Just Imagine

Q&A With “Team Illegal”: Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin & Giovanni Rigano

Eoin Colfer:

  • Just Imagine: Your books range from to fiction to graphic novels and cover a wide range of age groups. Do you have a favourite genre &/or age group to write in/for or do you just enjoy the variety?
  • Eoin Colfer: I enjoy writing in a variety of genres. It keeps the process interesting for me. Having said that I always seem to come back to the fantasy realm. This genre was my favourite growing up and I suppose in some way I am writing books for the boy I was in the 1970’s. There’s probably a psychological reason for this but I don’t want to know what it is.


  • JI: You’re probably best known for your Artemis Fowl books, which are currently being turned into a film. You must be relieved that it is actually happening now? How much involvement are you being allowed with the film & screenplay?
  • EC: I don’t really have any involvement with the movie or screenplay. Disney keeps me  informed but it is only a courtesy. I’m sure if they wanted to set the movie on Mars they could, but I don’t think they would as they are keen to stick as closely to the books as possible. I have read the script  by Conor McPherson and it is wonderful.


‘Team Illegal’:

  • JI: How did the collaboration for this book work? – did you sit down together to flesh out the story & how soon was this passed to Giovanni for his illustrations?
  • Andrew Donkin: As a team the three of us (Eoin, Andrew, and Giovanni) have created nearly one thousand pages of graphic novels together in the last decade.  The story starts with meetings and conversations between Eoin and myself, these are followed up with lots and lots of emails and texts.  Eoin lives in Dublin and I live in London.  When more of the story is decided, we’ll ask Giovanni for some sketches of our main characters.  Eoin and I will then write the script and send it through to Giovanni in Italy.  He draws up a rough storyboard version of each page which we and the editor then talk about and comment on.  When that’s approved, Gio will do the final artwork.  In the case of ILLEGAL that wasn’t just the inks, but Giovanni coloured the whole book himself too.  We think he did an amazing job.


  • JI: We love the inclusion of the ‘real life’ story at the end of the book. Did you get to speak to some of the refugees yourselves and can you tell us a little bit about your research together before sitting down to write?
  • AD: We both did more research for this graphic novel than any other book either of us had ever written.  We really wanted to get the story just right and have it be as true as it possibly could be.  Although ILLEGAL is a work of fiction, every single element of Ebo’s story is true and has happened to some one.  The research for this book started with reading as much as possible, and involved going to conferences on the issue to meet and talk to people first hand.  We interviewed migrants and aid workers and consulted with two excellent charities: Migrant Voice and Women and Refugee Women to make the book as accurate as we possibly could.


  • JI: What can we look forward to next from you all (either individually or as a collaboration)?
  • AD: We love making graphic novels together and we’ve been so happy with the reaction so far to ILLEGAL.  We’re already working on another graphic novel together on  another real world issue that we care about very much.

Thank you all for answering our questions.