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Eoin Colfer (pronounced Owen) was born in Wexford on the South-East coast of Ireland in 1965, where he and his four brothers were brought up by his father (an elementary school teacher, historian, and artist of note) and mother (a drama teacher). He first developed an interest in writing in primary school with gripping Viking stories inspired by history he was learning in school at the time!
After leaving school he got his degree from Dublin University and qualified as a primary school teacher, returning to work in Wexford. He married in 1991 and he and his wife spent about 4 years between 1992 and 1996 working in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Italy. His first book, Benny and Omar, was published in 1998, based on his experiences in Tunisia. A sequel followed in 1999, followed by some other books. Then in 2001 the first Artemis Fowl book was published and he was able to resign from teaching and concentrate fully on writing.
Children are guaranteed a treasure-trove of riches from Ireland’s top storyteller. From the hi-tech fantasy of Artemis Fowl to his brilliant action thrillers like The Supernaturalist, Eoin’s books are brimming with action, invention and laughs! Less confident readers can chuckle over the easy-read adventures of naughty brothers Will and Marty, while those who love fairies and fighting are in for a treat with six unstoppable bestsellers from the hit Artemis Fowl series.
Winner of the 2001 British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year for Artemis Fowl and the 2005 North East Book Award for The Supernaturalist.
Interview with Eoin Colfer
First of all, how did you come up with the name for anti-hero Artemis Fowl?
The name was very important. I knew it had to be a mysterious name that would make an instant impact on the reader, like Titus Groan or Hannibal Lecter. Fowl was easy enough, Fowl by name, foul by nature. But Artemis was harder. I went through several first names: Bartholemew, Bartlemy, Archimedes before I found Artemis on a Greek boys-names website. The second I saw it, I knew.
How did films and film characters influence the writing of Artemis Fowl?
Films definitely had an impact on my writing style. I am a huge movie fan, and the action genre is one of my favourites. I realised that very few action movies are specifically for kids, even though kids love them. So, I decided to fill the vacuum with a book that reads like an action movie. Hopefully when you read the book, the movie will play itself in your head.
Who did you base the character of feisty elf Holly Short on? Is she a reflection of the ‘girl power’ frenzy that’s swept the nation over the last few years?
Holly is based on a mixture of several girls that I have taught. They are real people and refuse to conform to some idea or fad. There have always been female heroes, it’s just that male authors didn¹t want to write about them.
Did you have fun playing with the Irish myths and legends in Artemis Fowl and creating a futuristic (but still very magical) fairy world?
I grew up reading Irish myths and legends, so I had great fun putting a spin on them. I knew that there was no point in regurgitating other people’s stories, so instead I gave them a technological makeover.
If you were given the fairy power to put up a shield (Mud People translation: making yourself invisible), where would you go and what would you do?
If I were shielded, I think I would float into a few banks and erase their third world debt accounts. Either that or follow my wife and find out where she hides the biscuits.
What books are on your bedside table at the moment?
The two books on my bedside table at the moment are: Mr. X by Peter Straub and The Truth by Terry Pratchett.