Eoin (pronounced "Owen") Colfer's next release, Half Moon Investigations, is a departure from the "Die Hard with fairies" formula that propelled his Artemis Fowl books to the top of bestseller lists. The hero, Fletcher Moon, is devoted to rooting out crime through hard-nosed detective work, and the most advanced technology featured is text messaging. Colfer, who'll tour the U.S. in May, spoke with PW from his home in Wexford, a seaside town in southeastern Ireland.
Tell us about Half Moon. Is this the first in a new series?
I hope it's one in a series. There are a few characters in there I really haven't explored yet, and I'd like to have something else well under way before I finish Artemis so it'll be an easier transition.
It's aimed at a younger audience, and... there are no explosions.
Yeah, I really didn't want to try to do another explosion book. And there are no leprechauns. Just two ordinary guys [Fletcher and his partner, Red Sharkey] with the emphasis on humor.
Well, you've definitely succeeded on the humor part. I especially enjoyed the part when Fletcher's sister was writing a poem about her ex-boyfriend and Fletcher suggests "prosthetic" as a rhyme for "pathetic."
Somebody who writes poetry might laugh at that. I like to drop in little jokes that only a few people will get. The principal's dogs are named Larry and Adam. Well, Larry and Adam are the bass player and the drummer for U2. Now, if I'd named the dogs Bono and Edge, everybody would have got that. When I read as a kid and picked up on something like that, that always hooked me. I loved being one of the select group that was in on the joke.
The book shows a side of Ireland most American kids will find, well, foreign. Not only no leprechauns, but not a farm in sight! No rolling green hills. No one with a hint of a brogue.
True. It's a brand-new country now. Anyone who's been to Ireland in the last 10 years knows the economy is doing really well. We've got big computer companies located here and, as a result, the kids have become very technologically advanced. They're all running around with cell phones and pagers. Other people still think it's The Quiet Man, and you still do have that side of Ireland, but I wanted a book that Irish kids would read and say, "Wow. That's what it's like here," one that would also give other people a peek at what's going on.
You're not through with Artemis, though, which has grown from a planned trilogy to a quintet, I think. Isn't there a fifth one at the printer now?
Er, it's not finished, although it's coming out in September so I better finish.
Will that be the end of Artemis?
My latest plan is to do six and after six, I will either stop altogether or not do another one for five years. I'm torn between leaving this character I really love and worrying that I'm flogging a dead horse. But every time I go out and meet kids, their first question always is, 'When is the next Artemis Fowl book coming out?' And if you have a good idea for a book, it's hard not to write it. So I'm going to try to alternate them with other books to keep it fresh, but I would think after six, that would be it. Then again, we could be talking next year with me telling you about book seven.
It's certainly the series that changed your life.
Definitely. I suppose what's actually happened is that I used to teach school during the day and write in the evenings. But the teaching job has been replaced, not by writing, but by traveling and by (clears throat) doing press, so I still don't have as much time to write as I'd like. But some of that is okay because it's good to get out and talk to people and get new ideas. If you're just sitting here on your own, I think you'd get a bit stale.
Financially, however, there's certainly been a difference. Don't you have a chateau in France?
I know what you're thinking—a big castle with turrets. It's not really a chateau. It's a small holiday home but it is kind of a luxury. That's my brothers who call it a chateau (Colfer is the second of five boys).I blame them for everything. We're quite close, but they do tend to tease me a lot in case I get a big head. It's pre-emptive teasing to keep me humble. Also, I'm to pick up every tab at the pub.
Wait until the Artemis movie comes out. They'll accuse you of having gone Hollywood.
I just had a big meeting with the director a few days ago. I can't name him, but you'd know the name if I said it, and we're going to do some work on the script. That's the first progress we've had in a while. Everyone tells me this is normal, that four years is nothing, but actually, the thing I'm even more excited about than the film is that Artemis is coming out as a comic book, either at the end of this year or next spring, also from Disney.
Tell us about that.
I went to Milan, where Disney has its comic book factory. Actually, it's a studio, but they call it a factory. I met all the artists and they were very keen to turn Artemis into a graphic novel and I was very keen to have them do it.
So a book, a film and a graphic novel—that covers a lot of bases.
That's Disney. The mouse has a finger in every pie.