• MY SHELF | 17 October 2001 | Beverly Rowe

    While publishers say that horror for children is on the decline, Darren Shan's vampire series may the be next phenomena in publishing. I talked to Darren about his Cirque Du Freak series.Answers from the internet cafe in Edinburgh! 

    An Interview with Darren Shan By Beverly Rowe

    Bev: Hi Darren. I read and reviewed Cirque Du Freak for MyShelf.com and passed the book on to grandchildren. We all loved it. They are eagerly waiting for the Vampire's Assistant I am reading it now to review for the MyShelf.com column on children's books. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few questions.

    Could you tell us a little about yourself....who IS Darren Shan?

    Darren: The "real" Darren Shan (the guy who writes the books) is 29, lives in Limerick in Ireland (with his parents!), watches too many movies, and loves all things horrific. He writes full-time, both adult books and children books. He wanted to be a vampire (or else a vampire hunter) when he was a little kid. He ISN'T really a half-vampire -- but that doesn't mean the Saga Of Darren Shan isn't true! As he keeps telling people, if you read to the very end, you'll see what he means ...

    Bev: Darren Shan is the first half-vampire I ever heard of, and certainly a far cry from Vlad Tepes and Nosferatu. How did you come up with that concept?

    Darren: I loved vampires when I was younger, and spent lots of time thinking about them. The old myths (that they're evil monsters who rise from the dead and can be repelled with crosses and holy water, etc) are fun, but didn't make sense to me. So I tried inventing my own brand of vampires, more realistic creatures who had to drink blood to survive, who could live a long time, who were very tough -- but who were still (almost) believable. The half-vampire idea came when I wondered how a vampire would turn another person into a vampire -- I decided it should be via a blood transfusion, and it seemed logical to assume that the amount of blood transferred would influence how "vampirish" the human would become.

    Bev: I understand that you have a whole series planned...Vampire Mountain? Will these be sequels to Cirque Du Freak continuing the adventures of Darren Shan?

    Darren: The series is called The Saga Of Darren Shan, and will run to 20 books or so (!!!!!!!). The books tell the story of Darren Shan, and through him explore the world of vampires, Little People, and various other creatures of the night!

    Bev: Do you outline and complete the plot of a new book, or just start writing?

    Darren: I always write a plot outline, then break it down into chapters, and then start writing. I often change things while I'm writing, but it helps to have the structure clear and written down at the start.

    Bev: There are some lessons on the value of friendship and self-sacrifice in your books. Did those moral lessons just happen?

    Darren: The books, primarily, are exciting, gruesome, intriguing stories -- but I also want to explore moral issues, such as friendship, loyalty, the nature of good and evil, honour, and so on. I think a really good book is one which tells a cracking story, but which also works on other levels. The best books are both thrilling AND thought-provoking -- and they're the type of books I want to write!!

    Bev: You must still have a little boy hiding in there somewhere, you write from the child's point of view so well...but you have written some adult stories, too haven't you?

    Darren: Yes, I write adult books too. For me, the division between adults and children (especially teenagers) isn't as wide as many people think, and I don't approach my children's books any different to my adult books -- I just avoid certain areas, avoid too much violence, and keep the language a bit plainer.

    Bev: Do you have any other books currently in print?

    Darren: I have had 2 adult books published in the UK -- Ayuamarca and Hell's Horizon -- but they haven't sold very well and are very hard to find!!

    Bev: Have you looked beyond Vampire Mountain?

    Darren: I'm working on other books at the same time that I'm writing the Saga Of Darren Shan, and will hopefully publish some of those during the course of the series -- though possibly under a different name, to avoid confusion.

    Bev: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

    Darren: Stick with it -- the more you write, the better you get. There's no magic involved -- just lots of honest hard work!

    Bev: Darren, again I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to ask questions. I can't wait for your next book. That teaser for Tunnels of Blood in the back of The Vampire's Assistant really leaves me wanting more. Gosh, I have to wait until September 2002????

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