You'd think that Eoin Colfer, whose Artemis Fowl fantasy novels have sold nearly 20 million copies, wouldn't have a care in the world. But now that's he's written And Another Thing, the sixth book in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy franchise, a series which has sold nearly 15 million copies, the Irish author is finding it difficult to follow Douglas Adams' famous instructions to, well, you know—"don't panic."
"I'm still conflicted," said Colfer about stepping into Adams' shoes when I interviewed him at the San Diego Comic-Con. "It's not something where you make up your mind and then say, 'Well, that's the right decision,' and then put all your doubts behind you. Every day I think about it, I worry. But the reason I decided to do it was, I actually sat down and did pros and cons, and the pros were, I thought if I don't do it, someone else will do it, and they might not love it as much as me.
"Also, Jane and Polly [Adams' wife and daughter] wanted me to do it, which was very important. They were the ones who convinced me. And I honestly think that I can kind of bring something to it and not try to be Douglas ... but maybe people will read this, and then they'll go back and read the other five, which is the whole point."
And Another Thing won't be published until Oct. 12, 2009, but Colfer showed off his first Hitchhiker's-related writing recently when he tweeted a bit of Vogon poetry as part of Hyperion Books' Tweet the Galaxy program. Through midnight, Oct. 11, anyone who wishes can send a tweet which will transmitted into deep space the day the novel comes out. And last Saturday night, in front of a crowded party at Comic-Con, Colfer typed the initial tweet, which you can see above.
"I felt a lot of pressure with that," said Colfer. "You've got a room full of people, all kind of funny sci-fi guys, and you're trying to do a tweet that's worthy, I suppose, of being the first. So I decided I'd do some Vogon poetry. It's kind of a gobbledygook amalgamation of English and Vogon English. It's one of those things that sounds funny, and you're not really sure why. Some words are funny, like sausage, and you're not really sure why it is, but this is a nonsense tweet that you can look up and see what you think."
To keep yourself in a Hitchhiker's state of mind until the book's publication Oct. 12, check out 6of3.com, which features a Vogon training game, an iPhone app and further information on the upcoming continuation. Meanwhile, Colfer will be spending that time in a kind of limbo, nervously waiting for And Another Thing to hit bookstores and for the verdict on his addition to the series from its beloved fans.
"I'm trying to get on with my next book and get a large portion of it done before I go on the road for this book," said Colfer. "I'm quite worried about what will happen in October. It's going to be a very, very busy time, because I'm going to be touring for about two months. I think it'll be a lot easier if the bulk of the reviews are positive. I think that would make it a lot easier for me. Because if it's negative, I'm just going to be going from city to city getting hammered, and I don't really want to do that. We've had a few in already, and they've been extremely kind, so I'm hoping that trend continues.
"Funny—I was talking about this with Neil Gaiman about an hour ago, and he said, you know, the worst that can happen is that a few people who didn't know your name won't like your book. So he said, time will pass, and he said, your other work is great, so try not to worry about it."
In other words—don't panic!