What happens in Demon Road (HarperCollins Children’s) and what was your inspiration?
Demon Road is about a sixteen year old girl called Amber who wakes up one day and finds out that her parents are demons who want to kill her. This, naturally, comes as a bit of a shock, and so she goes on the run. She’s helped by Milo, a mysterious man with a possibly-haunted car, and together they drive across America, encountering many different kinds of monsters, and all the while pursued by Amber’s parents.
I was inspired by my love of scary movies and books, and when I hit upon the idea of making this into a road trip, it occurred to me that I could have the entire book be about this genre that I adore.
Why do you think so many people are inspired by the idea of an American road trip?
It’s just so romantic. It’s epic and mythical. I’m from Ireland, and if you try to drive off into the wilderness here, every few miles you’ll come across a cheerful little town or village. But in America, you can drive and drive and never see another person. You can get properly lost in America, if that’s what you want to do.
Road trips are about the journey people take, but it’s not the physical journey. It’s not point A to point B. It’s all about the person, it’s all about discovering something about yourself through all these people you meet.
Why did you decide to spread the story over a trilogy?
I have a few ideas for standalone books in my head, but the really good ones, the stories that scream out to be told, always seem to need a larger canvas. I wasn’t going to embark on another nine book series like I did with Skulduggery, so a trilogy was the natural fit. And from a business perspective, publishers LOVE trilogies. Oh, the dance of joy they do…
Can you give us any clues about what will happen in books two and three?
More horror and more scares and more monsters and more demons. Also a bit more driving.
I’m writing the second book now, and the trick is to provide the same kind of sustenance without actually repeating yourself. So it’s looking like the second book will not be as much of a roadtrip as the first one, but it will still contain a wide variety of characters with a wide variety of stories to tell.
The third book, then, is looking like it’ll be a mix of the two — but I’m not going to give too much away.
Was it nerve-racking moving away from Skulduggery Pleasant?
Very much so. I had great success with Skulduggery and I’m immensely, hugely comfortable writing in that world. I got to the ninth book and I was still having just as much fun as I was writing the first.
So to say goodbye to all that, to say goodbye to that kind of assurance and certainty, and to embark on something brand new… it’s scary. Will it be as good? Will people like it as much? Will I enjoy writing it as much? All these questions were bubbling away inside my head — and still are, to be honest.
But the trick is to make sure I’m not repeating myself. I didn’t want Demon Road to be “Skulduggery Pleasant on a roadtrip”. I wanted it to have its own identity, and I think, in that at least, I succeeded.