• Issue 40 - 41 - Nov - Dec 2003

    01 November 2003

    Yo-ho-ho!!!! Merry Freaky Christmas, everybody!!!!! I hope you're all having a great ghoultide! I've just got back from almost three months of holidaying (see below), and am struggling to adapt to normality!! It doesn't help that I've got a mountain of post to get through! If anyone has sent me a fan letter during the past few months, please be PATIENT!! I will answer your letter, but it could be another month or so before I have time to reply to all the mail that's come through while I was away! In the meantime, let's push ahead and catch up with everything that's been happening while I was overseas, starting with news of how some of my books have been selling ...


    Book 10, The Lake Of Souls, spent four weeks at the number 1 (one) spot in the Irish children's bestseller chart!!!! In the U.K., it got higher than any of my other books, getting to number 3 (three) on the children's bestselling fiction chart, and number 6 (six) on the overall children's chart (which includes stuff like the Beano and Dandy annuals). Thanks to everyone who bought the book and recommended it to their friends! The success of the books has increased dramatically in the U.K. during 2003. They've always sold well here, but now they're selling better than ever before! Let's hope that continues through into 2004 ... with the luck of the vampires!!!!


    Book 9, Killers of the Dawn, got to NUMBER 1 (ONE) in Japan -- and that's on the OVERALL BESTSELLING CHART!!!!! Which means it includes adult books as well as children's!!!!!! This is the second time one of my books has been number 1 in Japan (book 7 was the other time; book 8 got to number 2). I was even more excited about it this time -- I was afraid that the first time might have just been luck, and I'd never get to number 1 there again!!!!!!!! Thanks to my huge fanbase of Japanese Shansters! I'm currently discussing the possibility of a third trip to Japan with my publishers, and when and if I do come back, I'm going to try to go to a few different cities around the country, and to do signing sessions rather than show events -- so that lots of you will be able to get your books signed!!!!! More news about that as and when I get it ...


    Book 6, The Vampire Prince, got to number 2 (two) on both the Taiwan and Hong Kong overall fiction bestseller charts!!! (As in Japan, that means both adult's and children's books.) This was brilliant news for me! The earlier books have sold very well out there (I know that I've been number 1 on the fantasy bestselling chart in Taiwan before this), so it's great to see that readers are sticking with the series and pulling more new readers on board!! I was meant to go to Taiwan this year (as well as Thailand and China), but had to cancel because of SARS. Plans are currently being made to re-schedule this tour, and I hope to be heading out to the Far East to do some work early in 2004!!! More details to follow in later issues of the Shanville Monthly ...
    Oh, by the way, don't forget that my Taiwanese publishers have their own Darren Shan web site!! You can check it out by clicking here: http://www.crown.com.tw/darrenshan/index.htm If you search around on it, you'll find LOADS of great Darren Shan wallpaper images which you can download for your PC!!!!!!
    And, if you want to see the ever-popular Japanese site, and find even MORE wallpaper images for your computer, click here: http://www.shogakukan.co.jp/darren/ Both sites are in their own languages, but the wallpaper sections aren't very hard to find -- so just keep looking!

    BOOK 11 cover

    Book 11, Lord of the Shadows, will be released in the U.K. and Ireland in June 2004. You can check out the cover for it by clicking here: http://www.darrenshan.com/uk_site/home/uk-home11lord.html The cover's one of my favourites of the British editions -- have a look and see what you think!!!


    As I said above, I was on holiday for much of the last three months (the reason why there was no separate November Shanville Monthly, and why this issue was so late going to press!). To find out what I got up to while I was away, read on!! (Because there's so much to report on, I'm going to split the holiday account up into two parts -- you can read the rest of it in the January issue of the Monthly!)

    The trip started in Australia. I did some work first of all, promoting my books -- as well as the brilliant collection of short stories, Kids' Night In (it features an exclusive short story by me! You can order it in the UK or Ireland by clicking here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0007157983/shanville or the Australian/New Zealand edition by clicking here: http://www.dymocks.com.au/ContentDynamic/Full_Details.asp?ISBN=014330058X) -- in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. I did loads of radio and newspaper interviews, and a spooky piece for TV show called The Big Arvo which was shot in an old series of miltary tunnels (though I don't think that will be shown until the new year). I also went into a few schools -- interesting to see what they're like over here. The ones I visited were very big and spacious -- I wish I'd been able to go to them when I was young!!! I did some public signing events too, though most of these were fairly sparsely attended (as we expected them to be, since I'm not that well known in Oz) -- but many thanks to those who DID turn up!!!! I met lots of Australian writers at the KNI events, including current Aussie heavyweight Andy Griffiths (his latest book was Number 1 on the general fiction list there, and is all about rogue bums!!!), who was lots of fun. And I ran into old pal Anthony Horowitz, who was also out there doing promotional work -- it's a small world!!!!
    I climbed Sydney Harbour Bridge while I was there, and held a koala and fed several kangaroos in Brisbane!! I came within a few feet of a poisonous snake in the wilds too (while filming the piece for the TV show!) but luckily it didn't strike! Australia's amazing for non-natives like me. Lizards running around everywhere ... trees full of giant bats ... possums sleeping in the rafters of schools -- you don't get any of that back in Ireland!!!!!
    Once I'd finished working, I drove (rather, Lady Bas of the Busty Wilds -- who was travelling with me -- did the driving; I just sat back and navigated!) from Brisbane to Cairns -- a LONG, 2000 kilometre journey. It was lots of fun, working our way up the east coast. We climbed one of the Glass House Mountains just outside of Brisbane. Had a minor setback when we came down -- Lady Bas failed to spot a tree next to our car, and reversed into it, knocking off our front fender!!!! But one quick change of car and we were back in business!! We went to Fraser Island for a day -- the world's biggest sand bank, with a rainforest covering most of it. Very enjoyable, though not the most fantastic place I've ever been to (it gets rave reviews in the tourist guides, so my expectations were perhaps unfairly high).
    We enjoyed staying in a little village called Rainbow Beach, which has an amazing sand blow looming over the top of it (basically a big mountain of sand which has covered a huge section of a forest and is still growing!). We went out on a boat to see the whales off of Hervey Bay -- an incredible experience. They really are amazing creatures -- though I'd seen lots of photos and film of them over the years, nothing had prepared me for an actual encounter. Beautiful! I can't anybody would actually hunt and kill these majestic creatures ...
    We then worked our way up through Rockhampton (the beef capital of Queensland!) and visited the Whitsunday Islands -- simply beautiful!! Did a helicopter flight over the islands, which was one of the highlights of the entire trip. It's costly, but if any of you ever get the chance, go for it!!! We stayed on a small island for a night, in a beach hut, which was lovely -- though I got a bit sunburnt the next day!! The sun out there is FIERCE!!!!! We meant to do a bit of white-water rafting or sea kayaking, but the sunburn put paid to that, so we drove straight up to Cairns instead. Did a series of trips from there, to Cape Tribulation and Kuranda -- both very nice. Also went to the Undara lava caves -- very impressive, though I was even more struck by the thousands of bats I saw!!! VERY hot though -- 38 in the shade!!!!!!!! Definitely not anything you'd ever get in Limerick!!!!!!!!!!

    From Australia we flew to New Zealand for a month. I did some very enjoyable events in Auckland, to promote my books. Went to a couple of cool schools, and had fun on Halloween in a theatre! Then, to kick my holiday off, I did a sky jump from the famous Auckland Sky Tower. Basically, attached to a couple of wires, I leapt off of the building at a height of 192 metres!!! (Yup, that's right -- metres, not feet!!) It was brilliant, though not especially scary -- since you're attached to two wires, you more sort of float to the ground than fall.
    Further down the country, we went black water rafting -- a lot like white water rafting, only it takes place underground, in a cave with a stream running through it!!! After a short walk upstream in the dark (having abseiled down), I saw loads of glowworms, then sat in a rubber tube and set off downstream in complete darkness. It was GREAT!!! I got thrown off, dragged under water, bounced off rocks, etc. Very rough, but brilliant fun. Had to walk back upstream afterwards, which was hard work, then rock climb back up to normal land, but I loved every minute of it. If you're ever in Waitomo (where I did it), then look for Rap, Raft 'N' Rock -- you won't regret it!!!
    From there we drove to Taupo, and in the space of a few hours I went jet boating (lots of fun!), did a bungy jump, and the highest tandem sky dive in the world -- I leapt out of the plane at 15,000 feet!!!!!! I was in freefall for an entire minute. AWESOME!!! But VERY cold -- minus 20 when I jumped out of the plane!!!!!!!!!! To round the action off, the next day I did (along with Bas, who'd opted out of the jumps!) the famous Tongariro Crossing -- a 17 kilometre walk over some of the loveliest mountains in New Zealand. (One of them is used as Mount Doom in the movie of The Lord of the Rings.) A fabulous walk, made all the more so since it had been snowing the day before, but very tiring -- especially for somebody as unfit as me!!!!! A few more events in Wellington after that, then down to the South Island -- known throughout the world as the land of mad adventures -- where I was to have an unexpected and most unwelcome brush with death ...
    to be concluded


    Towards the end of September, something went wrong with the web server which handles my Shanville contact and register forms, meaning nobody was able to register for the Shanville Monthly or send me an e-mail. This problem took a long time to fix, but finally, in December, the contact form was corrected, and people can now send me e-mails again. The register form hasn't been sorted out yet, but should be back up and running early in the new year. My apologies to everyone for the inconveience caused.


    Don't you love those Christmas traditions without which the season just wouldn't be the same? Such as Christmas trees ... mistletoe ... carol singers ... roast turkey ... and, of course, SHANTA CLAUS!!!!!!! Yes, he's back! The vampishly titled Merry Bloody Christmas, starring Shanta Claus, is one of the most popular of all the stories which I have written for the Extras section of Shanville. I add it to the site every Christmas, then remove it again early in January. It's set just after the events of Book 3, features many of the characters of the first three books, and is lots of ghoulish fun!! This year, as an added bonus (particularly for long-term Shansters who've read the story before), I've added some re-worked Christmas songs, replacing the normal lyrics with some Shantastic lines of my own!! For your regular ghoultide fix of Shanta, click on the following link (and don't forget, you only have a week or two to do so -- it vanishes for another year shortly after New Year's Day!!!): http://www.darrenshan.com/uk_site/extras/uk-extras08.html


    And that's it for November and December! I'll be back early in January (but it won't be right at the start of the month -- probably the 6th or 7th, if not later) with the next issue of the Monthly, including the second half of my holiday travelogue, my 2003 news round-up, and lots of new cover images of my books from around the globe!! I'll also be running the first Shanville competition of 2004!!!! Until then, all the bloody best, and I hope you all have a truly wonderful Christmas and New Year's!! Darren Shan x x x