Friday, November 23, 2012

And The Award Goes To...

The Irish Book Awards were held last night in Dublin and the last Artemis Fowl book beat out KOTW to emerge triumphant, giving Eoin Colfer a much deserved win. He went on the make the funniest speech of the evening while wearing the most dashing cravat I've ever seen on a real life person. Big congratulations to Eoin.

A few other people also won for, like, other categories- including Katie Taylor in the Best Sports Book. I really really really wanted to meet her and she was RIGHT THERE in front of me but then I was called away for a photo, and then there were a few people who wanted napkins signed, and when I looked around again she was gone. Dammit. I always thought she looked so petite on screen, but in person she is physically IMPRESSIVE. Here she is with Cecelia Ahern- one of my top two favourite writer-type-people that I know.

It was a fun night- it always is- but very well behaved and restrained when compared to last year. Ah, last year... what fond, fond memories I have...

My editor Nick came over for it, so we were chatting about the Tanith novella and he reckons it needs only the barest of edits. What does that mean for you guys? It basically means it'll stay at around the 54,000 word mark and I won't have to cut anything out. Apart from, apparently, all those mentions of Tanith in a bikini. I sincerely don't see the problem. It's not like I have her running around nekkid or anything.

Ooh, maybe I should...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


First, let's get some bad news out of the way... errr... you're going to have to wait just a FEW more days for the Tanith cover...



This probably won't make you feel ANY better about the delay, but it's looking amazing right now. We still have to get the colour just right (because this was an unplanned addition to the series, it's kind of thrown our title-colour scheme up into the air...) but it's looking beautiful. Tanith looks like a total BAMF.

Middle of next week. DEFINITELY.


The good news is, I've finished writing it. I finished yesterday and sent it off. Right now, before the editing process begins, it is 54,000 words long. That's fifty-four THOUSAND.

It was MEANT to be roughly twice the size of The End Of The World, which came in at something like 17,000 words. So when I started I was looking at a quick 36,000 word novella that I'd bang out between the end of the KOTW tour and the beginning of writing Book 8, giving me loads of time to relax and take it easy.

And it was going fine, it really was. I had Tanith and Sanguine, and they'd recruited their team of villains, and the story was rattling along and everything was cool... and then I introduced a team of good guys as well. So we have Dexter Vex and Frightening Jones and a few new characters, including the Monster Hunters (two guys I've been trying to find a place for in the regular books) and Saracen Rue. Saracen is the only surviving member of the Dead Men that we haven't met yet, and it was just so much fun writing them all that the word count kind of... ran off, dragging me behind it.

It was MEANT to be a little sliver of a book. Now it's practically two-thirds the length of Book One.

The things I do for you people, I swear...

The "Can Your School Get More Awesome?" competition is still going strong over at the Skulduggery website. The ingenuity on display is something to behold, with many of you using both social AND mainstream media (local papers, radio stations) to garner as many votes as possible. Have to say, I'm impressed at the imagination being displayed- there are some real smart cookies out there. There a few schools that are practically guaranteed to be in the top ten, there are plenty more who have established themselves as challengers, and then there are the schools with only a few votes. And to the people who put forward THOSE schools, I have to ask- how does it feel to be so utterly cool? How does it feel to be the only one in your area with enough good taste to vote? You are shining lights, you truly are.

I'm just looking at some of the photos... I love that the Bishopston school in Swansea and Heathcote School and a few others have sent us photos of the school crest- I have no idea how Tom would have drawn Skulduggery in THOSE photos but it would have been fun to see him try...

And St Annes in Shankill, who supplied an arial view... Dammit, if this had been voted for, Tom could have drawn Valkyrie plummeting from the sky and Skulduggery swooping in to save her. Argh! The potential for coolness would have been astronomical!

Let's see, what else... Skulduggery and Val would have looked awesome in the corridor of Holy Family Senior School in Ennis...  and they have skeletons in St Matthews!... imagine Val abseiling down the side of Carterton Community College... or Skulduggery walking up the stairs of Selly Park Technology College for Girls... the dogs in Gabbinbar State School in Toowoomba (you don't have to look up Toowoomba to know it's in Australia, do you?) would have been able to chew on poor Skulduggery's leg... awww and I've just seen the picture from Invicta Grammar School with all the girls in army fatigues- I'd have loved to have visited there... I'm pretty sure that's a picture of Camilla visiting Brookside Primary School- so Val would have looked pretty cheeky pulling a face behind her back... and she would have fit right in with the girls from Oakmeeds Community College... Skulduggery would have been so proud to stand in amongst everyone in Scarborough College... then we have Skulduggery himself in Brentwood Ursuline Convent HS... and I'd have loved to have visited Hitchin Girls School, if only so I could have made a load of jokes about hitchin' girls...

Voting is still going on, so you've all got plenty of time left. Once we have the top ten, it'll be up to me to pick the photo that would lead to the best Skulduggery pic and then we'll have our winner. But the effort all of you have gone to is just hilariously impressive...

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Bad Review

Hullo there.

This post started out as a quick response to a few comments in the previous entry, but it grew into something a little more detailed. So even though I really have to get back to the Tanith novella, I figured I'd address it here instead.

Kestrel LeStarre (hi Kestrel!) posted an excerpt from a Good Reads review of Book One- a review that wasn't exactly favourable. Every writer gets all kinds of reviews- some good, some great, some bad, some terrible. It's the business. Everyone's entitled to their opinion. I'll deal with this one in stages.

Disappointing. The title/name and the cover illustration really appealed to me, but the book was generic and unbelievable from the start. I suppose some could be forgiven considering that the intended audience appears to be maybe 11 year olds (?), but I personally don't believe that children's books should be low quality just because they are aimed at children.

I can't find fault with this statement. I mean, I don't exactly AGREE with it, and most of you probably don't either, but the reviewer is merely stating that this isn't his cup of proverbial tea. He doesn't think the writing is as good as it should be. I got a few of these responses to the first book and my reaction was to shrug. Fair enough. That's what they think. I can read back over the series and make a note of where and when and how my writing improved- I am a MUCH better writer now than I was back then- but for every negative statement I received, I got hundreds of positive ones from readers who were willing to forgive any first-book-mistakes and simply dive right in, ready to be swept away on a tsunami of, er, awesomeness.

And hey, how can you disagree too harshly with a guy who appreciates Tom's covers like that?

...oh, and saying "I'm a genius" all the time does not make a character full of "dry wit".

This is very true. The fact that he is full of dry wit makes him full of dry wit. Nicely pointed out.

...oh, and being spunky child full of spunk who sprays spunk everywhere does not mean the child is equivalent to an adult. Children can be clever, creative, work in groups, et cetera but having them physically fight adults 1-on-1 strains credulity.

Ah, now here is the only point he's made that I take issue with. Having a spunky child fight an adult one-on-one does NOT strain credulity. Having a spunky child BEAT an adult one-on-one, however, very much does. It took Valkyrie YEARS to be strong enough to hold her own without the use of magic, and even then I don't think she's ever WON. In Death Bringer, when she's fighting Moore in her house without magic, even though she's had a few years of the best combat training in the world, the fact is she's still a 16 year old girl and he's a grown man. And Val doesn't exactly win that fight. She needs help.

I've always had a problem with YA books that show young teenagers beating adults in a physical brawl. They might get lucky, absolutely. A lucky punch can knock anyone out. But most of the adults they go up against are criminals or villains of some description- men and women who KNOW violence. No amount of martial arts in the world will make that a fair fight. Fair fights, in fact, are ridiculously stupid. Why would you EVER get into a fair fight? If you have to fight you need to WIN- and that means you fight on YOUR terms, not his.

Val has adopted this philosophy because this is my philosophy. 

When Val has to fight, she fights. She uses every dirty trick she can. This is the girl, remember, who tore out a creature's throat with her TEETH down in the caves in Death Bringer. Fair fights are for suckers.

...oh, and not all adults are doofuses.

I'm assuming he's referring to Desmond here, who is very much a doofus- though this statement kind of skips over the fact that Skulduggery, Ghastly, China, Tanith, Bliss and most everyone else except Stephanie/Valkyrie is ALSO an adult, so...

Anyway, what was the point in discussing this here? It's not like this is the only bad review I've ever got. There is one in particular that stands out as being SO unbelievably bad that you get the feeling the reviewer has a personal grudge against me- like he was determined to hate every single thing about the book. But I didn't respond to THAT review. Someone like that is really not worth my time. So why this one?

First of all, the reviewer is not being mean. He doesn't like the book, and the review is quite snarky in its own playful way, but there is not one trace of malice in those words. It's just his opinion, and he not only has a right to HAVE that opinion, but he has a right to SHARE it as well. I'll never give a bad review of any book (apart from maybe books by HUGE writers), because I know how hard it is to get published in the first place and the last thing a writer needs is someone else going "you suck." If I don't like a book I'll simply ignore it. I won't say anything at all about it. But that's me, being in the privileged position that I'm in. Any negative opinion of mine can actually damage someone else's success, so it becomes something more than an opinion. But all this reviewer is doing is letting people know that he didn't respond well to Skulduggery Pleasant.

But again- why am I discussing it here?

Some of you like Twilight. That's fine. I don't like it. Twilight is one of those books I feel I can criticise because nothing I say will effect its success. By now it's untouchable. So... some of you like it. All of you probably know at least a few people who love it. Of course you do.

A few years ago, Stephen King criticised Stephanie Meyer for, you know, not being any good. In return, he got an avalanche of angry responses from Twilight fans.

(I refuse to call them Twihards.)

That level of anger and fury and vitriol is not uncommon on the internet. The internet is the HOME of anger and fury and vitriol. It's where those things live. It's where they spawn and fester and grow. But you see it again and again: one person criticises something that a lot of other people love, and here comes the avalanche. And we're standing by, watching it all happen but not involved one way or the other, and we look at the angry people and we think "Wow. You seriously need to get out more."

The few responses from you guys to this Good Reads review have been wonderful. As I'm writing this, Ivy has just posted another response, and it is just as good-spirited as Georgina's and Beau's and Kristine's (thought Kristine's response DID make me think of Ralph Wiggum from The Simpsons going "Me fail English? That's unpossible!")

You guys are so passionate about Skulduggery and so supportive of me as a writer, and it's moments like these when I realise yet again how lucky I am to have Minions like you. Warm, intelligent, fiery people who won't even be rude to people they strongly disagree with.

You guys rock.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

KOTW Paperback

Laydeeeez an' gentleminions, I present to you, the KOTW paperback cover.

And Tom isn't even FINISHED it yet...! There's going to be some colour stuff happening, and some cool silver effects added and things, but even as it stands now, this is a cover that's going to pop out at you on the bookshelf. For Tom is awesome.

Speaking of paperbacks, we're going to start gradually removing the short stories from the reprints, with the aim of collecting everything (including the Tanith novella) into one big book in the spring of 2014. There'll be lots of brand new stories in there as well, covering the entire series. So will we see a short story starring Mr Bliss, back when he was alive? Will we see Val and pre-Remnant Tanith fighting side by side once again? Will we even catch a glimpse of Skulduggery and the Dead Men at war with Mevolent...?

To be honest I haven't a clue. I'm just making things up as I go along.

Be here on Friday for the Tanith cover...


Annnnnd apparently I won't be revealing the Tanith cover until Friday the 23rd... bah!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cast Your Vote


I decided it was time to eat lunch, like, an HOUR ago, and I'm still at the computer. And what am I doing now? I'm writing a blog post. Tssh.

Okay then, what have I been up to? Well, the Tanith novella, as you may have guessed. I have another week of writing on that and then I'll pretty much launch straight into Book 8, provisionally titled Skulduggery Pleasant: People Gonna CRY. But I digress.

On Halloween I did an event in Dublin with my editor Nick Lake and cover artist Tom Percival. It was the first time we'd been on stage together and it was basically a big chat about how the books get made and the process behind it all. Plus I mocked people. It was fun.

And that event also marked another first- the first time the real Valkyrie Cain attended. Laura was sitting at the back beside my agent, and when I mentioned that she was actually here there was an audible gasp around the room and everyone started craning their necks to try and spot her. Laura, for her part, stared straight ahead and tried to attract no attention whatsoever. I'm fairly sure she emerged unscathed by the whole experience- thought she DID glare at me afterwards.

That night we all went out to dinner, fifteen of us, and many laughs were had. Presumably. I spent the next day with Nick as he tried to get me to decide what to write once Skulduggery is over. I have a few ideas, but I'm still not entirely sure what it'll be. Apart from brilliant. We all KNOW it'll be brilliant.

Voting for the Irish Book Awards have come around again. This year I'm up against Anna Carey, Judi Curtin, John Boyne, Darren Shan and Eoin Colfer. That's a pretty impressive list by anyone's standards. I didn't win last year- Anna did- and to be honest I had THE best time. I actually like not winning. It means you can hold a conversation with someone without interruption.

Every year, I don't ask you to vote for me- I ask you to vote for whoever you think deserves it. And this year is no different. Well, ALMOST no different. The only difference is that this year the last Artemis Fowl book is nominated, and if any book deserves to win...

Just pointing it out, that's all. Not trying to influence you, one way or the other. Ahem.

Let's see... oh, next week is going to be fun! You're going to be getting TWO cover releases here on this Blog. The new paperback cover for KOTW at the start of the week, and the Tanith cover at the end of the week.

See? I'm so good to you.

Now I'm going to eat lunch.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Birthday Party Around The World

A little post here, just to share the oddness that is my life.

Everyone has birthdays. These birthdays are celebrated. Sometimes there are parties. These things happen. These things are normal.

Some other people have birthdays that are celebrated in their absence, halfway around the world, by people they have never actually met. These things are definitely not normal. But these things happen to me.

My Minions, for your amusement, I provide for you a select few photos taken at the party organised by regular Minion commenter and general online-stalker, Valkyrie V Cain.

Billy-Ray Sanguine (in a lovely checked shirt tied off at the midriff... um...) and a seriously disturbed looking Tanith.

Melancholia, looking AWESOME.

Solomon Wreath, being his/her generally aloof self.

Kitana, kicking the hell out of poor Valkyrie...

... and looking pretty smug about it, too.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you one Nefarian Serpine, he/she of the red right hand...

... and poor China Sorrows, who has no idea what is about to happen.

Argeddion. Looking VERY pleased with himself.

You may be forgiven for wondering who is this long-haired person who is trying to woo Valkyrie, but then you will realise- it's Caelan. OBVIOUSLY.

A wonderful time had by all...

... and even I attended! (Sort of.)

And two photos to end things off. One... just because I think her facial expression is hilarious...

And the final photo of Valkyrie V Cain herself. All these photos have made me grin so much I think I've broken my face. Thank you Valkyrie, and thanks to all your (admittedly insane) friends...!