We have a cracking end to Spooky Season with a Q&A with author Derek Landy! Skulduggery Pleasant is a widely popular series and now has its first graphic novel to read! Check out our Q&A below and have a safe and happy Halloween.
HOW HAVE YOU FOUND THE SHIFT BFROM WRITING BOOKS TO GRAPHIC NOVELS?
It’s been quite a journey. Obviously, it’s the same kind of skills involved, but writing a novel is a very solitary affair, whereas writing a comic or graphic novel has a lot more in common with writing a movie, in that it’s a team effort — and I’m really not used to playing on a team.
DID THE PROCESS MAKE YOU THINK OR FEEL DIFFERENTLY ABOUT YOUR BOOKS AND CHARACTERS?
Not really. To me, everyone I write about it real, and so the books are like little windows into their lives. We get to see what they say and do while this particular story is happening, and then we leave them and they go off and continue living and changing and having adventures. The graphic novel is the same. We might not get to peek into Valkyrie’s head like we do in the books, we might not hear her thoughts, but a comic is just another kind of window. The people on the other side — Skulduggery and Valkyrie — are just the same.
HOW WAS IT SEEING YOUR CHARACTERS BROUGHT TO LIFE IN THIS WAY?
It was wonderful. I’ve been a fan of comics since I was a kid, and to see Valkyrie and Skulduggery in a graphic novel of their own is a dream come true. PJ Holden, the artist, has allowed me to watch these characters move and talk and interact in the panels on the page, whereas in the past it’s all been up in my head. Skulduggery has rarely looked cooler.
DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING INTERESTING FROM THE PROCESS OF CREATING A COMIC?
I’ve been writing for Marvel Comics for a few years now, and so I’ve been able to take everything I’ve learned there and apply it to Bad Magic. The most important thing I learned was that creating a comic requires you to be part of a team. In the past, I’ve been in complete control of every little aspect of Skulduggery Pleasant, so to share that control with PJ and then with Matt Soffe, who did the colours, was a wonderful reminder that I’m not always right, and that other people might have better ideas than I do!
WHY DO YOU THINK CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE SHOULD READ SCARY STORIES?
I think that horror is healthy, because it allows us to be scared, and then to close the book and continue on with our normal day. Being scared is useful. If we can be scared safely and in small doses, again and again, then it’s kind of training us for whatever real-life scary encounters we might someday experience.
I also think horror is fun…! It can be so much fun to be scared because your adrenaline is pumping and you can’t believe what you’ve just seen. A lot of the time, when we watch scary movies, we actually laugh, because we’re genuinely enjoying being spooked.
WHAT DID YOU LIKE TO READ AS A CHILD? DO YOU MAKE TIME TO READ NOW?
I read The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew and The Three Investigators, all teenage sleuths solving crimes kind of stuff. We didn’t have the range of genres that readers have today, though, so I graduated to adult horror pretty early on.
These days, I still read an awful lot of horror, though I do tend to buy more books than I can actually get through. For years, I’ve been promising to carve out an hour each day where I can sit down and just read a book, but I have yet to be able to do it. Maybe next year!
SKULDUGGERY HAS A HUGE FAN BASE AND LOYAL READERS — WHY DO YOU THINK, OR HOPE, THIS IS?
I have no idea. The thing is, you can have the best book in the world but it doesn’t mean a thing if there isn’t an audience there to read it. I think Skulduggery came along at the right time. It was released in 2007 and it just seemed to appeal to the right kind of people who were looking around for something to latch onto, something to adopt as their own. Because of those early readers I was allowed to keep writing, and once the books got on the shelves, every year there has been a new wave of young readers who have adopted the series as their own. I’ve been very, very lucky.
DO YOU FEEL THERE IS MORE TO COME FROM THIS SERIES?
Oh, indeed I do. There’s going to be another graphic novel out in 2025, and the SIXTEENTH Skulduggery book, A Mind Full of Murder, is out in March of 2024.
HAVE YOU EVER WANTED TO CREATE SOMETHING ENTIRELY DIFFERENT?
Obviously, I adore writing Skulduggery. Every time I start on a new book it’s like I’m meeting up with old friends. But as the years go by, my need to do something different really does start to build. I’m working on a few things right now and I don’t know which one will be released first, and I’m not even sure that it’ll be for younger readers, but I’m very eager to do something new. Whatever it is, it’ll probably have a healthy dose of horror at its core!
The Skulduggery Pleasant Series is published by HarperCollins.