Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011


Book Six is going well, I’m sure you’ll be happy to know. I have another week before I send it in for my editor and agent to read- and of course it has to get the seal of approval from Laura too.

But today we are not talking about Book Six. Instead, we are talking about the new paperbacks.

I never assume that you all know the difference between a hardback and a paperback (er, apart from the fact that one has a hard back, and the other has a softer back) because I find myself explaining the intricacies of publishing to my family again and again on a worryingly regular basis. So, to start, a short lesson.

The first time a book is published, it will usually be published in hardback. This is when the book is brand new, so it will be bigger, it will have hard covers, and it’ll be more expensive. At the same time as the hardback is out, a trade paperback is released. These are NOT the same as a regular paperback, because they’re the same size as the hardback, it’s just that the covers are softer. You’ll usually find trade paperbacks in airports, because travellers don’t like carrying around hardbacks, which are heavier and more awkward. In Ireland, we actually get relatively few hardbacks, for some reason, and most of the brand new books on sale are trade paperbacks.

With me so far? Excellent.

In much the same way as films are released in the cinema, and then a few months later they’re released again on DVD, books go through a change. Approximately six months from the launch of the hardback, the paperback is released. Paperbacks are smaller and cheaper, and easier to carry around.

Paperbacks are also re-issued every once in a while with new covers, in order to attract new readers. And that’s what’s happening with Skulduggery.

In April, we’re going to get all the paperbacks released with new covers. You’ve already seen the front covers, but our dear friend Tom Percival has been hard at work on the BACK covers as well- which you will soon be able to see over on the Facebook page (hi guys!). These new paperbacks will fit in alongside the Dark Days paperback in terms of style- and from now on, we’ll be getting one cover for the hardback, and a totally different one for the paperback. Which is SWEET.

As I said, the main reason for redesigning the paperbacks is to entice new readers to pick them up, but the thing that struck us is that some of you lot will probably buy these paperbacks just BECAUSE of the new covers, even if you already own the original books. Because, you know, you’re all nuts, like. And I started to feel pretty guilty about that. I didn’t want you spending your money on multiple versions of my books when all you’d be getting is the same (admittedly brilliant) book with (admittedly brilliant) new covers. So, my UK and Ireland Minions, these new paperbacks, which will be out in April, will have new short stories attached for your reading pleasure. More Skulduggery goodness!

Each short story takes place a few months after the book it appears in.

Skulduggery Pleasant will have “The Lost Art Of World Domination”- a story that, I think, has only been available in Australia and New Zealand up until now.

Playing With Fire will have “Gold, Babies And The Brothers Muldoon”, in which Skulduggery and Valkyrie go up against a trio of goblins.

The Faceless Ones will have “The Slightly Ignominious End To The Legend Of Black Annis”, which is a Tanith Low solo story for all of you who miss her...!

Dark Days doesn’t get a short story yet- we have to wait until we sell all the ones that are out there already and reprint it, and then we’ll include one.

Mortal Coil gets “The Wonderful Adventures of Geoffrey Scrutinous”, which focuses on Charlie Smith’s fantastic creation, and Skulduggery and Valkyrie’s efforts to help him out of a spot of bother.

I had an absolute blast writing these stories, and I hope they ease the pain of forking over your money for any of you who are going to buy them.

Oh, almost forgot. Another nice thing about reprints and new editions is that I get to go over the books again and get rid of mistakes. You may remember me asking you for any mistakes you’ve noticed. Well, I made a note of all of these, and all those corrections are now done.

Er, well, MOST of them. There’s still one mistake in Playing With Fire that hasn’t been corrected. On page 14 of the PWF paperback, it reads:

“The owners of the Waxworks Museum had closed it down after the events of the previous year, and set up a new and improved version in another part of the city. So now the new building stood quietly beside its neighbours, humble and drab, its front doors closed and locked and sealed.”

When it SHOULD be:

“The owners of the Waxworks Museum had closed it down after the events of the previous year, and set up a new and improved version in another part of the city. So now the old building stood quietly beside its neighbours, humble and drab, its front doors closed and locked and sealed.”

Alas, this mistake was missed yet again, so we’ll have to wait until the NEXT reprint before correcting it.

But the biggest change to the paperbacks is to do with Valkyrie’s AGE, and this is a relatively big one.

Somewhere around the third book, I stopped concentrating on what time of year each book was set at, and what age Valkyrie was in each one. Basically, I made it so that, by the time Mortal Coil came around, there was no WAY she could have been sixteen. It just didn’t make sense.

So, I’ve gone back over the books, and adjusted them slightly. This is something I should have been doing all the way through, but I messed up. Entirely my fault.

Er, but if you’re looking for silver lining, we now know what month Valkyrie has her birthday! It’s August! Yay!

So, a quick rundown on our corrected timeline.

Skulduggery Pleasant: takes place in June, when Val was 12.

Playing With Fire: takes place 11 months later, in May, when Val was 13.

The Faceless Ones: takes place 6 months after that, in October, when she was 14.

Dark Days: takes place 11 months later, in September, when Val is 15.

Mortal Coil: takes place 3 months after Dark Days, in December- when Val is STILL 15.

Basically, the biggest change to the books is that in Mortal Coil Valkyrie is a little younger than she at first appeared.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Valkyrie's New Sibling Is A...

Okay- ready for the first official piece of news about Book 6?

A few days ago, I got a brand new niece to add to my collection. Little Clara can now join the twins as they scuttle along the floor, with their cousin Sophie looking on with great amusement.

And as I promised, Valkyrie's brand new sibling will be following suit- so Val is getting a little sister. Yay!

Any GIVEN name suggestions will be greatly appreciated...!

Thursday, March 3, 2011


I got a comment from Molly in the previous entry. I started replying to it there, but figured it was such a smart question that it needed its own space. The essence of the thing is as follows:

“Chill out with the violence and blood. Seriously. Mortal Coil changed my life for the better: It made me very sensitive to violence and blood. It scared me to think of Val's life going down the drain like that, along with the lives of others. And so I ask: Why do you do this?”

I haven’t really discussed this on the Blog before, so this is my opportunity.

Molly, I’m always very careful not to go overboard with gore. In Playing With Fire, there's an exploding head. I could have gone into tremendous detail describing it, but I didn't- I basically said "and then his head exploded". I like to leave it up to the reader to be as graphic as they want- if they're comfortable with imagining blood and brains flying about the place, that's fine. If they're not, that's fine too. I'm not out to be extreme- that's not what these books are about.

In Mortal Coil, however, there are a few chapters devoted to an autopsy on a living person, and in this I DO go into detail. Why? Because an exploding head gets one reaction- it gets "Ooooh gross!" But that's not the reaction I wanted for the autopsy. I wanted it to be HORRIBLE. I wanted it to be cold and impersonal and just a horrible, horrible experience. In no way did I want any reader to be enjoying reading about this. The problem is, if I DIDN’T go into detail then it wouldn’t have had the same impact- there may even have been a chance that it could have been seen as just another wacky adventure this girl gets into.

Violence is a trickier subject, however. For one thing, I hesitate to call it violence. I’ve always regarded a fight scene that you read or watch onscreen as “action”, not “violence”. Violence is up-close and personal, and it’s something that happens in the real world. Anything we see in a movie or read on the page is simulated violence- which, in my opinion, is action.

But putting that to one side, let’s talk about the action in these books. When I started, there was one thing that I wanted to convey whenever I’d write a fight scene- fights HURT. Getting punched HURTS. Punching someone HURTS. Poor Valkyrie has had her leg broken, her hand broken, her tooth broken, her ribs broken... She’s had black eyes, burst lips and a bruised body. I’m typing this now and every time I use my right hand, I wince, because my knuckles are busted and bloody from hitting a bag earlier today. I spent this evening applying straight-arm bars and getting straight-arm bars applied to me- and THAT hurts, too. Even the TRAINING for violence hurts.

I have some knowledge of fights, and how it feels to be in one, and it is a thoroughly rotten feeling. Even when you win, you feel sick, because you’ve just hurt another human being. It is a terrible, horrible thing, to be in a fight. It’s not fun, and you really don’t feel okay about it afterwards. I train with doormen and bouncers who need to go somewhere to cry after they've been in a fight, simply because they've had to be MORE aggressive than the person they were fighting in order to win. They've actually sickened THEMSELVES. And that’s why my fight scenes are the way they are.

Molly, you say Mortal Coil made you sensitive to this stuff, and it scared you “to think of Val's life going down the drain like that, along with the lives of others. And so I ask: Why do you do this?”

Well, to be honest, that is exactly why I do it. I want you to be scared for Val. I want you to NOT want her to be hurt. If the fights were nothing but good fun, if nobody ever got really hurt, if Val didn’t run the risk of serious injury every time she throws a punch- then I’d have failed in what I set out to do.

I respect violence. I respect what it can do. I respect the fact that it can change your life. Two guys have an argument outside of a pizza place at night, one of them throws a punch, the other falls and hits his head, slips into unconsciousness, then a coma, wakes up with brain damage. His life- instantly changed. The life of the guy who hit him- instantly changed. Jail. Lawsuit. The sheer GUILT over what he’s done.

One moment of violence can change your life, so of course I respect it. Any intelligent person would. So I’m not going to write a book where action scenes take place without consequence. There is ALWAYS a consequence. 

I hope that answers your question, Molly. Now, whether or not you agree with me is totally up to you. I don’t want to drive ANY reader away, and I don’t want to upset anyone. But the books are what they are, and I am what I am, and I write the way I write. So this is my side of the argument, and I want to sincerely thank you for asking the question. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Getting Closer...

85,000 words done.

I'm close. Oh boy oh boy, am I close. I spent today writing the HUGE fight at the end, and had such a good time doing it. It's a fight scene on a scale of nothing I've ever written before. So. Much. Bloody. FUN.

I've got a few more chapters until I get to the ACTUAL end, and then I have to go back and link everything up. There are whole chunks of chapters I haven't written yet, so all of that will probably take another 10 or 15,000 words, which means this book will easily be as big as Mortal Coil, if not bigger.

My deadline is the end of March, so I reckon I'll make it without a problem. Then another month or so of big edits, then another few weeks of little edits, which should take us to May or June. Then we let it sit while we decide on a title, then we get it printed, then we send it out to reviewers, and then suddenly we're in September, and you're holding it in your greedy little Minion-y hands.

If everything goes according to plan, I see no reason why we can't give you a sneak preview sometime in early summer or thereabouts.

I have another few weeks of intense work ahead of me, and then I can go back to having a life. Yayyy!