Plot Outline:

Book 3 of The Saga Of Darren Shan. Shortly after an old friend's visit, Mr Crepsley leaves the Cirque Du Freak and heads for a city, taking Darren and Evra with him. The boys enjoy their stay in the city. Evra soaks up a lot of TV shows, while Darren catches the eye of pretty young Debbie Hemlock! But Mr Crepsley's behaving strangely, patrolling the streets every night, saying nothing of his purpose to Darren or Evra.

Then, in the run-up to Christmas, police discover several human bodies hidden in an old building -- each of which has been drained of blood! Darren and Evra are horrified, and immediately set about shadowing Mr Crepsley, on the understanding that if he's the killer, they're going to stop him -- by any means necessary!

In a blood-soaked abattoir, Darren confronts his mentor, and aims for his throat with a rusty butcher's knife. But this attack is just the start of the true nightmare, and soon Darren finds himself fighting not just for his own life, but for the lives of his friends, Debbie and Evra, both of whom are threatened by a force of sinister, murderous evil ...

Author Notes:

My publishers had wanted to publish just one book a year, as they do with most other authors, but as the printing date for Cirque Du Freak came up, I knew I had a long and sprawling story to tell, so I pushed them to release them every six months, and luckily they agreed. (Otherwise we wouldn't have seen the last book until 2011!) Tunnels of Blood came out on November 6th, 2000, my fourth book to be released that year -- yowzahs! (Cirque Du Freak in January, Hell's Horizon in February, The Vampire's Assistant in the middle of the year.)

Although it's the third book in the series, I tend to view Tunnels Of Blood as the real start of the Saga Of Darren Shan, because this is when everything started to ramp up for me. As I said in an earlier post, my initial rough plan with the series had been to write one-off books in which Darren and Mr Crepsley found themselves in new locations and had to face off against supernatural antagonists each time. As I wrote book 2 and plotted book 3, that began to change. Originally the third book was going to feature an evil vampire, but I felt that wasn't very original. Since I'd made clear that my vampires were not evil killers, I began to think that maybe I should explain why they had such a bad reputation, and I came up with the idea of a breakway group of vampires called the vampaneze, the idea being that these guys killed every time they fed, and that humans had confused vampires for vampaneze over the centuries.

The vampaneze were the key to the series. Once I'd thought of them, storylines began falling into place like jigsaw pieces into a quickly forming puzzle. Suddenly I had the War of the Scars as my backdrop, and I saw the roles that Darren and Steve could play in it. Instead of working on a handful of loosely-linked spooky stories, I now saw that I was in fact working on something far more ambitious, a multi-book, purposeful story, in which every part added up to an over-arching whole. It was a tremendously exciting time for me, where the goalposts shifted and a whole new universe of storytelling presented itself to me.

Now for some fun background facts about certain characters and elements of the book...

Murlough was based on Gollum! Lord of the Rings was one of my faves as a teenager, and I wanted to evoke the spirit of Gollum in this book. I was VERY tempted to have Murlough say "My precious" at some stage, but eventually felt that would be a bit TOO obvious!

Debbie -- hold onto your hats, folks! -- was based on Scary Spice! The Spice Girls were huge back when I was writing the first draft of TOB, and while I wasn't that interested in their music, I did think the girls themselves were lots of fun!! I didn't deliberately base Debbie on Scary Spice, but when I sat down and thought about what I wanted her to be like, that's the image I got!

Hypnotism... As some of you occasionally note, in book 1 Darren hypnotises Annie -- but this power is never mentioned again. No, it's not a mistake on my part! One of the rules of vampirism is that when people are first blooded, their bodies and brains go hyperactive, and sometimes they develop temporary hypnotic powers, which soon fade. I was going to explain this in book 2, but there just wasn't a proper time for it. So I decided to push it back to book 3 -- but, again, when I came to write it, the moment just never seemed right. In the end I let it pass -- it's not important to the plot of the series, and although Darren does know about it, there's no real need for him to share the info with his readers. (Just like there's no need for him to go into specifics about his second set of Trials in book 7.)

The Vampaneze... their name evolved out of a story-telling session with a young cousin. I used to make up stories and tell them to my cousins (Ronan, Lorcan, Kealan, Tiernan, Meara) all the time. One day I'd finished telling Kealan a story and encouraged him to make up a story of his own. He invented some silly kind of monster which he called a Rampaneasy (at least that's what it sounded like). I liked the sound of that, and played around with it. I changed the R to a V, and the "easy" to an "eeze" sound, and the result was... VAMPANEZE!

Global Cover Variations

  • Book Cover Image Tunnels of Blood (Germany CD)
  • Book Cover Image Tunnels of Blood (Canada)
  • Book Cover Image Tunnels of Blood (Slovakia)
  • Book Cover Image Tunnels Of Blood (Italy Manga)
  • Book Cover Image Tunnels of Blood (Ireland and UK 3rd Edition Early Draft 2)
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