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Skulduggery with Derek Landy

by Zac Harding

Derek LandyDerek Landy is the creator of the wise-cracking, skull-bashing, impeccably dressed skeleton detective, Skulduggery Pleasant. We’ve seen Skulduggery and his butt-kicking companion, Valkyrie, fighting all sorts of evil so far and there’s still lots more to come — there are plans to write a total of nine books in the series.

With a cast of characters that can make you laugh out loud or make your skin crawl (sometimes in the same sentence), car chases, explosions and incredible fight scenes; the Skulduggery books make for exciting reading.

The Pulse talked to Derek about his characters, writing and his influences.

CoverHow do you come up with your character’s names?
When I came up with Skulduggery I came up with about five other names, and these just came to me when I was sitting in my hotel room. For all the other characters, every time I hear an interesting name or word that could become a name, I write it down. I have a notebook at home full of obscure names and words that I dip into whenever I need a new name.
If you were to put yourself in one of your books what would your name be?
I will never tell, because I do intend to appear in the books in a cameo appearance. Readers will probably be able to tell because I’ll describe myself as unbelievably handsome, suave and debonair and they’ll go, ’Awww, that’s him.’
Was Skulduggery’s sidekick always going to be a girl?
Yes.  When I came up with Skulduggery I wanted to see what he sounded like so I wrote some sample dialogue and he was talking to a girl. It was always a girl and the story would have been very different if it had been a boy. Valkyrie, being a girl, feels like she doesn’t have to prove herself to Skulduggery. I based her completely on a friend of mine. 
Would you consider making a movie of the books and who would you like to see play the role of Skulduggery?
Warner Brothers own the film rights and we’ve been working on a script.  Whether or not it will be made, I haven’t a clue. I wouldn’t like to say who would play Skulduggery because I’ll get myself in trouble if I say one person and it ends up being a completely different person (laughs). I’d rather leave the character of Skulduggery on the page so that readers can picture their own version.
CoverWhat inspired you to become a writer?
I’m incapable of doing anything else.  I’m not a people person and I don’t like being told what to do. Writing was always something I loved, no matter was happening in my life and no matter what age I was. Making a living as a writer is really tough, but I’m one of the lucky ones for whom it worked out. 
If you could give one piece of advice to budding writers what would it be?
You have to have fun. When I wrote the first Skulduggery book I didn’t have a clue whether or not it would be published or if anybody would like it, so I concentrated on having fun.  I packed it full of things that I adore; fight scenes, jokes, horror, adventure, magic. Fun is contagious and if you have fun writing it, the reader will have fun reading it. 
How has your childhood influenced your writing?
I had a very happy childhood. I loved my own company and liked to live in my own world.  Both my parents were voracious readers and were always there for me.  I knew I was safe and so I could allow myself to go to horrible places in my head through books and movies. 
What specific movies, books and music inspire you?
I love Buffy and anything else that Joss Whedon does. Mostly I read crime novels, particularly Elmore Leonard and Joe R. Lansdale. When I write certain scenes I like to have soundtracks playing. When I’m writing an action scene I like the Bourne movie soundtrack. When it comes to movie inspirations there are just too many to name. Anything I see or listen to can inspire me and make me want to start writing.
How important are libraries to writers?
When I was a kid, the library was a huge deal. They’re are a great way to spread the love of reading. My first taste of Dracula was an audiobook that I got out of the library that I listened to in my kitchen when I was a wee red-headed boy. Librarians are so powerful! They genuinely care about books and want the young people in their community to experience books. 

To find out more about Skulduggery Pleasant, Derek Landy and his fantastic books visit his website at www.skulduggerypleasant.com

Published August 2010


Rhys Weaver, 10, writes:

I really hope that you do make a movie and I would probably be one of the first to see it, for that is how much I love the books. Even though I have only just finished 'Playing with Fire' and I am waiting on 'Dark Days' I love what I've read, and from what I've heard they only get better. I love them because they are all cunning and I love the way battles are described. The names 'Skulduggery Pleasant' and 'Valkyrie Cain' are a great choice of names for that sort of character in my opinion. I reckon I would definitely recommend this series to people who like magic, battles and cunningness.

September 2010