Reading with... Eoin Colfer

Eoin Colfer is the author of the Artemis Fowl series, which was adapted into a major motion picture from the Walt Disney Studios, to be released in 2020. The Dog Who Lost His Bark, illustrated by P. J. Lynch, comes out with Candlewick in September; a new Artemis Fowl graphic novel came out in June and The Fowl Twins will be released in November, both from Disney. He lives with his wife and two sons in Dublin, Ireland.

On your nightstand now: 

My nightstand is usually loaded with a teetering tower of books that I am trying to get through. At the moment, I am on the final chapter of Roddy Doyle's Charlie Savage, which is so convincing in its portrayal of middle-aged men and their near constant state of befuddlement in the modern world that I feel sometimes Roddy was spying on me. In contrast to that, I am reading Tana French's latest crime masterwork, The Wych Elm, which is thrilling enough to function as a defibrillator if needed. My third current read is Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi, which is a beautiful modern fairytale; wicked, gooey and delicious.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I have always loved Stig of the Dump by Clive King. I read it when I was ill one weekend and I think my fever helped me to reach a state of literary delirium into which all the best books can plunge a reader.

Your top five authors:

I have had many favorite authors over the decades and it is a list that changes weekly. My current top five would be:

Ken Bruen for his dark depiction of the Galway underbelly.

Sarah Davis Goff who put a literary spin on dystopia. 

The talented Patricia Highsmith for lovely Tom Ripley.

Robert Louis Stevenson for everything he ever wrote but especially Treasure Island.

And finally:

Jim Fitzpatrick for his illustrated take on the legends of Ireland, notably The Silver Arm that inspired me to present fairies a little differently than expected.

Book you've faked reading:

I did pretend to read Portrait of a Lady in high school. Henry James is a brilliant writer but could not compete with comic books for 12-year-old me. I have read it since and it is of course a masterpiece, but so is V for Vendetta.

Book you're an evangelist for: 

I do think everyone should read A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. We all have to deal with grief at some point and this gives the reader a head start. And if I could sneak in a second book, I would say William Goldman's The Princess Bride is the epitome of what fantasy literature should and can be. 

Book you've bought for the cover:

I bought the Dark Knight Returns on a trip to London to buy an engagement ring for my then fiancée Jacqueline. I spent a large portion of our engagement dinner reading the Frank Miller book. Only one of us was impressed.

Book you hid from your parents:

I remember reading the rather racy The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain when I was about 14. I also persuaded my brother to accompany me to the movie a couple of years later. Imagine our surprise when our parents came into the movie theatre and sat behind us. We were forced to hunker down for the entire movie but we learned that parents are people too.

Book that changed your life:

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy touched down in rural Ireland in 1980 and I realized that you didn't have to write things the same way everyone else did--you could write them like Douglas Adams, or at least you could try. That book set me on a comedy/sci-fi/fantasy path that I am still on. A 50-year journey to go where no one has gone before. Or very few anyway.

Favorite line from a book:

Sometimes less is more and when Szell asks Babe: "Is it safe?" in Marathon Man, I soooo wanted Babe to know the answer, because if he didn't... Well we all know what happened to Babe. William Goldman brilliantly turned our own nightmares against us in one of the greatest thrillers ever written.

Five books you'll never part with:

I am very much a fanboy when it comes to books. When I get a dedication from a much-admired writer, I tend to take extra special care of that volume. So far on my shelf of exaltedness I have:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, theee man. (a proof too!)

A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle. An absolute masterpiece.

What Remains of Me by Alison Gaylin. A thriller that manages to be noir and cutting edge. Not an easy thing. I read everything she writes.

The Silver Arm by Jim Fitzpatrick. Technically I got this signed for my brother but he hasn't picked it up yet, not sure why.

The Great and Secret Show by Clive Barker. I did a reading at a U.S. bookstore after him and, when he heard I was a fan, he kindly left a copy behind. Very gracious and most treasured.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

I remember reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for the first time and being swept into the book by the extraordinary first-person narrative. I would love to be that engrossed in a story again. It's becoming more difficult to lose myself in a novel but it still happens every now and then. 

Book you love that nobody else has ever heard of:

I love an old pirate novel called Black Bartlemy's Treasure by Jefferey Farnol, which never quite reached the dizzying heights of the classics' shelf but was often found in second hand store boxes, which was where I found my copy. This was a book about buried treasure so it seemed fitting that I had found it buried in an old dusty box. In my opinion it's up there with Treasure Island and Captain Blood so if you are a fan of those swashbucklers, seek out Black Bartlemy.

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