Thursday, July 22, 2010

Things That Scare Me

Not a lot of things scare me, for I am Brave, and Filled With Courage, and Nigh-Fearless. I can also be Blissfully Unaware Of Danger, and Naïve, and Slightly Dim-Witted. All of which adds up to not many things scaring me.

I mean, sure, I’m not a fan of the open water. I’ve seen Jaws far too many times to fall for THAT particular trick. Oooh, let’s go swimming, they said, and POW! Instant shark attack. And sharks won’t just attack you once, oh no. If I have learned ANYTHING from movies, it’s that sharks/wild animals will always make it personal, and they will continue to hunt you down and pick your friends off one by one until you find a way to destroy them.

Attacked by a shark? Escape? Yeah, it’s not over, buddy. The shark is now STALKING you. It has tasted your blood and it wants more, and it will go to any length to get it. If that means it has to wait for a great big truck to pass your house, lugging a huge tank of water behind it (for some reason), then that is what the shark will do. And the moment you step out of your front door the shark will SPRING from the tank and eat you.

One of these days I’m going to be eaten by a shark, I just know it.

Apart from shark attacks, though, not much scares me. In fact, the only thing guaranteed to creep me out on every occasion is my own imagination. Well, that and serial killers.

Last night, Zodiac was on TV. It’s a David Fincher film, about the Zodiac killer that stalked San Francisco back in the 60’s and 70’s. He was never caught. The film is brilliant, and you really have to stay alert to keep up as it follows the cops and journalists through years of leads and clues and false hopes. And three or four times, we see the Zodiac killing, and those scenes are horribly real and terrifically scary. Movies like Saw or Hostel don’t scare me. They might make me wince, but they won’t scare me. I saw the remake of The Crazies the other night, and I loved it, and even though it got me with a couple of “BOO!” moments, it didn’t scare me. But those scenes in Zodiac got to me because they were so, so real, and so horrible, and you can put yourself in the shoes of the victims and try to figure out how you would acted differently, and you’ll come up empty.

So there I was, watching Zodiac alone in my house, late at night. I live outside of a small town, surrounded by fields and meadows and horses, and what that means on a practical level is that there are no street lights. So every single night, my house is surrounded by darkness. Look out a window you can see NOTHING except your own pale reflection against the black.

So Zodiac finished, and I laughed to myself to dispel any nerves, and I changed the channel and, in my infinite wisdom, began watching a program about serial killers on the loose in America. By the time THAT was over, with its tales of hitchhikers going missing and people vanishing off the face of the earth, I really didn’t want to walk through the house turning off all the lights.

The moment I flicked the switch and the room plunged into darkness, I just knew that the serial killer who had been hiding behind the couch all day would emerge, and slowly creep up behind me... Well, it would either be him or the shark, one or the other.

So I stayed where I was, watching the credits roll on the serial killer program. And I was aware of the window to my left. I generally don’t close my curtains at night. I like to be able to see if cars are approaching- I don’t like the idea of being cocooned in a house with no idea of what’s happening outside. So I sat there, with the curtains open, and the pitch black outside, and I had this eerie feeling that if I turned my head, if I looked, I would see a face at the window, looking back in at me. And that creeped me RIGHT out.

Naturally, turning my head is exactly what I did, because I hate being defeated by fears that my own imagination conjures up. So I turned my head quickly, so if there WAS a face at the window I’d catch it before it withdrew, and then I’d be able to charge out of the house after it, screaming and bloodthirsty and violent.

But there was nothing there. Obviously. Naturally. There was no serial killer out there, spying on me. After all, if a serial killer wanted notoriety, there are far more famous writers to kill before he'd ever get to me. Eoin Colfer, for example. Or Darren Shan.

(I am not advocating that serial killers go after either of these two nice people. I’m just saying, if you had a CHOICE...)

Ooooh I’m probably going to get in trouble for THAT comment.

So, satisfied that no one was watching, I changed the channel again, and I accidentally flicked onto a repeat of Two And a Half Men and I SCREAMED.

So what about you, my Minions? What ridiculous things scare you? And I’m not talking about spiders or moths or terrible sitcoms, I’m talking about ridiculous, unlikely things that could KILL you. (Yes, fine, Two And a Half Men could kill you, I’ll grant you that.)

My good friend Laura, for instance, has a terrible fear of being buried alive. Because of this, I can see such a fate befalling Valkyrie one of these days, I really can...


Just a quick note before the new entry into this accursed Blog to inform you that I have decided to post my answers to your many, MANY questions in the comments section of the previous entry. That way, your questions get answered, but the Blog entries aren't taken up by it all.

And now- to the next entry!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

My Life, Right Now

In my defense, I have been busy. Many, many things are happening, all of which combine to distract me and keep me from writing another entry for this accursed Blog. Yet here I am, on a Saturday morning, finally giving in and giving you, my minions, not only what you want, but also what you NEED.

I have been sitting here for half an hour, wondering what to write, determined that this entry will not be another Question and Answer session. Finally, out of sheer desperation, I have made the decision to ramble. And so here I am, rambling.

Mammy Cat is sitting on my printer. The printer is beside me, on the desk, and she’s curled up like a little grey curly ball of fluff, looking out the window at the rain and laughing at the unfortunate horses in the field beside me, who can’t curl up on anything, let alone a printer. Mammy Cat seems happy. She has been especially happy since I opened the garage door after three days, and she bounded out, free at last. Oops. For what it’s worth, she doesn’t seem to be holding her inadvertent incarceration against me, but cats are like that. The moment you let your guard down, they STRIKE.

(I let my guard down for a moment there, and when I looked around, Mammy Cat was poised on the edge of the printer, claws out and ready to leap. We locked eyes, and the claws retracted, then came out again lazily, like she’d only been practicing. But I know. Oh I know...)

I’m sitting here because I’m finishing up the final edits on Mortal Coil. What you have to understand is that when any writer says they are finished a book, they are lying. They don’t mean to lie. They don’t lie out of malicious intent. And some writers may even believe what they’re telling you. But it is a lie, nonetheless. For there is editing to do, and rewriting, and bits and pieces that appeared brilliant at the time, but are now quite obviously hideous rubbish.

A book is never finished until it’s on the bookshelves, and even then it’s not done. The writer, and readers, will spot typo’s and spelling errors and so, in the next print run, these things will (hopefully) be fixed. Every time I read a few pages of one of my books I spot another mistake, or something I wish I hadn’t written, or something I wish I could change. Such is a writer’s lot.

The edits I’m doing now are, hopefully, the final ones. I get notes from my editor, and my agent, and then I get notes from the copy-editor, whose job it is to make sure every sentence, you know, makes some sort of SENSE, and then I get notes from the real Valkyrie Cain, the girl who she is based on- my friend Laura.

Laura’s notes are unlike any of the others, because Laura uses blunt-force honesty in everything she does. For instance, if she thinks the first 80 pages are “kind of boring”, I’ll get a note written in the margins saying exactly that. The thing is, I take her notes ridiculously seriously. If she isn’t happy with any aspect of a book, I’ll change it until she is happy. Laura oversees quality control, and I have to say if you like reading Skulduggery, you have a lot to thank her for.

(Also she’s kind of scary, just like Valkyrie is, so I pretty much do what she tells me.)

She gave me her notes yesterday, and the nice thing is that there weren’t a whole lot of them. Here’s what she wrote at the end:

“All in all, I think it’s the most ‘finished’ version I’ve read so far. There’s nothing much to change at all, and I’m really quite impressed!”

That, my loyal minions, bodes well. If she likes it this much, I’m fairly confident you will, too.


I have another few hours of work ahead of me, rearranging the first 80 pages to get the excitement and the fun happening earlier in the story, but the end is in sight. I should be able to deliver this back to my editor on Sunday night, because the nice people at the printers are waiting to make some books. September 2nd isn’t that far away, after all.

What’s bizarre is that this will be my FIFTH book. I will have FIVE BOOKS out there in shops. You all know how fantastic I think I am, and with astonishingly good reason, but there is a part of me that still thinks I’m the new kid, I’m the writer who’s just starting out. And yet I’m about to publish my fifth book. I’ve been writing Skulduggery for exactly five years now, to the MONTH, but the first book was only published in April of 2007. Five books since 2007, a few awards, a few AMAZING tours, and a Munchkin Army, a legion of Ninja Leprechauns, and the best darn Minions out there.

That’s pretty good going.

Monday, July 5, 2010

And another, even COOLER, video...

... to keep you busy while I compose the latest entry into this accursed Blog...