• TIME WARNER | 01 October 2001 | N/A

    DARREN SHAN, AUTHOR OF Cirque Du Freak, TALKS ABOUT HIS CHILLING NEW BOOK

    1. How did you come up with the idea for Cirque Du Freak?

    Well, of course, it's a true story, so I simply recounted the facts! Alternatively ... I always wanted to write a book about vampires, but I didn't want to do the usual old Dracula-inspired story. One day I started thinking about how a vampire might travel around, and I came up with the idea of a vampire who is part of a circus ? but a circus seemed tame, so I thought some more, and settled upon the gruesomely flamboyant Cirque Du Freak, which seemed as logical a place to find a vampire as any.

    2. The main character in the book shares the same name as you. Are you similar to the Darren in Cirque Du Freak?

    I'm not exactly the same ? the Darren in the books is much nobler and braver than I am ? but to a large degree he's based on myself, and thinks and speaks much the same as I do. But of course I'm much better looking than my fictional counterpart!

    3. Have you ever been to a freak show?

    I'm going to plead the 5th on this one!!!!!!

    4. What is the scariest book you've ever read?

    Possibly "Salem's Lot" by Stephen King, which I think is the best vampire book of the 20th century. (Dracula is the best vampire book of the 19th century, while the Darren Shan books, naturally, are the best of the 21st!! Ahem, did I mention in my answer to #2 that I'm also less modest than the Darren in the books?)

    5. Madam Octa plays a big role in Cirque Du Freak. How do you feel about spiders?

    I was always rather nervous of spiders, which was one of the reasons I chose to use Madam Octa in the book ? being scared of spiders, I knew how to get the creepy best out of them! Oddly enough, since writing the book I?ve handled a live tarantula, so I'm no longer afraid of the little eight-legged lovelies!!!

    6. How many books do you have planned for this series?

    Steel yourself ? there's going to be about 20 or more books in total! This is a LONG series, which covers a lot of ground, time, characters and stories. The first 3 books stand alone (each tells its own story), but also act as the prologue to the BIG story which begins in Book 4: Vampire Mountain.

    7. Growing up, did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

    Yes, ever since I was 5 or 6 years old, writing was the only job I was interested in. I love telling stories. People often ask me what I'd be if I wasn't a writer, but I can't truly answer that question, because I never seriously considered any other career.

    8. How did you feel when you found out that Warner Bros. wanted to make a feature film out of your story?

    As a big film buff, I was delighted! Lots of writers worry about movies, and how scriptwriters and directors will handle their characters, but I'm just thrilled at the idea of seeing what they come up with. When I write, I try not to use too many descriptive details, so readers are free to imagine characters their own way. I get a real buzz when readers draw characters from my books and show them to me, so I'll probably be buzzing like a bee when the film comes out and the freaky folks from the Cirque are given big-screen life!

    9. How long does it take you to write each book?

    This isn't as easy to answer as you might think. I do a first draft of a Darren Shan book in 3-4 weeks, but I go through that at least 4 or 5 times, editing it into final shape. Each edit usually only takes about a week , so in total I probably spend 2 months on each book. I like to leave long gaps between edits, during which I work on other books and think about the one I've just written, so in actual time each novel is spread out over 2 years or more.

    10. Any other information/anecdotes you'd like to share with your readers?

    I'd just like to impress upon the people of America the importance of blood banks, and the need to make regular donations. Give freely ... give today ... give to ME!!

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