the right attitude. Because I would never have written it if I had kind of worried in advance about the reaction of people. All and all, I think it was a good thing to do. A positive thing. I’m not used to this kind of scrutiny and I’m not really comfortable with it. I’m very happily gonna scoot back now to the world of leprechauns. Where all I have to do is write a book and people either like it or they don’t like it. They don’t analyze it endlessly and look for clues and stuff.
PCZ: And so when you sat down to write this what, to you, made a “Hitchhiker’s book?”
EC: Well, I think there was a certain skew to the way Douglas looked at life and the way he picked on certain issues and satirized them. So I wanted to do that as well. Initially I was thinking, what are my big philosophical ideas, what are my catch phrases, y’know, what’s my “meaning of life” or “so long, thanks for all the fish?” But then the more I thought about this the more I realized that Douglas never wrote these as catch phrases, that people picked them out. And so he probably didn’t think to himself [for example] Ford Prefect’s towel was a gag. I’m sure he never imagined people would be gathering outside Forbidden Planet in London with towels and elastic bands. So hopefully stuff will pop out at people that they will enjoy. But it’s just the craziness, and I love the way his plots can turn on something as insignificant as an elastic band and shoot off in another direction. And everybody just buys that.
So you’re really given a lot of freedom to be absurd in these books. And I’ve used that to its full extent. I think the plot is good, but it’s totally incredible and ridiculous and that’s the whole point. You don’t want kind of a really nice progression which is leading through to the usual denouement and at the end. It has to be kind of madness, but inside the madness, there is these characters. And I think that’s why people bought Hitchhiker’s. Because they liked Arthur and they felt a bit.. I mean I imagined if I was in space I’d be exactly like him. I’d fixate on something normal like tea, just to get me through the lunacy. It’s lunacy, but at the center of it, there must be people that you actually not necessarily like, but that you’re interested in. You want to see what happens to Zaphod Beeblebrox.
PCZ: Well I think you did a good mix with the characters much like Douglas did, in that there’s a lot of absurdity and there’s a lot of selfishness in the characters, but you kind of hinted at and showed that these characters actually kind of care about each other to a certain extent.
EC: Yes, you try to do that. I think that comes through from yourself. Your own humanity, such that it is, will come through. I mean, Zaphod’s a totally selfish character. I had such a laugh writing him, because he really is today’s media person, the reality TV kind of person who’s famous for being famous, and will do whatever they have to to perpetuate their fame. I think Zaphod is like that. So he was actually very suited to today’s climate. He didn’t take a lot of updating. Douglas was, with that character especially, he really seemed to see what way trends were going. How fame was going. Which way it was headed. That there was nothing behind fame, in a lot of cases. He started that with Zaphod I think and it was great to be able to take up that particular character. Well, bring him back as Zaphod hadn’t been around for a few books, which was handy for me, because I worked it into the story where he was. But, yeah, I really enjoyed him.
PCZ: I think the two prominent things you played with in Zaphod that I found interesting were, first, Zaphod is constantly told “Here’s what you need to do to accomplish this,” and then completely ignores it. Secondly, I really liked the scene at the end between Ford and Zaphod where Ford’s says, “Y’know, Arthur’s here, things are going to go awry” and Zaphod answers, “Yeah, I’ll be there to help you out. I’ll be there for the last minute rescue.” (laughs)
EC: Yeah, it’s nice, and it does seem that while it’s the last book it’s not the end of the story, that the adventure goes on somewhere. And I would love to see someone else writing a [Hitchhiker’s] book now. Then I think people would realize that my book is meant as a tribute, and a signpost back to the originals. For me this could’ve killed my career! I have a great career and this could’ve totally killed it. I was talking to a couple of people, and Colm Toibin the Irish writer said that, “Y’know you’ve really have gotten away with murder here. You totally dodged a bullet, because you could’ve been totally decimated.” And he’s right. I didn’t realize how little chance I had been given of getting out of this unscathed. I thought, “Oh people have read my other books. They’ll see I could possibly do it.” and people are saying, “No, they’re already, I think.” Maybe that counted for me, because when the book came out, and it wasn’t a total disaster, people were happy. “It was great, because we were expecting this to be total crap! And it’s not too bad!” (laughs) So I’ve done okay, and I’m just gonna sneak on back to my own stuff, without my tail between my legs. I can go back okay, and probably even get a few readers out of it. But it would be great to see someone who doesn’t need to do it. And there’s a legion of Hitchhiker’s fans who are writers now, who would gladly take six months off to kind of do a little tribute book like this one, that would keep Hitchhiker’s alive. I think it would be a nice thing and then if it became a thing, it wouldn’t impact on the first five books at all. Or people wouldn’t worry about it. I think if someone else came one out with one people wouldn’t worry about it, because then they would know that the Hitchhiker’s books haven’t been affected by this one now. And they might think “Great!” It could even be good, we might get a few chuckles out of it.” It would be a nice thing to keep going.
PCZ: Well I would think, just seeing how many different versions of the story in different formats exist, that it sort of lends itself to being continued by a different author every time.
EC: Well it would be great! There’s Dirk Maggs who collaborated with Douglas. I think he could do a great one. A fantastic one. We did the Hitchcon recently in London, and one of the things was they restaged the radio play. Obviously they couldn’t do the whole five series, so he compressed it to one hour-long show, and he put in some new pieces himself, and it was brilliant. So I think Dirk would have zero problem. I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t already have an idea or two. And the fans love him, because he’s kind of like the ordained one. So I think he would do it. I think people like Stephen Fry .. I don’t know if you know Stephen Fry over here?
EC: I think he would do an amazing job. He’s a great writer.
EC: He’s very, very funny and he knew Douglas well. He probably wouldn’t do it, because they were such close friends, but I think he could. I think Neil Gaiman could do one. Terry Pratchett. Strange as it may sound, I think Isabel Allende would do a great one, because she did Zorro brilliantly, and Margaret Atwood, who already does sci-fi, but I think people would be surprised. What I’ve found out on this trip is, you never know who’s a Hitchhiker’s fan. I did an interview with a very glamorous lady in Ireland and the last person you would expect, and she was bubbling with excitement at the Hitchhiker’s books. She even said to me, “I bet you didn’t expect that!” and she was quizzing me on, “You remember in book two when this guy went there..” So you’d be surprised what writers might turn up and say, “Yeah, actually, I’ll give it a go.”
PCZ: Has there been any talk of turning this book into a radio play style production?
EC: Yeah, there has been! It was already on, as just spoken word, on BBC 2 or BBC 4. And there’s talk of putting together the full cast again, which should be amazing. They all want to do it, I was talking to them and I took the opportunity to ask them, “If it came up would you do it?” And they all said of course they would, they’d love to do it. When we did the radio play in London, Dirk said to me “You have to be Tricia today” and I thought he was trying to be smart. “So I have to go and sacrifice myself to the Hitchhiker?” This is the first time I’d gone on stage. And he was laughing all the way. So there was a little bit of irony there. But it was brilliant! To be on stage between Arthur Dent and Zaphod Beeblebrox, it was a real kick in the ambition box for me.
PCZ: And Simon Jones did the audiobook?
EC: He did. That was a big thing, I think, because if he hadn’t done that, if he had said no, then I think a lot of the Hitchhiker’s fans would have been very suspicious. “Why does he turn it down?” But when he agreed to do it then it gave it a legitimacy that it might not have had. He’s a lovely guy, and he’s brilliant and I’ve always heard his voice. I mean, I don’t hear the others but… well, I do a little bit, but I [definitely] hear his voice. He’s not so much in this book. In the other books he’s the main character, but in this book it was the five central characters and they all have their piece. I think if anything Zaphod has the most to do. But I think that’s because Arthur Dent was Douglas Adams really, and what Douglas was annoyed about, Arthur was annoyed about. So, I decided it’d be more like a Star Trek book for me, where everyone had their piece which is a nice way to do it. I think there could be spin offs. I think Ford or Arthur or any of them could have their own book. At the same time, you don’t want it to turn into a kind of big industry, where everyone and anyone will take it on. There are hundreds of writers who would do it, but I think you need to keep it special, and just have someone like Isabel and every two years ask her would she do a little Hitchhiker’s book, and I’m sure people would do it.
PCZ: I would hope so. That was a big thing for me when I initially heard [about the new book], and all apologies, I was very skeptical and thinking, “Are you kidding me?” But then there was a part of me that said, “I want to see more with these characters. The end of Mostly Harmless, that can’t be the end!”
EC: That was exactly my reaction when they asked me to do it. I was very skeptical of the idea. I said, “The only people I would see doing this are Stephen Fry and Neil Gaiman. I would accept them doing it, and Dirk Maggs.” And I think the fans would accept it, they would be delighted unanimously. But me? I’m an Irish guy for a start. I’m lower middle class, dad’s a teacher, from a small town. I’m not an upper class English guy. But maybe that’d work for me, I don’t know. It’s hard to know. All I know is, so far, everyone’s been nice and everything’s great, so I’m clinging to that. When the first Artemis Fowl was announced there was a kind of hoo-hah over that and I really didn’t like it, because it was before the book was published. With this, it was before the book was written! It was just announced that it was going to be written and it started, and I thought, “Jesus, this is terrible, I don’t like this at all!” I like to kind of be on my own. No one knows what I’m doing, I’m a bit secretive about it. With this, every time I stuck my head out the door to go downtown for a cup of coffee, it was “How’s the Hitchhiker’s coming along?” and “What’re you doing with Zaphod?” and I thought, “This is not really the way to work at all. This is not creativity. It’s like you’re being scrutinized all the time.” So while I enjoyed it, when I look back in six months to a year, on this experience, if I’m not still touring, I will say that the writing was the best part. The part while I was actually in my office working. That was my favorite part.
PCZ: Were you given any directive or did you completely come up with it on your own?
EC: I just did my own thing. I didn’t really know how it was going to work. I knew if Jane didn’t like it, I wouldn’t let it go ahead. I would pull it or start again. Douglas’ agent had to see it, and he had to approve it, and I think there were members of the estate that had to have a look at it, but it all went really smoothly. It was so smooth I thought that surely this can’t be easy, because there’s a lot of people involved. There are websites, there’s an estate, there are relatives, there’s a lot of people with a stake in Hitchhiker’s. Sometimes it takes months just to iron out a contract. There was nothing. We just talked, Jane and I. No one argued. There was no haggling about points. The book went in, Jane loved it, Polly loved it, Ed loved it and it was (snaps) gone. I never really thought it would happen, to be honest. When I said, “Yes, I’ll do it,” I thought, well I’m just saying yes, because Jane Belson’s is going to say “No…What’re you thinking?” (laughs) So I thought that’s the last, and I’ll say yes, because it doesn’t matter. If I say no, then it definitely won’t happen, but if I say yes, there’s a 5% chance it’ll happen. But it was so quick, in the following day or two, “Jane loves the idea,” and I thought they said they were going to messenger all my books over to Jane Belson and she was going to have a read and see before she made up her mind fully. She’d read four or five of my books with her daughter, Polly, and so she said oh yeah, we’ve read all of his books already, that’s great. It was that easy. It was that easy. I can’t make breakfast at my house with that kind of ease and everyone agreeing on everything. It was just such a pleasant experience. I met Doug’s brother-in-law, and his mum, and his mates and everybody, or 90% of the people were “This is good” and “This is gonna bring Hitchhiker’s back.” Not that it’s been away, I mean it’s still a big seller, but it hasn’t been getting to the younger people. It’s getting to a few, and I always recommend it when I’m out. People ask you, what was your biggest influence, I say Hitchhiker’s or whatever, but this is a way to get maybe a couple million young fellows reading it, or young girls, and perpetuate Hitchhiker’s for another ten years, which would be great!
PCZ: Do you think that your Artemis Fowl series will help bring younger readers to Hitchhiker’s?
EC: Well I think that it has been, because the people that are coming to the readings are still mostly Artemis Fowl fans and you get fifteen guys who are Hitchhiker’s fans. I’m telling the kids, you gotta read it and they’re all buying the Hitchhiker’s because that’s what I’m talking about. It’s working out well I think. I don’t care about the sales now, I think it’s gonna be a slow; it’s gonna one of those steady things where as people are reading Hitchhiker’s they buy this one at the end, or as people are going through all of my books. That’s what kids do. They find a book and they like it, they buy everything by that writer. So as part of that everything, they’ll buy Hitchhiker’s and then say, “Oh, this’s fantastic,” or hopefully they’ll say that, and then go back and read the first five and then there’s bound to be a crossover, I hope.
PCZ: Did you know what characters you were going to use? I mean, obviously, other than the main ones.
EC: Well I wanted to have a couple of new people, because I thought if I’m going to do it, I have to do something of mine, but I thought for continuity if I could pick a couple of characters that Douglas did invent or use, but not much, so that would give me a lot of latitude. For example, Wowbagger, I always liked him, but he’s a gag, he didn’t really have personality. He was just a jerk and a complete arsehole, and on to the next one. So I knew, when everyone saw him coming in, they’d go “Oh, Wowbagger,” and you would get this bit of latitude from people, “Oh let’s see what goes on here,” ’cause I liked him, and he was funny. So you get this continuity of this character, but you could give him a personality. So I did that with Wowbagger and also Thor because he had been in the flying parties. In a way you’re…not manipulating people because that’s too strong a word, but you are definitely pushing buttons and you’re hoping to get a sense of nostalgia from people, and fondness. It’s like, I went to see the Monty Python musical and as soon as the characters walked on stage, people were clapping, because they knew what was going to happen. You wanted to get that kind of fondness, so when Zaphod goes to see Thor in the bar, people already knew Thor and he was at a party before, but mostly it was for background. I didn’t name him immediately, but Hitchhiker’s fans would know who he was and they would go, “Oh this is okay, this is interesting, I like this guy I wonder what’s gonna happen here?” I did use those as another way of validating my book, if you like, but it was a way I could mold those characters. I mean Zaphod and Arthur and Ford, they’re pretty much established, what they’re like, but not Wowbagger. So that was handy. Then with the new characters I wanted to do people that would fit in nicely in the Hitchhiker’s world. So they had to be a bit nutty and a bit larger than life and that would be Hillman and Constant Mown. I think Constant Mown worked out pretty well, and people learn to like that character. My thing always was that people had to feel this was a Hitchhiker’s book, not just twenty new characters that they don’t know, they’re gonna feel well this is just a copy book with Arthur Dent in it. I really didn’t want that.
PCZ: There was a section early in the book where a character was referenced waving or picking up a robot leg. Was that a sly little cameo for Marvin?
EC: Yeah, it was! It was just a little cameo. I would have loved to bring Marvin back because he was one of the best characters in the series, but I just felt that his death scene was so brilliant, and it was so perfect and final, that you couldn’t really bring him back. It would be a little bit like a betrayal. I mean, Douglas had already brought everyone else back, himself on the radio, so I felt “That’s ok, that’s done, that’s a precedent there.” He did it in a way that wouldn’t work for a novel, but he had done it with the babelfish transporting them. But Marvin, looking up at the words of God, dying in Arthur’s arms, you really can’t mess with that. You could’ve gone back in time, or something, because he was ten million years in the carpark so you could’ve done something there, and I did think about it, but eventually I decided just to let him rest in peace, or rust in peace, whichever.
PCZ: Well, Random seemed to sort of pick up the Marvin banner, a little bit.
EC: She did! She’s got the depression, the black depression. She’s kind of a little bit of a typical teenager, but to the power of ten and it was nice to have that. That character was established, but I was able to go farther with it. It’s all a natural progression really. I mean, if Douglas had written it, he would’ve developed the characters a bit more. I felt just to do the characters exactly as they are was no good, because that wouldn’t be true to the series. They would progress somehow, so if you just left them as they were it would just be aping Douglas, but not even copying what he would do, because he would develop them, so I tried to change them a little bit.
PCZ: My personal favorite section of the book is the job interview with Cthulhu.
EC: A lot of people like that. When I was writing that I thought that was a little giggle, but people are picking up on that. Asking Cthulhu, “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” that seems to be the line that’s coming out. I did enjoy that. I had about five interviews, but I cut them down to two, actually. I thought after two I was just padding the book, so even though they were very funny, some of them, I decided two was enough.
PCZ: That was the moment where it really clicked for me and felt like a Hitchhiker’s book, because that’s sort of the absurdist idea that Douglas Adams had, without actually, like you said aping him.
EC: There’s a few moments like that. People have said that before. The interview, a lot of people have said that when Wowbagger arrived at the door, they relaxed. It was like a test and I did think about that a lot. I knew people would be thinking, “So how are these people going to come back from the dead?” And the obvious thing, obviously, is the Heart of Gold arrives. So I go straight for that. And people go, “Oh… okay, yeah.” But then that gets screwed up as well. It’s a test to see what I’d do there and I think I was very much aware of that. I felt every page of this book was a test. Even the introduction, catch up, the first few pages, that every paragraph almost, people would be deciding whether or not to stop reading it. So your challenge is really just to get people to the next page and if you want to do that you really can’t be lazy with anything, not even a line. And if your references are too over the top, or too oblique, you’d lose them. I think I felt for the Hitchhiker’s people there had to be a lot of references to the original book, but then for the new people it couldn’t be so dense with reference that they were turned off. You had to walk a fine line, again.
PCZ: Each book Douglas seemed to kind of write a finality and write himself into a corner, then the next book was “and they’re rescued” and then we go on. So the Heart of Gold rescue to me was like, “Ok, that makes sense, of course!”
EC: Yeah, well, I think Ford even says, “What are you surprised about, this is what happens every time!” Douglas had a way of just writing himself into a corner and then more or less just forgetting about it. He would just move on as if nothing had happened. So Fenchurch would just disappear and that was it. She’s talked about for a page or two and then she’s gone forever and no more mention is made of her. I can’t really work like that, exactly, but it’s fun. I tried to follow that pattern a little bit, but obviously, there are stylistic differences. It’s like the two head thing. The two heads was a radio gag and it’s great, but for me I couldn’t deal with it because it would have to be dealt with all the time. They would talk to each other, they would disagree, and it became really cumbersome. So I said, I’m just gonna take one of the heads off and make it a different character. Then I could address it and they could talk to it, but the two head thing, that was driving me mad. Again, for Douglas I think, that was funny, but he never really did much about that. Zaphod had two heads and it was a gag and one time they ordered two drinks, then that was it as far as the two heads, the character talked as one person from then on. That was one of Douglas’ trademarks, the way things would be done for a gag and then he didn’t necessarily have to follow through with that. He’d just make the gag and then forget about it. For example, the babelfish in the ear thing; that wouldn’t work for me, for a novel, because it would mean there was no danger. Every time there was danger, the babelfish would transport and it shouldn’t’ve worked for the last five books. They should’ve transported every 10 minutes. Douglas didn’t care about that. It was a gag, it was funny, it was good, it was in and people knew that and accepted it.
PCZ: To me, in keeping with Zaphod, that he would think, “I know what I’ll do, I’ll put my other head on the Infinite Improbability Drive, why not? why didn’t I think of that before?”
EC: He should’ve thought of it before, yeah. (laughs)
PCZ: So next you’re, working on the seventh Artemis Fowl book?
EC: Yes, I’m working on that at the moment. Hopefully, that’ll be out next summer, at the end of the summer. I’ll probably be back on tour again, but I’ll be going back to the kids’ world! (laughs) I’ll have a nice gentle tour, one event a day, stay in the same place for four days, no press really because y’know, it’s a kid’s book series. On the first book, loads of press, but when you’re on book seven what are you going to say? It’s still about a criminal mastermind kid. So I’m really looking forward to those days, and I bring my family, because I’ll be staying in the same hotel for a few days. With this tour there’s none of that, it’s just in and out, which is not as nice. It’s fine, I mean it’s great, you get to meet loads of people and see places, but it’s a bit more hectic than I’m used to. I’ve been spoiled.
PCZ: Did you learn anything writing the Hitchhiker’s book that you feel you’ll carry on?
EC: I did. I kind of developed a style that was halfway between Douglas and me, and I’ve kind of kept that. I like that voice, so it’s definitely leaped back into the Artemis book. It’s kind of a progression anyway, but definitely some of the new voice has stayed with me. And I’ve kind of grown more confident with word play and sentence structure, so I’m going to try to keep some of that in. Maybe my editor will beat it out of me when I hand it all in, but that remains to be seen.
PCZ: Is the seventh book going to be it, or do you plan to continue?
EC: I don’t know really. I definitely won’t do another one straight away. I’ll probably do two or three books in between, before I go back to it, but I think I’ll eventually have to come to a decision and say “This is the last book,” so I’ll have to finish it. But I don’t like to do that. I think they’re a bit like the James Bond books, where they all stand alone as an adventure, so you could read them in any order, and it wouldn’t really make a difference which way you’d read them. It could be finished, or it might not be. I always leave something at the end that I have to deal with at the beginning of the next book. It sparks my imagination. So, it’s this one and maybe one more and ends in two or three years.
PCZ: Do you have some ideas for other things you’d like to write?
EC: Well I’m working on loads of things, I’m working on two screenplays for various directors, and a musical. The musical is the big thing at the moment. It’s only a small show, but I’m really enjoying working with musicians. They’re doing the music, I’m just doing the lyrics on the book. That’s taking up most of my time at the moment, when I’m not working on Artemis. It’s great to have a successful series that allows you to say, “Right, I can take a year now, and I can write a musical, and I can work on screenplays, that none of which will probably get made or make money.” And to be able to have the luxury of doing that is fantastic.
PCZ: Well as a parent of a teenager and a five year old, I’m incredibly grateful to yourself and also to JK Rowling for writing books that… I mean whoever heard of kids camping out to buy books? That is phenomenal! It’s strange.
EC: Yeah, it’s a strange world. I mean, when I was a kid reading was not popular. You didn’t tell people you were reading except a select few who you knew were also reading. It wasn’t something that was discussed in school, at all, ever. So, it has changed. It’s great. And Harry Potter has a lot to do with that and Phillip Pullman and a few other people. It’s a great time to be a kids writer as well, because it’s a great following. The publishers are seeing that now, so there’s more money being put into it. You’ve got more of a chance of succeeding with books.
Thank you very much to Eoin Colfer for taking the time to sit down with me and discuss “And Another Thing…” The sixth installment of the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” trilogy is available now as are all the books (to date) in Mr. Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series.