• Issue 34 - May 2003

    01 May 2003

    MAY I welcome you all to the latest issue of the Shanvile Monthly?!? *GROAN* OK -- no more dud jokes! Last month was quite busy, and pretty diverse. As well as doing a lot of writing, I went to the DVD launch of the second Harry Potter movie at the film studios in London (a last-minute invite courtesy of Matt Lewis' Mum!!!) -- met lots of the cast members (most of whom I've met on previous trips -- I've quite a few fans on set!) and got a goodie bag which included a free DVD of the movie and a bag of Bertie Botts jellie beans -- tasty little suckers!!! It's good to have friends in high places!!!!! I went to an aunt's 50th birthday in Plymouth (hi, Kathleen!), and the confirmation of 2 of my cousins (Lorcan Fitzgerald - the infamous inspiration for Evra Von! - and Brian Barry). I went to Brussels over the Easter weekend, with Lady Bas of the Busty Wilds -- bought lots of chocolate, as well a super-cool stuffed bat!! It has fangs the size of my little fingernail!!! Went to a Paul McCartney concert (loads of Beatles songs -- cracking stuff!). And spent a lot of time chasing people up to try and sort out my new house. There -- just thought I'd give you all a taste of what an average month is like for the Shanster! Now, on with the news ...


    Book 5, Trials Of Death, is on sale in America NOW!!!!!! It hit the web, on Barnes & Noble and Amazon, in mid-April, and should be a bookshop near you even as you read this. (If it isn't, demand they stock it!! As I'm always reminding people, bookshops exist to serve their customers' wishes -- but they can't stock what you want unless they know you want it!) It's been doing well on both web sites -- it made the B&N Top 100 bestsellers! Hopefully it'll do well in bookshops too!! Book 5 is an action-packed number, which takes some unexpected plot twists towards the end, and signals the start of the story arc which is the mainstay of the rest of the series. It proved very popular with regular Shansters in the U.K. and Ireland when it was released here, so I hope all my Stateside freaks enjoy it too!!!
    If you want to order the book over the internet, I'd recommend B&N or Amazon. You can order by clicking on either of the following links:
    AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0316603678/ref=pd_sim_books_2/002-8151684-3603236?v=glance&s=books
    BARNES&NOBLE: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbninquiry.asp?userid=33L0SLN95X&pwb=1&ean=9780316603676
    You can also read a review of the book on the B&N site, and there's another review on KidsTurnCentral at http://www.kidsturncentral.com/topics/books/cirque5.htm Both are highly positive -- and rightly so!!! And don't forget, you can post your own review of the book on either of the sites, if you wish. (All this reminds me -- I haven't updated the USA or UK reviews sections in ages!!! It's not that there hasn't been any recent reviews of my books -- I just haven't had time to put them on my site!)
    You can also find links to the B&N and Amazon pages by visiting the U.S.A shop, where there are also links to the first 4 books in the series too. Find it by clicking here: http://www.darrenshan.com/us_site/usshop/usshop.html


    Book 9, Killers of the Dawn, was Number 1 in a recent Bookseller Children's Heatseekers chart in the U.K., for the second month in a row!! The Bookseller is the leading bookselling industry magazine. Their charts are compiled by Booktrack (the compilers of the UK's official bestselling charts). The Heatseekers Top 10 is published regularly in The Bookseller with all other charted bestsellers. It's a sort of alternative bestseller chart, listing titles which don't often make it into the official bestseller lists (like books from new authors, or from long-running series).

    #1 IN TAIWAN!

    Book 4, Vampire Mountain, was a number 1 bestseller in Taiwan in April, according to the country's largest book chainstore, Kingstone!!! That was fantastic news! I've had lots of e-mails from readers in Taiwan -- the books seem to be doing fabulously out there!! (As they are in a number of countries in the Far East!)


    For loads of newly uploaded readers' artwork, click on the following link: http://www.darrenshan.com/gallery/gallery1.html Please note: I can only display a limited selection of the art I recieve. If you've sent a drawing to me, and it doesn't make it on to Shanville, it doesn't mean I don't like it -- you were just unlucky not to make the cut!


    I've agreed to do an event for the Listowel Literary Festival this year, on Thursday, May 29th, at 11.00, in the library. If you're interested in coming along, check out their web site at: http://www.writersweek.ie/ I'm not listed in the site's programme, but there's a contact page, so you should be able to find out more details by phoning or e-mailing them.


    I'm afraid I've had to alter some of my plans for my tour of the Far East in June, because of the SARS outbreak. On the advice of a number of organizations and individuals, I've had to postpone my trips to CHINA, TAIWAN and THAILAND. I'm really gutted about this, but health has to come first. I'm going to try to return to these countries once SARS has been dealt with, possibly later this year in October or November, or else next year (with the luck of the vampires!). I hate having to cancel, but in situations like this there isn't really any alternative -- we had a foot-and-mouth outbreak in Ireland a couple of years ago, so I know from experience that the only way to beat this is for people to act sensibly and only travel when absolutely necessary. Although my trip would have been a lot of fun, it's not essential, so there's no point running the risk of spreading the virus when I can just as easily return another time.
    Japan is still all-systems-go. I'll be there from June 12 to June 19, and I'm going to be doing some B-I-G events there!! After that, I also hope to go to South Korea and America, but those plans have yet to be confirmed. I'll send out an e-mail update to all global registrees later this month, once I know for definite. For more info about my Japanese events, check out my Japanese publishers' web site at: http://www.shogakukan.co.jp/darren/ For other info, keep an eye on the Shanville Message Board News forum at http://pub41.ezboard.com/fdarrenshanmessageboardfrm9 and see next month's issue of the Shanville Monthly.
    And the touring doesn't stop there! Later in the year, in October, I plan to travel to Australia and New Zealand, partly for a long holiday, but also to do some promotional work. Again, I'll add more details to the News Forum and Shanville Monthly as and when they're confirmed. (If possible, I might try to fit in my visit to China, Taiwan and Thailand around this time -- but those plans are at a very early stage right now.)
    On the home front, I can confirm that I will definitely be attending the Edinburgh Book Festival again this year, and will be appearing in 4 very different events! I'm doing a solo event at 10.30 on Saturday August 9th, followed by a panel event at 17.30 that afternoon with Garth Nix and Theresa Breslin, where we'll be talking about fantasy books. On Sunday August 10th, I'll be doing another solo event at 11.30, and an event with Annie Dalton (and possibly that wild woman of intrigue, Lady Bas of the Busty Wilds!) at 17.30 to talk about the superb WarChild anthology, Kids Night In (see further down for more info about that). I'll be performing "The Song of Darren Shan, verses 7 to 9" at one of my solo events. (It's the plot of the books set to rhyme! I did the first 3 books/verses two years ago, and 4 to 6 last year, so it's become something of an Edinburgh institution by now!) For the second event, I'm going to be trying something entirely new -- a Darren Shan Christmas play!!! Basically, it's going to be a dramatised, altered version of the "Shanta Claus" story which I post on Shanville each Xmas. A Yuletide play in the middle of summer?!? It could only happen in the freaky world of Darren Shan!!!!!!


    I haven't written very many short stories over the last few years, apart from those you can find in the Shanville Extras. But all of a sudden I have two stories coming out in two wildly different collections within the next few months.
    First up, one which won't really be of interest to people who aren't familiar with the brilliant comics writer, Alan Moore. He's the guy who wrote Watchmen, Miracleman, Saga of the Swamp Thing, From Hell, etc. In my opinion he's one of the best writers ever, a definite personal hero of mine. His best work is absolutely amazing! He turns 50 in November, and to celebrate, a bunch of comics writers and artists have contributed stories, essays, artwork and a whole lot more to a collection called "Alan Moore: Portrait Of An Extraordinary Gentleman". To my great delight and honour, I was also asked to contribute, so I came up with a light-hearted story about a 10 year old Alan Moore, which will be appearing in it. In short, it follows young Alan around on his 10th birthday, and sows lots of pretend seeds for the ideas behind most of the comics and stories he was to write later in his life. For people who've read a lot of Alan Moore stuff, it should be lots of fun, spotting all the in-jokes -- but for those who know nothing at all about him, it might produce nothing more than a blank stare and a "huh?!?" Still, if you want to check my story out, the book is being released in May, and should be available in all good comics shops. Or else you can order it from the Page 45 comics shop in Nottingham by going to their web site at http://www.page45.couk.com/P45main.html
    In July you'll be able to read a new short story by me in the WarChild anthology, Kids Night In, published by Harper Collins (the self-same good folk who publish my books too!). WarChild are a charity organisation who work in war zones, helping out children who are suffering as a result of war. (They'll be going into Iraq soon, so try and help clear up some of the mess left behind by those evil goons of global menace, George "Bonnie" Bush and Tony "lap dog Clyde" Blair -- if only I'd punched him in the nose when I had the chance!!!) To help raise funds, their prettiest staff member, Helen Basini (aka Lady Bas of the Busty Wilds!!) has put together a short story collection which is simply staggering! There are brand new stories by Jacqueline Wilson, Eoin Colfer, Garth Nix, Brian Jacques, Philip Ardagh, and a whole, WHOLE lot more!! In fact, the full list of contributors reads like a Who's Who of modern children's authors! Their biggest coup, however, was grabbing yours truly! (And yes, my tongue IS in my cheek!!!) I proved so hard to atract, that in the end Miss Basini resorted to hounding me in my personal life, and even set herself up as my girlfriend to convince me to give her a story!!!! The story I finally came up with is called "Hagurosan". I got the idea while climbing a holy mountain in Japan last year. It's very different to the Saga, slow and thoughtful, with not an action scene in sight! But it's a story I'm very proud of, and I recommend the collection to all readers of my books -- you'll not only be getting a book full of the best short children's stories of 2003, but you'll be helping save children's lives too. (p.s. the WarChild web site is http://www.warchild.org.uk/ )


    Want to see some photos of Darren Shan? Then click on the following link, for snapshots galore!! http://www.darrenshan.com/shanography/photos1.html


    And that's it for May! This month, in addition to writing, I'm going to be going on a little weekend tour of the south coast of Ireland with Lady Bas, spend a night with a gang of nuns in a convent (!!), take in Tottenham Hotspurs' final home game of the season, go to see Richard II at the Globe theatre in London, see Neil Young perform live -- and so on! It's a wonder that I ever get time to write any more!!!! Until next month, all the bloody best, Darren Shan x x x