April 2006

Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl author turns to crime
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Best known for his immensely popular Artemis Fowl series, Eoin Colfer departs from his usual territory and delves into the world of crime-solving with his latest book, Half Moon Investigations.

"I really wanted to do something that was quirky and funny," the author says from his home in Wexford, Ireland. Colfer's basis for the new detective novel seems to be a combination of childhood adoration for the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series and the adventures he shared with his five brothers. More inspiration came during a big 40th birthday party that he had thrown for himself and a large group of friends he had known since the second grade. "At the end of the night, someone asked when I was going to write a teen book," recalls the author, "and it started us talking about all of our escapades." Shortly thereafter, Colfer set about putting the shenanigans to paper, and Half Moon Investigations came into being.

Of course, he has changed the names to protect the not-so-innocent, but most of his friends know who they are. "It's liberating to write about people I know. It makes it an easy process," Colfer says. He was also adamant about making the stories seem true to life, rather than dealing with fluff cases. "I wanted my characters to solve actual mysteries," he says, "and they do."

What starts as the search for a missing notebook escalates into a whodunit involving stolen iPods, burning playhouses, a deafened dancer, a bludgeoned protagonist and more all seemingly unrelated until our brainiac detective solves the crime spree. Colfer confesses that he fashioned this quick-thinking character after another person he knows: himself. "I wanted to get away from whimsy and darkness of Artemis Fowl and have a good guy, but not a superhero," Colfer says. "To have someone with no clue about how to talk to girls and be unsure of himself, to be quite smart but have a lack of confidence. Much like myself."

As it turned out, it took Colfer a mere eight months to pen the first draft of the book and with so much material to draw on, this might be just the beginning of our journey with Fletcher Moon. "I have a second book planned, the author says, and I would like to do a series." But that's not all he has on his plate at the moment. Colfer is also writing the next Artemis Fowl book and researching a work of historical fiction.

Although Colfer's books are for readers 10 and up, his inspiration comes from a younger audience his two sons Sean and Finn, 3 and 8, respectively. "I started writing picture books for Finn," Colfer says, "after he came home one day frustrated that he couldn't read the books that people were talking about at school."

Six picture books later, he has become a bit of a master. "Picture books are quite intense," the author says. "Every word counts." As it happens, another picture book is in the works as well.

With all of these projects underway, Colfer could be forgiven if he longed for a little spare time. "Not so," says the author, who previously spent 15 years teaching elementary school. "I still treat writing as my hobby, so I think of that as my spare time."

And when he's not writing, he likes to spend time with his children. "I have an office in the back garden, so I commute about 10 meters to work every day," Colfer says. "But there are a few distractions: Every time I look up I see a child stuck to the window like Garfield."

Keeping writing close to home has always been a part of Colfer's lifestyle. His mother wrote plays and taught drama, and his father wrote academic books. "Writing and drawing was the norm in our house," he recalls. In fact, three of his brothers are also involved in the arts a screenwriter, an architect and an archaeologist who moonlights in a rock band but none are as celebrated as the Artemis Fowl author thus far.

Although he has had to deal with a bit of teasing from his brothers, for the most part, Colfer's fame hasn't affected his perspective on life. "I don't think about the celebrity end of it or let it affect me in any big ways," he says, "but I do end up having to buy the beer all the time."

The generous author may be picking up the tab even more often in the next few years. In addition to Colfer's own writings, a comic book series featuring Artemis Fowl will be hitting bookstores in early 2007 and filming for a movie on the same subject is expected to begin later this year.

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