The shape I’m in: Eoin Colfer, children’s laureate

EOIN Colfer is on sabbatical in Dublin with his family. They moved from Wexford town to Monkstown a few months ago and, from cafes to theatres, are loving life in the big city.

“We are hoping to be here until our youngest son is finished primary school — which is one more year. And then we’ll go home,” says the author of the best-selling Artemis Fowl series and Laureate na nÓg, Ireland’s laureate for children’s literature.

In the meantime, Colfer is making the most of his temporary location, which includes frequent visits with wife Jackie to local eateries.

“We go out for lunch nearly every day,” he says. 

“It’s a lovely thing to be able to do because I know most people don’t have the time. Jackie usually has fish, so I can’t really have a load of chips. I have to try and at least maintain the illusion of healthy eating.”

The couple have two sons. “Seán is 12 and is in school in Dalkey. Finn is 17 — at the moment on his first solo holiday with a few mates in Spain, so we are living on nerves.”

* Eoin Colfer is ambassador for South East European Capital of Culture 2020 bid. See: www.threesisters2020.ie

What shape are you in?

I’m in below average shape. I try to do a little bit of running everyday but it’s often been described as a prolonged stumble. 

It’s not really a fast run. I have the unusual condition of being skinny and flabby.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

After I go for a run I have usually make a juice: Apple, banana, protein powder, skim milk and, just to top it all off, I throw in an espresso as well. I usually fall apart about six o’clock and give in to all the temptations of life.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

Crisps. It’s such a stereotype but I do like Tayto crisps.

What would keep you awake at night?

I don’t sleep very well, so everything keeps me awake. If I get two hours of uninterrupted sleep I’m really delighted. 

I fall asleep for two hours and I wake up for a half an hour... and that would happen all night. If I get a night’s sleep it’s so rare that I tell everyone about it.

How do you relax?

I like to read a lot and I like to go to the theatre. Jackie and I go to the theatre and movies as much as we can.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

There are loads of people right here in Monkstown. I keep bumping into people like John Kelly and Ryan Tubridy so I would have to ask them. Otherwise, they would hear about this dinner party and be really annoyed. Also, I’d love to have Kate Bush over if she is free — I’m a huge fan. I’d have Freddy Mercury, but I suppose he’d be a harder one to get.

What’s your favourite smell?

There is nothing like the smell of a really rich cup of coffee.

What would you change about your appearance?

I think I’d have slightly less white hair — it’s been going that way since I was 18. Now I don’t have any dark hair left at all. I look about 90. But at least I have some hair.

When did you last cry?

I cry all the time. I have little mini-bouts. I was on the radio recently with Anton Savage. I started talking about my dad. I wasn’t expecting to talk about him and it caught me by surprise. 

I started to get a little bit emotional, so I had to stop for a few seconds, which is not great on radio, take a deep breath and pull myself together. 

My dad died just over two years ago. The family were very close. Dad was a big part of it.

What trait do you least like in others?

I don’t like people bragging. I really hate that kind of hubris. And I don’t like people telling me something before they’ve done it. I am paranoid — I never say anything until the book is published.

What trait do you least like in yourself?

I think I’m impatient and my kids can bear the brunt of that — if somebody is keeping me late I go nuts. 

And also I’m very intolerant of repetitive noises — somebody clicking their fingers or making raspberry sounds or tapping the table. It drives me insane. I wish I could relax just a little bit.

Do you pray?

I don’t really. I am a bit of a crisis prayer, which is useless, I think. I try to broadcast good vibes, which is very vague. I try to be positive.

What would cheer up your day?

At the beginning of the day I drop my son Seán to school. We have time for two songs which picks out on my phone. 

Usually he picks out new songs from Spotify — he has great taste in music. Sometimes he will pick out an oldie that I like and I feel a real connection to him then.

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