Let me start this by confessing that, prior to seeing the movie version from a few years back, I had not read or listened to any of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books or radio programs. However, my husband and son (the one who does not normally read fiction but has read this complete series) are fans. The happy coincidence of Eoin Colfer being asked to write Part Six of Three in the series (Douglas Adams died in 2001 while in the process of writing notes for the book) brought Colfer to San Diego on a book tour this weekend and we got the chance to listen to him speak - for a whole glorious hour in a very, very small bookstore- and get some books signed.
Even though Colfer is here mostly to talk about the Hitchhiker book, he is happy to share stories about Artemis Fowl. He started off his talk by commenting on the handful of kids in the audience and how he was going to read from the new book but there were a few swears in it so he wouldn't. In spite of this, perhaps because he is Irish and has the gift of storytelling, he was totally entertaining and shared stories about parenting, writing, singing with the Rock Bottom Remainders, a group of authors (including Stephen King, Dave Barry, Amy Tan and Matt Groening) and a very inebriated, mouth organ playing Frank McCourt, growing up with four brothers, trying to write scary books for kids and being thwarted by Saturday morning cartoons that are even scarier than what he was writing. He told a story about how, after his first dismal performance with the Remainders, they told him to go home and learn a U2 (also Irish) song for the next performance. He was complaining about this over the phone to a friend one day when his friend asked him to hold a moment while he passed of the phone. A man got on the phone and told him that "Angel of Harlem" was one of the easiest U2 songs to learn, to which Colfer responded, "Who are you to be telling me this?" and the man answered, "The Edge." Ha! Colfer also told a great story about how, being rubbish at sports, he took to reading as a teen. If he was engrossed in a book and put it down to tend to something else, one of his four brothers would find it, rip out the last few pages and force Eoin to pay to get them back.
I highly recommend you attend one of Colfer's signings if you leave nearby. Because of his gifts for humor and story telling combined with his wonderful accent, I could have listened to him talk about actuary tables for an hour. It looks like he's mostly on the West Coast for now and in decent sized venues - including an Apple Store in San Francisco. Here is a link to his tour schedule.
Eoin & me at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore. He is truly an elfin sort of guy. I think we are the same height (he's sitting on a stool) and I am only 5 feet tall...