• BOOKLOONS | 01 February 2002 | Hilary Williamson

    Q: All three of the recent kids' series that have been making big waves - Artemis Fowl, Cirque du Freakand of course, Harry Potter- are about very powerful young heroes. Of these, Darren has made least use of his abilities so far. Is he (at the end of Book 2) a full vampire yet? And will we see him apply his supernormal strength and other powers?

    A: Darren isn't a full-vampire, and won't become one in the near future. We will see him make use of his superhuman strength and endurance in later books (starting with Book 3) but I'm more interested in exploring what life would be like for a real boy who became a vampire's assistant -- not in having a super-strong kid stomp about knocking bad guys left, right and centre!

    Q: On the same theme, Harry has Hermione, Artemis is up against Holly Short. Will there be a strong female character in the Saga of Darren Shanany time soon (and if so will her name begin with H)? Will Darren's sister play a role in a later book?

    A: There are a number of VERY strong female characters in the Saga of Darren Shan. We meet the first of these in book 3, Tunnels Of Blood-- the charmingly named Debbie Hemlock. In book 4 we meet our first female vampire, a tough, no-nonsense lady who makes Xena look like Shirley Temple!!! Annie probably returns, but not for a long time.

    Q: Darren wasn't on the best of terms with Steve when they last met (the stake through the heart attempt seemed a little bit unfriendly). Will they ever renew their friendship and will Darren see his family again?

    A: Steve Leopard returns in Book 8 (yipes!!!!). Readers will have to wait until then to find out if he's evil or good, a villain or a hero, an ally or an enemy ...

    Q: I once came much too close to a huge hairy red spider in Tasmania, with resulting nightmares. Have you ever been bitten by a spider and do you have technicolour nightmares about Madame Octa?

    A: I've never been bitten by a spider -- most spiders (even tarantulas!) are utterly harmless and totally disinterested in humans. I was actually a bit scared of spiders for a long time, until the launch party for Cirque Du Freakin the UK, when I had to hold a live tarantula -- since then I've been fine with them!

    Q: Who are the Vampire Generals? Are they more scary and sinister than Mr. Crepsley? Will we ever get to know individuals amongst the anonymous Little People?

    A: Good questions!! We learn all about the Vampire Generals (and Vampire Princes!) in books 4 to 6, when Darren and Mr. Crepsley travel to Vampire Mountain. The Generals are harsh but fair -- although their laws are ultra strict!! Book 4 is also when we learn who and what the Little People are ... (The one known as Lefty -- from book 2 -- has a BIG part to play in the overall story.)

    Q: How do you think Darren would measure up in a confrontation with Harry Potter or Artemis Fowl?

    A: In a magical duel, he wouldn't measure up (magic isn't his speciality), but in a plain old-fashioned fisticuffs scrap, he'd wipe the floor with them!!!!!!

    Q: And here are two questions from another of your fans, my 11 year-old son Alan who is concerned about Darren's friends from the beginning of the first book. Will Darren ever spend time with his friends again, especially with Alan? Why did you pick my name?

    A: Darren MIGHT meet a couple of his old friends again (when he meets Annie) -- but he just as easily might not! As for your name being the same, that's just a freaky coincidence -- or else it's the work of a certain Des Tiny ....

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