• nooSFere | 01 February 2002 | Catherine Gentile

    This interview was for a French magazine, and has been translated from French, hence the rather strange turns of phrase in places!!

    He is the author of two novels published at Pocket youth in the series "Saga de Darren Shan": The Parade of the monsters and the Assistant of the vampire .

    L ' history:Darren Shan is a happy boy with his parents and his small Annie sister, "rather cool". He has good buddies, of which Steve, the most turbulent boy of the school; he likes to play football and is fascinated by the spiders. One day, he attends with his friend Steve a representation of the Circus of the Horrors, of passage in its city. That changes his life forever. It seems to him to recognize a vampire among the monsters which ravel. After the spectacle, Steve begs Mr Krapula to take him as an assistant. But this last refuses by saying to him that he has the instinct of a killer and that his blood has the taste of the evil.

    Days later, Darren goes to the circus one morning early, steals the erudite spider of Mr Krapula and learns how to control it. When Steve comes visits him, the spider pricks the boy which falls into the coma and is hospitalized. To save his friend, Darren agrees to become the assistant of the vampire if this one cures Steve. Lastly, Darren Shan and Mr Krapula simulate the death of Darren so that he can leave his family. Steve, who included/understood the setting in scene, and feeling betrayed, promises to be avenged...

    L E beginning:The first volume, the Parade of the monsters , starts as follows: "a last detail: I am not called really Darren Shan. All is authentic in this book, except the names. I had to change them, because... oh, while arriving at the end, you will understand. I did not use one true name; neither mine, neither that of my sister, nor those of my friends or my professors. Nobody. I do not even reveal you the name of my city. I do not dare. "

    L ' interview:One morning of November 2001, I moved towards one of the "cultural agitators! "well-known on the place of Paris, where I had appointment with certain Darren Shan, Irish writer, now very appreciated French readers for his two novels already published in France. Although it was about midday, the sky was low and dark. This has its importance and reinforced the feeling of concern which lived me bus -- it is written in its books, therefore that must be true! -- Darren Shan is a half-vampire!

    I had carried with me, in addition to the pen for the interview, a flask of holy water, the crucifix of my grandmother, the chain of cloves of garlic of my great-uncle, a pile out of wooden cut at a peak... in short, the complete implements to defeat vampires organized and careful! While arriving on the stand, I found in fact, in the medium of a pile of books and impressive spiders (but out of plastic with looking at well there!) bright young man of twenty-nine years, with the fresh dye, the engaging smile, of a shirt with squares worthy of a solid Canadian logger. Reassured, I tightened to him a firm hand, "I am very happy to meet you today!" But practising a little old English, I from of given all the same to the good care of the interpreter.

    CG: You say, Darren, on page 9 of the first novel, that all that you will tell is true. Is this to reinforce the black side of the history or because you are really a vampire?

    Darren Shan: (outlining a half smile): There are two answers to that. The first, obvious, is that of course, I am neither a vampire nor a half-vampire. I do not expect that the readers believe that I survived all the torments that Darren of my books had to endure, or that the Circus of the Horrors is real, or finally that the vampires exist. My books are of course fiction, and the use of the first nobody in the account is a choice reflected to reinforce the strong and dramatic side of the history and the implication of the reader. However, there is an internal logic in the books which will become obvious at the oddment. Patience... But if you can put side your rationality and accept in the vampires and the monsters of the circus, then yes, this history could be true. You will include/understand better what I want to say at the end of the last whole delivers.

    CG: Precisely, how much did you envisage books on the whole?

    DS: When I began the writing of the first novel, I did not know it exactly. I think today that there will be a score on the whole of it. I already wrote ten of them. Five are already appeared in England and the sixth has just left this month. In France, only the two first are available and the third , the Sewers of the devil , must leave next March.

    CG: You know already the end of the twentieth volume?

    DS: Yes, of course. But I will not révèlerai it to you!

    CG: How did the idea come to you from this series?

    DS: I was always impassioned by the fantastic literature and, in particular, by the vampires. But I did not want to write a traditional history of vampires as one sees such an amount of of it. In my books, the vampires are like the warriors of antan, the knights or the samouraïs, they answer a code of very strict honor and are not dedicated to the evil. They drink human blood, not by pleasure, sadism or cruelty. They do it only by need. It is for them a question of life or death.

    CG: In this respect, the scene during which Steve requires of Mr Krapula to accept it as assistant is significant. This last refuses because Steve, the human one, is bad: "Because the vampires are not assassins. We respect the life. We require that our preys are alive to suck their blood. You, you have the instinct of a killer. We are not killers. "(p. 101 of the Parade of the Monsters )

    DS: Exactly. What interests me, be to question on the monstrosity. Who is most monstrous, between the vampire and the human one? In addition, I always adored the film Freaks 1 and it is that which gave me the idea to locate the first two episodes in a Circus of the Horrors. But, later, we will be interested much more in the world of the vampires. It will be necessary to await the publication of volumes 4, 5 and 6 to know some more about this universe, its rules and the beings which make it up.

    CG: In the thanks expressed at the beginning of the first volume, you evoke the pupils of Askeaton Primary School who helped you to make the book as black and worrying as possible. Can you explain that?

    DS: When I wrote the first book, I was unaware of which would be the reactions of the readers. My mother teaches in this school. I thus made some copies of the manuscript and entrusted to him so that it gives them to its pupils. Their reactions were very good as a whole, but I took account of their remarks to improve the unit.

    CG: To which public do intend you "Saga de Darren Shan"?

    DS: At the beginning, I imagined some 11 year old children approximately. But I realize that the audience is larger than that. The ideas that I express on the monsters and the vampires also interest of the older readers. The writing accessible from the books allows the reading for younger children of it too. For me, a good book is a book which expresses complex ideas but written in a very accessible language.

    CG: Did you read also fantastic books when you were child or adolescent?

    DS: Yes, I adored the horror and the fantastic one. But I liked and I always like other books, like the secret Garden, of F.H. Burnett, or all the books of Roald Dahl or the Club of the Five, of Enid Blyton. At present, I continue to read literature of horror or fantasy, but I appreciate also the American great writers like Hemingway, James Elroy or Steinbeck.

    CG: Do you write also books for adults?

    DS: Yes, I wrote in all seventeen books for adults of which some were never published. Two are appeared under my true name, Darren 0' Shaughnessy: Ayuamarca and Hell' Horizon . They are very black stories, with a mixture of kinds, which were not translated abroad. But true success came with Darren Shan, which is my first experiment of books intended to children and for teenagers. This success currently harms the process of writing. Like I travel much to make of it promotion, I have today less time to write. Fortunately that I already wrote the first ten books of Darren Shan!

    CG: One of the interests of your books, it is the way in which you get mixed up truth and the forgery. The hero is introduced like having really lived this history. The monsters are announced like truths. Most malicious are not those which one thinks.

    DS: Yes, that is significant for me. A book must distract but also make reflect. Steve, the friend of Darren, which feels betrayed because it was pushed back by Krapula will return besides in the 8 the 2nd volume whose action proceeds fourteen years afterwards. Will it take the way of the evil or that of the good? Will it carry out its revenge? I know it but I will not say it to you...

    CG: Which reception the books did they receive?

    DS: They quickly very were received in the United Kingdom then in the United States where they were published eighteen months later. For three days that I am in France, I have also met many children who read or studied my schoolbooks, in Strasbourg, in Lille. Some had prepared and played me certain scenes of the books, in particular, that where a woman is made tear off the hand by the man-wolf at the time of the representation. The books were translated in fifteen countries on the whole: Japan, Brazil, Spain, Korea, Finland, Israel... In Japan, they meet also much success in spite of the difference in culture. I will go besides to Japan for work but also for the World cup of football... Lastly, Warner bought the rights of the first two books and took an option on the following. If the draft amendment is born, one will mix the history of the first three books to make only one film of it. But what one will do of my stories will escape me completely...

    It is on these words that the interview finished and I left Darren the Irishman with the questions of the readers who had arrived in front of the stand. Completely reassured on the identity of my interlocutor (but a little perhaps disappointed not to have seen a True Vampire) I discreetly left all my family implements at the bottom of my bag...


    Notes:

    1. Freaks, the monstrous parade, is an American film of Tod Browning, with Wallace Ford, Leïla Hyams, Olga Baclanova, Roscoe Ates and Henry Victor. Made in 1932, it puts in scene deformed beings, monsters which occur in a split and which are with the catches with a beautiful acrobat and his accomplice, who misused the one of them. The monsters concoct a terrible revenge...

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