• HAMPTON UNION | 15 November 2005 | Patte Ardizzoni

    A NIGHTMARE ASSEMBLY

    He’s 33 years old, was born in London directly opposite Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and moved to Limerick, Ireland, at the age of 6.

    Surprisingly, he speaks with the heavy accent of a true Cockney after all these years in Ireland. Wearing a hoodie sweat shirt and carrying a big black backpack he walked onto the stage at Hampton Academy last week and you could’ve heard a pin drop.

    Darren Shan, or Darren O’Shaughnessy, had captured the attention of the auditorium well before his car arrived. The students at the school (and by the sound of it, across the country and the pond as well) have been hooked on Shan’s Cirque Du Freak series of eight books. And they’re eagerly awaiting the last two to be released.

    To ease the pain of the end of the Cirque series, Shan gave a peek into the inner workings of the newest series called La Demonata. Unlike the vampire-inspired Cirque du Freak books, Shan is exploring demons and the magical influences that surround those beasts.

    "The Demonata books begin in a rather bloody and violent way," said Shan. "But I don’t throw in death and violence cheaply. I always explore the aftereffects of the death and violence. How does it change the characters and how and who they are?"

    Questions flew after the author finished reading the looseleaf pages that held the words to his newest book.

    How do you get your inspiration?

    How did you become an author?

    Did your parents support you?

    What’s your favorite character?

    Do you have children?

    Inspiration comes, said Shan, from everything.

    "If you’re a writer, then everything affects you. I’m a huge movie buff, from blockbusters to foreign film. Everything you read or watch inspires you."

    As to how he became a writer, it’s a matter of writing.

    "Just like everything, you have to write and write and write. I knew I wanted to become an author at age 5 or 6 but it was when I was 14 or 15 that I got my first typewriter and started to really write."

    Shan continued: "It was my mother who was my biggest influence. She was a teacher, taught me how to read and how to write."

    And the nightmare factor of his books? Shan laughed.

    "I used to lie in bed when I was little and try to give myself nightmares! They’re fun, they’re like a roller coaster ride. If you get nightmares from reading my stories then I guess you get value for your money!"

    The Cirque du Freak book series has been purchased by Universal Studios and is in the script-writing phase. If the movie gets the green light to go ahead and be produced Shan will have no participation except to receive payment for the use of his material.

    "That’s fine," he said. "They’re going to take the first three books and combine them so the movie will stand apart by itself as a separate story and the books will remain three individual parts. You’ll be able to enjoy both for what they are.

    "And like you, I’ll be seeing the movie for the first time in the theater!"

    Darren Shan’s Web site can be found at www.darrenshan.com.

    He continues to post upcoming news as well as daily blogs to keep his teen audience up to date and in the loop.

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