When I walked into the theater at the library for Eoin Colfer’s author talk, a theme song was playing on a loop and there was a giant poster with the covers of all his books. It was a fairly impressive marketing display.
Colfer is a small, lean Irish man with full white hair, a goatee, and a charming lilt. He began his presentation with a summary of all 8 Artemis Fowl books. He had 2 young audience members help him, playing Artemis and Lieutenant Holly Short. It was a smart, energetic introduction. The summary reminded me of some details from the series that I had forgotten, characters like Foaly and Mulch. I remembered exactly how far I’d gotten in the series and why I’d quit reading it. I read the first three books and thought that they made a nice, rounded out trilogy, so I didn’t pick up the fourth when it was released. The third book ended in Artemis’s memory being wiped clean of the fairies and everything that had happened since the first book, and that seemed like a particularly hard place for Colfer to write himself out of.
The rest of the author talk was mostly a standup routine. He made jokes and told stories about his sons, and the audience of preteens and their parents thoroughly appreciated them. He had a great impression of his son’s hair-arranging gesture, and told stories about accidents in a ball pit and a public restroom. He made a couple snarky comments about Rick Riordan and his Percy Jackson series, all in good fun. He was really very entertaining, defying sterotypes of writers as socially awkward and introverted.
One of the best questions he was asked, which got the best answer, was about the other books that had influenced the Artemis Fowl books. The one he cited was The Princess Bride, which showed him that fantasy didn’t have to be serious, that it could be both funny and magical. Then he went on for a while about how the title of that book was so unfortunately gendered, and how boys wouldn’t pick up a book with a girly title or cover. It’s definitely true that Colfer addressed that problem very well by writing an action-packed series that boys can fall in love with.
Since I bought the final book of the series and had it signed, I guess I’ve commited to finishing it. The summaries of some of the other books intrigued me, especially the one about time travel. One telling thing, though, was that Colfer admitted when asked that he’d planned the series book by book instead of all at once. That episodic nature might have been a reason I gave up on the series. It’s hard to feel like a series is going somewhere when there isn’t an overarching plan. At the same time though, it’s not hard to imagine how overwhelming it would have been to think about planning the intricate plot of even one of these books, much less all 8 at once. I’ve heard that this last one is when Artemis truly becomes a hero, so that sounds worth reading.