When you write, you run out of steam.
It's obvious. When you do anything for long periods of time, you're going to run out of steam. You need to take a break, take a walk, do something else, recharge your batteries... I've got a few things I do, and they all work, but nothing- NOTHING- reinforces my enthusiasm as much as my Minions.
Whether it's reading the Comments on this accursed Blog (on those rare occasions when I CAN read the Comments grrrr) or popping in to the Bebo page (which I will do soon, I promise) or just heading over to the official (and fan-run) Facebook page (www.facebook.com/Skuttlebugfans), I always end up with a grin on my face, ready to get back to writing.
I never comment on the Facebook page, but I do visit. I have to, really. SOMEONE has to make sure these nutcases are behaving themselves. It was set up as something completely unofficial, but was filled with so many genuine folks that we just had to make Cory and Aby and Summer a part of the Skulduggery team. The wonderful thing about this is that, in some small way, you get to know the regular posters. I've never spoken with Zukiswa, but I know I'd like her if I did. Then there's Ellie and Ashley, two of the weirder ones. Georgina, of course, who has been around for YEARS and whom I adore. Olivia, my- ahem- wife of sorts. Never forgetting Becky, the irrepressible Becky, a girl for whom the word 'obsessed' was undoubtedly coined. There are loads of others- thousands of others, in fact- and their enthusiasm is infectious and good-humoured, and I'm glad that they have such a wonderful place to communicate.
(EDIT: and a quick glance at the Facebook page has made it clear that I somehow forgot to mention my dear Katy Amsden, one of my longest serving Minions. And while I'm not going to name everyone here, because this isn't a shout-out page, I will say hello to Joe and Nicole and Jordan and Ella- cool tattoo- and of COURSE a big hug and kiss goes to Megan Hobbs, with the clear understanding that she never mention the word baguette ever again.)
Another wonderful place is the Forums, at www.skulduggeryforums.co.uk. Again, I don't post any comments in the Forum, for a whole lot of reasons, mostly because I want to see how it evolves without my interference.
Practically every subject you could think of, to do with Skulduggery, is discussed here. Every few months I drop by and spend an evening just reading through the conversations. And there are some STARTLING conversations. The great thing is that you get real and honest opinions on the books and the various characters. You have people staunchly defending their point of view- like Liliana, who I've met a few times in Germany- and people working to convince others that their view is the right one. I've read their theories on what's going to happen, and some of these theories have veered close to what I had in mind, and some veered off wildly into the distance.
The internet, as we all know, is the refuge of the bully. You hear about it constantly- cyber-bullying and the ramifications it can have. And no doubt you've seen it yourself- focussed hatred and anger towards one individual that will not relent until that individual leaves. I've said it before, how happy I am that this Blog shows none of those tendencies, and neither does the Facebook page, and neither does the Forums. In the Forums, you have polar opposite opinions clashing with each other, but no one takes it personally. You have people arriving in the middle of a thread and announcing that, you know what? They don't really like the books anymore. And you get the politest and most understanding responses. You get one person loving Death Bringer, and then another hating it, and there is no animosity between them (the people who profess to dislike the most things seem to Synopsis and ExtraterrestrialGuy, but I think that's part of their inherent charm...).
I've never had a problem with people not liking these books. You can't please everyone, after all. If I read a bad review on Amazon or somewhere similar, I take it onboard, see if they have a point, and then move on. If it's constructive criticism, maybe it can even make the next book better. If it's not particularly constructive, then so be it. They didn't like it, and nothing I do or say will change that. And it's so gratifying that you, my Minions, seem to agree with me on this. There really is no point in getting annoyed with someone just because they don't like the same things you do.
One of the best Forum discussions I've read recently has been, bizarrely, part of the Pairings thread, where people hook characters up with each other. There is a group of people- Terry, Demented Kat, Moonie, Kribu, Holly-wa, Hallow Vigilance- who went off and had a long chat about, ahem, Valduggery. And for those of you who can't work out what Valduggery is, I'm not going to shatter your innocence here.
The thing about this discussion is the level to which all of this has been thought through. It stops being merely about the idea of Valduggery, and becomes an examination of Valkyrie and Skulduggery as individuals, and how much they mean to each other. As an extension of this, you also get a detailed investigation into the other characters as well.
Because these Minions, like most of you, seem to have an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Skulduggery, they regularly quote a line or two from the earlier books that have relevance to the later books. (I'm not really a fan of foreshadowing, and contrary to popular belief there isn't any of that in this series. Rather, there are hints of secrets that certain characters are keeping, that will only become apparent the more you read- and the more you re-read.) I've had a smile on my face when the conversation turns to how Skulduggery reacted to a certain piece of news in Mortal Coil, a reaction that only becomes understandable once you read Death Bringer, and then relate it back to what China said in the first book. It's so much FUN, as a writer, to drop these hints just when the series is starting off, and then wait a few years for the payoff. And it's places like the Forums, like the Facebook page and on Skulpedia that these things come to light.
So thank you, Minions, for all your hard work and thought and dedication. Thank you for treating each other with respect, and warmth, and thank you for how you welcome newcomers into the fold.
By the way, you're all insane.