Tag Archives: Skulduggery Pleasant

Mr Landy holds a grudge

So I tootled along to the Little Bookroom on Saturday to listen to Dubliner Derek Landy, author of the sensational Skulduggery Pleasant series. I’m glad I did.

I was gifted the first book in the series by a bookseller (thank you Harry @ Dymocks Bendigo) who promised I’d love it. He said there weren’t many children’s novels that could hold his attention but Skulduggery had done the job. I’ve subsequently read the first three books to the Little Dragon as bedtime stories. I’m a tad dirty he’s tackling the fourth by himself and I’ll have to wait in line. These books work for young readers 8 and up, male or female. They’re violent, funny, action-packed, trippy and chock full of fantastic bad guys.

Here’s a little of the wisdom Mr Landy shared on Saturday:

1. When writing, make every chapter your favourite. Put your best jokes, action and dialogue into the chapter you’re working on and have fun with it. When you’re done, try and make the next chapter your new favourite, topping your previous effort.

2. Write the fun bits of your story first. Then, when you have to write the boring bits that connect the plot together, try and make them more fun than the fun bits. That way you get a book that doesn’t have any dull bits.

3. Young people considering writing as a career should give up and look for other opportunities. That way they don’t become competition to existing authors and steal our sales. (Hey, he was smiling when he said it.)

4. Writers have fantastic lifestyles. Mr Landy sleeps until noon, plays video games and then sits down to write at approximately 2pm. If he’s on a roll, he might write for eight hours straight. (This lifestyle was a big selling point to the Little Dragon until he remembered I need a real job to fund my book-writing habit.)

5. As god of your fictional universe you can do anything you like. Mr Landy said he killed off popular character Tanith Low in Book 1 but was persuaded by his publisher to give the feisty Ms Low another chance so the story didn’t end on too much of a bum note. Mr Landy accepted this suggestion and Ms Low survived. Mr Landy now holds a grudge against his character and has ensured she almost dies in every subsequent book.

6. There are going to be nine books in the series. Ms Low is going to spend a lot of time in rehab.

Writing and reading to an exclusive audience

Readers of this blog might have noticed the Little Dragon and I are huge fans of Sandy Fussell’s Samurai Kids series. As is often the case, knowing the inspiration for a story can make the actual stories even more engaging.

Here’s the skinny on Sandy’s stories from Book Chook. It tells how Sandy started writing because she wanted books her sons would read. Sounds like mighty fine motivation to me.

I’ve been lucky thus far that the Little Dragon is a keen reader. (His personal preference is for manga and other graphic novels.) I read to him almost every night and, apart from Sandy’s series, we’ve ripped through the Harry Potter tomes (I skipped the adverbs to save time), The Hobbit, the excellent Skulduggery Pleasant books and various others. On the go now are Howl’s Moving Castle and Emily the Strange: The Lost Days. We’ll probably do Neil Gaimain’s The Graveyard Book soon because a) I’ve read it and it’s far less scary than Coraline and b) the Little Dragon has a taste for horror that can’t be explained by his immediate gene-pool.

For me, the best bit about reading aloud, apart from encouraging a love of story, is that the text takes on new meanings. My son also helps me see humour and nuances I might not have picked up. By way of example, he thinks Gandalf is hilarious.

The Little Monkey is pre-reading but seems equally keen. She insists on “silent reading” after we read to her and often stacks picture books on her bed that thunder to the floor when she falls asleep. Her favourites include Amy & Louis, the Gruffalo books, Milly Molly Mandy (who’d have thought these quaint stories my Mum read as a child would have such a shelf-life?), Roger Hargreaves’ Mr and Little Miss tales … and anything containing babies.

As for writing for the kids, the Little Dragon is most impatient for me to write something suitable for him to read. Five Parts Dead will be closer to the mark than Game as Ned but still not ideal. I do have a few ideas … but lack the time to write them down right now. One day.