Book signings and autograph sessions are a bit weird. Especially when it’s an author doing them.
You love the writer — in this case, Derek Landy — for their unique skill in taking the 26 letters of the alphabet and a dollop of punctuation marks and weaving them into beloved characters, characters you love to despise, alternate worlds, and so much drama and tension And then you pretty much say ‘write your own name for me, now write my name, his name for him, their names for her, her name for her …’ on repeat for hours, day after day.
20-plus dark fantasy books, screenplays, and short stories are impressive alright but bubbling over with enthusiasm and making eye contact with fans and answering their starstruck queries with patience as if it was the first time this question has been asked — now that’s something else .
It’s appreciating that the world of Skulduggery Pleasant, Valkyrie Cain, Tanith Low, Vaurien Scapegrace, Mevolent, Obsidian and co has brought joyful escapism and a new or continued passion for reading to hundreds of thousands of children, teens, young and not so young adult fans.
Landy, 47, was in Cork’s Waterstones bookshop on Saturday afternoon — after visiting Limerick, Galway and Belfast as well as bookshops across Britain recently. The Cork signing started at 1pm but some fans had started queuing hours before that. The queue coiled through the poetry, travel, young adult and crime sections.
I’m aware there’s a certain irony in taking an hour and a half to inch through a travel section of a bookshop. Though we did pick out a few unusual fantasy holiday destinations so that was nice.
We then came to the Dear Derek noticeboard. This is a spot where fans can fill in little cards with the appeal “Please Derek, don’t kill…”
Some names (Tanith) crop up frequently on this board along with anguished campaigns to bring back other characters. And there are also modified cards with scribbled requests to take retribution on some figures (Creed and Obsidian) who have caused nothing but top-notch havoc.
Landy happily declared to some fans that he does love killing people (on a page). This glee at owning a world, and meeting people who love that world, is what comes across throughout the marathon signing session.
I wasn’t sure my own 10-year-old super Skulduggery Pleasant enthusiast would manage the wait. He describes a 20-minute journey as a trek and has complained of wasting away if tea is a few minutes late. But he was adamant he was doing this.
4.5 hours in and we were at the top of the queue: tired and veering towards a little crabby — but when a book is called, then that’s surely a sign. Then, our turn. Derek Landy asked if my son had any questions, gave detailed responses and busily signed his latest book, a Skulduggery postcard, and a very cool piece of Skulduggery artwork.
“That was brilliant, totally worth it,” my son declared.
Well, in that case, I agree.
I just hope Landy hasn’t tired out his ‘writing hand’ and is keen to get back to rearranging those 26 letters into another something magical for all those fans.
Heading home from @WaterstonesCrk after a record-breaking (for me) EIGHT HOUR signing. I am beyond exhausted and my voice is almost gone but I’m walking on air after meeting so many amazing people (and some amazing doggies!)
— Derek Landy (@DerekLandy) May 7, 2022
Skulduggery Pleasant fans chat with author Derek Landy
Thrilled to meet Derek Landy: Leon Cummins, 10
A smiling 5-year-old Elizabeth Calnan, from Frankfield chats with Derek Landy.