• THE EVENING ECHO | 02 August 2000 | Hilary Thompson

    THE WRITE STUFF FOR DARREN -- Darren O'Shaughnessy has gone from Multichannel TV to mega book deals

    YOUNG Limerick author, Darren O'Shaughnessy, never thought as a young writer that he would be sharing the same agent as J K Rowling, she of Harry Potter fame. The famed author recently said of his book, Cirque Du Freak, that "it was a compelling read. A plot full of twists that leaves the reader hungry for more." Darren was absolutely chuffed by J K Rowling's comments. It would probably equate with an aspiring actor being recognised by the likes of noted Limerick actor Richard Harris.

    Darren O'Shaughnessy is certainly not catering for the sugar and spice and all things nice readership. He is much more of the frogs and snails brigade. He is into gore, and blood and guts. And there is a market out there who just lap it up. Darren, who uses the pseudonym Darren Shan, was born on July 2, 1972, at St. Thomas' Hospital, London. He was an early starter in the classroom and attended school at the tender age of three. Then his parents took the decision to move to Limerick. Darren was six. Not surprisingly, having spent his formative years across the water, he never lost his English accent. His mother taught in the school in Askeaton and Darren travelled to the same school as a pupil. He continued on his secondary education at Copsewood Salesian College.

    Darren always enjoyed putting pen to paper from a very young age and finished his first novel, Mute Pursuit at seventeen. This book, however, was never published. "I've lots of them lying in a bin at home," he says. After Darren left school, he went back to London to study Sociology and English. Then he returned to Limerick and worked with Irish Multichannel Cable TV company in 1993. Darren worked with the TV company during the week, then concentrated on his writing at the weekends. In 1995, he finally decided to take up writing on a full time basis.

    He started out as an adult-orientated writer, and his first published book was Ayuamarca, meaning "procession of the dead", in February of 1999. This title is an Incan word, derived from the tribe which originated in Peru. His books are certainly not for the faint hearted. A sequel, Hell's Horizon, followed in February 2000. Darren admits that he's not very strong on research, but he already has the stories in his head.

    "Like many little boys, I always had a fascination with horror, and loved being scared. When I was a kid, I used to watch Dracula movies all the time!" In January 2000, his first children's book, Cirque Du Freak, was published. It was the first book in a series entitled The Saga Of Darren Shan. It attracted rave reviews and a lot of media attention. The attention stepped into an even higher gear, particularly when the movie rights were bought by Warner Bros in a seven figure deal prior to publication. A rather dark brooding horror/fantasy story, it has proven very popular with teenage boys and girls. The readership age would be between ten and fifteen.

    The book, along with its sequels, have been sold around the world including America, Japan, Brazil, Germany, France and Spain. Darren attributes his success in a large way to his agent in London, Christopher Little, who is also the agent of the aforementioned J K Rowling. The Saga of Darren Shan is an epic undertaking which will eventually run to an estimated 20 books or more. This should keep Darren busy for the next 12 or 13 years at least! It’s an action packed thought-provoking series, promising much adventure and bloodshed. Death looms large, and unlike a lot of books, many of the cast meet a sticky and messy end before the curtain finally falls. The second book in the series, The Vampire's Assistant, was published in June 2000, and book three, Tunnels Of Blood, debuts in November 2000.

    Darren himself is quite an unassuming guy, totally unaffected by his overnight success. He's not a great socialiser but loves travelling. He has been to Sinai and South America this year. These are the countries he writes about. As a result of his success he can now afford to visit them. He hopes to do a Nile Cruise next year, once his latest book is released. He lives at home with his parents. When I broached the subject of romance in his life, he laughed. "I'm free and single and married to my computer!" He also describes writing as an addiction, and he says that he gets very cranky when he's not working. "Writing gives me my reason for living," Darren says. Darren plans to continue writing for as long as he gets the buzz. Judging by the enthusiasm and joie de vivre of this talented young writer, this will be for quite a long time yet.

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