• Issue 13 - August 2001

    01 August 2001

    Welcome to the August issue of the Shanville Monthly. I'm posting this a bit earlier than usual because I'm going to be away from my computer for a few days. July's been a quiet month for me (though I've been doing lots of writing!), but I'll be appearing on TV on the BBC at the end of the month. August will be similarly quiet, until the 19th and 20th, when I hit Edinburgh!! For details of these events and more, read on ....
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    Shansters in the UK (or those with access to the BBC) -- watch out!! On Tuesday, July 31st, I'm appearing on a morning show on BBC1 called Xchange. The show runs from 09.30 to 10.00 As far as I know, I'll be talking about scary stories and my books. I also think viewers are going to have an opportunity to phone in with scary stories of their own!!! Hopefully it's going to be a lot of fun -- so tune in and check it out (if you can drag yourself out of bed that early, now that you're on holiday!!!).
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    [email protected]
    You still have a few days left to enter the July competition. The details:
    To help promote the release of Vampire Mountain, my publishers -- HarperCollins -- have produced a brand new Darren Shan double-sided poster, and a Vampire Mountain postcard. The poster features the cover of Vampire Mountain on one side, and smaller snaps of the other covers on the flip side; the postcard features the VM cover. They're both pretty cool!! I'm offering 5 lucky winners the chance to win both a poster and a postcard, and 10 others a postcard! All you have to do is send your full name and address to [email protected] -- that's it!!! No questions to answer or poems to compose!!! The competition will run until midnight, Tuesday July 31st. The first 5 names pulled out of the hat after that will receive a poster and a postcard, the next 10 a postcard (I'll write a personalised message on each card).
    Please note: only one entry per person; when sending your e-mail, please put your name in the subject box (it makes it easier for me that way) and make sure you include your full address (including postal code and country) in the message; the winners will be picked at random from all the entries, and the posters and postcards will be sent to them directly; I will post a list of the winners on the Shanville Message Board; this competition is not open to readers in America. Best of bloody luck!!
    PS In case there are any paranoid Shansters out there, let me make it clear that I won't be holding on to the addresses of those who enter, or passing them on to anybody else: I'll keep them on file until the competition is over, then delete them.
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    The first American reviews of Book 2:The Vampire's Assistant (at least that I've come across) are online now on the Barnes & Noble and Bookloons sites. The links are: shop.barnesandnoble.com/b...0316606103 and http://www.bookloons.com/Database/Teens_Review_of_Vampire's_Assistant_by_Shan.html According to B&N, the book will be available on August 1st (next week!!!!), but I don't know if this is correct or not -- as far as I'm aware, it isn't officially released until September. Still, if it IS correct, it's good news for all you Shan-hungry readers in the States!!!!!!
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    There's now a Large Print UK edition of Cirque Du Freak available for anyone who's interested. This is the same as the standard UK edition (same cover and text), except the book is bigger and the print is larger. You can order copies of the book through amazon.co.uk by clicking on this link: Cirque Large. Alternatively you can write to the publishers for more information at: Ulverscroft Large Print Books Ltd., The Green, Bradgate Road, Anstey, Leicester, LE7 7FU, England.
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    I'm going to the Edinburgh Book Festival again this year, and very much looking forward to it! I'm doing two events, on Sunday August 19th at 4.15pm and Monday August 20 at 4.30pm. The events will be very different -- on Sunday I'll be having lots of fun, answering general questions about the books, reading out a bit of Book 5, etc. On Monday I'm going to be talking about how I actually write the books, how I plot them, develop story-lines and characters, edit them, etc. It should be interesting -- you might also pick up a few tips if you're a wannabe writer ...
    Tickets for each event cost £3.50 and are on sale now. You'll be able to buy tickets at the festival on the day, or you can order them in advance by phoning the Box Office on 0131 624 5050, or by going to the Box Office at James Thin Booksellers, 57 George Street, Edinburgh, or through their internet site, which you can access by clicking on this link: http://www.edbookfest.co.uk/home.asp#
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    usau.s.a. bound!!!usa

    Take heed, American Shansters -- the half-vampire himself is (probably!) coming your way in October!!! My American publishers, LittleBrown, have asked me to come to America near the end of October, to do some promoting. The plan, as far as I know, is for me to travel to California during the week leading up to Halloween -- and maybe go to New York as well. I don't have a definite itinerary yet, and I'm not sure whether I'll just be doing interviews and TV/radio shows, or visiting some schools and/or libraries as well. But as soon as I know for sure, I'll post the info on the American Message Board, and include it in a future issue of the Shanville Monthly.
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    translators required!

    I came across a Dutch review of Cirque Du Freak recently which looks quite interesting, but I can't translate it!! The link is: http://www.pzc.nl/CDA/regioportal/1,2078,1633__639338_,00.html If any Shansters would care to translate it, I'd love to know what it says! You can send translated version to me at [email protected]
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    japanese site

    There's a really cool Darren Shan web site, designed and maintained by my publishers in Japan. It's all in Japanese (of course!), but there are lots of neat graphics, and it's definitely worth having a look at. The link is: http://www.shogakukan.co.jp/darren/
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    As promised last month, here's a full run-down of my June trip to Scotland/England, when I spent a week travelling around, promoting the release of Vampire Mountain. If you want to know what life is like for a writer on the road -- read on!
    Sunday, June 3: Flew to Edinburgh from Shannon airport in the morning. I enjoy flying, so this is one of the perks of the job for me! I got a cab to the lovely hotel where I was staying (Collins know how to treat their authors!) and met Jo, the Collins publicity rep who was there to look after me (I'm always accompanied when I travel -- they don't trust me to get around by myself!!). Jo had broken her toe a day or two before, so she was hobbling about painfully -- not a promising start to the week! I went on a ghost tour of Old Edinburgh later (Jo had to stay in the hotel) with a few teachers and a lot of children from the school where I was going to the next day. Very enjoyable, though a couple of the kids were heckling the guide all the way through the tour, and I got a bit nervous about having to face them in the morning!!! After that it was back to the hotel, watch some TV, and bed.
    Monday, June 4: Spent the day at the Royal High School in Edinburgh, where I did my "act" three times. The "act" basically consists of the following: I usually start by acting out the scene from "Cirque Du Freak" where the Wolf Man bites a woman's hand off -- I find this is a fun way of introducing people to the book; then I talk a bit about the next books and what happens in them; then I ask somebody up to interview me -- I have a list of questions, most of which I compiled from common queries I get on Shanville; then we have a general Q&A session; and I finish up by reading out a bit of Book 4 or Book 5. The success of the events depends to a large extent on the willingness of the audience to get involved: if the actors throw themselves into the scene, and loads of people ask questions, it's great fun; but sometimes the actors get nervous, and there aren't an awful lot of questions, and I have to work hard to keep it interesting! Today was quite hard work. The librarian (Evelyn Smith) and kids had gone to great effort in advance: loads of them had read the books, a lot had drawn pictures of the characters or written essays about them, and it was all set to be a truly shantastic experience! BUT most of those familiar with my work were First Years, and -- worst luck! -- this was their annual school Sports Day, so most of them couldn't make it to the events!!! This meant that many of the kids I was performing to were 2nd or 3rd years, who hadn't read the books. Older teens also tend to be more self-conscious than primary or 1st year secondary pupils. I did have fun, and we sold a nice few copies of the book, but I know that on another day, with the 1st years, it would have been much wilder and zanier. Oh well -- I guess I'll just have to return another time, when they aren't all out on the sports field!!!! In the evening I caught a train to Newcastle with Jo. Settled into another very nice hotel, had dinner, watched some TV, bed. (No wild nights for me when I'm travelling -- I lose my voice very easily, so I have to be careful to protect it!!!)
    Tuesday, June 5: Two fun events in Waterstone's in Newcastle, with children from two different schools. Lots of the kids were familiar with the books, eager to take part in the acting, and full of questions. Loads bought copies too, which is always nice! I love signing copies of my books, and never tire of it!!! Jo returned to London in the afternoon, and I went on to my next port of call -- Huddersfield -- alone, where I was met by another of the Collins publicity people: Katherine. Dinner, TV, bed. (Can you see a pattern developing?!?)
    Wednesday, June 6: Went to the Children's Bookshop in Huddersfield in the morning, and was then driven to Halifax (our driver, Howard, was a wonderful guide -- it was like being on a tour!), where I visited two schools full of lively, inquisitive kids. Most of the kids at the first school had never heard of me, but that didn't stop them pumping me with questions!! At the second school, the class were reading Vampire Mountain, when I walked in and interrupted -- SURPRISE!! These visits were arranged at almost the last minute, after another shop had cancelled a planned event very late in the day, so extra special thanks to all involved for setting them up! After that, the train to London. I checked my e-mails and the Shanville Message Board (I don't always have a chance to check them while I'm travelling). Then it was TV and bed. (I had dinner earlier in the day!)
    Thursday, June 7: Taken to two schools by the Children's Bookshop in Sutton -- another great store for children's books. Had fun at both schools. Sold a huge amount of books at the first school -- we actually had to put a limit on the number of books each kid could buy, so that we’d have enough copies for the next school! Signing for more than an hour. By the way, when I sign books at events like these, I don’t just scribble my name: I inscribe each book to the owner (“To John”, “To Mary”, or whatever his/her name is), then add a line or two to personalize it (such as: “Enjoy your trip to Vampire Mountain!” or “All the bloody best!”). I figure, if people are going to buy a book and stand around waiting for it to be signed, they deserve more than just a hasty signature! Went to see a film at the cinema tonight, before returning to the hotel and hitting the sack.
    Friday, June 8: The last leg of the trip — and the most successful! Today went like a dream. I went to the Children’s Book Shop in Pinner. They took me around to three schools, and we also had a signing session back at the store that afternoon. What made today so special was that the store had really publicized the books in advance (the owners have been great supporters of the books since Cirque Du Freak was released) and drummed up a huge amount of local interest. We sold an enormous amount of books, and I did more signings than I’d ever done in a single day before! Very tiring, but hugely enjoyable. A great way to wrap the week up. (And special thanks to Zahava, my “mini-assistant”!!) After that, I had to go straight to the airport to catch my flight home. Checked my e-mails and the Shanville Message Board, and crawled to bed, exhausted but happy -- and slept in late!!!!!
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    And that's it for this month. Not a lot of news to report this time round, but I hope you enjoyed your little peek behind the scenes in "On The Road"!! Watch out for me on Tuesday if you have the BBC, and do try come and see me in Edinburgh if you can make it -- should be fun!!! Talk to you all again in September (when The Vampire's Assistant goes on release in America!). Until then, all the bloody best, Darren Shan x x x
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