Fringe Box



Kids Love Skulduggery And The Author Too

Published on: 18 Sep, 2012
Updated on: 29 Sep, 2012

By Flora Windebank

Derek Landy poses with his fictional hero, ‘Skulduggery Pleasant’

Celebrated children’s author Derek Landy visited Guildford last week to give a talk on his new book Kingdom of the Wicked. It is the seventh book in the critically acclaimed Skulduggery Pleasant series.

‘Kingdom of the Wicked’ the latest installment in the series

The sell out show was a huge success and Landy’s amusing stories and jokes kept both parents and children entertained thoroughout.

The Skulduggery Pleasant series centers on a skeleton detective (Skulduggery) and a teenage girl Stephanie Edgley (Valkyrie Cain) who work together to combat evil forces and avenge Valkyrie’s uncle’s death. It has been a huge success since it was first released in 2007, selling over 17 million copies across 33 countries. Kingdom of the Wicked was released in the UK on the August 30th.

Waterstones had got into the spirit of the book’s spooky theme by decorating the shop with spiderwebs and skulls and staff had donned some facepaint and spooky outfits for the occasion.

Derek Landy began the talk by describing his life before Skulduggery. He observed there wasn’t much point talking about the book, as the children there probably knew them better than he did.

Bought up on his parents farm in Ireland, he found school difficult, failing both his school finals and being kicked out of art college in his first year. Landy jokingly told the audience: “It wasn’t so much what I did do, but what I didn’t do….which was anything.” Good humoured throughout he had children laughing despite the difficulty of his early years.

Derek Landy talks to captivated children

Having no qualifications he went back to his parents farm, but was determined to teach himself to write. At first he put his hand to screenplays, mostly zombie films with imaginative names such as ‘Boy Eats Girl: ‘ “Nice, family friendly fun!” Landy winked to the parents.

With little success in these, (his first screenplay only attracted an audience of six), he then tried books and once Skulduggery had been written, it only took a record three weeks for him to find a publisher.

Landy’s cheeky sense of humour allowed him to interact with the children perfectly and by the time he was ready to answer questions there was barely a hand down in the place. One girl asked whether Kingdom of the Wicked was the last of the series, but Landy was quick to tell the thrilled children that there are two more books to come.

Waterstones was decorated for the occasion

On the subject of a film adaptation, Landy was adamant that he wanted to keep hold of the film’s rights: “I went to Hollywood in 2007 and what the scriptwriters there came up with was the worst I had ever read.

“The director they had in charge was desperate to do a song and dance film which wouldn’t fit at all. After that fiasco I knew I wanted the rights to myself. I feel the script is solid now, and there might be a movie deal by Christmas. However there is no certainty, it might not get made at all.”

In a slightly more sombre moment, Landy was given a more thought provoking question to answer. One girl asked what he would recommend to people like himself, that found school and academic qualifications a struggle. After thinking, he told the audience: “The only advice I can really give, is to find something you really love, as that will be the only thing that can hold your attention. But it is a tough one. If I had not been successful, I would still be living with my parents, and people would be condemning me for not having a real job and keeping my head in the clouds. However because I was successful, people praise me for never letting go of my dreams.”

Having answered many enthusiastic questions, he began to sign books for fans. Landy made sure to have a personal chat with each child and posed for photographs too. The book signing may have lasted for quite a while, but leaving the building were a lot of very happy children.

Derek chats to a fan

Share This Post