Irish author and screenwriter, Derek Landy’s cult series Skulduggery Pleasant is an international sensation with six million copies sold worldwide and translated into thirty-nine languages.
Skulduggery Pleasant has featured in a 15-book series, two World Book Day books, a novella, a short story collection, a prequel and The Skulduggery Pleasant Grimoire. With a 16th novel in preparation for 2024, Skulduggery and his sidekick Valkyrie are currently debuting in an entirely new genre, the graphic novel.
In Bad Magic, the fan-favourite fantasy detective is brought vibrantly to life in full colour as never before…
Horror and mystery collide in Bad Magic as Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain drive into Termoncara, they discover a town with a dark past and people haunted by their own secrets. There is a creature stalking the streets – a creature who delights in cruelty, who feeds off the little hatreds, who grows stronger with every drop of blood spilled.
Although the graphic novel features long established characters, Derek promises that new readers won’t feel left out.
Derek tells Andy Howells; “There are no in-jokes or references to past events. This is the story of monsters who are besetting this small town in Ireland, killing people. Skulduggery and Valkyrie arrive to investigate, and so, from that point of view I didn’t have to incorporate it into the lore or the canon of the actual Ongoing story.
“I could just have them arrive in town, and through the eyes of a teenage boy introduce them to the wider world in that they bring with them as much as possible. I have made it accessible to new readers.”
When asking Derek what one can expect from the novels, he is both exciting and energetic in his description of the Skulduggery Pleasant series.
“It’s every genre that I’ve always wanted to write about. There is horror, fantasy, science fiction, crime, mystery, and comedy. The first Skulduggery Pleasant book came out in 2007 and since then I’ve just been following Skulduggery and Valkyrie on their adventures.”
“There is an abundance of Skulduggery for those who might be interested!”
As a creative writer, Derek admits he feels the success of the series is “beyond wonderful,” but also puts the success down to “having the right idea at the right time and finding the right audience.”
“There just seemed to be, from the very beginning, an audience out there who was just geared up and ready for this. These types of characters and stories, for this level of sarcasm, arrogance, and energy.”
Derek’s audience match the gamut of his subject matter in age range to diversity. It is not uncommon to find 90-year-old gentlemen, bikers and 8-year-old schoolgirls clamouring for signed copies of his books among others, many of whom have established special relationships.
Derek continues; “For the first few years, you go on tour, do signings, and meet people, Then, few years later, you meet them again, and some of them you do remember, because some are so unique and wonderful and energetic. Then you start to meet the people 5, 6 years down the line, who say, “We started going out because we met in this signing queue 5 years ago.” Then you start to meet people who are engaged, people who are married.
“More often you start to meet the children, you start to meet the little babies who have been born because 2 people met in a signing queue! The last tour I was on, I was touring Ireland, and in Wexford, I met this little baby who would not exist if not were not for me!
Derek laughs before continuing, “The sheer level of Godhood just fills me, to know that I am responsible for the existence of people and I’m not even a parent!
If Derek sounds in awe of his success, it’s probably no surprise when you learn of his difficult time as a teenager. Having originally pursued an animation course in college, it ended abruptly.
Derek confesses, “I liked art, but it didn’t really like me. So, I wasn’t quite good enough to make it in animation. But that was the sign I needed because I’d messed up school. I messed up Art College. I was now working on the family farm which I always hated, and I promised myself I would never do as a job. And now, suddenly, okay, I’ve messed up enough so that I’m doing my worst-case scenario. But it was in that moment that I said, “okay, I’m either going to be a writer or I’m going to be nothing. This is my only chance to make something of myself.””
Even though Derek managed to get work on two Irish movies, he still had to work endless shifts on the family farm, but that’s when his creation came knocking!
“I was about £6000 in debt to my credit card, when Skulduggery popped into my head. This was in 2005, after working on the farm for 10 years. Every moment that I was working on the farm I was writing in my head. I would conjure sentences, and then restructure them, and then repeat them until, when I got in at lunchtime, or after work, they would just all come out in a stream of consciousness. That’s how I taught myself to write.”
Derek’s Skulduggery Pleasant series gone on to have global sales nearing six million copies, while been translated into thirty-nine languages. The awards heaped upon the epic adventure series include the Irish Book of the Decade and the Red House Children’s Book Award. Since 2018, Derek Landy has written numerous comic book series at Marvel Comics including star properties ‘Captain America’, ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Avengers’. Although Derek is now celebrated in the world of cult-comics and books, it’s a far cry from his struggles battling a lack of confidence as a youngster, something the success of Skulduggery Pleasant helped him overcome.
“I discovered the secret is confidence,” he explains, “When I was a teenager it was me standing around with my friends and a race to get heard or make your point. The pressure in a social setting really exacerbates a stammer.
“When Skulduggery happened and when I was on radio and tv. I discovered the secret, and the secret was confidence. When I’m a published author, I walk into a room, and I’m the most important person in that room. That’s what I had to repeat to myself as in my words are important, my opinion has value. So, the moment that kicked in, I got on stage, and I got on the radio, and I got on TV. I stammered, but I didn’t let it stop me. When I stammered, I didn’t get embarrassed about it. I just kept on going, sure of myself and confident in my own ability to brush it off.
“I wish when I was a teenager, that someone had sat me down and told me that stammers are all about confidence and the fact that you can fake it until you make it. So, if you pretend to have a confidence, it will manifest.”
Along with his confidence, Derek’s stories have manifested in popularity and are now bringing much joy to a world-wide fanbase, a true testament as to what can be achieved when overcoming life’s obstacles and confidence difficulties.
- Bad Magic – a Skulduggery Pleasant Graphic Novel by Derek Landy, P.J. Holden, Matt Soffe, Rob Jones & Pye Parr is available from 12 October 2023 via HarperCollins Children’s Books ISBN: 978-000-858-5785
Derek will attend a book signing in Waterstones Cardiff on Saturday 7th October at 2PM.