On Fairies with Guns

by thethreepennyguignol

When I was a kid, my mum (hi Mum! Pet the dog for me) helped me pull a sickie to get off school to I could go see Eoin Colfer talk at a local theatre. I still remember sitting there, hiding out deep in the stands, listening to him spin these long, involved yarns – scary, funny, utterly unique, delivered in a soft Irish brogue that could snap into various characters at will – about growing up in Ireland, about his stories, about what drove him to write. He was meant to be signing books afterwards – once the queue of people who actually had copies of his latest release had dissipated, my mum approached with a page torn out of the back of her crossword puzzle book. Even though he was only meant to be signing his books, he happily scrawled down a signature on the paper, chatting with my mother about something that I was too awestruck to take in. Because this was the man who’d written the coolest books I’d ever read in my life.

Eoin Colfer has always been one of my literary heroes, before that encounter with him seventeen years ago, and long after it, too. The author of the Artemis Fowl series, his books have probably brought me the most cumulative joy of anyone’s over the course of my life – Sue Townsend aside, of course. And so, it only seems right that I include him and his work here, in my week of pure positivity.

If you haven’t read the Artemis Fowl series, I can only implore you to do so, because I’ve not introduced it to anyone who didn’t love it. My brother passed the books down to me, and from there, I’ve pretty much shoved them at everyone I’ve ever met. Everybody from my gran to my boyfriend has read those book, and they’ve all fucking loved them. And with good reason.

Following the titular Artemis Fowl, a child genius and the best antihero ever written, as he deals with various entanglings with a fairy underground society. They straddle the line between fantasy and science-fiction with ease, throwing in action setpieces that could make Mission: Impossible look like shit (speaking of movies, the Artemis Fowl adaptation trailer is my permanent internal screensaver). It was sold to me as a book about fairies with guns – what better way to sell a story to a tomboyish little girl who still secretly liked all that fantasy stuff, too?

But more than that, it’s just packed with characters who became the archetypes for what I would look for in the media I went on to consume. The giant, slightly terrifying, but ultimately fatherly Butler (for anyone who followed my Harry Potter recaps, this should come as no surprise), the cool, callous, unsettling Artemis, the headstrong, badass Holly, the brilliant, ruthless Opal Koboi – the whole series, spanning a half-dozen books, is filled to the brim with people I want to meet, and people I hope I never do.

As a writer (quick plug for my book), there’s nothing quite like falling in love with a story. And I’ve never been quite as in love with a world, with a story, with characters as I have been with Artemis Fowl. Eoin Colfer – his books, and him – has endured as one of my favourite people in the world of literature. If you haven’t read his books, go do that. For me. And for yourself, because it’s going to be the best afternoon you’ve wasted reading in years.

Speaking of giving, here are the charities I’m linking today – Beanstalk, a charity that trains volunteers to provide one-to-one reading support for kids, and The Book Bus, a charity trying to make literature and literacy more accessible.

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