Irish writer Eoin Colfer made himself world famous with his Artemis Fowl novels, a hugely popular series the author describes as “Die Hard with fairies.” His other output includes several other fantasy series and a gig writing And Another Thing, the sixth book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy.
Read more reviews of Eoin Colfer titles at Kirkus.
Now, for something completely different, Colfer steps away from his youth-oriented work to deliver the crime caper Plugged, due out in August. With caustic Irish humor, bloody violence and a profane imagination, Colfer’s newest puts him in the ranks with the likes of Elmore Leonard, Carl Hiaasen and Ken Bruen, who helped inspire Colfer’s foray into crime fiction.
What can we expect from your adult novel Plugged?
Plugged is the story of three days in the life of Irish American casino doorman, Daniel McEvoy, as he attempts to track down the doc who implanted half of his head with hair transplants before getting himself abducted. His focus is pulled from this mission by a pair of murderous cops, a Blarnified mob boss and an angry Rottweiler that has had his testes tested.
Tell us more about Daniel. What sort of a fella are we dealing with here, and where do we find him at the beginning of Plugged?
Daniel McEvoy is the kind of man who would love to be left alone. Like most Irish men he doesn't feel he deserves anything approaching happiness, but he would be content with not being murdered and maybe having a fling with a pretty girl once a year. At the beginning of Plugged we find him in New Jersey working at a casino door having succumbed to his surgeon friend's advice to avail of cut-rate hair plugs. If you have hair, then maybe you ain't so old.
I’m told you have a mildly successful sideline with your series about a younger criminal mind. What made you want to write something as two-fisted as Plugged?
I think taking on noir was a reaction to 10 years of pent-up unsuitability bursting forth on to the grown-ups' shelf. Also, I am such a fan of the genre that in a way it was inevitable I would give it my best shot at some stage. This is an area which I would love to keep working in, so hopefully the readers will read.
How has writing a very adult novel differed from your experience writing for children and teens?
The actual process differed very little. I did feel a little more relaxed as you can probably tell, perhaps too relaxed. But it was nice not to have to self-censor.
Are there any experiences in your own life that informed the writing of Plugged?
I think that Plugged is the child of my tastes in media consumption. I love noir and pulp in all their forms, from movie to TV to novel. With all that going in for 40 years, something had to come out eventually. I think Daniel is the kind of guy I would like to be in a world where a little guy like me could be big and tough.
Plugged nails that staccato noir style that keep crime novelists and airport bookstores in business. Stylistically, where do you draw inspiration for the writing of this novel?
I have been immersing myself in this style for decades and for at least one of those would not read anything but crime. If nobody died horribly, I did not want to know. Of course I loved the classics, but we have our own classics standing the test of time right now: Michael Connelly and John Connolly, Ken Bruen, Mark Billingham, Ridley Pearson, Carl Hiaasen, Declan Burke, Colin Bateman…I want to get on a shelf with these guys and take a photo.
There’s no shortage of material for crime fiction set in Ireland. What interested you in turning loose Daniel McEvoy in New Jersey?
I really wanted to do something different from the great stuff already in the Irish crime bracket—partly to take me out of competition with these guys but also to explore one of my favorite themes which is alienation; I know a man can be alienated in his own home, but it makes even more powerful when he is surrounded by nothing familiar.
What sort of research went into the writing of Plugged?
I drove through beautiful, leafy New Jersey a few times on school, and I said to my media escort. ‘This place is beautiful. There can't be much crime here,” to which he responded. “You have no idea. All you have to do is scratch the surface.” That set me thinking.
Like Ridley Pearson and Carl Hiaasen, you have the interesting conundrum of corresponding with younger readers, as well as with adults. What’s unique about those interactions, and what do you enjoy about both sets of readers?
Both sets of readers grant different freedoms. With the younger readers you can really let loose with fantastic plots and explore mythological themes and enjoy a certain amount of scatological silliness. With the adults you can totally be yourself if you wish, the plots can be darker and moodier. There is no need to agonize over the political correctness of a scene or dialogue. I hope to continue doing both.
Has writing Plugged enhanced your appreciation of pulp fiction and crime novels in general?
I realize now how tight a noir/pulp book has to be. Wasted words are not appreciated, so a writer must pare his style back to the bone and let the action develop the character and describe the surroundings.
Any chance we’ll see more from Mr. McEvoy, should he survive his first outing?
I would love to write more McEvoy books. I hope the crime readers will take to him. I have a great fondness for the character and his strange thought processes, and I think he has several more stories left in him.