Eoin Colfer - Author
Eoin Colfer grew up in Wexford, Ireland in a house with four brothers. He is a former schoolteacher who has lived in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Italy. Eoin (pronounced Owen) is the bestselling author of Artemis Fowl, The Legend of Spud Murphy, and other books. He now lives in Wexford with his wife and two sons.
RIF: You recently parachuted out of a plane. Why did you do it?
Eoin Colfer: I had been saying for years that I would love to do it, until finally my wife got tired of hearing it and bought me a "jump" for a present.
I really enjoyed the training and the jump, but you do realize—when you are hanging on to the wing of a small plane—that this is a dangerous sport. So in future I think I will stay inside the plane while it is in the air!
RIF: What are some of your hobbies?
EC: I read graphic novels a lot and I am learning to play the guitar. Playing the guitar is a lot more difficult than it looks. I thought that buying leather pants was half the battle!
RIF: As a kid, you wanted to be a comic book artist when you “grew up.” What was it like to adapt Artemis Fowl into a graphic novel?
EC: It is a dream come true to create the graphic novel with writer Andrew Donkin and artist Giovanni Rigano who worked on The Incredibles. I act kind of like a fan when I’m around them.
RIF: Did you have a favorite fantasy author or book when you were a kid?
EC: I always loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I think the description and sheer scope of Middle Earth makes you feel like it is absolutely real.
RIF: When and why did you start writing?
EC: I started writing stories as soon as I was able to write. I think this is largely due to my parents who told my brothers and me stories all the time and fostered a love of fiction in us.
RIF: Do you think growing up in Irish culture influences you as a fantasy author?
EC: Yes, absolutely. In Ireland myths and legends are a big part of the culture. We are taught them in school. I developed an interest in fantasy stories as early as five—when my mom and dad would tell us stories of great heroes, dragons and fairies. So my parents are to blame...or to thank.
RIF: What do you like most about writing?
EC: I like the small moments of inspiration: when a sentence runs right or when a metaphor fits perfectly. One of those moments a day is enough to keep me going (but I’ll take one a week if I can get it).
RIF: What, in your opinion, are the elements of a good fantasy story?
EC: Characters are at the centre of every story. The reader must care about someone in the book or they will close it, no matter what the genre.
As for elements specific to the fantasy genre I think you need to create a magical world that is unique in some way. It is impossibl to be completely new, but there should be a few fresh ideas.
RIF: How did the idea for the Artemis Fowl series come about?
EC: I wanted to create a character who was not the classic good guy. An anti-hero villian kind-of-thing. I have always enjoyed reading about these guys. Huckleberry Finn was one of the first and, in my opinion, the best.
RIF: How did you come up with the name “Artemis Fowl” for the main character?
EC: When I came up with the character, I wove him into a story I was already writing about fairies. The name Artemis comes from the Greek goddess of the hunt and means ‘the hunter’ when it is given to a boy. I thought this was quite apt.
RIF: What advice would you give to kids who want to write their own fantasy story?
EC: Read all the greats to see how high the standard is. Sometimes people think that all you have to do is walk through a magic door, end up in another world, be the chosen one, and kill a dragon. This is not enough anymore. The bar has been raised. Find a couple of original ideas and weave them around an interesting character (who does not necessarily have to be an orphan with a strange royal looking birthmark living with his decent foster family in the country).
RIF: Do you have any other advice for kids?
EC: Read, read, and read. Also, pay attention to what goes on around you. Other people’s discarded memories could be worth a chapter or two to you. And they’re free!