• Chichester Observer | 24 September 2009 | Sue Gilson

    There are shocks and thrills aplenty in store for Darren Shan fans this month as the best-selling author chills Chichester, writes Sue Gilson
    It's set to be a hell of a month for Darren Shan.

    The best-selling master of teenage horror has a much-anticipated new book coming out - the tenth and final one in his chilling Demonata series.

    Fans will be flocking to the cinema too as an atmospheric film adaptation of three of his books hits the big screen in Cirque de Freak: The Vampire's Assistant.

    And amid all this fantasy frenzy, the best-selling author, whose books have sold more than ten million copies and translated into thirty languages, will be paying us a special visit.

    Chichester has been selected, thanks to Waterstone's book shop, as a stop-off on a talks tour. And at Chichester College, on Friday, October 2, at 7pm, Darren will be talking about his books, reading extracts, signing copies of the new book, Hell's Heroes, and interacting with the audience.

    Dubbed 'Shocktober', October will well and truly turn the spotlight on Darren's unique brand of fast-paced and bloody horror adventure fantasy.

    But the writer is taking it all in his stride, living a double life of 'surreal' book tours where he signs tens of thousands of books and meets hoards of fans who queue for hours and hours for a signature and a chat with their literary hero, and the quiet country life in his home town of Limerick.

    Here, in a peaceful office overlooking the River Shannon, listening to the likes of rock bands The Killers, the Kaiser Chiefs and the Rolling Stones, he penned his 12-book Saga of Darren Shan (or Cirque de Freak) vampire series, and the ten Demonata books, of which Hell's Heroes is the dramatic climax.

    "It can be quite a shock to the system when you finish a series like that, but I am always working on other books at the same time, so I don't get depressed because I am always looking forward," he says.

    Darren (37), grew up loving horror, and knows how intoxicating, and disturbing, it can be to a young mind.

    "It is good to disturb, otherwise it is just a world of mediocricy, but I am always conscious I have ten and 11-year-olds reading my books as well as 15 and 16-year-olds. If I am worried about something I think about whether I would be able to read it out loud in a school.

    "It is really difficult to pin down what my typical reader is. I like my books to be simple and accessible, so they are read by ten and 11-year-olds, but there are some very complex story lines coming together, to keep 16 and 17-year-olds reading.

    "As for the gender divide, Cirque de Freak was going to be a series aimed at boys, and the books were given gory covers to market it for them. But on tour most audiences are 50 per cent girls. It is a myth really that girls don't read horror adventure."

    Darren is very loyal to his fans, and loves nothing better than hearing that a reluctant young reader has been turned onto reading by his books.

    And it is this loyalty that has kept his feet on the ground as far as the film is concerned.

    He is obviously excited, especially as he is a huge film buff himself, that the first three books in the Cirque de Freak series are being made into a £80m Hollywood blockbuster, but he feels one step removed from it.

    "I have seen the finished cut and really liked it, but it is very, very different to the books. It captures the spirit of the books, the darkness of them and their quirky humour, but the structure is very different.

    "Because I wasn't involved in it, it is not something that directly impacts on me, but I will be very interested to see what the fans think of it."

    Meanwhile, Darren is completing more books, including a series about Mr Crepsley, a familar character to fans, seeing his beloved Tottenham Hotspur when he can, and looking forward to being quizzed by his young West Sussex readers.

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