Skulduggery Pleasant fans in marathon meet-the-author session in Cork

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.

Skulduggery Pleasant book fans Adam Byrnes and Adam Calnan, from Frankfield with author Derek Landy

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.

  The queue to meet author Derek Landy at his book signing at Waterstones, Patrick Street, Cork city
The queue to meet author Derek Landy at his book signing at Waterstones, Patrick Street, Cork city

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.

  Lynn Farrell, from Ballinadee with children Ryan and Max, with Ursula Tarrant and children Caoimhe and Hannah, from Killbrittain
Lynn Farrell, from Ballinadee with children Ryan and Max, with Ursula Tarrant and children Caoimhe and Hannah, from Killbrittain

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.

  12 year old Andrey Wilkinson, from Cambridge was first in the queue to meet author Derek Landy
12 year old Andrey Wilkinson, from Cambridge was first in the queue to meet author Derek Landy

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.

Re-reading Until the End in the queue to meet Derek Landy
Re-reading Until the End in the queue to meet Derek Landy

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 until the end, 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.

  William Chambers and Sean Ó Suilleabháin, from Ballinlough, meet Derek Landy at his book signing at Waterstones, Patrick Street
William Chambers and Sean Ó Suilleabháin, from Ballinlough, meet Derek Landy at his book signing at Waterstones, Patrick Street
  Skulduggery Pleasant book fan Aimee Fenton with author Derek Landy at Waterstones, Patrick Street
Skulduggery Pleasant book fan Aimee Fenton with author Derek Landy at Waterstones, Patrick Street

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.

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