• SUNDAY MORNING POST (China) | 29 July 2007 | Michelle Chan

    Darren Shan, the popular Irish author of the best-sellng Demonata series, has just launched his latest novel, Blood Beast, the fifth book in the series. Demonata, a series of 10 books about demons, is Shan's second series of children's books. His first series, Saga of Darren Shan, which is about vampires, was also a hit and topped bestseller charts in the UK, America, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Japan and Taiwan. His books have been translated into more than 20 languages, and more than 10 million copies have been sold around the world.Shan, whose real name is Darren O'Shaughnessy, enjoyed his first taste of literary success at the age of 15, when he was a runner-up in a TV script-writing competition in Ireland. Although Shan started out writing books for adults, he always wanted to try his hand at a children's book. In 2000, CliqueDu Freak, his first children's book, was published.

    "I always liked children's books, even when I was a grown up," said the 35-year-old author. "One day I had an idea for a hoy who meets a vampire at a circus and reluctantly becomes his assistant. I wanted to tell the story from the boy's point of view. It just made sense to me to write it for children of the boy's age," he said.

    Influenced by Stephen King, Ray Bradbury and Frances Hodgson Burnett, Shan finished his first novel Mute Pursuit at the age of 17. Although it was never published, the author realised that he enjoyed writing novels more than the short stories and comics he had been working on up until then.

    With the books' popularity soaring, it was only a matter of time before film studios expressed an interest in making The Saga series into a movie. In 2005, the author sold the film rights to the firstthree books in the serie to Universal Studios.

    The movie script is to be written by Oscar-winning screenwriter Brian Helgelund, produced by Lauren Shuler Donner and directed by Paul Weitz.

    "Although I won't be directly involved with the film, I'm excited about the prospect of it," Shan said. "I'll have no real input In the movie. I don't know much about movies, so I think it's best if I leave these things to the experts."

    The author added that, while he is not ready to take on a speaking role in the movie, he would love to appear as an extra in crowded scene.

    Shan, who gets his fantasy inspiration from books, movies and people and things he sees in real life, has some advice for young people who want to be writers. "Write! The more you write, the more you learn and the better you get. There are no short cuts for this," he said. "Also, don't try to impress others. Just write stories the way you would love to read them."

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