Laureate Eoin Colfer keen to bring kids back to books
NEW Laureate na nOg Eoin Colfer plans to "bring stories to every nook and cranny of the country" to foster a love of reading among 'book-free' children.
The former schoolteacher from Wexford town is the most high-profile author to take the Children's Laureate role to date. He has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide of his 'Artemis Fowl' series – described by Colfer as "Die Hard with fairies" – and plans for a Disney movie are in full-swing.
He admitted he was "incredibly honoured and incredibly petrified" to be taking on the laureate mantle, following in the footsteps of Niamh Sharkey, illustrator of the hugely popular 'Henry Hugglemonster' series, which also became a Disney hit, and award-winning author Siobhan Parkinson, the first Laureate na nOg.
Having spent so much time touring to promote the 'Artemis Fowl' series, Colfer says he now plans to devote his free time to his work for the Laureate – which is the highest honour to be granted to a children's author or illustrator north or south of the Border.
Colfer, who lives in Wexford town with his wife Jackie and two sons, told the Irish Independent that he is looking forward to reconnecting with younger children, saying he has somewhat lost touch with them since giving up primary school teaching.
"My youngest son is 11 now, so you lose touch with the younger age group," he said.
He is very interested to meet children who are not readers of his own books – and even more interested in meeting children who are not readers at all. "There are many children for whom reading is not part of their lives at all, and I would love to be able to bring the magic of storytelling to them," he said.
"I think we can do this one story at a time – so that they can realise the fun you can get from a book.
"There are many children for whom a story is not part of bedtime – they have 10 minutes on their iPad instead," he said.
He already has a few ideas up his sleeve – with plans to "pull a few of my contacts", to set up webcast classroom chats. "You could have the cream of Irish kids' writers talking to Irish kids in every corner of the country – from Donegal to Kerry," he said. "It can all be done now so simply, and that really excites me."
Meanwhile, Colfer revealed that Disney producers were in Ireland last month to meet Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan and to scout out possible locations for the 'Artemis Fowl' movie.
Plans had fallen through several times, and Colfer said he "tried not to think about it for a long time" but the movie is now looking increasingly certain. He is very keen for it to be set in Ireland, saying "it would be very hard to reproduce it anywhere else".
"The producers were totally charmed by everybody, and the Film Board showed them around several period homes as possible contenders for Fowl Manor," he said.