Thursday, August 29, 2013

Competition Winners!

And here we are, coming in late (as usual)... The winners of the strapline competition. So many cool entries. A lot of similar ones, and unfortunately that meant we couldn't put those in the final ten. There were lots of "Burn, Baby Burn!" and suchlike, which would have been so cool to see on a cover if we'd only had one entry for it...! I love the winning entries, though, so a huge congratulations to everyone who took part.

And the winners are...

Hugo Peach

Evan Jenkins

Harriet Langley

Tom Wood

Jack Holton

Ashan Ali

Laura MacKenzie

Nigethan Sathiyalingham

Phoebe Ryall

Megan Smales

All the winners receive two signed glossy prints of the cover with their own strap line. Awesome.

Oh, and to remind you, the comments section below is NOT for spoilers!

Spoiler Zone

Happy publication day!

It's out! It has been released! It has been UNLEASHED! Finally, I can stop worrying about early releases and leaks, and now focus all my concern onto such silly things as spoilers...!

So, this here comments section is the Spoiler Zone. This is where you can discuss aspects of the book. I would APPRECIATE it if you try to be subtle even here, because we all know that there are Minions who haven't read the book who will still take a peek, even though they don't want anything spoiled. These Minions are weird, and should be avoided.

I'll be providing a second post after this, announcing and displaying the strapline competition winners, so you can use that to continue your conversations.

Thanks to those Minions who have already read the book and have kept all the details to themselves— I appreciate this so much. And for those of you who have yet to start reading, I really hope you like it. And I'm sorry for the bit where, y'know...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Me Hate Spoilers

Edinburgh tomorrow, where LSODM will be on sale for a few hours, then whipped away again until the 29th, because we're mean...

So... spoilers. I hate spoilers. I hate them as a reader, and I hate them even more as a writer. I don't even like mild spoilers, such as "Just wait till you see what happens to Kenspeckle!" or "All I will say is... Mevolent."

I get it. I do. You have a piece of information that's bubbling inside you, and you want to share it but you know you can't, so you share a sliver, something you think is enough of a hint to be relevant, but not enough to ruin anything... and yet, even this is a spoiler, because it's alerting someone to something big that's coming up...

I happen to have readers who are very respectful to their fellow Skulduggery fans, a fact that still amazes everyone at Harper Collins. I know that's going to continue, but we all have to be vigilant about this stuff.

I write these books for you to read them, to discover them, to experience them, on a page by page basis. It sounds obvious, right? But spoilers wreck that.

Okay, I shall now stop talking about it. But if you see ANY shop selling LSODM before the 29th, tweet me and let me know.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Strong Female Characters

My Twitter-wife Holly Smale has brought to the attention of her Twitter-followers, of which I am one, this here magazine article entitled "I Hate Strong Female Characters" — — and I have to say I agree with it wholeheartedly.

For those of you too time-constricted/lazy to read it, it basically holds up a hand in the classroom and has the temerity to ask "Why are vibrant female characters called strong?" Why are they limited to such a thing? More to the point, however, is why is the word "strong" slung in there at all? If you take away the strong bit, that leaves "female character"— but isn't a female character just as inherently strong as a male character? Why do they need "strong" in there at all?

People say to me all the time "Derek, you're great," and I can't argue with them. They go on to say "I love your black shirt/blue jeans combo" and I nod wisely, agreeing with them but not needing to put it into words. Then they say "It's so cool that your books have strong female characters" and I shrug, and say "Hey, I'm a pretty awesome guy. Now go get me some Skittles."

Valkyrie is a strong female character. As in, she's strong, she's female, and she's a character. But she is not a Strong Female Character. She's not a role model — not really. She's deeply, DEEPLY flawed. Over the course of these eight books, she's done some outstandingly heroic things, but she's also done some downright mean and nasty and selfish things. She's hurt people. She's become arrogant (and not in the cool way that I am).

Here's what Holly has to Twitter-say about the subject:

"Strength" is one dimensional. It's saying "women can be strong like men", NOT "women are flawed, complex, brilliant, weak LIKE MEN."

 I love it when readers don't like Valkyrie. I love it when they actively dislike her for the things she's done and the way she's behaved. But it's like they're surprised. It's like they can't compute. "Okay, wait, so... she saves the world but... but she's cheating on her boyfriend?? How is that POSSIBLE?"

Valkyrie is a character. She's as messed up as any male character I could ever write. That's what makes her real to me.

Having a girl as the protagonist in an action/adventure/horror/fantasy/whatever means things are going to get physical, and you all know how much I love my fight scenes. But having her kick ass is not why she's a good character.

Years ago, I was yapping to my mother about Buffy and Xena and talking about how great it is that we now have these TV shows about such strong female characters. My mother, who admittedly has never watched either show, asked me if these really WERE strong female characters, or if they were merely male characters with boobs.

Having a blonde cheerleader save the world with her martial arts skills doesn't equal feminism, she said. That's a male tactic. How about her saving the day using tactics that aren't all about punching and kicking and killing?

I didn't have an answer for her then. I still don't, even now. There's a whole debate to be had that I'm just not ready for, that I may never be ready for. My mother is a pacifist. I am not. We see the world differently, we operate differently, even though we want the same things. We both want equality and peace. My mother is the sort to talk her way to equality and peace. I'm the sort to talk to the point where I reckon more talk won't do any good, and then smash my way through to an understanding. It is not an enlightened viewpoint I hold. It is a crass, brutish viewpoint — but in a crass, brutish world, I believe my way is the way to go. Mum believes otherwise.

And that's the difference, I think, between us. We live in a world carved by men, where fear and oppression and violence are a part of our lives. I can't even IMAGINE a world sculpted by women, where other values have taken hold. I'm limited in that way. I could try not to be, but I honestly wouldn't know where to start. That's kind of sad, when you think about it. For all my imagination, I can't even imagine that...

... (turns to stare hauntingly out the window).

Monday, August 12, 2013

Embargo Um Bongo

Some of you may have heard that a copy or two of LSODM have been sold, despite the embargo. This is, unfortunately, true.

Eight copies were mistakenly sent out ahead of schedule, to the big Forbidden Planet store in London. All eight were immediately sold. No one at Forbidden Planet is to blame, and no one who bought a copy is to blame.

I will only ask those who DID buy a copy to keep it to themselves. I'm asking them not to post spoilers and not to even HINT at anything that happens. I'm pretty confident nothing will leak, because you guys are all really good about this sort of thing, but I need to make sure.

And also, for those eight people out there who now own a copy... I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, August 2, 2013

LSODM Tour Details. And Dogs.

Okay then, here is the most up to date schedule I have for the LSODM tour and related festival visits. Check back here regularly, because I'll be updating this as I learn more.


Sunday 25th:

Edinburgh Book Festival — 1:30 PM — talk and signing.

Thursday 29th: PUBLICATION DAY!

Easons, Liffey Valley, Dublin — 4 PM — signing

Friday 30th:

Waterstones, Bluewater, London - 12 noon — signing.

Saturday 31st:

Waterstones, 6-6a Exchange Centre, Putney — 10 AM - signing

Canada Water, Southwark, London — 2 PM — talk and signing


Sunday 1st: 

WHS Kingston, Bentalls Shopping Centre — 11:30 AM — signing

Wednesday 4th: 

Mountains to the Sea Festival, Dublin — 4:30 PM — talk and signing

Friday 6th:

Easons, Galway — 4 PM — signing

Saturday 7th:

Hodges Figgis, Dublin — 11 AM — signing

Dubray Books, Bray — 3 PM — signing

Sunday 8th:

Easons, O'Connell St, Limerick — 2 PM — signing

Saturday 14th:

WHS Arndale Centre, Manchester — 10 AM — signing

Liverpool One, Liverpool — 3 PM — signing

Sunday 15th:

Discovery Centre, Winchester — 2 PM — talk and signing


Tuesday 1st:

Solstice Theatre, Ireland — talk and signing

Saturday 5th: 

Bath Festival — 4 PM — talk and signing

Tuesday 15th:

Swindon Youth Festival

And now here's some funny dogs. 

This is the Most Cheerful Dog In The World:

And this is the Most Sinister:

This is the Dimmest:

This the Dopiest:

The Happiest:

And this is the Most Scared Dog Ever: