• SWINDON ADVERTISER | 07 May 2008 | Michelle Tompkins


    KING of the gory story Darren Shan delighted hundreds of young fans in Swindon when he arrived to sign copies of his latest book. The best-selling author was at Borders at the Orbital Shopping Centre in North Swindon on Monday to promote Death Shadow, the seventh in his hugely successful Demonata series.

    More than 300 youngsters turned up to meet their hero, famed for his terrifying and often gruesome style. At the front of the queue were Hannah Thomasson, 15, of Brinkworth, and Hazel Ballantyne, 14, from Malmesbury, clutching a poem they had written.

    "We got here really early because we wanted to be at the front," said Hannah. "Darren Shan writes about things that really open your eyes. And he's the only writer who has ever made me cry. He's brilliant."

    Darren made his name with The Saga of Darren Shan, a series of 12 horror adventure stories with himself as the protagonist. The first in his Demonata series - Lord Loss - shot straight to the top of the children's bestseller list and subsequent titles have done the same, with sales topping 10m worldwide. Death Shadow, released this month, is the seventh of 10 books about demons. The books are translated into 27 languages and sold in 34 countries. In the UK, Darren is outsold in the horror genre only by Stephen King and Dean Koontz.

    Among the fans eager to ask questions was Bradley Clarke, 11, of Abbey Meads, who won a Swindon Advertiser competition to meet the author. He also won all seven books in the Demonata series to date. He said: "I love horror stories and the books are really cool and modern in the way they are written. I've never won anything before and I really couldn't believe that I was going to meet my idol."

    Darren chatted to the fans and signed hundreds of autographs, each with a personal message.He said: "This is the fun part of what I do. The actual writing part can be very isolated and quite lonely, but getting to meet the fans is the best part of it all. Some of them wait for hours and travel a long way to come - signing a book for them is something I do gladly."

    And his young fans were not disappointed. Matthew Kent, 10, of Old Walcot, waited for two hours to meet the writer. "I was really excited to find out he was coming to Swindon, so we got here early," he said. "His books are brilliant."

    Harriet Mitchell, 12, of Liden, added: "I don't usually like scary things, but these books are really interesting and I have loved all of them."

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