Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas, minions!

My Christmas morning got off to a terrifying start.

Christmas Eve, you see, is the night when Laura and Katie come over. It's become sort of a tradition around here. They come over, we exchange presents, they go away with something really really expensive and I stay at home with something really really cheap. Usually a mug of some kind. But this year, Laura excelled herself. "What do you get the man who has everything?" she wondered. "Oh, I know. A Pac-Man alarm clock. Obviously."

So I naively set the alarm when I went to bed, planning on being up for about ten on Christmas morning. Nothing like a nice lie-in, I figured.

So there I was. Asleep. Dreaming of fluffy things you dream of when you're asleep. And then... oh dear God... The loudest, most abrupt alarm call ever blasted into my ear, the Pac-Man theme HAMMERING my tender, tender ear-drums as I woke suddenly and violently, thrashing about to visions of giant yellow circles chasing me through a maze.

Thank you, Laura. I am now terrified of my alarm. Thank you so much.

An hour later I was at my parents' house, ignoring everyone except my little niece Sophie, to whom I presented a huge Mickey and Minnie Mouse...

Presents were exchanged, and for once I got GOOD stuff. My mother dragged the heaviest punchbag you could buy into the living room, dumped it on the floor and gestured that it was for me before collapsing into a very dignified heap of exhaustion. My brother and sisters got me a smaller punchbag (the cheap kind) but that's okay. They did their best. And let's face it- it's a darn sight better than the bath matts they got me last year.

Then there was some visiting of the relatives, a part of Christmas I used to hate but now I enjoy (well, mostly). I usually use it as an excuse to just talk about me and how great I am. My aunts and uncles and cousins love that. They say they don't, but I know they do. I read between the lines. It's one of my gifts.

Then it was back to the parents' place, where my OTHER nieces joined us, and we had Christmas dinner and I got to watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special. I actually didn't think it was the best Christmas Special they'd ever had, even though Matt Smith is now officially my favourite Doctor ever, but it was saved by a wonderful final scene with Amy Pond. I love Amy Pond. Amy Pond rules.

And then I came home, and signed 13 copies of Death Bringer.

When my publishers sent me the books to sign for the competition winners they neglected to send me any copies of the latest book- so if any of you winners have received your prizes yet, you will have noticed you're one book short! Fear not- I am on the case, and will be personally sending you the latest book as soon as the Post Office reopens.

I've also been going through the entries to the Australia/NZ competition. I have a few possible choices for the female Australian character, but the NZ male character still hasn't been decided. Kiwis, you have a week to dream up someone new before I have to choose. Granted, I haven't gone through ALL of the entries yet, so I may have missed the perfect male character, but you still have a chance to win- so get to it!

And so, to end this Blog entry, I figured I'd post two more pictures of my cats. This is one of them, in a box.

And this is another one, who has found a fantastic new sleeping place in my sock drawer.

Merry Christmas, my loyal minions.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Er... has just been pointed out that maybe the important post, the COMPETITION post, may be slightly overlooked because it is no longer the "new" post. So I'm just posting again to make sure that you read the one below the one below this.

Oh dear God I've just overcomplicated a simple situation, haven't I?


Usual Chatter Here

Because I have nothing to actually SAY in this post, I will instead put up some amusing pictures.

And finally, because some of you noticed the Game of Thrones book in my Iron Man pic...

ANOTHER Competition??

London had Justin Bieber turning on its city's lights. Dublin had Michael Buble. And who did my neighbouring village Donabate have to turn on THEIR Christmas lights last Saturday evening? Why, they just had international superstar author Derek Landy drop by to ROCK. THEIR. WORLD. 

And verily, their world was indeed rocked.

I was surrounded at all times by a pack of chattering girls, led by my very good friend Molly, whom I had met at the Twilight premiere a few weeks ago. 'Tis a small world indeed. A small, odd world. Filled with small, odd girls, who wouldn't stop talking.

But that's not why I'm here to talk to you today. Specifically, you people with the funny accents. Even more specifically, you people with the funny accents from Australia and New Zealand. I am here to tell YOU people that, good Lordy, we are running ANOTHER create-a-character competition just for you- because I am a kind and gracious Golden God.

I wasn't planning on running another competition quite so soon, but after talking to my publishers I decided to squeeze one last contest into the final few weeks of 2011, and it's all to do with The End Of The World, which is being published in Ireland and the UK in March as part of World Book Day. Now, I'm sure all of you know just how much I love synchronicity, how much I love releasing books at the same time across the world, so we have arranged for TEOTW to be released in Australia and New Zealand at the same time, and it was decided that it should include a brand new and exclusive short story featuring two characters that you guys will have to come up with.

Readers elsewhere need not worry, of course, as this bonus story will be collected along with all the other short stories 'n' stuff sometime soon (or soonish...). And readers in Ireland and the UK will also get a few pages of bonus material in the back of TEOTW, just for being you...

But I digress.

The competition! The deadline is tight, my Australiminions, my New Zeali...minions.... (I'm not sure that works... ahem...). The deadline is 11.59 PM on New Year's Eve in whatever Time Zone you happen to be in, and not a second after!

Because we have this tight schedule, I'm going to give you a few pointers which might improve your chances of winning- pointers which look a lot like ten rules you MUST OBEY.


1. Readers from Australia- I need a female character from you lot. Readers from New Zealand- I need a male character from you. 

2. There will be ONE winner from each country. 

3. Be practical when giving them their powers. I couldn't use some FANTASTIC characters from the other competitions because their powers would either have needed some heavy-duty explanation, or the characters were just TOO DAMN POWERFUL.

Restrict yourselves to a discipline of magic we've already seen in the books. Don't make your character someone who can do both Elemental and Adept magic. Don't make your character half-unicorn. Don't make your character Skulduggery's long lost brother. Who is also half-unicorn. Who can do both Elemental and Adept magic.

Be practical!

4. Post your entries HERE, in the Comments Section, which is now off-limits to everyone else! (The Blog entry accompanying this one will be for the usual chatter.)

5. You can post as many times as you want.

6. Before your entry, write this: "I hereby give my Golden God, Derek Landy, full rights to take this character and adapt it into his brain-explodingly brilliant work."

7. Understand that I might have to tweak your character in order to get the best fit for the story.

8. I can't think of an eighth rule. 

9. Oh, oh! I thought of one!

10. Bring me... a shrubbery. 

Friday, December 2, 2011


Brrrrr it's getting cold...

After a bizarrely warm November, it's starting to get pretty cold indeed around these parts. Christmas decorations are everywhere. Shopping queues are getting longer. This morning I heard "Merry Christmas (The War is Over)" on the radio- the first Christmas song I've heard in 2011. And a few days ago I posted a TON of cards and letters to readers who had written to me- so it is OFFICIALLY close to Christmas. I can now safely announce it.

You may rejoice.

And the competition winners may ALSO rejoice, because the books I have to sign have finally arrived. I'll sign them all this weekend, have them ready to be picked up on Monday or Tuesday, and then hopefully you'll be getting your prizes over the next few weeks. It'd be cool if you could get them BEFORE Christmas, so that's what we're working towards.

There's still a lot of work going on in my house. I'm getting one of the rooms refurbished- COMPLETELY redesigning it- as well as the kitchen redone, and that's been going on since the start of October. Basically, it means a lot of noise and hassle and interruptions, so I haven't been able to focus on Book Seven, which I really would have liked to have started by now. But hey, I'm not worried. My house is going to RULE when it's all finished, because finally I'll have a proper place to store my toys.

A lot of you may not know this, but I love toys. I collect movie memorabilia and props and stuff, and also comic-book statues. To give you an idea of the kind of things I'm talking about, here are a few action figures...

... and a rather large Iron Man (I've put a book beside him to give you an idea of scale)...

Oh, and here's a 12 inch figure of Sweeny Todd about to give a 12 inch Ichabod Crane a very close shave...

Boy oh boy do I love toys...

As you can imagine, my place is full of equipment boxes right now, so I'm going to leave you with a picture of one of my cats- Pooper- doing what cats love best: clambering into cardboard boxes for no apparent reason.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Laura, Katie, Cecelia and Alex- oh my

Ah, what a fun few days.

On Wednesday I took Laura and her sister Katie to London for the new Twilight premiere. Laura views Twilight in much the same way as I do, but Katie loves it, so we promised we wouldn't sigh or roll our eyes the entire night. I think we succeeded. Mostly.

We arrived in London at midday, left our bags at the hotel and I took the girls shopping. When they'd spent enough of my money we went back to the hotel and changed. The girls looked stunning. I wish they'd allow me to post a photograph of them, because these are two VERY pretty girls- tall, slim, dark-haired, looking breath-taking in their Little Black Dresses. They were also wearing three-inch high-heels, so as we were walking down the red carpet they were looming over me like I had own personal Amazon bodyguards at my side. It was, I think you'd agree, AWESOME. Two Valkyries on my arms. What more could a guy want?

We saw quite a few famous folks- my favourite was Pixie Lott (cuz she's so purty), and there were a load of X-Factor contestants skipping around, looking delighted. I think they thought everyone had turned out to see them, bless their little fame-seeking hearts. I hadn't a clue who they were, because I do not partake of that stuff, but Laura and Katie were pointing them out to each other and offering comments.

"God she looks weird."

"Is that her face?"

"Look at those shoes. Are her feet on backward?"

"I'm surprised she can stand with all that hair."

The film itself was, you know, a film I saw. It was definitely a film I saw. I would go as far to say that it was even one of the most recent films I've seen. There were a lot of things in it. Chairs. People. Shrubbery. There were some words and a lot of music playing. There were outdoor scenes and indoor scenes. There were credits at the end. Looking at it that way, it had everything you'd want in a movie.

So... that's my review of Breaking Dawn Part One.

The next day I took the girls shopping (again) and Laura bought a dress to wear to her college graduation (and half an hour ago she stopped by on her way to the graduation and she looks BEAUTIFUL in that dress). We walked around Hamleys toy store, which was awesome as usual, and arrived back in Dublin at 5:30 pm. Which meant I now had two hours to go home, get a shower, grab my tux, and get to the Irish Book Awards. Yay!

I managed it, of course, for I am wonderful. True, I arrived JUST as it was starting, as is my way. I don't think I've ever been on time for the Awards. I didn't win my category, but I think they made the right decision. I've won three awards there in the past two years because of YOU, my Minions, and I would undoubtedly have won again this year if the winner was decided by the sheer volume of votes alone. But they also have a panel of judges that can make the difficult decisions if called on to do so, and they reckoned the best and most deserving book in that category was Anna Carey's The Real Rebecca. She also got a BOATLOAD of votes, from what I hear, so she won fair and square, and the look on her face when she won was hilarious. Eyes wide, mouth open. Brilliant.

And I loved not winning. To be honest, if I had won this year, I would have withdrawn my name from contention next year. And because I didn't win, I didn't have a hundred people coming up and congratulating me the entire night, so I could relax and have fun. I spent the first half of the night with Cecelia Ahern, one of my favourite writers to chat with, and the second half with Alex Barclay, my dear, dear friend. ("Dear friend". My God that sounds old. She's not my "Dear Friend". She's my Hot Friend. Yes, that's what she is. My Hot Friend Alex Barclay.) The fact that both of these writers are beautiful women had nothing to do with the level of my enjoyment, I assure you.

I got home to my own bed at eight the next morning. I had two hours sleep. Then I was up, to cram as much into the day as I could before meeting up with Alex again, for she was taking me to the ultimate in geek-fests- we were going to watch the first Lord of the Rings movie while the RTE Concert Orchestra performed the score live in front of us.

Now, we were both utterly exhausted after only a few hours sleep, but even so we had no problem staying awake. I had to keep looking away from the screen where the movie played, because it was all-too-easy to forget that the orchestra was doing all this live. Awesome, wonderful, hilariously-geeky stuff.

I got home at a little before midnight. I got into bed. I woke up and it was Saturday.

I've spent the last three days in the company of beautiful women who make me laugh, and I have to say that kind of thing never gets old. Thank you, my Minions, for all your votes and all your support. You have fantastic taste.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Derek's Great Adventure

Last night I had a thrilling escape.

Oh you should've been there. There was shouting and wailing and weeping, and violence! Oh so much violence! There was a knife involved, and a hammer, and it was all very dramatic. What started out as a normal night in changed in the blink of an eye, and suddenly I was trapped, with no way out.

Over the past few weeks, I've been having some work done to the house. One of these little jobs is to have all of the inside doors replaced- because they were old-fashioned, apparently. (They didn't look old-fashioned to me, to be perfectly honest. They pretty much looked like doors. I didn't even KNOW doors could look old-fashioned. But there you go.)

Anyway, so the carpenters spent the whole day fitting these new doors. They put the hinges on, set the doors into the door frames, put in the locks and latches. The only thing they didn't do was put the actual door HANDLES in. Which was fine. They were going to do that first thing in the morning. The only thing I had to be careful of was not let any of the doors actually CLOSE. No problem, thought I.

I was heading to bed at about three that night. I gave the doggies their usual scratch behind the ears at bedtime and left them in the dark kitchen. Next I went looking for the cats with a can of air freshener (the only thing that will convince the cats to leave the house at night is when I spray an aerosol can nearby. Otherwise they'll just look at me while I'm trying to herd them out, and not actually move). I got the first two cats to leave, but the Mammy Cat was in her usual place, sitting on my chair in my office. She's really taken to this chair. Every day it's a struggle to be the one to sit in it- and the problem is compounded by the fact that she's sneakier than I am. She'll stand on the desk, watching me, and then she'll usually knock something over. After I've picked it up I'll look around and she'll be curled up on my chair with this insanely smug cat-expression on her cat-face. It's gotten so bad I'm seriously considering buying a second chair, just for her.

But I digress.

So, the Mammy Cat is in my office. I close the door over- careful not to close it fully- and open the window. I look at the Mammy Cat. I know she knows what this means. I know she knows I have the aerosol can. I know she knows the door is closed over so there's no escape. I hold up the can. She glares at me through slitted eyes. I shake the can. Reluctantly, she stands, and stretches. She moves from the chair onto the desk, up onto the printer to the window-sill.

"Good girl," I say.

She looks at me. Then the VERY slight breeze wafts in through the window and the door behind me clicks shut. I freeze, my eyes wide. The Mammy Cat gives a cat-smirk, and vanishes into the night.

I turn to the door. "Oh no," I say. "Oh no no no." I dig my finger into the hole burrowed for the handle to go in, and try and pull the door open. No chance. I take out my pen-knife, slide it through and try to unlatch the latch. No luck. I have a screwdriver in my office, so I push that into the handle-hole and try to use the screwdriver itself as a handle. Not a hope.

I stare at the door. "Oh dear God."

I look at the window. It's pretty narrow and it's pretty high up, but I'm relatively sure I can clamber up and squeeze through. But then what? I've just locked up. Every door in the place is locked, and all the keys are still IN the locks. Even if I got out the window, there would be no way back in.

I stare at the door. This is becoming a situation. This is becoming serious. I am actually trapped in my office, with no way out.

(This is when the shouting and wailing and weeping occurred. The violence will occur soon.)

I spend the next twenty minutes trying to open the door using my pen-knife and the screwdriver. I've seen the movies where the hero slides a credit card between the door and the doorframe and unlocks it, so I even try that. But apparently my door is cash only, because my credit card isn't accepted and so is returned- kind of sheepishly- to my wallet.

I have to break down the door. I have to.

The idea fills me with a strange sort of glee.

I've never broken down a door before. I've written about it, but I've never actually done it.

I'm going to kick it down. That's what I'm going to do. I grin, take a step back, and get ready. This is going to be AWESOME.

But then I remember that the door opens INWARDS. So if I DID kick it down, it would splinter the doorframe. And while replacing the door wouldn't be a problem, replacing the door-FRAME would be slightly more of an issue.

My grin fades. Whatever I do, I can't damage the frame. Which means I literally have to make a hole in the door so that I can dismantle the lock/latch mechanism by simply pulling it out.

I look around my office. There are all the usual things you'd find in an office. Pens. Paper. A computer. Strange-looking lamps. A scarf. A phone. A filing cabinet. Books. Comics. A board game. And then I see it, resting on one of the shelves. A hammer.

The grin returns to my face. I'm going to bust open my door using a hammer. This night is AWESOME.

I return to the door, hammer in hand. I spend a few seconds  going over all the possibilities. I'm going to feel pretty silly in the morning if I've wrecked the door and there was an easy way out all along. But I'm pretty sure there isn't. I'm pretty sure I don't have a choice.

So I swing.

Oh, it is glorious, the swinging. The hammer makes a big dent on impact. I swing again, and the wood cracks. I swing again, and again, and suddenly I'm through. I can see the hall. This is going to work.

And so, I demolish the door. With each swing the intensity grows. The wood splinters and cracks and falls away and still I swing, harder and harder, reveling in the violence. Battered holes in the door join up to make bigger holes. The impacts ring in my ears. I can see the lock mechanism but I have to make the hole bigger. Much bigger. Laughing, I continue my attack. The door doesn't stand a chance.

"Think you're so tough?" I almost rant. "Think you're such a tough door? Look at you now! I'm breaking you apart! I could stick my head all the way through you and shout "Heeeeeeere's Johnny!' You are NOTHING to me! I am victorious! You are NOTHING!"

The door doesn't stand a chance. By the time my bloodlust has abated, pieces of the door are scattered all over the hall floor. I rip out the lock mechanism and pull open the door and laugh. LAUGH, I tell you.

"Is that it?" I almost cry. "Is that the best you've got? Is there no one on this Earth to even CHALLENGE  me? Come! Kneel before me! Kneel before the Golden God!"

Silence echoes around the house. The house fears me. The house SHOULD fear me. For I am a great and terrible God.

This morning the carpenters came back. They looked at the door, at the mess on the floor, and frowned. "Did... did we leave it like this?" they asked.

I hesitated only a moment. "Yes," I said. "Very sloppy work, gentlemen. Very sloppy work indeed."

And I walked away.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Ten Winners. Ahem.

I have just picked the winners.

Before I announce them, I'd just like to mention that Death Bringer is up for an Irish Book Award. Skulduggery has won for two consecutive years, so I really don't mind if I don't win this year- to be honest, I think I'm running out of people to insult in my speeches...! Death Bringer is in the Senior Children's Section, and you can look at the nominees here

For the first time I'm up against Darren Shan, who could very well topple me, as well as three other books that I've been hearing great things about. As usual, I'm asking you to be fair, and don't vote for me just because you're thinking of Skulduggery right at this moment... Look at the nominees, pick your favourite, and if you like any of them, vote.

(And then scroll down to the Popular Fiction award and vote for Cecelia Ahern- she's lovely!)

Whoever wins, Irish viewers will be able to see them accept their award on RTE in the last week of November, because the whole thing is going to be televised. Whenever I win I always seem to grin and smirk and tell everyone how great I am- and generally mock everyone else- so it might be a good idea if maybe I DIDN'T win this year! I sincerely don't think I could be remotely serious...

Anyway! On to the important announcement! The Friend Gets Friend winners! They are, in the order they came out of the hat:

Miss Arianna Dark



Asteria Wing

The BookNommer



Silke Gronau

Lauren Longbottom


Well done, the lot of you. But I'm not finished yet. I have decided that we're going to have two EXTRA winners, two people who were not picked at random but who still deserve SOMETHING. I know ALL of you deserve something, and I'd love to give ALL of you prizes, but there are only so many I can give out.

So, those two extra winners. The first is Valkyrie V, simply for throwing the best Skulduggery party I've seen...!

The second is Trinity Kal- or Kallista, as she is more commonly known. A lot of you guys put forward her name as someone who thoroughly deserves a prize for a multitude of reasons, and I happen to agree with every single one of them. Kallista has been here since the early days, and she's a wonderful example of a Minion- she's warm, funny, nice to everyone and she makes newcomers feel welcome. People commenting here for the first time look at her comments, look at the comments made by all of you, and they instantly know what kind of place this is. We do not tolerate bullying, we resolve our arguments, and we get back to being friends and having a laugh. Kallista exemplifies this wonderfully, so I'm delighted to extend the number of winners to include her.

Oh, and Thalia? For winning the Halloween competition last week, you get the same prize as these guys. I couldn't NOT include you.

So now, all you winners, all thirteen of you, need to send your home addresses to my publisher's email- Mark it "Skulduggery Competition". Once we have your addresses, we'll figure out the prizes and send them off. I don't know when they'll be sent, but probably sometime over the next week or two. Hopefully.

I want to thank each and every one of you for taking the time to do something for the Friend Gets Friend thing. Congratulations to those who won, and commiserations to those who didn't. To be honest, seeing the response we've been getting to these competitions has really encouraged me to start thinking of more I could run- so if you didn't win this time, you could always win next time...

I was talking to my agent the other day about all of you, and the fact is that everyone- and this includes my publishers- have been astounded at your attitude. When Thalia won the Halloween competition, the positive reaction was startling. The rest of you were obviously disappointed that your entry didn't win, but there was no sniping or grumbling or sulking from any of you. You all seemed genuinely thrilled that Thalia, your friend, had won.

The internet can be a cruel place. Just look at all the online bullying that goes on. Look at all the internet trolls who just want to upset people. When you sit at a keyboard, interacting with people you've never met, the temptation to be as nasty as you can be is always there. The internet really seems to bring out the worst in people.

But you guys are different. I don't know WHY you're different, you just are. You are good, honourable, decent people. You're warm and witty and friendly, and you're loyal to each other. And that is a wonderful, wonderful thing to see.

I'm proud of every single one of you.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick Or Treat

Ladies and gentlemen, for your reading pleasure this Halloween evening, I give you a micro-story written with the invaluable help of our dear friend Thalia.

Before we begin, I'd just like to point out that the Friend-Gets-Friend competition is now officially CLOSED. I'll spend the next day or so compiling all the names of the people who took part, and then I'll pick ten random winners.

But for now, my Minions, here's Tanith and Billy-Ray, in Trick Or Treat.

Tanith wiped the blood off the carving knife and, ignoring the body of the man she had just stabbed to death, went back to carving her jack-o-lantern.

Her skill with a blade always came in useful this time of year. While other people would be satisfied with triangular eyes and jagged teeth, Tanith transformed her Halloween pumpkins into works of slowly-rotting art. Tonight, she was carving a portrait of her dear friend and object of worship Valkyrie Cain. By all accounts, poor Valkyrie still refused to embrace her destiny as destroyer of the world, but Tanith could forgive her this little bout of self-doubt. After all, if Tanith herself hadn’t been corrupted by a Remnant then she would have been helping Val run from the inevitable.

It was the Remnant inside her, the thing of cruelty and nastiness, that had shared with Tanith this vision of the future, when Valkyrie would become Darquesse and burn all life to a cinder. It had been a glorious revelation, one that had spurred Tanith on to schemes and plans she had never before thought herself capable. But the fact was there were no more Remnants out there. Her kith and kin were all trapped and locked away and hidden from her- so Tanith was on her own. More or less. She had a Texan psychopath who was besotted with her, and there were times when he certainly did come in useful. But she didn’t love him. Her love was reserved for Darquesse, and Darquesse alone.

She put down the carving knife and picked up a candle, placed it carefully inside the jack-o-lantern. She lit it and stepped back. It was a good likeness. No, it was a great likeness. Valkyrie was such a pretty girl, and Tanith had to resist the urge to take a picture and send it to her. But she knew that Valkyrie would only tell Skulduggery, and Skulduggery would trace the picture back here to this small town in Ohio, and suddenly there’d be Cleavers, Cleavers everywhere. It was all so unfair. All Tanith wanted to do was protect Darquesse from the people who were planning on harming her, after all. She was on Valkyrie’s side, in a way. Why couldn’t Val see that?

Headlights looped in around the room, and Tanith went to the window, looked out. A battered old car lurched to a stop outside the house next door, and a shabby middle-aged man climbed out. As she watched him hitch his trousers higher around his waist, Tanith made sure to keep her mind calm and free of violent thought. There were Sensitives who could pick up feelings of hostility, and while she didn’t know if Jerry Ordain was one of them, she couldn’t take the chance. There was too much riding on tonight to risk a stray thought at the wrong time. The fact that he came home at all meant that he hadn’t foreseen tonight’s events, and that was a promising start.

Of course, it was entirely possible that Jerry knew full well she was there, and he had a trap waiting for her the moment she made a move. But that was the trouble with Sensitives- it was very hard to sneak up on them.

She took her sword from the table and left through the back door. She sprung lightly over the fence, landed without a sound in Jerry’s yard as lights flicked on in the house. She crept to the window. No sign of an ambush. She saw Jerry ambling into the kitchenette. If he sensed her watching him, he gave no sign.

Taking a breath, Tanith moved to the door, and rested her hand against the lock. It clicked open and she moved in silently. Jerry was a bachelor, and lived like it. The house smelled of dust and old socks. She slid her sword from its scabbard and walked up the wall. Those floorboards were old and she didn’t trust them not to creak. She crept upside-down along the ceiling, careful not to disturb the bulb as she passed it or cast her shadow onto her target. Jerry had his back to her, and was making himself a massive sandwich. She reached the far wall and walked down until she was standing normally again. He still didn’t turn around. She took out her phone, sent a text. A few moments later, Billy-Ray Sanguine rose up from the floor beside her.

They waited for Jerry to sense the hostility that only a psychopath of Sanguine’s stature could muster- the kind of hostility that he could never conceal, no matter how hard he tried. Instead, Jerry continued making his sandwich. Tanith was impressed at how cool and collected he was. It was almost as if he wasn’t even aware of their presence. Jerry started humming to himself, and Sanguine looked at her. She frowned back. Now it really seemed like he wasn’t aware of their presence.

Once he had piled every conceivable type of meat onto his sandwich, Jerry cut off the crusts, and then sliced it down the middle. He picked up one half, raised it slowly to his mouth and bit into it as he turned. He saw them and shrieked, spitting it all out again as he stumbled back against the fridge. A bit of lettuce hung wetly off his chin.

“Hi,” said Tanith. “Just checking- you are Jerry Ordain, right?”

The man stood there, eyes bulging. “Whuh,” he said.

“Jerry Ordain? You are Jerry the psychic, aren’t you?”

He shook his head. The piece of lettuce fell away. “No. Not me. No. Wrong person.”

“Then who are you?” Sanguine asked.

The man gaped at him. “Me?”

It was Jerry. It was obviously Jerry, from the look on his face as his fear-frozen mind tried coming up with a false name. “I’m... I’m...”

Sanguine added an edge to his voice. “What’s your damn name?”

“Jerry!” Jerry blurted. “But not the Jerry you’re looking for! I’m a different Jerry!”

Jerry had to be the worst liar Tanith had ever met.

“I’ll get him, though,” Jerry said, stepping sideways. “If you stay right there I’ll get him. Just stay there. I’ll be right back, with Jerry. The Jerry you’re looking for.”

Sanguine strolled over to intercept him, and Jerry reversed direction, started heading for the window.

“Make yourselves at home,” he was saying. “Want a sandwich? I just made a sandwich. You can have my sandwich. I won’t be long. Thirty seconds, tops.”

“Jerry,” Tanith said, “we’ve come a long way to talk to you.”

He shook his head. “”You’ve come a long way to talk to the other Jerry...”

Tanith showed him her sword. Jerry stared. And then he bolted for the window.

In his haste, however, he completely forgot about the coffee table, and when his shin smacked into it he barely had time to howl before his face hit the floor. Tanith watched him contort in pain, one hand at his shin, the other covering his mouth. He’d bitten his tongue. She winced. She hated that.

Tears in his eyes, Jerry launched himself up and ran into the wall. He rebounded impressively, gave a little whirl, and staggered to the window. Clumsy hands fumbled at the latch. He finally raised it, glanced behind him to make sure he still had time, and in that moment the window closed. Jerry turned back and dove into the glass, cracking it and careering backwards. He collapsed onto the rug and curled up into a sobbing, moaning ball.

“Pleathe,” he lisped, “shtop hurting me.”

Tanith sighed. “We haven’t touched you, Jerry.”

“I seen a lot of things in my time,” Sanguine said, “but I ain’t never seen a man beat himself up before. That was highly entertainin’.”

Tanith walked over to Jerry as he continued to sob. 

“Pleathe don’t kill me.”

“Don’t worry,” Tanith said, her voice soothing. “We weren’t planning on it.”

Sanguine looked at her, surprised. “We weren’t? Why not? He’s clearly an idiot.”

She glared. “We’re not here to hurt anyone. We’re here to ask some questions and leave.”

“But we’ll be killin’ him before we go, won’t we?”

Jerry squealed softly.

“No we won’t,” Tanith insisted. “Violence is not always the answer, Billy-Ray. This time, Jerry here gets to live out the rest of his life in peace- understand?”


She hunkered down and patted Jerry on the shoulder. “Don’t mind him, Jerry. He’s cranky. He’s used to being the only American in my life, but now there’s you. Jealousy is a terrible thing in a grown man, isn’t it?”

“I ain’t jealous.”

“Of course not, dear. Jerry, what do you say you answer our questions and then we leave you alone? Does that sound good to you?”

Jerry nodded.

“Good man. How’s your tongue?”

“I bith it.”

“I can see that.”

“Ith bleeding.”

“I can see that too.”

He stuck his tongue out at her. “Ith it bad?”

His tongue was bloody and horrible. She took a small leaf from her coat, and placed it delicately into his mouth. “Don’t say anything for a few seconds. Let that heal.”

Jerry blinked at her. His eyes were wet. He wasn’t an impressive human being.

“Show me,” she said, and he stuck his tongue out again. She nodded. “It’s healing. It was only a small bite. Now you can answer our questions, can’t you?”

He nodded, and she stood.

“You’re involved with a group of people, aren’t you? A group of sorcerers from different Sanctuaries around the world.”

“How... how did you know that?”

“I’ve spent the last few months asking a lot of people a lot of questions. See, I figured there’d be someone out there who would be trying to do something about Darquesse before she even turned up. That’s when I heard your name for the first time. You’re a psychic, aren’t you Jerry?”

“I... I prefer the term clairvoyant.”

Tanith did her best not to roll her eyes. “Clairvoyant, of course. And as a clairvoyant, you would have seen visions of Darquesse.”

“Of course,” Jerry said, nodding. He was still on the floor, but he was sitting a little straighter now. His chest puffed out slightly. “Even low-level Sensitives picked up something. For a clairvoyant of my ability, it was a veritable tsunami of images and sensations and emotions. Very powerful.”

“What did you see?”

“I saw death.”

Sanguine gave a barely-suppressed sigh.

“What do you mean?” Tanith asked, smiling at Jerry.

“I saw a city destroyed. Streets cracked and broken. Buildings burning. And I saw her. I saw Darquesse.”

“Did you see her face?”

“Alas, no, I did not,” said Jerry, and Tanith resisted smacking him for using the word alas in an irony-free context. “But there is no doubt in my mind that it was her. Ten foot tall, she was. A terrible sight to behold.”

“Ten foot tall?” Sanguine asked.

Jerry nodded. “Oh yes. Easily. And the way she moved... like a cat.”

Sanguine frowned behind his sunglasses. “What, on all fours?”

“Pardon me?”

Sanguine continued. “I heard from another psychic- sorry, clairvoyant- that Darquesse had long black fingernails that she used to cut off people’s heads. Did you see that?”

Jerry nodded. “It was awful.”

“And she shot laser beams out of her eyes.”

“Well,” Jerry said with a shrug, “I don’t know if they were laser beams, but yes. Devastating blasts, they were.”

“This clairvoyant friend of ours,” Sanguine continued, “he also caught a glimpse of red hair beneath her cloak. Did you see that? Don’t worry if you didn’t. Our friend is probably the most powerful Sensitive in the world, I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t see as much as him.”

“Red hair?” Jerry said. “Yes. Yes, I saw that too, now that you mention it. Long, tousled red hair.”

“He said it was straight.”

“Long straight red hair, yes.”

“He said it was short.”

“Short straight red hair, that’s what I meant to say.”

Sanguine looked at Tanith, who glowered and poked Jerry. He screamed. She had poked him with her sword.

“You’re lying to us,” she said. He screamed again. “We don’t have a psychic friend. Billy-Ray made all that stuff up. You didn’t see a vision, did you?”

She twisted the sword and his screams reached a new pitch. “No! No I didn’t! I’m sorry! Please stop stabbing me!”

She withdrew the sword, and wiped the tip of the blade on his shirt. “Are you even a Sensitive, Jerry?”

“I am,” he whimpered, cradling his wound, “but I’m not a very good one. Sometimes... sometimes I can predict the weather, if it’s a nice day.”

“Is it going to rain tomorrow?” Sanguine asked.

“I don’t know,” Jerry confessed. “I can only predict a few minutes into the future. Most of the time I have to watch the forecast like everyone else.”

“You,” Sanguine said, “are the worst psychic I’ve ever met.”

“Does anyone else know that you’re a fraud?” asked Tanith.

“No,” Jerry said, sobbing. “I’ve managed to keep them fooled. It hasn’t been easy, but whenever they ask me to look into the future I always try to be as vague as possible. I talk about shadows and death and ominous feelings, and they generally infer their own meanings onto that and then leave me alone.”

“So when this group of sorcerers asked you to find out more about Darquesse,” Tanith said, “you basically just copied what every other Sensitive was saying?”

“Essentially, yes,” Jerry said. “Can I have a bandage? I’m bleeding quite badly here.”

“First you tell us what they’re planning, and then we’ll see about bandages.”

“I’m losing a lot of blood.”

Tanith let the veins rise beneath her skin, and her black lips curled into a smile. “Tell us what they’re planning.”

Jerry paled, his face going slack. “Yes. Yes, of course. They’re going after weapons. Four weapons, that they think could hurt Darquesse.”

“Where are these weapons?”

“Scattered,” said Jerry. “All over the world. They’re going to go after them.”

“And you know where they’re goin’?” Sanguine asked.

“I have a list of the possible locations.” Jerry took out his wallet, rifled through it, came out with a crumpled piece of paper.

Tanith took it from him, examined it, and nodded. “Looks like we won’t be needing you anymore.”

He brightened. “So that’s it? I can go?”

She pulled him to his feet. “You can go,” she smiled, and her sword flashed and she took off his head.

“You,” Sanguine said, “are delicious when you’re vicious.”

She gave him a smirk, and led the way to the front door. She opened it and froze.

Six little children in Halloween outfits looked up at her.

“Trick or treat,” said the little witch. Surrounding the witch was a pirate, a zombie, a vampire, a Mad Hatter and a rabbit. They rattled their buckets.

“Uh,” said Tanith.

Sanguine appeared at her elbow, and grinned at the kids. “Look,” he said, “there’s a little zombie. Smells a darn sight better than the real thing, doesn’t he? And a vampire! Doesn’t she look cute? And a rabbit!” He faltered. “A rabbit. That... that ain’t exactly scary, though, is it?”

The rabbit looked up at him. “It is if you’re scared of rabbits.”

Tanith nodded. “You’ve got to admit, he makes a good point.”

“You talk funny,” said the witch. “Where are you from?”

Tanith smiled. “I’m from London.”

The pirate frowned. “Is that in France?”

The Mad Hatter scowled. “It’s in England, dummy.” He looked at Tanith. “You’re English. Why do you have a sword?”

“Because I’m an English ninja,” Tanith replied. “We’re just like regular ninjas, except we wear leather and flirt more.”

The kids nodded, satisfied with the definition, and then rattled their buckets again. “Trick or treat,” they chorused.

“This actually isn’t our house,” Tanith told them, “but whatever you find in there, is yours to keep.”

The pirate perked up. “Even the TV?”

“Especially the TV.”

The kids glanced at each other, then stormed the house. Tanith waited a moment, watching them approach Jerry’s headless corpse warily. The rabbit hesitated, then nudged Jerry’s head with his fluffy foot. The head rolled in its own blood, and the rabbit shrugged. “That’s so fake,” he said, and turned to help the pirate with the TV.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


SPOILER WARNING for anyone who hasn't read Mortal Coil. Look away now.

Just a quick note to say that the Halloween story will be appearing as soon as I've finished it. HOPEFULLY that will be tonight, but it might be tomorrow, and appear on Halloween itself. I have to say, it feels good to be writing about Tanith once again, even if she IS ever so slightly evil...


And speaking of Halloween, look at the desktop thingy you can download. Yay desktop thingies!

In keeping with the general creepiness of the season, may I also direct your attention to Haunted, a compilation of ghost stories by various writers, of which I am one. It's out now, and as part of the promotion, the writers are appearing as guests on various blogs around blogland. I had the good fortune of writing a piece for the Bookwitch, which can be found here:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

And The Winner Is...

I've just picked a winner.

It hasn't been easy. Dear GOD it hasn't been easy. There were so many great entries that offered up so many great ideas and moods. I narrowed it down to ten, then added five more, then did the whole process again, and again...

Then I started writing the story itself, writing from the middle on, and once I got the feel of the story I went back over the entries, searching for a line that fit with what I was writing. And that's how I found it.

There can, of course, be only one winner. But so many of you came close. I'm going to include just a handful of these entries, just to give you an idea of the broad range I was getting. First of all, there where the funny entries, entries like Kallista's:

Tanith Low found herself running for all  she was worth from a crazy pack of sugar-filled screaming, drooling zombie toddlers.

Or Zoodude254's:

It was a dark and stormy night... actually it was a perfectly bright Tuesday morning, but being chased down the street by a giant squid makes it feel like a dark and stormy night; squid spittle feels a lot like rain, and it blocks most of the sunlight as it's running towards you.

The BookNommer's:

Tanith was scared: not in the look-behind-you-feels-like-someone-is-watching-you-but-no one-is kind of way, but in the OHMIGOD-OHMIDGOD-I-AM-SO-SCARED-I-AM-GOING-TO-PEE-MY-PANTS-THEN-DIE kind of way.

Jaid's entry was a wonderful lesson in the surreal:

"I am going to kill you with this fork," said the man in the grey trenchcoat, standing before Tanith, holding a spoon.

And of course, there was Ann-Marie:

The man rounded the corner at a dead run and was immediately trampled by a herd of goats.

(Um, all of Ann-Marie's entries were about goats. I worry about her.)

Then there were the atmospheric entries, one of the best of which was Saoirse's:

The crescent moon rested its tired frame upon the peak of the South Sister that jutted, stark white, into the dwindling twilit sky. 

I was sorely tempted by this one. Not only is it well written, it's also set in Oregon, and I had a girlfriend who came from Portland... But no! It was beautiful, but it just didn't fit with the story I was writing.

Then there were the people who tried to sneakily undo the damage I had done to poor old Tanith at the end of Mortal Coil... JoelsCrazy tried it with:

The Remnant left Tanith's body.

And Dane Stull attempted to reverse the damage with:

Tanith felt terrible, her head felt like it weighed a thousand pounds, she hated lying to Val and Skulduggery about being fully possessed by the Remnant but she had bigger problems, here in the United States, the end of the world... again.

Very sneaky, but I spotted it just in time...!

As I said, many great entries, which only reinforces my belief that you're all insanely talented, and deeply disturbed, people. The less said about Lauren's attempt to put Valkyrie is a very revealing Wonder Woman outfit the better... Desmond would have a heart attack!

(Hmmmm... might put that Wonder Woman outfit into the next book...)

(No! No, I can't! Inappropriate for younger readers! You are a NAUGHTY girl, Lauren!)

I wish I could go through them all, but I simply can't.  And so it gives me great pleasure to announce that the winner of the Ameriminion competition is THALIA, with:

Tanith wiped the blood off the carving knife and, ignoring the body of the man she had just stabbed to death, went back to carving her Jack-o-Lantern. 

Simple, sinister, and there's already a corpse in the story. I like your style, Thalia. Now I have to go and finish the story.

Well done!

Monday, October 24, 2011

First Competition Ends!

Wanna know what I did on my birthday? Do ya? Wanna know what craziness I got up to? Well, first, right, what I did was I started clearing out my office, yeah? But that was only the beginning. Then I started clearing out the kitchen. Then I got bored and played a video game. Then I went back to clearing more stuff. Then I checked the Blog. Then I cleared another room. Then I went to my parents' house for dinner, and it was yummy. Then I came home and my electricity went off. Yay!


Although the day BEFORE that I got to see all my nieces in their Halloween costumes (because I won't be seeing them at Halloween). Rebecca was dressed as a witch. Emily was a bumblebee. Sophie was a pig. And Clara... Clara was a skeleton, because she KNOWS who's going to be giving her the best presents when she's older. When I have pictures, I'll be sure to post them.

And what did I GET for my birthday, you ask? Well... um... okay, see, when I say it aloud, it doesn't sound that impressive, but basically I got some photographs in nice frames...

God that sounds boring.

But I really am the WORST person to buy for, as Laura was complaining to me last night. Everything I want, I pretty much have already- so what is there left to get me except really odd things that I'd never think of? See?

But some of you guys here, and at the Forum and the Facebook page, did all the celebrating for me, which was really nice of you. In particular, I'm thinking of Valkyrie V, who actually had a party with a CAKE. And Val V, I hope you don't mind, but I just HAD to post a pic of it.

I'm not really sure what Polar Bear Girl has to do with Skulduggery, but I like her style nonetheless. These guys really went out of their way to celebrate poor old Skulduggery's deathday, and they are all astonishingly sloppy eaters...

And in other news...

The Ameriminions competition is now over! I have been HUGELY impressed with your entries. They have been cool, atmospheric, creepy, action-packed, sinister, and funny- sometimes all at once! Now I have the quite enjoyable job of going through them all and picking the line that is best suited to the story I want to tell.

A HUGE congratulations to everyone who entered.