• IRISH INDEPENDENT - JOBS & CAREERS section | 28 September 2006 | Elaine Larkin


    Name: Darren Shan (real name Darren O'Shaughnessy).

    Age: 34.

    Occupation: Author.

    Third-level education: Degree in sociology and English from Roehampton University in London.

    In the news for: Shan, whose 16th book, Bec, will be launched on 7 October, will be doing a book tour of the UK and Ireland for the rest of October. He will be giving a reading as part of the Children's Book Festival which runs from 4 to 28 October. Shan, who lives in Co Limerick, is the author of the children's books series The Saga Of Darren Shan and The Demonata.

    Elaine Larkin (EL): What was your first paying job ever?

    Darren Shan (DS): When I was at university, I used to work for the summers in a factory in Shannon.EL: Did you always want to become an author?

    DS: Ever since the age of five or six, it was what I wanted to do. It was the one thing I really loved doing. I used to daydream about other things as well but that's the main thing I wanted to do.

    EL: Who would you say influenced the course of your career?

    DS: I think one of the big influences would be my mother. She was a primary school teacher so she taught me to read and write and she instilled a love of reading in me. I read loads and loads of books. The more I read the more inspired I became.

    EL: When did you get your break as an author?

    DS: I started out writing books for adults. I had a couple of those published under my real name, back in 1999/2000. The biggest break was when I got my agent, which would have been a couple of years before that in 1997/1998. He took a chance on me and he helped develop my writing skills. He helped me get the first book published and then I came along with Cirque du Freak, my first children's book and the first in the series of The Saga of Darren Shan and he got that published and I haven't looked back since then.

    EL: What was the best career advice you've ever received?

    DS: I've picked up lots of different advice from reading other interviews with authors. One is everybody gets rejected, so you have to learn to accept that if you're going to be a writer. You can't afford to lose heart, you've to keep belief in yourself even if nobody else does. The other one is the more you write the better you get. It's a case of practice. When I was younger, as a teenager, I was waiting for the muse to strike and for ideas to come cascading down and for stories to more or less write themselves. As I got older I realised it doesn't work that way. The harder you work, the bet ter you get, the more you're able to write.

    EL: Do you think third-level education plays a big part in getting on the right career track?

    DS: It all depends on what sort of career you're going for. As an author, I would have to say it doesn't make any difference whatsoever. Readers don't care whether you're secondary level, third level or anything else. Obviously as an author, anything you do helps out. I got things from sociology, which I'm able to bring into my books.

    EL: What was the highlight of your career?

    DS: There's been quite a lot. One of the big highlights was getting to No 1 in Japan — it absolutely topped the entire chart — adult books as well as children's books. It's made the top 10 children's chart on the New York Times bestseller list several times. Selling 10 million copies worldwide was a big mark. The last six and a half years have been a wonderful ride; it's been one highlight after another.

    EL: If you were to change career what would you do?

    DS: I'm a big film buff — I've always had it at the back of my mind that I'd like to try directing, whether or not I ever do is highly unlikely, but it's still one of those things I still daydream about every so often. Maybe one day.

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