Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The German Tour... and Paperbacks!


First of all, most of you have been very good about posting no spoilers in the comments section, so thank you for that. But a few of you have let some things slip, which is bad. BAD MINIONS!


Got the German schedule. It’s only two days, I’m afraid- not the week or two that I usually spend travelling around. The Australia/NZ tour and then the UK/Ireland tour at the start of the year meant a LOT of time away from home, so I told them I wanted everything condensed for this one. Astonishingly, they listened... probably because they realize I’ll have to start the new Skulduggery book before Christmas, and they want to keep me happy.

But I am NEVER happy.

Anyway, the German schedule --

Thursday 9th September:
11 AM
Museen Dahlem, Kunst und Kulturen der Welt, Lansstr.8, 14195 Berlin

6 PM
Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus, Friedrichstr. 90, 10117 Berlin 

Friday, 10th September:
4 PM
Katharinenschule in der Hafencity, Am Dalmannkai 18, 20457 Hamburg

Jammed in between these three events are the usual amount of travel time and media stuff, but as usual I just list the events that the public can pop along to.

With all of the signings, of course, in Germany, the UK and Ireland, I am happy to sign whatever you bring with you- time permitting. Obviously if the queue is insanely long and we have to run off to the next event, I won’t have the chance to do so, so we’ll tell everyone that I’ll only be able to sign one or two things. But usually there’s enough time for me to sign everything.

Oooh, and a few of you have seen the new design for the Dark Days paperback. The whole idea behind this new design is basically to have fun with the covers. The hardbacks will continue on as before, but the paperbacks will have a brand new image, every time, featuring Skulduggery in a cool pose. We figure most of you will be buying the hardbacks- or trade paperbacks, which are hardback sized but with the softer covers- and so you can keep that consistent cover design for your collection. But when the smaller paperbacks come out and replace the hardbacks on the shelves, we wanted a new approach to entice the readers who have never picked up a Skulduggery book.

And for the next few weeks, the only place to find these covers is over with our friends at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=188386&id=54064762985

By the way, for those of you who miss Valkyrie’s presence on the covers, I completely agree with you. I miss her too. Which is why Mr Tom Percival is working on a series of cool Valkyrie images for the backs of the books. I can’t wait for these, because we’ll really be able to see how much she grows up and changes in Tom’s artwork. And I'll also be able to get a few framed. Yay!

Alright then, I will blog once more before I head off on tour, and then I’ll do my best to blog again once I’m actually ON tour.

I swear.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Mortal Coil Tour

I have returned!

And just time, it appears. The comments section from the last entry is close to spilling over into our first THOUSAND count... 852 when last I checked. You people are INSANE.

I, on the other hand, am completely normal, and as such I have been going about normal things for the past week. Normal things such as scheduling TV appearances, radio appearances, newspaper interviews, heading over to London to sign 1250 copies of Mortal Coil in two hours, organizing tours and generally making sure everything is running smoothly on the run-up to publication day.

Of course, SOME of you don’t have to WAIT for publication day, do you? There are some of you, apparently, who already HAVE Mortal Coil. Try as we might to ensure that every bookshop releases it on the same day, some of the little scallywags do like to sneak a few copies out ahead of time. And so it is probably wise, at this point, to make a rule about NO SPOILERS in the comments section until, oooh, at least the 10th of September. After the 10th, let’s all agree to label the posts CLEARLY with SPOILER WARNINGS- but even so, try and refrain from being TOO blatant...

Because I know, oh how I know, that there are those of you, out there, who will see a spoiler for the book and you will READ it, despite knowing that you’re going to pick up a copy of your own the very next day...! You just can’t resist it, can you? But you must TRY! Promise me you’ll at least TRY, because I assure you, finding out what happens is much more fun when you read from the BOOK, and not from a spoiler...

Now then, this tour business. Whenever I tour, we always pick a certain section of the UK to focus on. Last time I was down the south, this time I’m... er... somewhere else. Details below!


Friday 3rd September, 
4pm, Public Signing
Waterstones Bristol
Tel: 0117 925 2274

Saturday 4th September
11am, Public Signing
Waterstones Bluewater, Kent
Tel: 01322 624 831

Public Event at Wansted Hall
Tickets £2.50 – to book tel: 02087087400 

Sunday 5th September
11am, Public Signing
Waterstones Milton Keynes
Tel: 01908 395384

6pm, Public Event
Waterstones, Worcester
Tel: 01905 731726

Monday 6th September
5pm, Public Signing
Waterstones Liverpool One
Tel: 0151 709 9820

Tuesday 7th September
12 - 1pm, Public Signing
Simply Books, Cheshire
Tel: 0161 439 1436

5pm, Public Signing
Waterstones Trafford Centre, Manchester
Tel: 0161 749 8623

Wednesday 8th September
12.30 – 1.30pm, Public Signing
Waterstones Birmingham
Tel: 0843 290 8149


Monday 13th September
4pm, Public Signing
Foyleside Shopping Centre, Londonderry
Tel: 028 7137 7133

Tuesday 14th September
4pm, Public Signing
Dubray Books, Galway
Tel: 00 353 91 569 070

Wednesday 15th September
4pm, Public Signing
Easons, The Pavilions, Dun Laoghaire
Tel: 00 353 1 663 7678

Thursday 16th September
4pm, Public Signing
Easons, Limerick
Email limerick@easons.com

On September 9 and 10, I’ll be in Germany, and I’ll post details of that when I have them.

If you’re coming along, make sure you tell me what name you use on this Blog, and then we can start sharing private jokes that nobody else understands...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Laura Interview: Part Four

Coming towards the end of the interview, I sit back and grin. “Here’s a question that’s been suggested that I know you’ll love- how did you get to be the golden god's BFF?”

“Get lost," she says immediately, "I am not answering that. And the golden god? Really? Seriously? Why?”

“Because I’m awesome.”

“No you’re not.”

“Because I’m brilliant.”

“No, you’re not. They don’t know you like I know you. Next question.”

“In no way do I want to insult your folks, but are they anything like Valkyrie's parents?”

“No. My dad doesn’t do ridiculous things like Valkyrie’s dad. Valkyrie’s mum, we’ve never really got an insight into her, so I don’t know. The dad’s the weirdo so you tend to focus on him more, so I really can’t say.”

“The dad is more like my dad than yours.”

“Yeah. My dad’s very practical, very black and white.”

“Whereas my dad’s a rambler.”

“Yes he is. Abso-bloody-lutely.”

“Someone wants to know what type of car Valkyrie's parents drive. For some reason. I haven’t a clue. What do you think?”

“I’d say her dad drives a Toyota Avensis, and her mum drives a Renault Megane.”

“You’re so helpful. Okay, here’s one. What character am I most like?”

“You? Skulduggery. Straight up. There’s no other character.”

“Not even Gordon?” I ask. “A few readers seem to think he’s my alter ego.”

She shakes her head. “No. No way. You’re not like Gordon. If anything, your humour comes out in my least favourite character, Scapegrace. So that’s the irritating Derek. The cool Derek is Skulduggery. It’s true, though, isn’t it? Skulduggery is the exact same as you. Did you ever deny it?”

“No, never denied it... I mean, when I had the idea, when I was writing the book, and I knew I had to give it my full attention, it was always me and you. That’s who I had in my head when it all began. That’s the-”

“That’s the only relationship you’ve had where there was enough there to act as a basis for the characters.”

“Exactly. How sad is that?”

“Pretty damn sad.”

“Some of my Minions wonder if you read this Blog before this interview stuff started, but you didn’t, did you?”

“I didn’t realise you even had a blog until a few days ago. That’s terrible, isn’t it?”

“The fact is, you have never bothered to see any interviews I did on TV, you’ve never bought the newspapers I’m in, you’ve never even come to a signing, have you?”

“No, no, and no.”

“And it was only today that you saw the official Skulduggery website.”

“Is there a question here, or are you just slating me for being an awful friend?”

“I think that’s what I’m doing.”

“Well, I apologise. But I’m here now, showing an interest. This is me, showing an interest.”

“You don’t look particularly interested.”

“I’m comfortable. In the most uncomfortable chair in the world.”

“Ah, I see.”

“But the thing is, I don’t think I could watch you on TV, I think I’d just crack up laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. The same way, I couldn’t look at you with a queue of people standing in line, wanting your autograph. I’m just not awestruck by you, you know?”

“You should be.”


“I’m great.”

“You’re really not.”

“Have you ever tried, or even heard of, a tim tam?”

“No. What is it?”

“Apparently it’s a biscuit in Australia. I doubt it exists. I’m starting to doubt Australia exists. I think I may have dreamed it. How does it feel to have hundreds of people wanting you to do an interview?”

She smiles again, one of the broadest smiles of the night. “I think it’s absolutely bizarre. I think it’s bizarre that people are interested in you, for a start, and I think it’s even more bizarre that people are interested in me. I knew there were people who buy your books, but I didn’t know there was this huge awareness that Valkyrie was inspired by me. So when I first saw this blog, like, the day before yesterday, I just couldn’t believe that people actually cared, you know? I thought that a book is a book, you put it down when you finish it and that’s it. I didn’t think the interest in characters went beyond that. So it’s a little bit surreal.

“I’m very laid back about things like that, though. I don’t get excited by much. I’ve been logging on to the Blog since I discovered it, to see what’s happening, so obviously I am interested. It’s highly amusing.”

“And the fact that Valkyrie has proven herself to be such a popular character,” I say, “means that there are literally hundreds of thousands of people around the world who, you know, admire you, and who...”

“Who like me,” she laughs. “That is so weird. I think if I was lacking in something within myself, or if I were after fame and glory, then I’d let that go to my head, but I’m not either of those things. I’m quite comfortable with myself, so whether or not people like me, isn’t going to change anything, you know? Obviously it’s nice to know that there are people out there who do like me, or at least like the kind of person I am. It’s a hell of a lot better than finding out there are hundreds of thousands of people who hate me. But even if they didn’t like me, so what? I’m happy with who I am. I think I’m doing okay.”

“And that, right there, is who Valkyrie is, and that’s why she’s proven to be so popular. She doesn’t pretend to be something she’s not. I’ve called you a lot of things, most of the time when you’re not around...”

“Ha, I can imagine.”

“... but the one thing I regularly call you to your face is blunt.”

“Yeah. Everyone says that. I get that an awful lot. I’m blunt. Sometimes they call me harsh, and my mum says ‘Laura, you’re so intolerant’. And I am, I suppose, because I hate stupid people, and I hate fake people, and I can’t pretend to like people that I don’t like. My ass is numb from sitting in this chair, by the way. I want a cushion for next time. Next question. What time is it? I’m tired.”

“We’re almost done.”

“Are we?”

“No.” I consult my list of questions. “Do you think Valkyrie’s mum will have a boy or a girl?”

“I really don’t want her to have any kids, to be honest.”

“Really? Yet you have two sisters of your own...”

“Well yeah, but it’s not going to be Valkyrie’s sister, is it? The reflection is going to spend the most amount of time with her, and that’s just not right. It’s not like Valkyrie’s going to take her little sister out on adventures with her, a little two-year old sidekick. But I think it’s going to be a girl, because I have sisters, and you have nieces... Do you know what it’s going to be?”


“I bet it’ll be a girl. I have that feeling.”

“Okay, every week I get at least five or six girls asking me if they can audition for the part of Valkyrie in the movie. And just to make it clear, we still don’t know if the movie will, in fact, ever be MADE, so there are no auditions PLANNED. But do you wonder what it’ll be like to see someone play, essentially, you, onscreen?”

“Yeah, I do. I think I’m going to be very skeptical of that person. I mean, I’m not going to have a say in the matter, or how she portrays Val, so I think there’d be a lot of tongue-biting going on. You know how vocal I tend to be about things, so I think it’d be a struggle to stay quiet and watch them get on with it. It’s going to be weird. But it’s the same with you, like. If you see something you hate you’re going to be freaked out and horrified, but there’s a certain point where you just won’t have a say anymore, you know? So the only thing you can do is complain about it to me. But you know what I mean? It’s because all of a sudden it stops being yours and becomes someone else’s.”

“If the movie DOES happen, who would you like to see playing the parts?”

“Em... okay. For China, you know who I think it should be, Catherine Zeta Jones. With China, obviously she’s beautiful, but it’s not really about looks, it has to be about the attitude, as well.

“For Ghastly, someone like Vinnie Jones, or someone like that. Someone big. God, it’s really weird, I’ve never thought about this. It’s really strange putting real faces on these fictional characters. Em... for Kenspeckle, that guy who played the granddad in Into The West...”

“David Kelly.”

“Is that who it is? He’s really good, because he’s always so busy, you know? Always so preoccupied. For Skulduggery... I don’t know. You’d have to go with my main one, which is Johnny Depp. It’s just... Johnny does eccentric really, really well, but although Skulduggery is quirky, he’s not all that mad, like. He’s not on the Jack Sparrow and Willy Wonka level of eccentricity. He’s more of a Sherlock Holmes. And I also love Robert Downey Junior. He was incredible in that movie. For Billy-Ray... it’d be Brad Pitt in Fight Club. I don’t know if I’ve answered that question. I find it hard to put real faces to the characters, because for so long they’ve been in my head. It’s just weird, you know?”

“There’s a good question here. I’ve had two movies made, of which you’ve only seen ONE of them.”

“Mm hmm.”

“You haven’t seen my second movie?”

“No. In my defense, you didn’t bring me to it. You only brought me to the first one.”

“Yet more proof regarding what a rubbish friend you are. Right, anyway, my Minions want to know, seeing as how I’ve had movies made, I’ve written books, I’ve won awards, I’ve toured around the world... What will it take for me to impress you?”

There is a long, long silence.

“You so want to know this as well,” she says, eyes narrowed. “Listen, I am impressed. I mean, I’ve told you before, ‘God you’re good at this’. You do impress me. But, everyone is always telling you how brilliant you are, so it’s up to me to keep you grounded. Of course I’m impressed by you. You’ve done amazing things, and you’ve... Okay, I refuse to elaborate on that because everyone spends all day telling you how absolutely wonderful you are, you have hundreds or, I don't know, thousands of people who read your Blog and call you a golden god... I think the day that you tell me something and I jump around and scream ‘oh my God I can’t believe it, that’s amazing’, will be the day you say Laura, get out of my house.”

“I can’t wait for that day.”

“Yeah, right. You’d be lost without me.”

“Okay, here’s the last one. Someone wants to know if Mr. Landy- that’s me- is really such a freaky person in real life or is it all just a funny act for his Minions?”

“Oh he’s a complete and utter lunatic. There is absolutely nothing normal about him, whatsoever. His ego is the size of a double-decker bus. He absolutely adores the fact that he has Minions, and his little Blog just allows him to play out his ‘I’m a god’ fantasies in real life.”

“You are horrible to me.”

“True, but are you going to argue with any of that? This whole thing allows you to have your army, and to have all these people listen to you, and it means you can act the way you wouldn’t be able to act in a normal social situation.”

“That is horrible.”

“It’s true.”

“It’s a little bit true,” I admit. “I am great.”

She frowns. “What? No, that’s not what I said.”

“That’s exactly what you said.”

“That’s not what I said at all.”

“I’m pretty great. I think we can agree on that.”

“I definitely don’t think that that’s the way I want this interview to end.”

“Cool. So we can agree?”

“No, we are not agreeing.”

“And that’s how the interview finishes.”

“You appear to have totally missed the point.”

“Thank you.”

“My God, you’re impossible.”

“You want my autograph?”

“I hate you.”

And with that, Laura stands up, stretches, and right before she manages to turn the microphone off she asks, "Can I borrow the jeep tonight?"

Because THAT is why we are friends. She gets to borrow my jeep and return it days later with an EMPTY TANK.


I’d love to get her back on here, because I had so much fun doing this, so maybe sometime in the future she’ll agree to write a guest-Blog. If we ask her nicely.

However, no matter how nicely I’ve asked, she refuses to let me post a photograph of her. I think she’s very, very mean.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Laura Interview: Part Three

“Valkyrie is inspired by you in a lot of ways," I say, "from how you look to how you act to what your attitude is towards certain things and certain people- but is there something that Valkyrie has that you wish you had, too?

“Apart from the magic? No.” She smiles. “Valkyrie doesn’t have anything I don’t have.”

“We were talking about the Saw films a few months ago, and you said if you ever found yourself in a situation like that, you would-“

She starts laughing already. “Oh God, yes, what was it?”

“You said you would ‘explode your brain with fear’. That’s an exact quote from you.”

“You’re not going to put that in the interview, are you?”

“Oh yes I am, and it’s a line that WILL find its way into the books, I swear. Val would run headlong into something like that. Would you?”

“Well you see, the thing about the Saw films, it’s psychological, but with Valkyrie it’s all action. She hasn’t been in that kind of torture situation yet. With me, if you hit action, that’s fine, but it’s the fear of impending doom that’s the problem. It’s the fear, it’s the waiting. Whereas if you’re attacked, okay, boom, you handle it immediately, without thinking. But if you know it’s coming you start to panic. If you know there’s someone coming to slice your Achilles tendon, that’s when the fear kicks in.”

“Yeah, that’s, uh, that’s not pleasant.”

“No, it’s not. The only thing worse than death is the anticipation of death. I don’t think Val likes waiting around either. It allows the fear to fester.”

“We have an A, B or C question now,” I tell her.

“Really? What, are we in a teen magazine now or something?”

“See what you think of this one. If I have Valkyrie do or say something that you don’t agree with, would you A) threaten me, B) plead that I change it, or C) have no control whatsoever in the matter?”

“Can I add a D?”

“Go ahead.”

She leans forward. “Just tell you, ‘Derek, I wouldn’t say this, change it now’. I wouldn’t have to threaten you, because usually you’re really good about things like that. You like constructive criticism. It wouldn’t be a command or a demand, it would just be a statement. ‘This isn’t working. Fix it.’”

“What else do you usually get me to fix? When I’m finished writing a book, I’ll print up the manuscript and hand it over to you at the same time as I send it to my agent and editor. I get everyone’s notes back and I rewrite according to those notes. What are the main things that you pull me up on, in those early drafts?”

“Valkyrie saying stupid things. China going off and being friendly with people. That was a major problem with, um, what book was that? Where she’s standing around with Fletcher...?”

“Dark Days, when Val goes through the portal and China and Fletcher are left behind.”

“Yeah, that’s it. In the version you showed me, she has a nice friendly chat with Fletcher while they’re waiting around. But that’s just not China. You’d forgotten how aloof she is, and above it all, and how she really and honestly couldn’t care less about someone like Fletcher Renn.” Laura catches sight of something yellow and fluffy under my desk. “What’s this? Oh, it’s a duster.”

She pulls out the duster, extends the plastic handle, and proceeds to dust my face.

“This is very mature,” I mutter.

“This is so weird,” she says. “All these questions. We don’t have conversations like this. We talk about everything else- like, literally everything else- but we’ve never had a conversation about my feelings on being your inspiration, or whatever. You’re secretly delighted, aren’t you? You’re getting an insight into my brain.”

“Could you please stop dusting me?”

She sighs, and throws down the duster. “What’s the question? Oh yeah, what are the things I pull you up on. I don’t like when characters become too annoying, or when you try to make them go all funny when they’re not, or when Valkyrie and Skulduggery’s conversations get too ridiculous, and I don’t like-”

“That’s actually quite a list already.”


“I actually didn’t expect it to be that extensive.”

“Shut up. We’ve also had some issues about character overlap, when different characters start to share the same type of humour. Like when Scapegrace was getting too like Kenspeckle, and the zombies were like Valkyrie’s dad, and Gordon was too like the zombies... But the thing is, by the time the book is printed and on a shelf, none of those things are in it anymore. You get rid of them in the manuscript, so that nobody out there knows what I’m talking about. Those kinds of things don’t make it into the books, not when I’m on duty. Or Michelle.” She leans into the microphone. “Michelle is Derek’s agent. Hi Michelle.”

“So you and Michelle safeguard these books?” I ask. “But not Nick? Nick doesn’t do anything?”

“Who’s Nick?”

“Nick is my editor.”

“Ooops.” Laura leans into the microphone. “Hi Nick. You’re doing a wonderful job. Well done.”

“So that’s it, then,” I say. “The main things you don’t like in the early drafts all stem from the fact that you seem to have an inability to find me funny.”

“Yeah,” she sighs. “You’re not funny at all.”

“I’m hilarious.”

“Sometimes I write little notes in the manuscript saying that this or that is kind of funny.” She speaks into the microphone again. “And now Derek is making a sad face.”

“See, this is what I don’t understand. How can you not find me remotely funny?”

“I just don’t.”

“But what’s wrong with you?”

“I’m sorry. Maybe it’s because I’ve known you for so long.”

“My mother has known me for longer. She thinks I’m hysterical.”

“Barbara laughs just to be nice to you. But I’ve never found you funny, have I?”

“That’s the thing, you haven’t. I mean, I’m not friends with an awful lot of people...”

“You can’t write that,” she says with a frown. “You don’t want your readers to think you’re unpopular.”

“Well, uh, actually I was going to spin it my way, tell them I just don’t like too many people, in general.”

“So it’s not just that you can’t make friends, then?”

“I was going to steer away from that little fact.”

She smiles. “Now I want you to put this in. Write this in. So, just for the record, you do have friends, right?”

“I have one or two. But most people like me because I’m, you know, funny. That’s what I bring to the table. But you...”

“I know. So why do I like you?”

“Yeah. If you don’t find me funny, then why are we close?”

“Oh my God,” she says. “I’ve just realised.”

“You don’t like me.”

“I don’t like you. Oh my God. Suddenly it’s all so clear. Suddenly it all makes sense!” She grins. “I mean, hey, sometimes I think you’re sort of funny.”

“And you laugh sometimes.”

“I do, yeah, like when you make that stupid face that you’re making now, the sad puppy face... I don’t know, I’ve just never found your humour funny, and it irritates me when you’re trying to be funny in your books.”

“Well, what about real life?”

“In real life, do I think you’re funny? No. We’ve already established that you’re not.”

“But... but I... I mean...”

She grins. “Go on, throw a little tantrum there. Throw that pen down again.”

I sit back and sulk.

She laughs. “See, you’re funny when you’re not trying to be funny, like there now when you’re having your little tantrum, throwing your pen down on the ground like a little spoiled child. ‘I am funny! I am!’”

“Well maybe if we, you know, interacted with other people instead of it always just being the two of us, then you could see just how funny I am in a social setting. Like, if we go out with a group of friends.”

“You don’t have a group of friends.”

“But you do, and I’d like to borrow them if they’re not being used.”

“You can’t. They’re my friends. But to get back to your question, why am I your friend? Because I like you. You just... are. You just... I don’t know why. When we sit down and have a conversation it’s just easy. I don’t know, it’s always been easy to talk to you. But I don’t think you’re funny.”

“I don’t think you’re funny either.”

“Yeah you do, you’re always laughing at the funny things I say.”

“I think you’re hysterical,” I admit sadly.


“Okay, next question. How close is your life to Valkyrie’s, if you forget about all the magic stuff?”

“I live in a coastal town, beside the pier, there’s a hill up to my house, you can see the Martello tower, I get on great with my Mum.... But I have sisters, which Valkyrie doesn’t. My dad isn’t ridiculous like Valkyrie’s dad. I have horses.”

“Have you ever disagreed with how I’ve portrayed Valkyrie?”

“Yes, but whatever problems I have with your portrayal never make it into the final book, because I always win.”

“We have a few straightforward questions now. The folks out there want to know how old you are.”


“Have you ever done martial arts?”


“What type of car do you drive?”

She grins again. “A BMW. Black. I work hard.”

“How close are you to Tom’s drawing? The image of Valkyrie on the covers?”

“Um... very close, I’d say. Wouldn’t you? Obviously her features are sharper because that’s the style of the artist, but yeah, fairly close. Eyes, hair, height...”

“The readers of this Blog would really like a photo...”

“Oh they’re not getting a photo.”

“But you’re so pretty...”

“Ah Derek, they’re not getting a photo, because then no matter what image they had when they’re reading the books, they’re going to see me as Valkyrie, and I hate that. I hate when I go to a film, and then I go and read the book again, and all I see is the actor in the film. Like with Harry Potter, when you read the books, all you see are the actors. Besides, I have no desire to be famous.”

“They’re seriously going to complain if I don’t show them a photo.”

“I’m seriously going to hit you if you do.”

“Moving swiftly on, you’re going into your final year of college in September, which I know you’re super-happy about, but my Minions want to know what you do in your spare time. Do you actually HAVE spare time?”

“I ride horses.”

“How long have you ridden horses?”

“I had my first lesson on, I think, my fourth birthday.”

“And how many horses do you own?”

“Three and half.”

“You own three and a half horses?”


“Which one is the half?”

She smiles. “Dinky.”

“Ah, the legendary Dinky. Half pony, half... I don’t know... hedgehog, or something.”

“Don’t insult the Dink.”

“Sorry Dink. So, when you’re not in college, your time is pretty much taken up with horses.”

“And everyone always thinks, when they hear you have horses, they always think ‘oh, little rich girl’, and I’m so not, you know? But they have this idea, of playing polo and the white jodhpurs and whatever. And I’m like, ‘if they see me sometimes when I come up to Derek’s, covered in mud and muck, and I nearly strip at the door’. Like, in the wintertime, what am I like? Like a little onion, all wrapped up in layers.”

“What was the first horse you owned?”

“That’d be Mister. I bought him for 250 pounds when I was 8, all my Communion money. He was so dangerous. He was a stallion yearling that should not have been given to any child. I don’t know how I wasn’t killed, I really don’t.”

“You’ve broken your leg a few times.”

“Twice. The first time wasn’t bad, I was only in plaster for 8 weeks. The second time was a disaster. I was mangled, remember? I had pins in my leg and scars and I was on crutches for 16 weeks. But I’m not a soft-ass. I’m a hard-ass. The moment I could walk without those bloody crutches, I threw them down. It was so utterly inconvenient. I hated it.”

“Anything else broken?”

She hesitates. “Ribs. Wrist. Toes. And I broke my knuckle last week.”

She shows me her left hand, where the middle knuckle is definitely off centre. “Oh my God,” I say. “It’s out of shape!”

“Yes Derek, I know. I can’t make a fist properly. I just fell off a horse, jumping. And I think that’s when I pulled a muscle in my neck as well. It wasn’t my own horse, it was someone else’s. Bloody horses. But what can you do? Horrible in the wintertime, great in the summertime, and they make me money.” She shrugs.

“That’s actually why I was so intent on giving Valkyrie a broken leg in the first book,” I say. “Because you had suffered that injury, I felt she had to, too.”

“So you hurt her because I'd been hurt? No other reason but to inflict pain on the poor girl? You’re a sadist.”

“I’m not a sadist, I just enjoy hurting people.”

“Uh, that’s what a sadist is, Derek.”

“Oh yeah.”

Join us NEXT TIME for the fourth and FINAL part of this interview, when Laura talks about why she never watches me on TV, who she thinks should play Skulduggery in a movie, and why she refuses to admit that I’m awesome.