Reader Q&A with Derek Landy author of Skulduggery Pleasant


The Skulduggery Pleasant books, written by Irish author Derek Landy, are a favourite with readers and critics alike. 

The thirteenth book in the bestselling series starring Valkyrie Cain and the Skeleton Detective came out this April. Book 13, Seasons of War, is just as thrilling as we hoped and has already proved immensely popular with Toppsta readers.

You can read an extract of the new book here and check out the teaching resources linked to the series on our book page too. Readers new to the series may also enjoy Skulduggery Bites - an audio serial of Book One, with a new episode available to download every day here

One of our young fans, Ethan aged 12, had the chance to ask the author some questions about his writing and the series. Ethan said about Seasons of War:

"Absolutely amazing! I found book 13 to be as brilliant as all the other books in the series, a fast paced book that has you hooked from page one.”

Read on for Ethan's brilliant interview with Derek Landy.

Reader Q&A with Derek Landy author of Skulduggery Pleasant
Book pages Placeholder Book

Seasons of War

The thirteenth thrilling novel in the internationally bestselling Skulduggery Pleasant series, SEASONS OF WAR will test the Skeleton Detective and Valkyrie like never before...

War is coming.

To avert catastrophe, Skulduggery and Valkyrie are sent on a secret mission that takes them away from everything they know, to a forsaken land of magic and grim, unrelenting terror. It is here that Valkyrie will have to fight the hardest - not only against the enemies who want her dead, but also against her own self-destructive impulses. It's only by crawling through darkness that she'll be able to once again stand in the light...


What was your inspiration for the Skulduggery Pleasant series?

Hi Ethan! The things that inspire me most are the things I grew up with — the books, the comics, the movies, and the TV shows that I loved as a kid. I loved scary stuff, so Skulduggery is a skeleton, and I loved fantasy, so everyone uses magic, and I loved comics, so I get to have the characters fly across cities and punch each other through buildings... Honestly, the Skulduggery books include everything that I've always wanted to write about, all in one place.

Who is your favourite character from the Skulduggery Pleasant series?

I think my favourite is probably Valkyrie Cain, because while the books are called after Skulduggery, Valkyrie's the main character. I like her because she's tough, she's smart, and she's funny — but she's not perfect. She makes huge mistakes in the series, and bad things happen as a consequence to some of her decisions. But no matter what happens, she never gives up, and I love that about her. 

How do you create a personality for your characters? 

I don't actually know...! Some writers have huge notebooks full of information about each character before they even start writing the book. I'm not like that. I'll come with a name and a reason to have the character in the book, and then I'll just start writing. The personality will reveal itself as I go. Again, I try not to have anyone be perfect, because where's the fun in that? The more mistakes someone makes, the more like us they seem, and so the more believable they become.

What inspired you to create the 'dead men' from Skulduggery Pleasant? 

The Dead Men, for those of you who don't know, are the team of sorcerers that Skulduggery used to be a part of during the magical war, hundreds of years ago. They start to appear in the series in, I think, the fifth book, so by that stage I had given enough hints about Skulduggery's past, and now I had to show some of his old friends. I had this idea for an elite team of sorcerers who only undertook the most dangerous missions, and because of this everyone called them the Dead Men, because nobody ever expected them to return alive!

How do you decide when to kill off characters from the series? 

This is never an easy decision to make! Killing a character that the readers love, and that I love, is always hard, but sometimes the story will tell you what it needs, instead of the writer telling the story. Most of the time, that's how it works.

But there was one time when my mother told me who her favourite character was, and she said that he was her favourite because she knew whenever he was in a chapter, nothing bad would happen. Well, I couldn't have that, now could I? I needed everyone, my own mother included, to realise that anyone could die at any moment!

So I killed him in the very next book, and I haven't stopped laughing since. 

What genre do you enjoy reading?

I read all kinds of genres, but horror has always been my favourite, and I reckon it always will be. 

What age did you begin writing? 

I was always writing, for as long as I can remember. I loved writing short stories in school and I could never understand when my friends groaned when we were given that as homework. In fact, that was my first indication that just maybe I should be a writer when I grow up, because obviously I enjoy it more than most people...

How do you choose the name of your characters? 

Sometimes it's so easy. Sometimes the names just pop into my head, or I'll hear a cool word that could become a name and I'll write it down. Other times, not so easy. I keep a notebook full of odd words and names and whenever I need a new character I'll go through this notebook, combing all kinds of words until I get what i need. 

Where do you write your books?

In my office, in my house, surrounded by books and comics and statues of Spider-Man and Batman, while my various cats knock things off shelves and demand immediate attention. It is not easy writing a book when you have cute cats. 

How long have you lived in Ireland? 

My entire life! I was born here and love living here, and Irish mythology is so full of weirdness already that I've always felt very comfortable...!

Reader Q&A with Derek Landy author of Skulduggery Pleasant
Many thanks to Ethan, aged 12 for the brilliant questions!

First published


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