• Issue 9 - April 2001

    01 April 2001
    Hi !!

    Welcome to the April issue of the Shanville Monthly. The look of the Monthly has changed slightly -- read below to find out why! We have the Poetry Competition winners this month, news of April releases, a determined young lady who claims to be Darren Shan's greatest fan (I can already see the howls of rage on the Message Board about that one!!), and more. Let's cut straight to the chase!
    * * * * *

    MAJOR Shanville re-vamps this month. I've re-designed the entire site, changing the background colours and logo, eliminating the sub-sites, making the whole site accessible from the main home page. I've also split Shanville into Shanville UK and Shanville USA. I spent a lot of time thinking about how to do this -- I considered changing the UK URL address to .co.uk -- and in the end I chose to make the two sites accessible from the same home page: http://www.darrenshan.com You can use this address to get to the site, or else bookmark the new UK home page: http://www.darrenshan.com/uk.htm The American version of the site is much the same as the UK original, except it will feature American reviews, letters, art, etc.
    New to the site this month: I've added an FAQ page, which provides answers to some of the most common questions put to me by Shansters. You can access it by clicking on the FAQ button on the Shanville UK home page, or clicking on this link or pasting it into your URL: http://www.darrenshan.com/shan6.htm
    Also, check out the COVERS page for the Dutch cover of Cirque Du Freak. Plus, as you'll notice if you go to the page, the rights to the first three books have been bought by ISRAEL this month, to be translated into Hebrew.


    New this month: The Audio Tape release of Tunnels Of Blood! Narrated by Alan Cummings, (who also did the first two book adaptations), this is a fabulously freaky addition to the Shan ranks. I've sung the praises of the tapes before (since they're adapted and narrated by other people, I feel like I'm able to present a fairly objective view), and I'm singing them again! Alan Cummings IS the voice of Darren Shan, Mr Crepsley, et al. If you haven't checked out the tapes yet, now's as good a time as any ... If you can't find the tapes in your local shop, you can buy them from Amazon by visiting the Darren Shan SHOP.
    Also released this month is the American Hardback version of Cirque Du Freak. Although there are more pages in the USA book, it's the same as the UK version, except for small descriptive changes (e.g. they use "Mom" instead of "Mum"). This is now available through Amazon, for anybody who wants it. As with the audio tapes, you can purchase it from the Shan SHOP.


    The Darren Shan Message Board proved very popular when launched last month. In fact, it was so popular, that after a few weeks I decided to upgrade it! The new board -- access it through the Shanville UK home page or by using this link: http://pub41.ezboard.com/bdarrenshanmessageboard -- hasn't proved an immediate winner (more messages were posted on the original board), but people are starting to warm to it and I think it's worth sticking with. Although it looks more complicated to use than the first board, it isn't really, and it boasts many advantages: it collects all the replies to a message together, so they're simple to scan through; readers can use far more graphics than on the old board; when a reply is added to a message, that message thread moves to the top of the board, so you don't have to scroll down to find new messages; obscenities are automatically censored; and, IF YOU WANT, you can register with EZboard, which means nobody else can use your user name.
    If you DON'T want to register with EZboard, YOU DON'T HAVE TO! Anybody can use the board. When you click on the NEW MESSAGE or REPLY button, a screen will come up, asking for a User Name, Password and Subject. You HAVE TO enter a User Name and Subject, but if you aren't registered with EZboard, you simply LEAVE THE PASSWORD BOX BLANK. Write your message, click on the ADD MESSAGE or ADD REPLY button beneath the box, and your message should be posted. IF IT ISN'T, and a second screen comes up asking you for a password, that means your User Name has been registered by somebody else (for instance, I've registered the User Name of Darren Shan, so nobody can post a message as Darren Shan without the proper password). In this case, simply change your User Name (perhaps by adding numbers to the end of it) and try posting it again.
    The Message Board can be lots of fun, though it gets quite heated sometimes too! Mr Black earned the wrath of his fellow Shansters early on, by setting himself up (albeit humorously) as their "leader", and an anoymous poster has more recently inflamed users by slagging me off and calling me a black-haired nerd!!! Check it out ...


    There was a great response to the poetry competition -- the standard was VERY high -- and I had an extremely tough time whittling the poems down to five winners. In the end, I picked the five which made the most impact on me, and also selected a further five runner-ups (they'll receive signed copies of Vampire Mountain in June). I'm printing the winning poems this month, and the runners-up next month. So here, in alphabetical order (going by surnames first), are the five freaky winners.


    Hated by my parents. Stranded in a home. A life of cold, dark misery. No friends to call my own.
    Treated like an animal. Treated like a freak. I spend all my time crying. My future seems so bleak.
    Then, out of the shadows, A figure dressed in black. Gagged to stop my screaming. Hidden in a sack.
    Taken to a circus. Thrust into a cage. "Six pounds a look" he asks of them. An evil, bloody wage.
    One night whilst I was sleeping, I woke to hear a crash. My cruel and evil master. Disabled with a slash.
    A figure strides toward me. A giant plain to see. And though I did not know it, My saviour this would be.
    Now all my woe is over! My future is not bleak! For I have many, many friends, At the fabulous Cirque Du Freak!!


    Cirque Du Freak is a strange little show, And for the oddities alone I recommend that you go.
    But beware the Wolfman with a taste for flesh, And ignore his howls as he claws at his mesh.
    And the lady Truska who is able to grow, A long twisty beard at any point in the show.
    Hans Hands can run fast on his arms, And Rhamus Twobellies' appetite alarms.
    But Mr. Crepsley's talents are wider, As he can charm and control a spider.
    But if you act like ill-fated Shan, You will see that this charmer is not just a man ...


    Creepier than death, Stealthy as fear, Working his magic, On all that come near.
    With eyes like a hawk's, And a heart of pure fire, You'll never survive him, He's like a live wire.
    He's always around, Even though it's not clear, He creeps through the tunnels, Riddled with fear.
    If you so much as touch him, Your life will just freeze, His name is Murlough, The deathly vampaneze.


    Darren and Steve were two normal boys, Who used to have fun playing with their toys,
    They came to the Cirque, it gave them a fright, Now they must enter the world of the night.
    Crepsley the vampire decided their fates, Darren must come while the other one waits,
    Waits to kill vampires, for such is his joy, And waits to slay Darren by means of a ploy.
    Darren and Steve, who were once such good friends, Must fight each other as means to their ends,
    While the vampire who destroyed both their lives, Watches them both through his careless dark eyes."


    I remember their faces/ his hands, her warmth/ smiles, touches and glances/ their moods and their favourite places
    I look at myself, I see even more/ her hair, his eyes/ and smaller, littler traces
    It's when I look closer/ I think to myself/ what have I done?/ what did I do?/ is it me that I see?
    am I leaving humanity?
    I think of what I see/ the mystery, the grotesque/ blood, pain and death/ closing my eyes, that's what I see
    I see what's around me, what I deserve/ strange creatures, new lives/ I did save a friend, can't I be free?
    It's when I look closer/ that I realise/ my greed was their pain/ and that I am to blame//nobody else except me
    am I leaving humanity?
    I think I've moved on/ the feeding, the acceptance/ ability, looks and strength/ yet wishing they knew where I'd gone
    I think of the cirque, to never of been/ no spiders, no freaks/ what would I be if nothing went wrong?
    It's when I look closer/ to think what I am/ and know what I lost/ and should I go on?/ time will pass, then what will I be?
    am I leaving humanity?
    I will remember them all/ my family, my friends/ Annie, Sam and Debbie/ I have to move on, take down the wall
    I accept where I am/ I've seen courage, known loyalty/ and people who care and be there when I fall
    It's when I look closer/ and see what I have/ friendship and laughter/ not just duty and sacrifice/ life must go on and I become we
    am I leaving humanity?
    maybe I've found it.

    * * * * *

    I'll be holding the draw for all registered Shansters on Sunday April 1st. Everybody who's registered will be entered. I'll pick 3 names at random. The winners will get a proof copy of Vampire Mountain -- PLUS a proof copy of Book 5 of the Saga, Trials Of Death Because Book 5 is coming out earlier than scheduled (see February's issue of the Shanville Monthly), the proofs are also coming out earlier. This is your chance to read Trials Of Death almost half a year before it hits the shops! (But be warned: Trials ends on a huge cliffhanger, so those who read the proof copies in April will have a long, nail-biting wait until February 2002 to find out how the story finishes!) I'll contact the 3 winners by e-mail. If any of them doesn't reply within 10 days (by midnight, April 11), that person will forfeit their prize and I'll draw again.

    Award Nomination!

    learned this month that Cirque Du Freak has been nominated for the Sheffield Children's Book Award. I don't know much about it yet (I don't even think the shortlist has been officially released!), except the winning book is voted for by young readers in Sheffield. I'll post more news on a future issue of the Monthly. (PS The fact that two of the winners in the poetry competition come from Sheffield has nothing to do with this Award! I only learned about this after I'd judged the competition. Honest!!!!)


    My events in Dublin and Limerick early in March had to be cancelled because of the Foot & Mouth scare, but I did make it to Sutton Park School and Mount Temple Comprehensive in Dublin late in the month, where I had lots of freakish fun.
    I'm scheduled to go to the Historical Themeparc Archeon in the Netherlands on April 7/8 for the Fantasy Fair. However, Aer Lingus (the company I'm meant to be flying over with) are staging a strike on the day I'm meant to go!!! Hopefully a way will be found around this ...


    Many Shansters, when writing to me, sign themselves off as "Your Number One Fan". While I'd never disagree with any of you (I wouldn't dare -- as those who've used the Message Board know, you can be a bloodthirsty bunch when you get your hackles up!), one young Shanster has put her money where her mouth is: Jennifer Beech of Park Hill Junior School. Jennifer keeps a reading journal, in which she writes about her favourite books and authors, and when I met her on a recent visit to her school (hi gang!), I was astonished by how much time she'd spent writing about me and my characters. She'd drawn pictures (including one of Darren Shan's grave, with the markings: V.I.V. -- Very Important Vampire!!!!), wrote reports of the books, penned her own Darren Shan story, and included all sorts of interesting, imaginative articles, a few of which I'm including here.

    JUST IN!! It has been reported that the half-vampire known as Darren Shan is killing. We don't know who, what, where or when -- but we do know how. Darren has been sucking blood out of alive humans. If you didn't know, he has once already faked his death and he might do it again. If you have seen or heard of him, dial this number: XXXXXXXXXX
    My name is Debbie Hemlock and I have a boyfriend who has gone missing. His name is Darren Shan and he has a brother and a father. His brother wears a fake beard and a green t-shirt with blue jeans. His father is a detective who wears a detective coat and hat. Darren usually wears a red shirt with blue jeans. If you have seen or heard anything, contact me or my family on XXXXXXXXX. Reward: $100 Please help me -- I am dying to see him.
    £32,000: What is the name of Darren Shan's second children's novel? A: Trials Of Death. B: Tunnels Of Blood. C: Vampire's Assistant. D: Vampire Mountain.
    £64,000: What is Darren Shan's real surname? A: Ridley. B: O'Shaughnessy. C: Hemlock. D: Crepsley.
    £1,000,000: (I've had to skip the other questions, because of space restrictions! -- darren) In which book does Steve Leopard return? A: Book 7. B: Book 8. C: Book 11. D: Book 14.


    That's all for April. I'll be back at the start of May, when the countdown to Vampire Mountain really begins (although it's not officially released until early June, some shops might have copies towards the end of May). Until then, all the bloody best, Darren Shan x x x