• THE LIMERICK LEADER | 22 July 2000 | Ron Kirwan

    THE author of the Harry Potter books, JK Rowling, is a fan of Limerick fantasy writer, Darren O'Shaughnessy.The bestselling author has written a rave review of Darren's first teen horror book, Cirque du Freak, and has also given the thumbs up to the second in the Saga of Darren Shan series, The Vampire's Assistant.

    According to JK Rowling, "the plot is full of twists which leaves the reader hungry for more".

    It's a review that has delighted the 28-year-old Pallaskenry author.

    "It's the first time she has ever reviewed a book for anyone and we are delighted to be able to use a piece from her comments on Cirque du Freak on the book jackets," said Darren this week.

    "I also sent her a copy of The Vampire's Assistant and she liked it as well. We will be using those comments on the cover of the third book Tunnels of Blood which will be published on November 3 next."

    Both Cirque du Freak and The Vampire's Assistant are books one and two in the Saga of Darren Shan--an ordinary schoolboy until he gets an invitation to visit the Cirque du Freak, until he meets Madame Octa, until he comes face-to-face with a creature of the night and is forced to make a deadly bargain to save his friend's life.

    The book became a near-overnight success for Darren when it was published by HarperCollins at the end of last year and is already on its second reprint.

    Darren also signed a lucrative deal with Warner Brothers, who took a $1m film rights option on the novel.

    Equally good news for Darren was that publishers HarperCollins had agreed to publish the first three books of the series in Britain and in Europe and Little Brown bought the publishing rights for the US.

    In The Vampire's Assistant, Darren Shan struggles with his new life, desperately trying to resist the one temptation that sickens him--and the one thing that can keep him alive. But destiny is calling...and the Wolf Man is waiting.

    The London-born author lives at home in Summerville, Pallaskenry with his parents Liam and Breda.

    His dad works for a plant hire firm and his mother teaches in Askeaton National School.

    He attended the local Salesian College before studying sociology and English in London. He has worked full time as a writer for the past five years.

    He continues to write 10 or 12 pages every day on both his children / teen horror novels and a fantasy series for teens and adults.

    "I've been taking things a little easier since publishing the teen books but I still manage to write a lot and travel around. Since Cirque du Freak I've been invited to schools and libraries to speak to the readers. We sometimes act out scenes from the books," he said.

    Though Cirque du Freak is Darren's best known book, he had made the breakthrough into the expanding international fantasy market early last year with his first published novel Ayuamarca, the first in a four-novel series called The City.

    A fan of novelists Stephen King and Clive Barker, his writing is in the tradition of Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift and Bram Stoker.

    Darren describes Ayuamarca'as a mixture of crime, horror and fantasy.

    Set in a nameless city in the near future, the novel focuses on a young gangster with big dreams who is determined to rise through the criminal ranks by whatever means possible--even if he has to consort with a serial killer and betray those closest to him. What he doesn't realise is that his rise is being closely monitored and guided by the Cardinal--the city's evil kingpin--the only person who knows about his mysterious and fantastic past.

    Book two in the City series, Hells Horizon, has the same secondary characters but is more of a detective and thriller.

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