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.