• Issue 7 - February 2001

    01 February 2001
    HAPPY webday to me ...

    Shanville is a year old this month! Although I didn't "announce" my web presence until March, I posted my first trial pages in February. How time flies! In this month's news bulletin, you'll find all the web stats for the year that has been, along with news of my latest competition, and good news concerning the release dates of my next 3 books. But first, the facts on the hottest Shan news of the month -- Cirque Du Freak's nomination for the WHSmith Children's Book of the Year award ...
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    As exclusively revealed on Shanville earlier this month, Cirque Du Freak is one of five books which have been shortlisted for the WHSmith Children's Book of the Year award. The other four are Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J K Rowling, The Giggler Treatment by Roddy Doyle, and Bad Dreams by Anne Fine. You can learn more about the books by clicking on this link, or copying it and pasting it into your URL: http://www.whsmith.co.uk/whs/Go.asp?Menu=Books&pagedef=/books/prodlists/show.htm&data=smithschildrensshort
    Unlike most awards, where a panel of judges pick the overall winner, readers have the final say here -- you can vote for your favourite book through the WHSmith web page, or by picking up a voting form in any WHSmith store. The book with the most votes wins -- simple as that. The closing date for entries is March 6th, so you have plenty of time to cast your vote. As an incentive, WHSmith are going to reward one lucky voter with a year's supply of books -- that's 52 books, one for each week of the year! So don't delay -- vote today!!
    There are several categories, but you don't have to vote in every section, so if you only want to vote in the children's award section, that's fine. You can pick up a form in any WHSmith store, or you can vote over the internet. It's very easy on the 'net -- you simply fill in your personal details, put a tick beside your favourite book, and hit the send button at the bottom of the page. The link to learn more about it is: http://www.whsmith.co.uk/whs/Go.asp?Menu=Books&pagedef=/books/awards/show_whsbook.htm&data=whsbook2
    It's very exciting to be nominated -- this is the first award I've ever been up for! -- and though I rather suspect that the legions of Harry Potter fans will see Miss Rowling pip the rest of us to the post (by the odd few million votes or so!), let's all cast our votes and give the young boy-wizard a decent run for his money! You can only vote once (I don't want to see anybody cheating and trying to cast multiple votes under different names!), but the more of your friends and acquaintances you inform about the awards, the better our chances of pulling off a most freakish coup -- or at least losing with our dignity intact!!!
    More details and updates to follow over the next few months ...
    (PS If you can't get the above links to work, you can access the awards page through the main WHSmith site, at http://www.whsmith.co.uk )
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    Although Vampire Mountain doesn't hit the stores until June 4 (only 4 more months to go!), book proofs will be sent out to journalists and booksellers long before then, and I'm giving 5 lucky Shansters the chance to be among the very first people to read the fourth Shan adventure!! Book proofs are mostly the same as the finished book you'll find in stores, except the cover won't be the same, there will be some small differences in the text, and there might be typing errors.
    To win a copy of the proofs of Vampire Mountain, write a poem and send it to [email protected] The poem must be in some way related to my books or the characters in them, but apart from that you're free to experiment. It can be as long or as short as you wish, gory or tragic, scary or funny. You can write about one of the main characters (Darren, Mr Crepsley, Steve, etc.), or one of the lesser cast members (Annie, Donna and Jessie, Bradley Stretch, and so on), or maybe just about circus freaks or vampires in general. It's your call.
    The competition will finish on Sunday March 4th. I'll wade through the entries after that, pick my 5 personal favourites, then contact the winners for their addresses. The winning poems will be posted on the March issue of the Shanville Monthly, and I may print some of the others in later issues. You can enter as many times as you like, but I won't award more than one book to any single person.
    Remember -- the prize on offer is a copy of Vampire Mountain, long before its general release date (I might even have the proofs ready to send out by early March, though I can't guarantee this -- I'll post them on to the winners as soon as my publishers post them on to me). If you want to read it before just about everybody else, get writing now and e-mail your poems in before the end of February. Best of bloody luck!!!
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    I did an interview with World Online recently, which you can access by clicking on this link: http://www.worldonline.co.uk/kids/kids_center_001219.626614.html
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    I was away on holiday for most of January, but I did a few events in England when I returned, in East Croydon, Birmingham and Ealing. I had a great time at all the venues -- many thanks to those who helped arrange the visits, and also to all the kids who gave me such a wonderful reception.
    I'll be spending World Book Day (Thursday March 1st) in Manchester. I don't know where exactly in Manchester I'll be, but I'll post an update sometime in February once I find out. I'll be doing some events in Ireland the following week, in Dublin on Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th (visiting four libraries: Charleville, Raheeny, Ringsend and Pembroke), and in O'Mahony's in Limerick on Friday March 9th.
    If you want to keep abreast of my future movements -- in case I'm ever in your region -- REGISTER.
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    Good news for all those impatient Shansters who've been moaning about the wait between books! As most of you probably know by now, Vampire Mountain will be released on June 4 this year. Although there's normally a six month gap between each new novel, we're altering the schedule for the next 3 books. This is because the books are closely linked -- the story which starts in Book 4 continues in Book 5 and is concluded in Book 6. So that readers don't have to wait too long to find out what happens next, we'll be releasing Books 5 and 6 at four month intervals, which means Book 5 will come out in October 2001, and Book 6 in February 2002. Darren Shan -- the half-vampire who cares ...
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    I've added a new LINKS page to the main Shanville site (http://www.darrenshan.com), with links to cool web sites which I think will be of interest to Shansters. One site you might especially like to check out this month is the TimeWarner's site -- http://www.twbookmark.com/ If you click on the "coming soon" button, and find the list of books they're releasing in April, you'll discover a small thumbnail of the American cover of Cirque Du Freak! I'll be adding a decent image of the cover to Shanville soon (hopefully this month), but if you want a quick sneak peek, you know where to look!
    I've also re-jigged the main Shanville home pages (that is, the home pages for the first three books) to include some critical quotes at the top of each page. I think the home pages look better this way, and more eye-catching to new surfers. Let me know if you disagree!!!
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    "Those were the days, my fiends ..." Oops -- I mean "friends"!! Last February, a mere 4 or 5 months after I'd first learned to surf the web, I decided rather ambitiously to set up my own web site. The result was SHANVILLE, the internet home of Darren Shan, though in the early days it was a decidedly clumsy and unseemly contraption (some cynics might say it still is!). Since I had no formal web training -- all my knowledge came from a book called "SAMs Teach Yourself How To Create Web Pages in 24 Hours" -- I've had to learn by trial-and-error. I think everyone who was around at the beginning will agree the site's come on a long way during its first 12 months. There's still much to be done -- I'm anxious to add a bulletin board, and to establish an American version of Shanville -- but overall I'm quite happy with the progress so far. Shanville is very far from the cutting edge of technology and design -- but then again, it's a literary site, more concerned with content than snazzy displays. That's my philosophy -- and I'm sticking to it!!
    So -- how many people have been surfing Shanville since it went on-line? Though I don't have exact numbers for individual surfers, I do have the statistics for the number of sessions and hits there have been since last February (a session is when someone accesses the site; hits provide a record of the number of clicks they make during their visit). As you'll see from the figures beneath, there has been a steady monthly growth in traffic (with large surges in June and November when books 2 and 3 came out), which is very encouraging. Here's hoping the growth continues!

    sessions 6 97 190 241
    hits 568 2131 1808 1860
    sessions 399 280 430 545
    hits 5561 4706 6283 7807
    OCT NOV DEC JAN 2001
    sessions 690 943 830 1048
    hits 14979 21687 17568 20166

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    And that's all for February! I'll be away from my computer at the start of March (in Manchester), so the next issue of the Monthly will either come out before the end of February, or -- more likely -- a few days after the start of March. Catch you then! All the bloody best, Darren Shan x x x
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