Eoin Colfer is the global bestselling author of the incredibly popular sci-fi fantasy series, Artemis Fowl. It’s seven years since the eighth and final Artemis Fowl book hit the shelves, but now Colfer has re-entered the Fowl universe and returned with a new story, and new protagonists too. Released in November this year, The Fowl Twins sees Artemis’ younger siblings take centre stage in their own exciting adventure.
Ahead of his London exclusive appearance in our Queen Elizabeth Hall as part of Southbank Centre’s London Literature Festival, we caught up with the author to get a sneaky insight to his upcoming release.
Artemis Fowl is a series of eight fantasy novels, featuring a 12-year-old prodigy who has dedicated his life to criminal activities. It’s an unusual concept, how did you come up with it?
I have always been drawn to the bad guys in books and movies. I think sometimes they are fun to read and actors generally agree that they are fun to play. I initially intended Artemis to be an entertaining bad guy, but he was so much fun to write I promoted him to leading man. I based his look and demeanour on my little brother who was a debonair trickster. Hopefully, no-one will tell him.
Was it always going to be an eight-part series?
I am not much of a planner. I really had no idea how long the series was going to be. In fact initially, it wasn’t even going to be a series. First, there was one book, then three, then six, then finally when I began book eight it just felt like the end. Artemis had finally become a selfless hero and it was time to let him go. As it turned out, he went to Mars.
What sort of audience did you have in mind when you were writing these novels? Did you always want to write for children?
I was a teacher when I began the Artemis books and so I was writing for my own students, though I never read any pages to them. Having said that, I have always believed that a good book can be enjoyed by anyone who is able to read it – my role models for this theory are RL Stevenson, Julia Donaldson and Oliver Jeffers. I would hope that anyone whose reading level is up to the task would enjoy Artemis. Indeed my favourite fan mail comes from parents who find themselves reading ahead after bedtime.
Disney are adapting the first novel in the series, to be directed by Kenneth Branagh, and starring Judi Dench as Commander Root. Was allowing the book to be adapted a hard decision?
It was a very easy decision to allow the adaptation – a decision I initially took back in 2000 – because that single decision allowed me to become a full-time writer. In the intervening years, I have had some nervous moments as various creative teams have dropped out, but I think it was fate that Kenneth got involved and we finally have the perfect team.
And to what extent have you been involved in the film adaptation process?
I have had a little involvement, in that I visited the set and read the script, but besides that, I left the experts to it. They know what they are doing and I am happy to let them get on with it.
The Fowl Twins is due out on 5 November and has been called an Artemis Fowl spin-off. What can you tell us about it?
Yes, The Fowl Twins arrive in November, and as the title suggests the book concentrates on the adventures of Artemis’ younger brothers, the twins Beckett and Myles. It is a new adventure for a new generation. I think Artemis fans will like it and hopefully new readers too. I have tried to make it funnier and more gothic, so the tone is different. All new fairies and all-new villains, but with cameos from some old favourites too.
How did you find returning to the world of gadgets, magic and criminal activity?
I had been out of the fairy world for about six years and so I jumped back in refreshed and ready for action. It was actually the most fun I’ve had writing for years. I had forgotten how much fun it was inventing ridiculous scenarios and incredible inventions.
In this novel, there are two main characters; Artemis’ younger twin brothers Myles and Beckett. Was it difficult to make that switch having previously had just the one main character with Artemis Fowl?
In my books I often have the main character argue with his ‘little voice’, and in this case, Beckett is like Myles’s ‘little voice’, his Jiminy Cricket, so I didn’t find it difficult. Also, they are so dissimilar that it was easy to keep track of them. Having said that, I did mix them up several times in the first draft. Thank goodness for the eagle eyes of my editor.
Can we expect more from The Fowl Twins after this novel?
Absolutely. There will definitely be another Fowl Twins book. I am already writing it. After that, who knows? As I said earlier; I am not a great planner.