Interview with Derek Landy

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Huw Thomas talks to Derek Landy about the unusual private eye, Skulduggery Pleasant

Derek Landy

Where did the character of ‘Skulduggery’ spring from?

The name ‘Skulduggery Pleasant’ popped into my head while I was standing in a hotel room in London, and I have no idea why. I can’t remember what I was thinking about when it happened — I certainly wasn’t trying to think up a cool name for a book, because I had no intention of writing a book. But it popped into my head nonetheless, and I instantly knew who he was. The word ‘Skulduggery’ means something suspicious and underhanded, so that told me he was a detective, because he investigated all these strange and suspicious goings-on. The ‘Skul’ part of the word told me he was a skeleton, and anyone with the surname of ‘Pleasant’ just HAS to be sophisticated, urbane, and intelligent. His name told me exactly who he was, and Skulduggery Pleasant was born.

‘Skulduggery’ is truly in a world of its own. Did you devise the world of magic then set the story in it, or plot the story then construct the world around it?

The characters came first, and since the first character I came up with was Skulduggery himself, this told me that I was going to be writing about sorcerers and magic and monsters and living skeletons. Once I had the characters, once I had the central relationship between Skulduggery and Stephanie, and once I had the villain, I worked on a story that would pull all of them in. The more I got into it, the more detailed and exact the world became.

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