• BBC BRISTOL | 12 September 2007 | Richard Lewis

    Author Darren Shan is no stranger to a bit of mystery and intrigue - he has after all sold more than 10 million books to young readers across the world, who have been caught up in the worlds he has created.

    But his latest adventure is not played out within the pages of a book - but rather on the cover.For the title and plot of his latest book, the sixth in the popular Demonata series, has remained a closely guarded secret for the past few months - and will only be revealed at this month's Bath Festival of Children's Literature.

    Speaking to BBC Radio Bristol's Richard Lewis, Darren explained why the book was being kept under wraps and how difficult it has been.

    "Book five of the series ended on a cliffhanger, so part of the fun for the fans we decided would be not to reveal anything about the new book, even the title, " he explained.

    "In these days of the internet it's quite hard to keep something like that a secret."

    Darren, who admits to being able to, "work quite fast and push myself," currently manages to produce two books a year, published in June and September, and with his next book being one for adults, hopes to increase production to three.

    Cirque Du Freak

    He actually started out as a writer of books for adults, but the idea for a children's book produced Cirque Du Freak, which received rave reviews, and his career as a children's writer took off from there.

    "Writing for kids is a very different discipline. I think lots of people think it's simpler than writing for adults, that because books are shorter it's simpler to write, " said Darren.

    "But, it's not. It's a totally different audience and you have to tap into their reading level, find out what's going to entertain them, what's going to excite them.

    "Children generally aren't as patient as adults, they want to get going straight away. They want lots of action, lots of twists, lots of turns and that's what I like writing anyway, so for me it's the perfect mix."

    Darren - whose real surname is actually O'Shaughnessy - is one of the biggest writers of horror books in the country, and was even labelled by the Evening Standard as "Stephen King for kids," a big compliment for a big Stephen King fan.

    "Stephen King has been my idol since I was ten or 11 years old, so, I am delighted if people call me that " he told Richard.

    "He's had a huge impact on me. I still read his books today, I think he's brilliant."

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