A best-selling author, whose Artemis Fowl stories have been turned into a Disney film, ended a promotional tour of the US and UK with a visit to Cramlington Learning Village to promote his latest work.
The film, starring Dame Judi Dench and Adrian Scarborough and directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh, is released next May. The worldwide sales of the Artemis Fowl books have reached more than 20 million.
Eoin Colfer’s new novel The Fowl Twins features the younger brothers of criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl. The author told Cramlington students that the twins were based on his sons, while Artemis was inspired by one of his brothers who had a knack of getting people out of trouble.
Eoin taught for 15 years and stopped in 2001 after the publication of the first Artemis book. “I don’t miss correcting notebooks or staff meetings, but I do miss the actual teaching. Luckily, because I visit so many schools now, I don’t feel I’ve left it completely,” he said.
“I always see it as a 45 minute challenge to get some more kids reading – and if I can get even one, that’s a win for me.”
Eoin told Year 7 students from Cramlington Learning Village and children from Cragside, Eastlea and Shanklea Primary Schools about growing up in 1970s Ireland and how his love of storytelling grew from car journeys when his father used stories to stop fights between Eoin and his four brothers.
He sold the film rights for his Artemis Fowl books two decades ago but thinks the wait will be worth it because the advance in special effects will do justice to the science fantasy storyline.
“Disney wanted me to be on board with everything, so I was on the set a few times. I had a few meetings with Kenneth Branagh, but I didn’t want to be too involved because it’s not my area of expertise and I don’t like hanging around if I’m not needed,” he said.
Eoin’s visit to Cramlington Learning Village, which celebrates its 50th birthday this year, was the result of a long-running and successful partnership between the school, Seven Stories – the Newcastle-based National Centre for Children’s Books – and sponsor First Class Supply.
Mariana Mouzinho of Seven Stories said: “Cramlington has a fantastic reading culture, there are great audiences at these author events and it’s a privilege to bring some amazing authors like Eoin Colfer here.”
Seven Stories organises around 50 similar events each year in the North East. “We end up returning to Cramlington because we get to reach lots of different children. It’s a very big school and the connections with the primary schools are absolutely fantastic as well,” she said.
Eileen Armstrong, the librarian at Cramlington Learning Village, said: “It really makes a difference when the students are able to meet a writer who has been responsible for creating such a famous character as Artemis Fowl. The staff were every bit as excited as the students to meet Eoin and that enthusiasm around reading is infectious.
“We are very lucky to be able to bring inspirational authors like Eoin and, last year, David Almond and Ben Miller, to the school, and to welcome along our primary schools, so that we can make Cramlington a real reading town. I’m confident that Eoin Colfer’s visit will create a new generation of Fowl fans and inspire our young people to be even more enthusiastic about reading and writing stories of their own.”