“I hope you’re not expecting a sequel!”

So exclaims psychopathic Victorian magician Alfred Garrick as he seals Eoin Colfer’s head inside a ‘Chinese Torture Box’ before plunging a series of knives into it like a pin-cushion.

The packed young audience at this Edinburgh International Book Festival event are delighted — witnessing the characters from Colfer’s latest young adult adventure W.A.R.P. – The Reluctant Assassin spring to life before their eyes.

Colfer’s personal appearances always feature some original element inspired by his work, and today’s is probably the most ambitious yet. Garrick, Riley and FBI agent Chevie entertain with a series of stunts and tricks which have the audience on the edge of their seats, interspersed with Colfer’s brief reading from his latest book.

Once the action is over, Colfer returns to more familiar Book Festival territory, answering a series of questions from his devoted fans. As ever, his answers are as entertaining as what’s come before, with his trademark sense of humour ever in evidence.

He explains his inspiration for his latest time-travelling adventures was the sci-fi television shows of his youth, where the likes of Planet of the Apes provided welcome respite from the constant religious and farming programming otherwise available (“why do you think kids back then were so fit?” he quips. “They were constantly running away from the television.”).

After checking if his publisher is in the audience, he also reveals he’s ‘hard at work’ on the second in the W.A.R.P. series, entitled The Hangman’s Revolution, and reminisces about the first ‘story’ he ever wrote — a blackboard drawing of Rolf Harris with some squiggles next to it.

He encourages aspiring young authors to always keep a diary as a source of ideas and in response to a question he says he is always asked, replies that he is seriously considering a sequel to his sci-fi / cyberpunk novel The Supernaturalist.

As Colfer and his characters precede a youthful stampede to the signing tent, his deserved popularity shows no signs of wavering and — if anything — looks set to warp into something even bigger.

Eoin Colfer was in performance with his characters from W.A.R.P. at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Aug 11.

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