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.
Just when you think you've saved the world! "You will kill her?" the Torment asked. Skulduggery sagged. "Yes." He hesitated, then took his gun from his jacket. "I'm sorry, Valkyrie," he said softly. "Don't talk to me," Valkyrie said. "Just do what you have to do." Valkyrie parted her tunic, and Skulduggery pointed the gun at the vest beneath. "Please forgive me," Skulduggery said, then aimed the gun at the girl and pulled the trigger. With Serpine dead, the world is safe once more. At least, that's what Valkyrie and Skulduggery think, until the notorious Baron Vengeous makes a bloody escape from prison, and dead bodies and vampires start showing up all over Ireland. With Baron Vengeous after the deadly armour of Lord Vile, and pretty much everyone out to kill Valkyrie, the daring detective duo face their biggest challenge yet. But what if the greatest threat to Valkyrie is just a little closer to home!?
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."
Praise for Skulduggery Pleasant Hugely enjoyable - a thrill-a-minute adventure.' Jonathan Stroud 'It's exciting, pacy, nicely handled and fun. I sincerely hope Landy revisits these characters.' Philip Ardagh, Guardian 'A gripping debut.' Phil Hogan, Observer 'Skulduggery Pleasant serves up a thoroughly satisfying blend of humour, magic and adventure. Once you've met Stephanie and Skullduggery, you'll be clamouring for a sequel.' Rick Riordan "A remarkably accomplished debut with wonderful dialogue." Robert Dunbar, Irish Times "[Landy's] fight scenes are perfectly pitched. His characters are exceptionally well drawn and delightfully colourful... Reading [this book] is like riding a rollercoaster." Irish Independent "Landy's witty style will win him fans of all ages... With writing of this standard, a rattling plot and definite potential for cross-over appeal, it's a good job Harry's [Potter] resigning before he's forcibly retired." Irish Mail on Sunday "Humour and magic combine in this thrilling adventure." Waterstone's Books Quarterly "...people in the book world are raving about this book." Glasgow Herald "It's pacy, it's funny, it's irreverent. The relationship between Skulduggery and Stephanie is tremendously strong. Stephanie is a splendid character - blunt, logical and outspoken... We enjoyed Skkulduggery Pleasant. Muchly. Roll on volume two!" The Book Bag "A rip-roaring adventure." Irish Sunday Independent "Full of black humour, super powers, mysteries, murder and mayhem." Carousel
Series: Skulduggery Pleasant
For Ages: 10 - 13 years old
For Grades: 5+
Number Of Pages: 378
Published: January 2009
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Dimensions (cm): 19.7 x 12.8 x 2.2
Weight (kg): 0.25