• Issue 2 - September 2000

    01 September 2000

    Hi, and welcome to the second issue of the SHANVILLE MONTHLY! Instead of posting the Monthly as an e-mail each month, I've decided to upload it straight onto the web, and send registered Shansters an e-mail with a link to the new issue. This way it won't come out garbled (as issue 1 did in some instances) or clog up your postbox. Remember, you can always access the latest Monthly -- and previous issues -- by clicking on VAULT on the main Shanville page: http://www.darrenshan.com
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    The first draw for registered Shansters was held recently, and all three winners have responded and been sent their prizes. They were: David Simon of Brighton; Ilana Lever of Middlesex; and Yoko Yamasaki of Japan. The lucky trio won signed copies of the first 3 Darren Shan books, copies of the first 2 tapes (which I'll be sending later in the year), a Cirque Du Freak poster and Vampire's Assistant promo booklet. There'll be another draw early next year, and all those who've already registered will be automatically entered -- so you could be a winner yet!
    Eliza Bates of London was also a winner this month: she was one of those who sent in questions they'd like to see answered, and her name was the first drawn. Thanks to everyone who entered. See below for the first batch of Q & A.
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    My trip to Edinburgh on Saturday August 26 was, by all accounts, a resounding success. A lovely city, good weather (rare for Scotland!), a great setting, a lively crowd -- and me! With the aid of a few volunteers I acted out the scene from Cirque Du Freak where the Wolf Man gets loose in the crowd, then dragged a member of the audience up to interview me on stage, then took questions from the crowd. They came up with some very good queries too! At the end, I surprised the crowd by producing an advance proof copy of Tunnels Of Blood -- and giving one away free to everyone who was there! Needless to say, my popularity soared!!! Thanks to everyone who attended for making it such a great day (and thanks to Jo and Emily for looking after me). See you all again next year -- fingers crossed!
    (P.S. I had a real thrill when I ran into Anthony Horowitz -- whose new book, Stormbreaker, is out soon -- and he announced that he and his kids were fans of mine. I was well chuffed!)
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    I was interviewed by Anne Johnstone and some of her young colleagues after my show in Edinburgh, for The Herald newspaper. Plus, Andrew McNeil of the Edinburgh Festival Guide was present and reviewed my performance (the first time someone's reported on my live act). You can access both of these articles by clicking on the relevant links on the Interviews page on the Vampire's Assistant site.
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    There have been some recent reviews of the Cirque Du Freak audio tape, which you can access by going to the Cirque Reviews page. The first review of Tunnels Of Blood is also out, and can be found on the Amazon site, by clicking HERE.
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    Q & A

    There was a good response to last month's request for reader's questions, and many probing, interesting queries came my way. I'll deal with some of them here, and might include a few more in the next couple of Monthlies.
    First, a few of you wanted to know whether Steve Leopard would ever be returning. The good news is yes, Steve does return -- the bad news is, you'll have to wait until Book 8 to see what he's been up to and whether he's followed through on his threat to track down Darren and Mr Crepsley and kill them, or if he's mellowed with time. Trust me -- it'll be worth the wait!
    Xavier Malina wanted to know if I was like any of the characters in the books. Well, obviously, this being a true story (ahem!) I'm just the same as Darren. But there are bits of me in others too. I can be a bit stiff and emotionally reserved like Mr Crepsley. I was wild as a young child, much like Steve Leopard. And I share some of Mr Tiny's warped sense of humour (though not his appetite for children and corpses, I'm glad to say!)
    Several people wanted to know where the idea for the freak show came from, and Eliza Bates asked why I chose to write about vampires. The Cirque Du Freak is modelled to a large extent on an old black-and-white movie called Freaks (which you can read more about by checking out the movies section in the Shop). As for vampires ... I've always been fascinated by them. Don't know why. But I've been watching vampire movies and reading vampires books almost as long as I can remember, and I always wanted to write my own. When the idea for having a vampire travel with a freak show hit me, I leapt at it, and I've been running with it ever since.
    Grace Singleton is concerned about R.V. -- is he alive or dead, and will we see his bearded mug again? Sorry Grace, but you'll just have to keep reading to find out -- though I will say that he'll be making a cameo appearance in a special Darren Shan short story I'll be posting on this site the week before Christmas (more about that in a later Monthly)!!
    Boo (AKA Rebecca) asked if my books would get scarier as my readers got older. Well, yes and no. The first 3 books are horror stories, and I think Tunnels Of Blood is the creepiest of them, but after that it becomes more of a fantasy series. There will still be plenty of spooky moments and frights, but I'm not going to try and go one scarier each time round. The series WILL mature -- so hopefully you'll be able to enjoy the new books as you age, and stick with the Saga to its end -- just not in the way that people might be expecting ...
    Finally, John Walker wanted to know what music I'd like played at my funeral (!!). I didn't have to think long about this one -- it would have to be "The Bright Side Of Life" by Monty Python (I told you I shared Mr Tiny's warped sense of humour!).
    That's all the Q&A for this month. I'll answer some more next time round, and if there are any questions you'd like to put to me, write by visiting the mail box and I'll see what I can do about answering them on a future Shanville Monthly.
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    I've been hard at work editing Books 4 - 9 of the Saga recently (although you won't see Book 9 in the shops for another 2 or 3 years!). As soon as I finish, I'll be making a start on Book 10. I also hope (perhaps foolishly) to complete first drafts of 11 and 12 before the end of the year, so between writing, signing sessions, and maintaining Shanville, I don't think there'll be any rest for me between now and Christmas!! It's a hard old life ...
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    I've had very little response to my call for reader's art (though I got a few great drawings recently when in Edinburgh, which will be going on the Tunnels Of Blood site when it hits the web later in the year). To all the budding artists out there: you can send art by the regular post to me at this address: Darren Shan, c/o Harper Collins Children's Books, 77-85 Fulham Palace Road, Hammersmith, London W6 8JB, England. Or you can scan it onto computer and e-mail it to [email protected]. For guidelines, click on ART.
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    The closing date for What's Your Story? has passed. Good luck to those of you who entered. I'm not sure when the winning entry will be posted, but since July's winner hasn't been uploaded yet, I suspect we'll have to wait at least a month or so to find out how the Sam Grest story finishes. I'll let you know when it's online as soon as I find out.
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    As I mentioned above, proof copies of Tunnels Of Blood have been produced, and have been sent out to journalists, reviewers and others. I sent copies to the winners of the registration and Q&A competitions. I've got hold of another couple, which I'll put up as prizes for those who enter this month's EXCLUSIVE competition. To be in with a chance of winning and getting to read Tunnels Of Blood before almost everybody else, complete one -- or both -- of the following limericks:
    (a) "Two boys named Darren and Steve/ Sneaked off to a freak show one eve ..."
    (b) "There was a fierce man who would quake/ Whenever he spotted a stake ...."
    To give you an idea of a complete limerick, here's a fun one I composed some months back: "Two freaks, by name Jo and Paul,/ Chased a kid through the HarperC halls;/ They chopped him to bits,/ Sauteed him with grits,/ To be served at the company ball!"
    You can send in up to 3 entries for each limerick; I'll pick my two overall favourites, and the winners will get a signed proof copy of Tunnels Of Blood (if the same person wins both limericks, he or she only gets one copy, and the second goes to my favourite runner-up). I'll print the winning limericks in next month's Shanville Monthly, and might print some of the others as well. To enter, send your completed limericks to [email protected]. The competition's open to all, though my personal friends, relatives and members of HarperCollins are not eligible for the prizes. Closing date for entries: Friday, September 29, 2000.
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    That's all for this month. I'll be back around the start of October. If you've any thoughts or suggestions about the site, Shanville Monthly or anything else, drop a line to the Mail Box and let me know. Until next time, all the bloody best, Darren Shan x x x