It’s a good year to be a fan of Eoin Colfer’s work. Twenty years ago now, he took the world by storm with his children’s fantasy novel, Artemis Fowl. Children who were fans of this series may be starting to remember there is a movie coming out this year. For those adults who are eager to return to the whimsical, creative worlds Colfer is known for, his new book Highfire is now in stores. On February 5th, 2020, the Tattered Cover Book Store hosted Eoin Colfer for a fun-filled evening of discussing the book and his history as a writer.
Colfer explains that Highfire is about the world’s last dragon, alive and hiding in back-country, modern-day Louisiana. A strange place to consider a dragon, and certainly far off from the princess-kidnapping, treasure-hoarding in a cave mantra of dragons most fantasy readers often think of. However, folklore tells of a creature that resides in the area, and in Colfer’s opinion, that’s the perfect place for a mythical creature to hide: where every sighting will be dismissed as crazy tourists.
Most fans of Artemis Fowl are probably adults by now, which is perfect for Highfire. “I had all this pent-up swearing and violence,” Colfer joked after writing Artemis Fowl for fifteen years, and this new book was his outlet for that fantastical approach to more adult topics.
Colfer is famous for his approach of bringing new ideas and visions to popular genres. With Vern, the main character of Highfire, he wanted a humanized dragon, unlike Smaug. “I like to see what I can change with that genre,” Colfer says. It shows in his writing because after hundreds of stories of magic and mystery surrounding fairies, having these fae creatures utilizing technology and being part of an almost secret-service world was a breath of fresh air.
Despite the success writing has brought him, Colfer admits that the hardest part of writing for him, has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. He says that whenever a book he is writing is about two-thirds complete, he begins to doubt the book’s success. To cope, he has learned to have a back-up project to work on to keep his mind fresh and the words flowing onto the page. It’s important, in his mind, to just keep writing.
Of course, given the series that thrust Colfer into the spotlight, many questions about Artemis Fowl came about. One eager fan rightfully inquired if anything romantic between Holly and Artemis existed. “This is the whole reason I write prepubescent books,” Colfer sighed with a laugh. “They’re different species… Is it legal? I don’t know.”
From an early age, Colfer had an interest in writing. He said that the interest started in elementary school and that his father was a big influence on his imagination. His father, an artist, would often tell stories to Colfer and his brothers, and the imagination and captivating details inspired the entirety of the Colfer family to find a passion for the arts in one medium or another.
“Get fired up,” Colfer wrote across the books he signed. Important words, especially as many young, aspiring writers attended the event. Three short words of advice, but invaluable when trying to put words to paper.