• THE INDEPENDENT - 14 february 2007 interviewer: Charlotte Cripps | 14 February 2007 | Charlotte Cripps

    Darren Shan spends his time thinking of ways to frighten youngsters. A bestselling author of horror stories for children, he has written 12 books about vampires and five about demons in seven years. He will read from Blood Beast, the next book in his The Demonata series, out in June, as part of the Imagine festival at the Southbank Centre."It's great fun meeting my fans," he says. "For me, it's the best part of the job. Mostly, they tend to be fairly subdued around me. Children tend to get as nervous meeting book stars as they do pop stars!"

    Shan first ventured into writing horror fiction at the age of 14, when he entered "A Day in the Morgue" in a scriptwriting competition and won the runner-up prize. He completed upwards of 15 novels before Ayuamarca finally found a publisher in 1999. A sequel, Hell's Horizon, followed in 2000. The same year he had greater success with his first children's book, Cirque Du Freak, about a boy who reluctantly becomes a vampire's assistant, which became the first book in The Saga of Darren Shan series. "I have always liked exploring the dark side, but when I started, you didn't write children's books to get rich quick," says Shan about the pre- Harry Potter days. "You did it because you loved writing them. Cirque Du Freak took off and the next few books did really well. I wound up in this field by accident."

    Shan takes about two years to write a book - his latest, Bec, is about a trainee priestess - but he always has two books on the go at once. "My books are dark horror, yet they also have a light side to them because I don't want them to be miserable. As long as there is a moral to the tale, this genre of book is accepted."

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