Saturday, July 28, 2012

Artemis Fowl Takes His Final Bow

Eleven years ago, Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl first introduced readers to the eponymous, 12-year-old criminal mastermind, and to fairy police captain Holly Short. Kids were quick to embrace these and the novel’s other characters, and Colfer added seven more books to the series, whose in-print tally in the U.S. alone has swelled to 13 million copies. On July 10, Disney-Hyperion released The Last Guardian, the eighth and final installment of the series, in which Artemis calls on Holly to help him defeat his arch rival, the evil pixie Opal Koboi. The publisher launched the novel with a million-copy first printing and an eight-city author tour, on which Colfer encountered many fans who are thrilled to have a new Artemis Fowl book to devour, but sad to see the series wrap up.
The Irish author likewise expresses mixed emotions about bidding farewell to the young hero. “For the past 12 years, at least half of the thoughts chasing themselves around my head have been about Artemis Fowl,” he says. “I have gone to sleep thinking about pixies and woken up considering elves. I have been trying to think about other things, but often catch myself developing stories for Artemis and company almost unconsciously. I think that I have not yet accepted that I am finished with Artemis. It is beginning to hit home now that I am traveling and reaching fans who are sad that the series is over. And I must admit I am feeling a little sad myself, but also happy to move on to the next projects.”

Eoin Colfer. Photo: Michael Paynter. (right)

Indeed, it seems that Artemis and company are quite a persistent bunch. Colfer originally envisioned Artemis Fowl as a trilogy, but realized along the way that that was not to be. “I tried to stop after three, but I kept having ideas that I felt were too strong to ignore,” he recalls. “Twice I began writing other books only to realize after awhile that they really were Artemis stories. I decided that I could only write a book about Artemis if the story was strong enough, so I planned one at a time. After eight, I concluded it was time to move on.”
Also sharing the bittersweet experience of the series finale is Colfer’s editor, Stephanie Lurie, editorial director of Disney-Hyperion. Reflecting on Artemis Fowl’s success, she notes, “In stark contrast to Harry Potter, Artemis is an antihero. To achieve his often nefarious goals, he relies not on a magic wand, but on his genius and on high-tech gadgets that would make James Bond drool. His friends provide the heart that Artemis seemed to lack, and Eoin also adds comic relief. The result is a very modern action adventure, and readers see Artemis grow into an upstanding citizen who puts others first. Though it’s sad that there will be no more stories, Eoin made the only decision he could. His boy is all grown up now.”
Still, Colfer admits that leaving Artemis and his cohorts behind after finishing The Last Guardian hasn’t been easy. “Artemis and his characters still haunt me, but in a friendly way, like Casper,” he says. “It will take months or even years for their ghosts to disappear from my mind.”

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