Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Year in Review

Ah, 2013... I knew you well.

It was a good year for me, all things considered. A busy one, of course- but when is it ever any different? The Maleficent Seven and Last Stand of Dead Men were both released, delivering to me the most shocking revelation of all — that there's only one Skulduggery Pleasant left. Yes, technically I KNEW it was coming, but it still kinda took me by surprise to find myself writing the final book in the series.

So what else did I get up to in 2013? Let's recap, shall we?

January - dipped my toes into Twitter. Discovered Twitter to be basically quicksand, and so was unable to pull toes out. Still being dragged under.

February - I did an event at the Imagine festival in London, showing clips from movies that inspired Skulduggery. So much FUN.

March - Went to Germany. As usual, had an insane amount of fun and was kept incredibly busy for the entire time. The Maleficent Seven was unleashed upon an unsuspecting world.

Also met Steven Moffat and compared notes on how to traumatise people. (Speaking of which - The Time of the Doctor, eh? I'll miss Matt Smith, and it was so good seeing my beloved Amy back for a few seconds...)

April - was spent writing.

May - Started yapping to Ronda Rousey's mum. Which is, I think, an event worthy of an entire month.

June - this month consisted of me editing, touring, playing video games and watching movies. Not a bad way to spend a few weeks.

July - Read Geek Girl. Met Holly Smale. Holly Smale fell in love with me. It happens.

August - Last Stand of Dead Men released. Could life get any better?

September - My doggy died. This year I have had to put down my three dogs. I now have no dogs left. Ali's death sucked most of all.

October - My Doctor Who short story was released. Yay!

November - Writing for Book Nine.

December - Writing for Book Nine.

And how shall I be spending my New Year's Eve, you wonder? Will I be partying? Will I be singing? Carousing?

Nope. I'll be writing. And I'll be writing happily.

In closing, I'd like to thank all of you for your support, thank you for reading, thank you for being nice to each other, and for supporting each other. It's because of you that I am able to do the thing I love every single day.

I hope 2014 is kind to us all.

But especially me.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Twelve Days of Fandom


I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas day, whether you celebrate it or not. I hope this day is fun and filled with laughter and that you spend it surrounded by friends and family.

And to set you on your way, here is the Twelve Days of Fandom video (actually two videos, because apparently Youtube can't handle that much editing in one go). Thanks to everyone who took part — it has taken up two days of my life putting all this together, but it was so worth it. Some of you can really sing! And some of you really CAN'T. The videos I saw were funny, sweet, genuine, wacky, impressive, silly, and some of them were downright CUTE (Melissa and her doggy — I mean COME ON!)

The lyrics were written by myself and Laura Jordan (not Valkyrie-Laura, but an awesome Laura just the same!) and it features a special appearance by one Miss Holly Smale.

Have a great Christmas, everybody.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


And because I don't have ENOUGH to do at this time of year...

Alrighty then, here's a fun little thing I've been working on, and I need your help. I'm editing together a video (and I'm very new to editing, so I haven't a clue what I'm doing) of many people singing what is basically the 12 Days of Christmas, but with a difference.

If you want to be a part of this, all you have to do is send an email to skulteams@hotmail.com, giving me permission to use your video in making MY video. We, in turn, will get back to you with the lines I need you to sing. You then go off, sing these lines into your phone or camera or whatever — it can be you, it can be you and a friend, you and your family, or a group, or a pet, or a puppet, or your favourite kettle — and send these (SHORT!) videos back to the skulteams address so you can be edited in.

(Oh, and one minor details, for those of you under the age of 18... GET YOUR PARENTS' OR GUARDIANS' PERMISSION!)

If you could keep the lines you sing to yourself— i.e. don't tweet them! — that would be very helpful! The lines will be given out tomorrow, the final deadline is Monday night, with the full video to be released on Christmas day, right here on my blog.

Provided I learn how to edit by then.



Friday, December 20, 2013

'Tis The Season...

... to be jolly, fa la la la laa, la la la laaaaaaa...

My Christmas tree is up. It actually went up a few weeks ago. It's not a REAL Christmas tree. I mean, it's real ENOUGH. It's not IMAGINARY. If you threw it at someone, it'd hit them. But it's made from assorted plastics and stuff. Also it's black. It looks awesome, but lacks that Christmas tree smell. But I don't mind that. My folks have a real Christmas tree up, and that's where Christmas happens anyway, so who cares if my house doesn't smell of pine needles? Not me. Not really.

Not... really...

Anyway, yes, the tree. It's up. The presents are bought. They're not wrapped, but they're bought. Most of them. Okay, I haven't a clue what to get my dad, but he's a dad. He'll be happy with socks. Fathers are simple creatures. 

So... tree up. Presents bought. These are things I set aside time to do, because I needed to set aside time. I've been so busy lately that if I hadn't set aside this time, I just wouldn't get around to it. There are loads of things I just didn't have time for, like sending out Christmas cards. I love sending out cards. I try to combine it with answering all the letters from readers, so when I send off a reply, they get a Christmas card too. How lovely! But not this year. Answering all those letters, sending all those cards, would take two days at a minimum, and they are two days I can't afford to take off writing. 

The writing is going well, by the way. I've been focussing on short stories these last three weeks, building up quite a collection of new stuff. Each of these stories will be told in a different "voice" than the one you're used to. You'll see what I mean when you read them. 

One thing that I haven't decided on yet are the Christmas Skype calls I was planning on making. Essentially, I was going to take an hour one day and just fit as many three-minute Skype calls into that hour as I could. It seemed like a lovely idea at the time, but I'm not so sure anymore. Not everyone who wanted a call would be available on that hour, and so I'd have to field quite a few complaints. Then there'd be the people who'd want a one-on-one chat, when I'd only be comfortable chatting if there were two or more people in the room with you. Basically, my idea would end up causing a whole lot of hassle that I could really do without, so I just don't know. 

Okay then, enough jibber-jabber. I have work to do. 

Be cool, my Minions. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Oooh Shiny...

Look what arrived a few days ago...

Ohhh, all those lovely Doctor Who stories, all in one place! And look what ELSE arrived in the same box...

Toys! Wonderful, wonderful TOYS!

I was indeed  a happy writer.

So what else have I been up to lately? Well, I've been writing, amazingly enough. I have taken two weeks off Book Nine to focus on coming up with new stories for Armageddon-Outta-Here (haw!) which'll be out next summer.

As a sample of what the new stories will feature, we're talking the Dead Men in the Wild West, the story of how Valkyrie met Caelan, a Billy-Ray Sanguine solo adventure, and Skulduggery Pleasant and Gordon Edgley at a horror-themed masquerade ball, set 25 years ago.

Time is tight, deadlines are onrushing, but I'm having FUN, so none of it seems quite like work. And hopefully it never will.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Ta Da!!!!!!

Layyyydeeeeeez an gennelmennnnnnnn...

I give you the wonder of wonders...

the marvel of marvels...

the paperback cover of paperback covers...

The Maleficent Seven!!!

Tom Percival, you've done it again...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Short Story Collection

Ah, Saturday night... what would you be without a title announcement?

I should have announced this yesterday, to be honest, but I was in Swindon, in England, doing writerly things like chatting to 600 people, signing all their books, and then travelling on to the WH Smith head office and signing 500 copies of LSODM, so you'll forgive me if I was a tad... distracted.

But, without further ado, to those who have not yet heard, the title of the short story collection out next summer is...



I swear to god, I never thought Harper Collins would agree to this. My first instinct was to call it Tales of the Dead Men, but that wouldn't have been accurate because there'd probably only be one or two stories featuring the Dead Men — not enough to warrant a title.

Harper came back with The World of Skulduggery Pleasant, which is, let's face it, a title far too boring to exist.

I  suggested Armageddon-Outta-Here as a joke, expecting everyone to dismiss it. But the more I thought about it, the more I said it in my head, the more I loved it. And suddenly I became determined to be the writer who has a book with THAT title. 

Amusingly, Harper Collins agreed. And I couldn't be happier. 

And if that wasn't awesome enough, we should actually have a cover reveal early next month for you to gawp at. Could I BE any nicer to you?

No. The answer is no. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Under Pressure... Moi?

Glancing back at old Blog entries, I happened to notice that on December 23rd of 2012 I had 13,320 words of LSODM written. This was a good thing to notice. It means that, with 18,504 words of Book 9 already spewed forth onto the page/screen, I am well ahead of where I was last year — and I finished LSODM in PLENTY of time, did I not?

Well, actually, no, I didn't. It was pretty much down to the wire, as they say. I couldn't afford to make ANY mistakes with LSODM, because I had no time to do anything resembling a significant rewrite. But at least I know it can be done. At least I know I can do it. Now all I have to do is hope I DO do it.

Pressure pressure pressure... It's everywhere. I don't actually mind pressure. It's a handy tool to make you sit down and write, after all. And I have no one to blame for these onrushing deadlines but me, because I'm the one who agreed to them in the first place. I'm the one who said "Hey, let's collect all the short stories, and I'll write a few more brand new ones, and we can publish in the summer before the final book!" And what a wonderful idea that was. What a magical, wonderful idea, to schedule the writing of short stories at the same time as I've scheduled the writing of a book. How clever that was.

I had wanted to include ten new stories in the collection. I STILL want to do ten — but the fact is, I might not be able to. I may only be able to do five. I want to tell a tale of the Dead Men during the war. I want to tell the tale of Billy-Ray Sanguine and what he did when he was recovering from the sword-wound that Valkyrie inflicted on him in The Faceless Ones. I want to show you how Val met Caelan for the first time. But most of all, I want to go back to Skulduggery and Valkyrie, back before the screaming and the killing and the darkness. I want to see them having fun again, before the death and the destruction and the heartache and the loss. The collection will be out mere months before the final book, after all... I want you to enter into Book 9, fully aware of how good it used to be between them.

And then I want to shatter what remains of your souls.

Friday, November 1, 2013

LSODM Paperback

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, straight from the pen of Mr Tom Percival, the paperback cover for Last Stand of Dead Men...

Sooo utterly cool... and wait till you see the BACK cover... Wait till you see the cover for the Maleficent Seven paperback — a thing of BEAUTY, so it is...

Oh we spoil you with artwork, we surely do...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Nerdy Dalek

As was recently pointed out to me, "Nerdy Dalek" is an anagram of my name, so I suppose it's only fitting that my birthday should be the day my Doctor Who story comes out on ebook. The Mystery of the Haunted Cottage is a Tenth Doctor adventure and I had unimaginable fun writing it. For those of you who don't read ebooks, fret not- a physical book, containing all eleven stories by eleven writers, will be arriving late next month.

Ah yes, my birthday. I am 39 today. Some people might worry about reaching that age — just one more birthday till 40, after all. But not me. I shall live forever. And I don't mean in a metaphorical sense. I don't mean I'll live forever in the hearts and minds of my readers. I mean I will literally live forever, drawing as I do from your pain and suffering.

Your pain makes me strong.

Today is the day I knuckle down and officially start Book 9. I've been writing bits and pieces of it for the last few weeks — I've got close to 10,000 words done — but today it kicks off properly. October 23rd is, of course, the day Skulduggery died, hundreds of years ago. Once again, I think it's only fitting that I begin his final book on such a date. Poignant, even.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Heh... Nieces...

My sister just sent me this video of my niece Becca getting VERY upset because her dad keeps getting the snorting from Peppa Pig wrong...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Skul And Friends

Just saw these awesome fan-made Lego mini-movies... thought I'd share...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mystery Project One

A few weeks ago, I outlined my writing schedule for the next year or so. Included in this outline were Mystery Project numbers two, three and four. I never mentioned Mystery Project One, because that had already been completed. Today, I am finally allowed to talk about it...

This year is the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who. To celebrate, Puffin Books asked eleven different authors to take a Doctor and write a story. When I was asked, I said I'd only do it if I could write for the tenth or eleventh incarnation. Puffin gave me Ten. I was a happy bunny.

It was such a joy to write this character. As you all know, I've been a fan of the show since I was a kid, and David Tennant holds joint top-spot with Matt Smith as my favourite Doctor. In my opinion, it was Tennant's era when the Doctor's love of dialogue really came out— that quick-fire patter that he does so well — and it was an absolute pleasure to channel that.

The Mystery of the Haunted Cottage will be released as an e-book on October 23rd (my birthday! Skulduggery's deathday!) and then it, along with the other stories, will be collected into a PHYSICAL book which will be out near the end of November.

There will be a video released in a week or two where I talk more about it, but in the meantime, here's a link to a snippet (which explains where the somewhat old-fashioned title comes from...)


Thursday, September 26, 2013


A little over half an hour ago, I buried my doggy.

Not one of the silly doggies. Mable passed away a few months ago, and Sherlock is still pottering around the kitchen. No, this was MY doggy. This was Ali, my German Shepherd, my Alsation, the best dog in the whole world, and the undisputed love of my life.

Almost fourteen years ago, we needed a dog. I was living at home and working on the farm, and it was decided that we were getting a new dog, a few years after our last one had died. My mum, being my mum, looked upon this decision as a starting point. From here, the breed would be chosen, we'd start asking around, and then, in a few months time, we'd actually get the dog.

My dad, being my dad, looked upon this decision as a go-ahead to get a dog the very next day.

And so, while my mum was at work, we drove to a house down the road who'd just had a brand new batch of puppies. It was my little sister who picked which one we'd take home — she picked the quietest out of all the yapping pups — and we took the pup home, and I was in love.

It was obvious to everyone that she was going to be mine. We kept her in a shed for the first week or two, because she was filthy and she smelled terrible. But every evening after work I was in that shed, sitting on the ground with her. I couldn't stand to hear her whine. I couldn't stand the thought of her being lonely. I convinced my parents that she should be an indoor dog, and after she'd been washed and didn't smell quite so bad, my folks gave in.

Oh, and her name? I remember this discussion VERY clearly. We were all in the living room one evening. I wanted to call her something awesomely cool. I'm pretty sure I wanted her named either Buffy or Xena. Nobody else agreed with me. But, I argued, I'm the one who's going to be looking after her and feeding her and spending the most time with her. Surely I should be the one to name her?

Apparently not. I'm pretty sure it was Audrey who suggested the name. Remember, this was fourteen years ago, and the TV show Ally McBeal was at the height of its popularity.

"Ally!" Audrey said. "Because she's an Alsation! And also Ally McBeal!"

I was outvoted, but I vowed that day that my doggy's name should forever be spelled... Ali.

(Take THAT, Ally McBeal.)

Ali became a part of the family. Granted, it was the part of the family that slept in the kitchen and to whom my older sister Nadine never REALLY warmed. Every so often she'd look at Ali lying there, and she'd soften, and go over and pet the dog and say nice things. And then the moment Ali nudged against her Nadine would freak out and the dog would wonder what the hell was going on.

But we all loved her. When she was a pup, she used to run at whoever was sitting in the armchair in the kitchen, leap up and stand on their chest/shoulder/head and look around, like she was proudly surveying her territory. A year or two passed, and it never occurred to her that maybe she was too big to keep doing that, so she kept doing it. Many a time my dad would be sitting in the armchair reading the paper, and I'd see Ali readying herself like a sprinter on the block. Suddenly she'd leap, bursting through the newspaper, and dad would cry out in alarm and there'd be a mad scramble of legs and then sudden stillness, and she stood on my father's chest, one paw in his face, looking around at her kingdom. And the only thing we'd hear from dad would be a "Bloody mutt..."

Then, of course, she got too big and too powerful even to do THAT. The amount of times she'd leap onto dad and find herself hurtling over the back of the chair...

Ali had many talents. She was a bit of an actress, appearing in my very first movie, Dead Bodies. She can be seen at the start, jumping up and down at a patio door. I was on the other side of that door, though you can't see me, leaping about like a nutter in order to get her excited. That was her first and only film role. I think she realised she had a choice to make — LA, or Ireland. She chose Ireland.

I wrote the first Skulduggery book with her in my room. Every single evening I'd sit at my computer, writing away, and I'd hear the pat pat pat of her approach, and she'd nudge the door open with her nose, walk in, jump up on my bed, and curl up and watch me. That's how we spent our evenings. She wasn't happy without me and I wasn't happy without her.

After the book got picked up, I went to New York for a week to meet with my American publishers. After a few days I started to miss Ali DREADFULLY. I called home and my mum told me that Ali was spending her nights in my room, waiting for me to come home. When I finally did come home, she  got all excited and started bouncing and whirling in circles, and then we went to my room, and she got up on the bed and I leaned in, and she licked my face for fifteen minutes. It was disgusting — by the end of it, my face had a thick layer of saliva coating it — but I didn't want to move. Fifteen minutes. I counted.

I used to take her for long walks around the fields a couple of times a day. Whenever I'd get stuck writing, off we went. I'd sort out problems with the plot as I walked, and Ali would chase birds and rabbits and splash in puddles and come back to me every now and then for a cuddle, then bound off again. Those memories are some of my favourites from when I was living at home. I was happy, I had a future, my family was proud of me, and I had my dog.

In 2008 or thereabouts, I moved out. I bought a house seven minutes away, so every evening I could go back to visit the folks and walk the dog. For a long time after I moved out, Ali would wait outside my old bedroom for me to return. I hate thinking of times like those, times when she was disappointed or she missed me and I wasn't there. She got used to the new arrangement, of course. Now she started looking forward to 5:30, when I'd walk in. Around that time every single day, she'd be waiting at the kitchen door. She'd get so excited to see me, and after we'd played around and she settled down, she went back to the door to wait for my mum to come home. Her ears would perk up and I'd know she heard an engine, and I'd open the front door just as my mum got out of the car and Ali would race out, excited all over again.

About four years ago Ali got cancer. She developed a large tumour on her belly. I was distraught. She had an operation to get rid of it, but the vet told us the cancer was going to come back. He gave her two years, maybe. Two more years with my dog.

These last few years, Ali got old. She got stiff. The long walks became shorter and shorter. She couldn't handle it anymore. And suddenly there were babies in the house, wobbling about. Ali didn't know quite what to make of them. She learned pretty early on to try and stay away if she possibly could. She was great with the kids. She's never been anything other than gentle and loving and lovely.

Yesterday I took her on a short walk, just out to the shed. We reached the shed and she lay down. This wasn't normal. I went over and petted her and she seemed fine. She got up and followed me to the postbox, and lay down again. Then she followed me back inside the house, and went to her mat and lay down.

"Is everything okay?" my mum asked.

"No," I said.

She had perked up this morning, according to the text my mum sent, but by this afternoon she was lying down again. We took her to the vet. She lay in the back of my jeep and he came out, but he didn't even have to examine her to see that the cancer was back. He injected her there and then and I cried. I haven't cried like that in... I don't ever remember crying like that. I'm crying right now. I love my dog and I miss her, and the reason I'm writing this is because she deserves to be remembered.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

My House. My Museum.

It's Sunday evening, I'm about to go watch Dexter, and I thought it'd be a nice way to spend a blog post by showing you a few pics of the glorious junk I have in my house.

First of all, this is a cat (Pooper) who has just discovered that the small sitting room has been housing a rather large snake for the past few weeks, while Laura and her sister try to figure out what to do with it. Pooper, as you can see, is quite wary.

It was at this point that I started taking random shots of the room, and a thought occurred to me: "Aha!" this thought said. "I have your new blog post!"

I'll give a proper guided tour of my house at some later stage — probably once my extension is built — but for the moment, here is what greets you when you walk through my front door....

Naturally I have the posters for the movies I've written on prominent display...

... and of course I have what EVERYONE has in their halls: a severed foot in a glass case.

Now then, to the office!

I'm not going to show you the ACTUAL office (the ACTUAL office is really very messy at this moment in time) so I'm going to show you some of the things I have on the shelves. Such as these gentlemen...

Plus a little Evil Dead...

... and some Marvel folk hanging around...

And let us not ignore Star Wars...

... or zombies...

And here, tucked away on their own little shelf, Skulduggery and Vampirella. Just chillin'.

(That Skulduggery is a pretty rare promotional item my German publishers had made... It's not for sale anywhere except MAYBE eBay.)

And now, to the main living room. I'm not gonna show you everything, but this is the room I had designed and rebuilt as a live-in museum. The extension, if I ever get around the designing it, will be built specifically to house this stuff. Because it makes me happy.

And here it is, the suit I love to talk about... as worn by Christopher Reeve.

I do NOT dress up in this. I swear I don't.

Although if someone wanted to photoshop my head onto this mannequin, I would not object.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Happy Christmas (Tour is Over)

I thought the title of this entry was smart and funny, effectively conveying the relief at another tour being over and done with in a winning and whimsical manner. But how many of you are going to miss the John Lennon reference and just puzzle at the "Happy Christmas| part? Ah well. Too late now to go changing it.

So, another tour bites the dust. This was a fun one, lots of people turning up, lots of glares and scowls and cakes and pictures and fist-bumps and many, many moody looks into camera... All in a day's work, really. Thanks to everyone who came along — it was tiring but I had a blast.

And now I'm home, and it's time to get organised.

There's going to be some cool news coming your way over the next few weeks and months. Some of it will make you go "Cool!" and some of it will make you grin. Some of it, of course, will make you weep, as it's coming up to that time when I'll have to start plotting out Book Nine. Most of you will still be reeling from the events of LSODM, so you'll know not to trust me. For some reason, the tagline from the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre is floating through my head...

"Who will survive, and what will be left of them?"

The good news is, now that the pressure of editing and touring is off, I'll be able to get back to my regular (ahem) blogging and Twitter routine, so I should be chatting to you guys a little more often than I have been. Hopefully.

The fact is, I'm going to be incredibly busy for the next year. Want a brief rundown on what I have ahead of me?

1) Plot, write and finish Book Nine by March.

2) Work on Mystery Project 2.

3) Write 10 brand new short stories for the Skulduggery Collection out next Summer.

4) Work on Mystery Project 3.

5) Devise, plan and start writing New Book Series by September 2014.

6) Work on Mystery Project 4.

All that, and blog and tweet and play with my nieces. Oh, and my nephew.

Nephew, you say? But Golden God, you don't HAVE a nephew. I do now, gentle Minion. Born this afternoon, weighing in at over 9 pounds, Baby Skulduggery is now part of my Baby Army of Terror, and he is to be feared.

(Okay fine, my sister hasn't OFFICIALLY named him Baby Skulduggery, but come on... How could she NOT?)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Let ME Eat Cake!

When I meet people, I no longer say "Hi, I'm Derek Landy, pleased to meet you." Now I say "Hi, I'm number one bestselling author Derek Landy. Worship me." And it's because of YOU that I can say this, because once again you have blasted a Skulduggery Pleasant book to the top of the book charts.

You guys rock.

Today is my first free day in... days. Which doesn't sound like a big deal, but it is! Today I bought groceries! GROCERIES! Oooooh! 

I've had a few days of highly successful signings, and when I say highly successful, I mean they went on for WAY longer than expected. That kinda drains when they come one after another, but I manage to keep my energy up by soaking up the pain and anguish LSODM has caused you. So it's all good.

Now, fair enough, these three don't look PARTICULARLY traumatised, but I assure you they were crying on the inside.

And this Minion had to put her pain down on canvas in order to deal!

And this one gave me cake! CAKE!

And now that I have a few days off before the Manchester and Liverpool signings this Saturday, what am I going to do?

That's right, I'm going to plot out Book Nine, and discover new ways to ruin your happiness. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Let Them Eat Cake

Great first weekend of the tour. I started off with a signing in Liffey Valley in Dublin, then went all over London, signing merrily. On Wednesday I'm appearing at the Mountains to the Sea festival in Dublin. Last year I talked about the movies that had influenced the books, but this year is going to be a completely different, one-off event. Should be funny...

Reaction to the book is exactly what I'd been hoping for — shock and AWE. There have been MANY threats of violence and decapitation made against me, which I thoroughly deserve for what I've put you through.

All in all, people have been very good about not spoiling it for others, but dear god, there have been some exceptions. A few things on the Facebook page, a lot of stuff on Twitter, some stuff on Tumblr, and one of the very first Amazon reviews has a major spoiler. I don't understand the need to spoil things for others or to seek out spoilers for yourself, and I really can't understand why anyone would casually mention a plot twist without realising it could ruin things for others.

Basically, beware of the internet, Minions.

But on a lighter note, Orla came to a signing on Saturday and she gave me a photograph of the cake she'd had for her birthday.

Check it OUT. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Competition Winners!

And here we are, coming in late (as usual)... The winners of the strapline competition. So many cool entries. A lot of similar ones, and unfortunately that meant we couldn't put those in the final ten. There were lots of "Burn, Baby Burn!" and suchlike, which would have been so cool to see on a cover if we'd only had one entry for it...! I love the winning entries, though, so a huge congratulations to everyone who took part.

And the winners are...

Hugo Peach

Evan Jenkins

Harriet Langley

Tom Wood

Jack Holton

Ashan Ali

Laura MacKenzie

Nigethan Sathiyalingham

Phoebe Ryall

Megan Smales

All the winners receive two signed glossy prints of the cover with their own strap line. Awesome.

Oh, and to remind you, the comments section below is NOT for spoilers!

Spoiler Zone

Happy publication day!

It's out! It has been released! It has been UNLEASHED! Finally, I can stop worrying about early releases and leaks, and now focus all my concern onto such silly things as spoilers...!

So, this here comments section is the Spoiler Zone. This is where you can discuss aspects of the book. I would APPRECIATE it if you try to be subtle even here, because we all know that there are Minions who haven't read the book who will still take a peek, even though they don't want anything spoiled. These Minions are weird, and should be avoided.

I'll be providing a second post after this, announcing and displaying the strapline competition winners, so you can use that to continue your conversations.

Thanks to those Minions who have already read the book and have kept all the details to themselves— I appreciate this so much. And for those of you who have yet to start reading, I really hope you like it. And I'm sorry for the bit where, y'know...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Me Hate Spoilers

Edinburgh tomorrow, where LSODM will be on sale for a few hours, then whipped away again until the 29th, because we're mean...

So... spoilers. I hate spoilers. I hate them as a reader, and I hate them even more as a writer. I don't even like mild spoilers, such as "Just wait till you see what happens to Kenspeckle!" or "All I will say is... Mevolent."

I get it. I do. You have a piece of information that's bubbling inside you, and you want to share it but you know you can't, so you share a sliver, something you think is enough of a hint to be relevant, but not enough to ruin anything... and yet, even this is a spoiler, because it's alerting someone to something big that's coming up...

I happen to have readers who are very respectful to their fellow Skulduggery fans, a fact that still amazes everyone at Harper Collins. I know that's going to continue, but we all have to be vigilant about this stuff.

I write these books for you to read them, to discover them, to experience them, on a page by page basis. It sounds obvious, right? But spoilers wreck that.

Okay, I shall now stop talking about it. But if you see ANY shop selling LSODM before the 29th, tweet me and let me know.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Strong Female Characters

My Twitter-wife Holly Smale has brought to the attention of her Twitter-followers, of which I am one, this here magazine article entitled "I Hate Strong Female Characters" — http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2013/08/i-hate-strong-female-characters — and I have to say I agree with it wholeheartedly.

For those of you too time-constricted/lazy to read it, it basically holds up a hand in the classroom and has the temerity to ask "Why are vibrant female characters called strong?" Why are they limited to such a thing? More to the point, however, is why is the word "strong" slung in there at all? If you take away the strong bit, that leaves "female character"— but isn't a female character just as inherently strong as a male character? Why do they need "strong" in there at all?

People say to me all the time "Derek, you're great," and I can't argue with them. They go on to say "I love your black shirt/blue jeans combo" and I nod wisely, agreeing with them but not needing to put it into words. Then they say "It's so cool that your books have strong female characters" and I shrug, and say "Hey, I'm a pretty awesome guy. Now go get me some Skittles."

Valkyrie is a strong female character. As in, she's strong, she's female, and she's a character. But she is not a Strong Female Character. She's not a role model — not really. She's deeply, DEEPLY flawed. Over the course of these eight books, she's done some outstandingly heroic things, but she's also done some downright mean and nasty and selfish things. She's hurt people. She's become arrogant (and not in the cool way that I am).

Here's what Holly has to Twitter-say about the subject:

"Strength" is one dimensional. It's saying "women can be strong like men", NOT "women are flawed, complex, brilliant, weak LIKE MEN."

 I love it when readers don't like Valkyrie. I love it when they actively dislike her for the things she's done and the way she's behaved. But it's like they're surprised. It's like they can't compute. "Okay, wait, so... she saves the world but... but she's cheating on her boyfriend?? How is that POSSIBLE?"

Valkyrie is a character. She's as messed up as any male character I could ever write. That's what makes her real to me.

Having a girl as the protagonist in an action/adventure/horror/fantasy/whatever means things are going to get physical, and you all know how much I love my fight scenes. But having her kick ass is not why she's a good character.

Years ago, I was yapping to my mother about Buffy and Xena and talking about how great it is that we now have these TV shows about such strong female characters. My mother, who admittedly has never watched either show, asked me if these really WERE strong female characters, or if they were merely male characters with boobs.

Having a blonde cheerleader save the world with her martial arts skills doesn't equal feminism, she said. That's a male tactic. How about her saving the day using tactics that aren't all about punching and kicking and killing?

I didn't have an answer for her then. I still don't, even now. There's a whole debate to be had that I'm just not ready for, that I may never be ready for. My mother is a pacifist. I am not. We see the world differently, we operate differently, even though we want the same things. We both want equality and peace. My mother is the sort to talk her way to equality and peace. I'm the sort to talk to the point where I reckon more talk won't do any good, and then smash my way through to an understanding. It is not an enlightened viewpoint I hold. It is a crass, brutish viewpoint — but in a crass, brutish world, I believe my way is the way to go. Mum believes otherwise.

And that's the difference, I think, between us. We live in a world carved by men, where fear and oppression and violence are a part of our lives. I can't even IMAGINE a world sculpted by women, where other values have taken hold. I'm limited in that way. I could try not to be, but I honestly wouldn't know where to start. That's kind of sad, when you think about it. For all my imagination, I can't even imagine that...

... (turns to stare hauntingly out the window).

Monday, August 12, 2013

Embargo Um Bongo

Some of you may have heard that a copy or two of LSODM have been sold, despite the embargo. This is, unfortunately, true.

Eight copies were mistakenly sent out ahead of schedule, to the big Forbidden Planet store in London. All eight were immediately sold. No one at Forbidden Planet is to blame, and no one who bought a copy is to blame.

I will only ask those who DID buy a copy to keep it to themselves. I'm asking them not to post spoilers and not to even HINT at anything that happens. I'm pretty confident nothing will leak, because you guys are all really good about this sort of thing, but I need to make sure.

And also, for those eight people out there who now own a copy... I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, August 2, 2013

LSODM Tour Details. And Dogs.

Okay then, here is the most up to date schedule I have for the LSODM tour and related festival visits. Check back here regularly, because I'll be updating this as I learn more.


Sunday 25th:

Edinburgh Book Festival — 1:30 PM — talk and signing.

Thursday 29th: PUBLICATION DAY!

Easons, Liffey Valley, Dublin — 4 PM — signing

Friday 30th:

Waterstones, Bluewater, London - 12 noon — signing.

Saturday 31st:

Waterstones, 6-6a Exchange Centre, Putney — 10 AM - signing

Canada Water, Southwark, London — 2 PM — talk and signing


Sunday 1st: 

WHS Kingston, Bentalls Shopping Centre — 11:30 AM — signing

Wednesday 4th: 

Mountains to the Sea Festival, Dublin — 4:30 PM — talk and signing

Friday 6th:

Easons, Galway — 4 PM — signing

Saturday 7th:

Hodges Figgis, Dublin — 11 AM — signing

Dubray Books, Bray — 3 PM — signing

Sunday 8th:

Easons, O'Connell St, Limerick — 2 PM — signing

Saturday 14th:

WHS Arndale Centre, Manchester — 10 AM — signing

Liverpool One, Liverpool — 3 PM — signing

Sunday 15th:

Discovery Centre, Winchester — 2 PM — talk and signing


Tuesday 1st:

Solstice Theatre, Ireland — talk and signing

Saturday 5th: 

Bath Festival — 4 PM — talk and signing

Tuesday 15th:

Swindon Youth Festival

And now here's some funny dogs. 

This is the Most Cheerful Dog In The World:

And this is the Most Sinister:

This is the Dimmest:

This the Dopiest:

The Happiest:

And this is the Most Scared Dog Ever: