Monday, January 21, 2008

Author: Eoin Colfer

When I heard that Eoin Colfer was going to be in Texas this past weekend, I cleared the calendar and prepared to drive 'where ever' in order to see him. Then my newsletter from Murder by the Book announced his visit here in H-Town, right in my own backyard.

In Eoin Colfer's video appearances and in interviews, he comes off as a very low key fellow. In person he is a riotously funny, sarcastic, quick, self-deprecating, and witty storyteller whose childhood adventures made for one of the funniest hours I have spent in a very, very, long time.

The fact that the entling and I relived his presentation, story by story, bit by bit, on the drive home was a testament to our enjoyment.

Colfer is on tour to promote his new book Airman. At least 160 people attended along with Radio Disney and a video crew (Airman is published by Hyperion, which is part of Disney & Co.) In honor of Airman, Colfer shared a "flying" story from his childhood (do all boys go through a bicycle ramp phase?) and a more recent story involving a parachute jump.

He did not do a reading from Airman, opting instead to take questions "because he didn't want to put people to sleep." He is obviously a veteran of kids' frequently vague and unfocused questions as he was able to take questions like the perennial "where do you get your ideas from?" and turn it into a very funny riff about going through Philip Pullman's trash bins.

When one young lady asked the question, "Is there a character in your books that is like you?" he was so grateful, he told her she was a genius. He allowed that he is probably a great deal like Foaly, the centaur in the AF world because he messes about with his computer and "makes smart remarks all day."

In response to the question about an Artemis Fowl movie , he announced that he will play "Butler," the ever vigilant and well muscled bodyguard to Artemis. He then shot wounded looks at the audience who greeted this statement with laughter. As for the timing of the film, he thinks it will finally come out "two weeks after I die."

He has an idea for a sequel to The Supernaturalist and hopes to start work on it next year. He has just completed Artemis #6 which will be called AF and the Time Paradox. The greatest paradox about AF, he added, was that it was supposed to be a trilogy "but then Mr. MasterCard called."

The success of Artemis allowed him to take a year to write Airman which is a story that has been kicking around in his imagination for at least 15 years. He added that "those islands" are visible from his parents home (dying to read it now and find out about "those islands.)

He spoke thoughtfully about the importance of folklore in Ireland and how teaching Irish mythology is actually part of the curriculum there. Listening to the stories was always the best part of his day as a student and reading them to a class was his favorite part of being a teacher, a job that he only quit seven years ago to be a full time writer. He pointed out that Artemis Fowl is essentially an update and twist on the oldest story in Ireland, a boy sets out to capture a leprechaun and steal his pot of gold.

His rapport with his fans was polite but personal. I was touched that he took time to visit and joke with the entling as he signed her books, even though the line was long.

Colfer's terrific presentation helped me think about what makes for a great author visit and I will write more about that soon. There are some folks I will travel afar to see and Eoin Colfer has now joined that pantheon


Tricia said...

Camille, you lucky duck. Boy, do I wish I could have been with you. It sounds like it was fabulous. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I'm jealous.

Anonymous said...

Color me envious. I missed him when he was in NYC (2 hours hence), and now I'm sad I did. Even though I only just now found out about my loss, and even though I couldn't have attended anyhow on account of M having pneumonia. But still.

david elzey said...

Yes, all boys go through a bicycle ramp phase. Or at least they did. Feels like bikes are outnumbered by skateboards and video games as methods of transport these days...

Camille said...

Jack Gantos has a bike-off-the-roof story too. It seems like a staple of boyhood.

As the mother of girls I don't have first hand knowledge. I agree that skateboards do seem more prevalent than bikes these days and you are completely right about the video games