Eoin, first we must clear up how to pronounce your name, so that new fans can pronounce it correctly. It’s Ewan, right?
Sorry to say – it’s Owen – but don’t feel bad. It’s a rare spelling and even close friends get it wrong.
Some of us feel like you’re an old friend, as we’ve been fans since 2001 when Artemis Fowl first made an appearance. When you wrote that first book, did you have all 8 books mapped out and planned?
Not at all. I don’t really plan too far ahead. In fact I write cliff hangers just to get my brain working. I usually have a reasonable idea what will happen at the end of the book I’m working on but after that: no idea. It’s exciting really.
Why do you think the Artemis Fowl series is so popular?
I have always wondered about this, so over the years I ask readers why they like it. The most popular answer is: I like Artemis because he has power. Young people are often treated like infants and so they like to see a kid with real influence. Also there is farting.
You once described Artemis Fowl as “Die Hard with fairies”. When you wrote the first book did you imagine it as a movie, or did that come later? Were you imagining how it would look on the big screen when you were writing it?
That was a comment I made in my very first interview and it has stuck around for more than twenty years which just shows the power of journalism. I think when I am writing a book I am thinking of it as a comic because I have always loved comics. And it is a short hop from comics to movies which is why my books are cinematic I think.
We’re all eagerly awaiting the release of the Artemis Fowl movie. It’s been on the drawing board for quite a while, and then COVID-19 came along delaying it further, so we’re curious to know how you’re feeling now it’s finally here.
I am excited of course by my overriding emotion is anxiety. I think that is my natural state. I get anxious every morning in case the internet is not working, and if I’m not anxious I think there must be something I don’t know and so I worry about that. Having said that I think once the movie is out and people have seen it I can finally get on with my life.
We heard you visited the set of the movie and met the cast and characters. The characters only existed in your imagination for so long, and now they become real. Can you tell us a bit about your reaction to the appearance of the characters. Did their appearance meet your expectations?
I think the character design totally exceeded my expectations. Some matched my mental picture: Artemis, Holly and Mulch but others were radically different such as Foaly and Root. It was a little mind blowing to walk around those giant sets populated by hundreds of workers and extras working on something that originated in my head. It was nice that I could bring my family so that we all felt involved in the process.
The last Artemis Fowl book was released in 2012. What have you been working on since then?
I have been working on various projects including the WARP trilogy, the Christmas musical Noel which toured the US last year, standalone books Highfire which just came out and two plays: Holy Mary and My Real Life.
What is the next project we will see from you?
The next project you will see is the second volume of Fowl Twins’ adventures which will be out in October and is called The Fowl Twins Deny All Charges.
What are you working on now?
I am currently working on a re-write for my play Holy Mary which will be touring Ireland later this year if the theatres re-open.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?
I would tell aspiring writers to track down Elmore Leonard’s rules for writing and follow them all, and also to pay attention to all the life going on around them, so that they have something to write about.
As an ex-teacher and bestselling writer you must have a few ideas about how to encourage children to read more. If you could give one piece of advice to parents who want their kids to read more, what would it be?
I would advise parents not to force books on their children as a form of reward or punishment but just make books available and let the children come to it themselves.
If you could give one piece of advice to children about why reading is important, what would it be?
I would tell children to forget all about the proven advantages of reading. Forget how it will make you smarter or make school easier. Focus on all the fun you can have while you’re reading. It provides an escape that no other medium can come close to.