• www.darrenshan.com | 20 October 2010 | Year 6 students

    I recently answered several questions submitted by students of Staples Road Junior School in the UK. I normally don't have time to be this resposive to individual school requests, but in this case I know one of the teachers (Mr Johnson) so I agreed as a favour to him. The questions, when they came through, were of a very high standard, and I enjoyed answering them so mcuh that I've decided to share my answers here with the rest of you!!


    1. Out of your collection of 4000 movies, which one has provided the greatest inspiration to your writing?

    Blimey – that’s a hard one to start with!! I take inspiration from all over the place, books and comics that I read, things I see in movies, things that happen to me in real life. Because I watch a lot of films, many of my ideas originate there, but usually it’s an indirect process. One film that definitely influenced my work was 2001: A Space Odyssey – you can see its influence very clearly, I think, in Dark Calling in particular.


    2. You spend most of your time terrifying schoolchildren, but what really scares you?

    Snakes!! I used to be scared of spiders, but I held a tarantula and got over that fear. But snakes still make me shiver, even though I held a boa to try to adapt!


    3. How impressed were you with Universal’s interpretation of Cirque Du Freak?

    I liked it. A movie adaptation of a book is a complex affair, where so many things can go wrong. Whereas a book is the work of one person, a movie relies on the creative input of dozens, sometimes even hundreds of people. It’s rare for those sorts of numbers to click, which is why there are so many bad movies made from good books. But I think they did a pretty good job of Cirque. I would have liked it to be a bit darker, and a bit more faithful to certain aspects of the books, but all things considered it was a lot better than I thought it would be!


    4. What is your most special memory from childhood?

    One of them is finding a dead cat on a rubbish tip in the middle of a very cold winter when I was 5 or 6 years old!


    5. Which of your books has given you the most pleasure / most pain and why?

    The one that was most of a challenge was Bec, because I’d never written a historical book before or did a lot of research. Even though there are loads of demons in that book, I treated it as if I was trying to record the past, and I made it as accurate as I could -- if you read Bec, I think you get a fairly good snapshot of what life was like in Celtic Ireland 1600 years ago. The ones I enjoyed writing most were the fast-paced, action-packed books, like Tunnels of Blood, Killers of the Dawn or Wolf Island.


    6. What are you ongoing goals as a writer?

    To push myself as far as I can. It’s always a learning curve. I hope to continue finding new ways to tell stories, to carry on developing, and to try things that I haven’t done before.


    7. Where did you get the original idea for Cirque Du Freak from?

    It came to me one day when I was sitting in a car! But the orginal idea probably goes back to when I was a young child – I would lie in bed at night, imagining vampires attacking, and what life would be like if I got turned into a vampire!


    8. What would you have done if you hadn’t become a successful writer?

    I’d have been an unsuccessful writer! I write for fun. If I wasn’t getting paid to do it, I’d do it anyway in my spare time. To support myself, I’d probably have got some IT job, as I’ve always been fairly handy with computers.


    9. Why are all of your books so gory?

    It’s a gory world!!! Actually, for me the gore isn’t that important a factor. I think it adds a bit of spice to the books, and allows me to take the stories in more interesting directions. But I’m always more focused on developing my characters and coming up with solid plot-lines than I am in grossing out my readers. Gore is only really effective if it happens in a really good book or film, where it has a natural place in the overall storyline. By itself it can be fairly lame!

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