Plot Outline:

Book 9 of The Saga Of Darren Shan.

The hunters have become the hunted. Pursued by human forces, they are now wanted fugitives. Before they can hunt for the Lord of the Vampaneze again, they must first outwit and outpace the mob on the streets of the city. If they survive, they face their longest night and most testing challenge to date. Will any of them live to see the dawn?

Killers Of The Dawn is the third and final part of "the Hunters trilogy". The Saga Of Darren Shan continues in Book 10:The Lake Of Souls.

Author Notes:

I know the 9th book of The Saga Of Darren Shan is still a painful topic for some of you, so if any of you guys want to skip this entry, I'll fully understand. We will, of course, have to talk about THAT death, but first, let's touch on some lighter recollections.

It was released in February 2003, which meant I'd averaged almost 3 books each year since my first novel was released in February 1999 -- busy bunny! In fact, I would maintain that incredible level of output for the next 13 years, releasing 49 books (if you include Koyasan and Hagurosan) by the end of 2016.

KIllers got to #1 in Ireland and spent 5 weeks there, which was amazing. Even more amazing was the performance of book 7, Hunters of the Dawn, which went on sale in Japan around this time, and went to #1 on the overall bestseller chart (including adult books). While I was pretty popular among children's readers in the West by this stage, I was a bona fide literary phenomenon out in Japan (as well as Taiwan and some other countries in the Far East). It was a strange double life, but one that I enjoyed immensely -- I got to experience all the fun bits of huge sales and overnight fame, but without it impacting on my day to day life at home in the slightest. Sweet!! In the UK, I could sense the tide turning and more and more people were becoming aware of my work -- although it didn't trouble the top levels of the children's bestsellers chart in the UK, Killers spent five weeks in the top 20, which was a big step forward, and a sign that the masses in the west were slowly starting to wake up to what the hordes of Shansters in the east already knew -- that these books were GOOD!!

Some readers on my message board compared the structure of the Saga to Star Wars. This actually isn’t as crazy as it might sound. I was thinking about those movies when writing the books, and though I wouldn't say they were a huge influence, I definitely did pay homage to them with the "May the luck of the vampires be with you" line!!!

I actually had to write most of book 9 twice! I was doing the first draft not long before book 1 was released. (Yes, I was that far ahead of schedule! Though I would spend the next few years editing it.) I had most of it written, maybe 100 pages or so (the books normally came out at around the 130 page mark on my PC) -- when my computer crashed. Once I had it fixed, and checked my back-up copy, I realized I hadn't been as cautious as I should have been -- and only had something like the first 20 pages saved to disc!

Rather than get depressed about it, I just accepted that it was my fault and resigned myself to having to do an almost total rewrite. I was about to go on holiday (to Sinai -- my first trip abroad since I was a teenager), so I left the book until I returned, then sat down and wrote it all again. I have to say it was for the best -- since I'd already written most of it, I knew where the problem areas were, so I was able to do a very strong new first draft, probably the closest to the final version of any of my books. These days I backup at the end of every few writing sessions -- something I recommend ALL writers should do, since you never know when that fatal crash is going to happen!

I loved the idea of setting the action of this book within the space of 24 hours -- it allowed me to crank up the pace and have everything happen really quickly. (I used a similarly fast style in Lord Loss, the first draft of which I wrote not long after writing book 9, and then again in my Zom-B books many years later.)

And now for the heartbreaking stuff...

I knew far in advance that Mr Crepsley was going to bite the bullet in this one, so that actually wasn't a hard scene for me to write, though my stomach did clench a bit when I was doing his final speech (as it did every time I read through it when editing). Whereas it came as a shock to the vast majority of readers, I'd made my peace with his passing back around the time of the second or third book. Writers often experience their stories very differently to how their readers experience them.

The one bit of the book which troubled me was the scene just after his death -- the fake rescue. This was in the first draft, but every time I came to edit the book, I was intent on removing it. I felt it was too cruel, that I'd be hitting readers twice with his death -- giving them hope that he was going to survive, then killing him off again. But every time I came to that scene and re-read it, I saw that I had to leave it in -- it drives home the fact that he really is dead, that there isn't going to be some miraculous resurrection in a later book. It was painful for readers, and I still get angry letters and emails about it all these years later, but it really was for the best. Sorry, folks!

As for why he had to die at all... Well, it all goes back to the prologue of the very first book. In Cirque Du Freak I said "Bad things happen. Evil sometimes wins and good guys sometimes die." I'd made it clear right from the start that those were the stakes in this world of the night. I felt that I had to then play the game accordingly, and not "save" my favourite characters, as many writers do when writing this sort of a series. I'd loved the David Eddings books when I was a teenager, but he never killed off any of his main cast, and I felt that he was cheating his readers by not doing that. Yes, it's painful when a beloved character dies, but death is part of life, and if you're going to create a world of incredible danger, you shouldn't protect your characters too much. I don't kill off my main guys and gals lightly, for no good reason, but when the storyline calls for the axe to fall, I don't pull them back out of its way either. This book made that clear. It probably lost me a fair few fans -- readers who felt there was enough pain in the real world, without having to endure it in the world of fiction too -- but I think those who stuck with me appreciated the honesty of it.

Global Cover Variations

  • Book Cover Image Killers of the Dawn (Japan PB)
  • Book Cover Image Killers of the Dawn (Thailand)
  • Book Cover Image Killers of the Dawn
  • Book Cover Image Killers of the Dawn (Korea)
  • Book Cover Image Killers of the Dawn (Vietnam)
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