“Practice — write every day even if it’s only for ten minutes. Remember, nothing is wasted. Eventually your style will emerge. Persevere!”
— Eoin Colfer
Today would be a grand day to celebrate an Irish author, don’t you think?
Eoin (that’s “Owen” for those of you outside the Emerald Isle) Colfer is the creator of the Artemus Fowl series.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the books, Eoin himself describes them as “Die Hard” with fairies.
Seriously, who could resist?
Anyway, I thought we should probably explore exactly what makes this bloke so successful. So, I checked out several interviews and here’s what I've gleaned:
1. Grow up in a storytelling family that takes a lot of road trips in an old Renault 4L. ALWAYS fight to sit in the boot where there are loads of exhaust fumes. The brain damage will pretty much assure your success as a future creative genius.
2. If you've already missed out on #1, then look to family members for inspiration. For example, the impish and prankster nature of Eoin's brothers has inspired many fantastic characters. "I always make myself nice and quiet," he says, "Paul [his older brother] overbearing, and the younger three monkeys." In the second Artemis Fowl book, four goblins (with names almost identical to those of his sibs) have a fight. "I kind of torture them and get them to kill each other off," says Eoin gleefully. "There are advantages to being the writer!"
I couldn't agree more. Your best inspiration is probably close at hand. And face it, writing is a great way to put the FUN back into family disFUNction.
3. Eoin says to pay attention to friends and strangers, too. Other people’s discarded memories could be worth a chapter or two. And they’re free!
4. Write down those dreams — the sleeping kind. Eoin reports, “A lot of my ideas come from dreams. Often I will sit up in the middle of the night and try to remember the dream I just had. One night I dreamt I had written the perfect book, but I woke up and couldn't remember it. I remember that portable toilets featured in it somewhere though.”
A perfect book with portable toilets… Hmmm… Well, you heard it here first.
5. Alas, never expect your children to be impressed. Eoin reports that one of his sons had this to say — “Did it have to be leprechauns, Dad?” You can just hear the kid’s sigh as he continues sadly. “I am the son of the leprechaun king.”
All I can say is expect to find yourself in Dad’s next novel, sonny boy (see tip #2).
PROMPT: Take just ten minutes and use any of Eoin Colfer’s inspiring tips to rough out a new story idea today — Mold a family member into a great character, exaggerate a friend’s old yarn, or use one of your own wacky dreams. Sorry, but I cannot in good conscience recommend huffing exhaust fumes.
Erin go bragh!