Friday, 17 April 2015

An Interview With Derek Landy

Derek Landy is the best-selling author of the Skulduggery Pleasant series, which follows Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain as they save the world from disaster. Full of action, mystery, violence and, of course, humour, it isn't one to miss.The first book, 'Skulduggery Pleasant', can be bought from Waterstones, Amazon and The Book Depository. In this interview, Derek talks to me both about Skulduggery Pleasant and his second series, Demon Road, the first book in which, 'Demon Road', is released on August 27th. You can preorder Demon Road now from Waterstones and Amazon.


Skulduggery Pleasant as a series has now concluded. It has been eight years since the publication of the first book in 2007 - how does it feel to have spent eight years on an idea, and now it's all over?
"It feels odd. What feels even odder is the FACT that it feels odd. When I told Harper Collins this was gonna be a 9 book series, way back when, they were delighted. "Yay!" they said. "A long series! Yippee!"
I knew it'd take me 9 books to tell this story I had in my head, but even back then, in the first flush of youthful naivety about writing and the writing process and the book industry, I thought to myself "9 books is an AWFUL lot." I fully expected to grow bored by Book 4. I expected that I'd need to take a break halfway through the series to write something else, then come back to it. But that didn't happen. Amazingly, it didn't happen, and I wrote Book 9 with as much enthusiasm and fun as I did Book 1. 
So now that it's over I feel... odd. I did what I set out to do, which is good. The books have kept selling better and better, which is great. But it's done now, and it's taken up ten years of my life, and now I wave it goodbye and carry on. Will anything I do ever be better? Will anything I do ever be as good? Will it capture the readers' imaginations as much as Skulduggery has? I don't know, but I'm very curious to find out."
The next stage in the Skulduggery Pleasant adventure, now that the writing side is done, is the adaptation to screen. A movie has been spoken of for years - how close is it to becoming a reality?
"Honestly? Not close. It was RELATIVELY close, then wasn't close at all. Then was PRETTY close, and now isn't close at all. The reality about making movies is that some things take AGES to get to screen and some things NEVER get to screen. That's the down side. The up side is that some things, which may have dragged and dragged and delayed and stumbled, could suddenly snap to attention to ROCKET to the screen.
The thing is, you never know which one your project is going to be, because some projects skip between all three stages. 
For me, I'm not relying on a Skulduggery movie. I'd love if it happened, but my happiness is not based around it. That's the healthy way to be."
Your next series, a trilogy, is titled Demon Road, and is targeted at a teenage audience. The first book (also titled Demon Road) is due to come out in August - what is it going to be about?
"There's only so much I can say at this stage, but essentially it's about a 16 year old girl who's being chased across America by a pack of demons. There are a lot of nods to various genre icons from Freddy Krueger to Stephen King to all sorts of horror movies, and it's been an absolute blast getting to play in that arena."
Demon Road wasn't the title you originally came up with for the series. Why did you change it?
"Sometimes a title works for a series — sometimes it doesn't. The early title will probably be used for either the second or the third book, because it works awesomely as a title in and of itself. But a SERIES title needs to be slightly different. When Demon Road came to me it changed everything. I suddenly scrapped what I'd been writing up to that point and started again — started from the idea that this was now a road novel. In the first version, it mostly took place in a small town in Texas — now it takes place all over America."
Has it been harder to start working on this second series, or has it been easier, given that you've now had lots of experience at writing?
"It's a mix. Technically, it's easier, because I have so much experience in what works and what doesn't. But to come off a massive series like Skulduggery, which has taken up so much of my time and attention, and then to go onto something new... it's daunting. There's a kind of unwritten rule that says the second series will never sell as well as the first — at least not initially, so you see a lot of best-selling authors stumble a little when the new book suddenly doesn't go to number one. I think I'll be okay with this not happening, to be honest. Being number one is nice, but what's nicer is the feedback I get from readers."
What can we expect from this new trilogy? Is it going to be completely different from Skulduggery Pleasant, or will some elements carry across, such as the writing style and humour?
"It's different, but not amazingly so. It's less jokey, for one thing. That wasn't easy. I've had to go back over chapters and take out jokes. Like, a LOT of jokes. But even more than that, it's attitude. Valkyrie has a very defiant attitude — very angry, almost hostile, to authority figures. Amber doesn't have that. She's a lot more normal. Anytime I see her talking like Valkyrie, it's gone. Val is Val, and she's unique, but Amber's unique in her own way, and she deserves to be treated as such. 
Demon Road is also written for a YA audience, so it's going to be a little bit older. Not 'Bubba Moon' older, though writing from a seasoned adult's perspective was unbelievably rewarding, and resulted in a feel I'd never attempted before — but older nonetheless."
Many readers by now have read the first chapter of Demon Road, courtesy of the released The Dying of the Light (Skulduggery Pleasant #9) paperback and the wonders of the internet. What have the reactions to that been so far, and do they meet your expectations?
"The reactions, what I've seen, have been exactly what I wanted. The reaction to Amber herself, and who she is, have been wonderful. People either love or hate Valkyrie, but there seems to be a positive response across the board to a female character who isn't tall and slim and beautiful."
In Skulduggery Pleasant, Valkyrie was based on your real-life friend Laura. The titular character of Demon Road is Amber; is she based on anyone, or is she pure fiction?
"Pure fiction. I based Val on somebody real because I wasn't confident enough in myself to create a convincing central character — male or female, it didn't matter. Now I am. Now I know I can do it. 
Amber is going to discover some pretty shocking things about herself over the course of the book, and she's going to have to make some pretty drastic decisions over the course of the series. In fact, how she looks is a big part of that. How she sees herself, how others see her, and how men see women in general, all of this is woven through it."
Nine questions for nine amazing Skulduggery Pleasant books: what is the one piece of advice you'd like to give to your fans about Demon Road? What is the one thing that you would you like them to know before reading it?
"With Skulduggery, I had nine books, one spin-off and one collection of short stories to tear out your hearts and leave you traumatised. I had nine books, one spin-off and one collection of short stories to get you to love characters I then brutally killed or damaged beyond repair. 
With Demon Road, I'm gonna do all that in THREE."


It's great to know that very soon, we'll all have to go through the heart-wrenching pain and joy of another great series by Derek Landy all over again. A huge thank-you to Derek for agreeing to this interview - I hope to interrogate him (in a nice way) again soon! 
Thank you to you, too, readers, for taking the time to read this interview, and have a wonderful day!

Be sure to tweet Derek Landy (@DerekLandy) and myself (@thereaderrunt) on Twitter if you enjoyed this interview, or else leave a comment on it below! Follow my blog for more cool stuff like this, coming your way very soon.


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