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Derek Landy interviewed by Amelia Vahtrick, who is the 6 - 12 Buzz writer.
Do you believe in any paranormal stuff? Ghosts ghouls or magic?
I tend to be a complete sceptic when it comes to things like that. I demand evidence for practically everything. For instance, I refused to believe in the existence of gravity until I was shown proof that it was actually real- but even now I’m not quite convinced…
Have you read any of Raymond Chandler's mystery novels? Skulduggery strikes me as being rather like a skeleton Philip Marlowe.
I read a lot of crime fiction, that tends to be my favourite genre, and when I was a kid I watched all those old black and white detective movies, like The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon. If it had a private eye in a cool hat who talks really fast, I loved it. Skulduggery is definitely influenced by those kinds of stories and characters.
Can you give us any news about the rumoured Skulduggery film in the works?
I wish I could...! Warner Brothers are enthusiastic, but there are no guarantees it will ever get made. We have an excellent screenwriter who has taken over the script, so hopefully we’ll end up with something that everyone likes.
Was it easy making the transition from script writing to writing novels?
Well, writing a script is completely different from writing a book, and when I had the idea for Skulduggery, I’d never written a book before. All of my ideas were automatically for movies. But with Skulduggery, it was different. I knew this wasn’t an idea for a screenplay- this was an actual book, which meant a LOT more work! I just started writing, really. Because I didn’t know exactly how to write a book, I decided to pack every chapter with the best jokes, the best action, the best horror, the best EVERYTHING I could think of- and then when it came to do the next chapter, I’d pack THAT full of the best stuff! I was determined to have fun, because I think if a writer has fun, a reader has fun.
Do you have any input into your book covers?
I have to say - I think the cover (along with the tagline) for book one is one of the best I've ever seen. The covers are by a guy called Tom Percival, and Tom will read the book, and we’ll talk about what image might be best. Then he’ll send me a sketch, and we’ll talk about what’s cool or what needs to be changed, and he’ll come back with another sketch, and he’ll usually have it nailed by that stage. I love the covers for these books- I have a few of them framed on my wall.
The snappy dialogue in the Skulduggery books is amazing! Do you think your background in screen writing contributed to this?
I think so, definitely. I started off writing screenplays, so that’s how I taught myself to write. Dialogue has always been hugely important to me, and is by far my favourite aspect of doing what I do.
What were your favourite books as a kid?
My favourite series of books would probably be The Three Investigators- books about three boys who solved crime! I devoured those books!
Why did you make Stephanie a girl? I love strong female characters in books of course, but it seems the (perhaps cliche) more obvious option would have been a boy. Skulduggery is unique in that it has a female main character and is so widely read by a male audience.
Stephanie/Valkyrie is actually based on a friend of mine. For some reason, Skulduggery’s partner was always going to be a girl, from the moment I thought of him. It took me a full five seconds to think about what kind of person she should be, and who I should model her after. I chose my friend because she is everything that I admire, all wrapped up in one person. She truly is the real, living and breathing Valkyrie.
What can we say, without giving too much away?
Not much, is the answer.
But what we CAN say is that this book is hilarious, it′s tense, and it′s packed with all the eye-popping action, crackling one liners and imaginative set pieces you′ve come to expect. There′s a new threat to our plucky heroine, of course. But that′s not all. There′s also the little fact of the Big Bad, the uber-baddy who′s going to come along and really, really destroy the world. (Really.) And what we learn about that villain in this book will literally make your jaw fall off and your hair go white with shock. (Not really.)
Will Skulduggery make it out of the Faceless Ones′ dimension? Who knows. The problem is, he may not have much to come back to...
About the Author
Derek Landy lives near Dublin. Before writing his children′s story about a sharply-dressed skeleton detective, he wrote the screenplays for a zombie movie and a murderous horror film. ′I think my career-guidance teacher is spinning in her grave,′ he says, ′or she would be if she were dead.′
Reviewed By Amelia Vahtrick, Kids Buzz Editor
If you want to wow your kids, get them into Skulduggery Pleasant. I am speaking from experience here. Both of my kids (one boy, one girl) loved Landy's skeleton detective when in their late primary years, as did I. What they would have loved even more was their very own signed copy.
Don't lose your head! The wait is over, Dark Days is here! I'll just wait for the cheering to die down...
You see, Derek Landy was incredibly mean in book three. Skulduggery had just been sucked into another dimension, Valkyrie was setting off on a mission to find a missing head, I turn the page and... cliffhanger! A huge, massive cliffhanger!
If you're reading this, and are seriously confused as to what I am talking about, here's a quick catch up: Skulduggery Pleasant, our hero, is a private detective who also happens to be a walking skeleton. Valkyrie Cain is his sidekick (although she doesn't like that term, she prefers 'partner', or perhaps even 'superior'). They are getting quite good at saving the world, and done just that when Skulduggery went and got himself stuck in another dimension. (How silly.)
The publishers are being very tight-lipped about what they have in store for us in book four - all I know is that something will happen in this book that will literally make my jaw fall off and my hair go white with shock. Hmm... I wonder just how apprehensive I should be?
But while I don't have any tidbits about book four, I was lucky enough to have a Q and A session with Derek Landy himself - he shed some light on the background to the series. Don't worry if you're reading this before Dark Days - he doesn't give anything away!
Praise for The Faceless Ones: "A fast evolving plot and a great mix of scariness and humour" 5 star review, Sunday Express "Hard-boiled detective wisecracks mixed with magic." The Times "Fast and funny" The Times "A magical mystery that grabs you from the first word and doesn't let go, not even when you're finished, and leaves you gasping for more like a fish out of water. Terrifyingly good!" First News "The third book in this hilarious series featuring the skeleton detective will set the kids' spines tingling!" Asda magazine
Series: Skulduggery Pleasant
Published: 1st April 2010
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Dimensions (cm): 13.7 x 20.6 x 3.2
Weight (kg): 0.432