• THE FUNDAY TIMES | 05 March 2000 | Paul Wray

    ONE OF THE MOST TALKED ABOUT BOOKS OF THE YEAR IS DARREN SHAN’S CIRQUE DU FREAK. PAUL WRAY MEETS THE WRITER BEHIND THE VAMPIRE-BASED SAGA.

    Where did you get the inspiration for Cirque Du Freak from?

    It started with my interest in vampires. I was fascinated with them since I was a child, and had a big poster of Christopher Lee (famous Dracula actor) on my bedroom wall when I was six years old! I’d been toying with the idea of writing a vampire book for years, but didn’t want to simply repeat the same old stories.

    What sort of books or films influenced you?

    I’m a filmaholic and watch two or three movies a day! Those which had a big influence on me were horror and fantasy films, which I immersed myself in when growing up. Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot – first the film, then the book – had a huge impact on me.

    How many Darren Shan books will there be?

    There will be 20 plus books in the Saga Of Darren Shan. I can’t be much more accurate than that, though I think it will probably come in around the 24 or 25 book mark. I’ve written the first nine!

    Why are people fascinated by vampires?

    One reason is that the vamps are almost always portrayed on-screen by suave, handsome hunks! In my books, I play around with this idea. Creatures that live by night, and in rough conditions, are unlikely to look good, and most of my vampires are fabulously ugly!

    Why did you decide to go against the usual idea that vampires are evil?

    I never understood why vampires had to be evil. They simply obey their nature. Why should they kill? Why not take just some blood, while people are sleeping, unseen and unbothered? It’s more sensible not to kill, and also makes life easier for the vampires — no lynch mobs to hunt them down!

    Did you do anything that you were warned against doing when you were younger, like in Cirque Du Freak?

    Like many kids, I was a real monster when I was little, and always did the opposite of what I was told! As for sneaking off one night to a real-life freak show with my best friend … no comment!

    What will be unfolding in Book Two: The Vampire’s Assistant?

    Darren struggles to come to terms with the changes in his life. He refuses to take the big step that will drive him forever forward, and doesn’t want to drink blood, even though he’ll die if he doesn’t. On the brighter side, he makes friends with the snake-boy at the freak show – Evra Von – and we meet Cormac Limbs, a most extraordinary freak (even by the standards of the others). But if you thought the ending of Cirque Du Freak was dark, wait till you see this one!

    Will Darren’s friend Steve return?

    Steve returns well down the line, in Book Eight.

    You recently signed a big film deal for Darren Shan. Who would be ideal as Darren?

    The young boy in the film The Sixth Sense would be ideal for the title role, though he’s probably a bit young for it at the moment. And everybody agrees that Christopher Walken would make a superb Mr. Crepsley!

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