• Issue 52 - November 2004

    01 November 2004

    Phew -- what a month!!! I've been dashing around the U.K. and Ireland practically the whole of October, promoting book 12, Sons of Destiny. Most of the time I was meeting fans in schools, book stores, libraries and a variety of other places, though I also gave lots of interviews, on TV and radio shows (such as Ireland A.M., and the Sky Mix special It's A Girl Thing), and to newspapers, magazines and web mags. You can read about some of the interviews below, as well as find info about upcoming interviews -- because they haven't all aired or seen print yet!! You can also read about the tour and how it went, find out how book 12 fared in the charts, learn more about my trip to Japan next year -- as well as a country not too far from Japan that I'll also be visiting -- and more!!!!And what do you have to do to access this world of informational wonders, you ask? Just scroll down, my friends -- just scroll ...


    Book 12, Sons Of Destiny, went on sale in the U.K. and Ireland in October and topped the charts in both countries!! It spent the entire month in the top 4 of the Children's Bestselling Paperbacks chart, and was #1 for two of those weeks!!! In Ireland it stayed within the top 3 Bestselling Children's Books all month and also got to #1, though only for 1 week. (Curious Incident of the Dog ... is still hanging around at or near the top of the Irish children's charts!!) It was brilliant to make the #1 spot, especially in the U.K., where it was my first time. Many thanks to all the hard-working folk at Harper Collins for pushing the book so vigorously all month, all the book sellers who got so actively behind it -- and, of course, all of YOU, the readers, who bought it!!!!!


    As part of the promotional push for book 12, Collins created a microsite for Sons of Destiny, with some cool wallpaper and screensaver Downloads, notes and recollections about each of the books written by me, and more! You're now also able to go on the microsite and vote for your favourite character from the series, and your fave cover!!! But please note, this poll is ONLY for the U.K. covers. Readers from other countries can visit the microsite, check out the covers, and cast their vote -- but only for the U.K. versions of the covers. We'll leave the polls open until the end of the year and I'll announce the ultimate winners -- as voted by all of YOU -- in the January issue of the Shanville Monthly.
    I'm going to provide the link for the microsite just underneath this paragraph, but before I do, A WARNING!!! The site is designed for readers who have read all 12 of the books which have been published in the U.K. THERE ARE LOTS OF SPOILERS!!! Especially in the About The Saga section. I URGENTLY advise anyone who has not read all the books (especially my American fans, who are only up to book 8) NOT to read the sample chapter of book 12, OR the info about books 9, 10, 11 and 12 in the ABOUT THE SAGA section. If you ignore my advice, you will learn things that will spoil a lot of your enjoyment of the later books!!!!!!! Trust me -- there are twists revealed here which you REALLY don't want to know about in advance!!!!!!!!!


    (1) I have recorded an interview for the RTE1 radio show, Rattlebag, which goes out Monday to Friday between 2.45p.m. and 3.30p.m. There's also a compendium edition each Friday at 8.30p.m. I don't know the date that my interview will be aired, but it's supposed to be sometime during the week starting November 1st -- so listen out for it!!! If you don't have a radio, or don't live in Ireland, you can listen to the show online by clicking here: http://www.rte.ie/radio/rattlebag/home.html

    (2) I will be appearing LIVE on the CBBC Xchange television show on Tuesday, November 16th (NOT, as previously stated, Monday 15th!!!!), between 4.30p.m. and 5.00p.m. If you live in the U.K. or Ireland, you can watch the show on any of the following channels:
    Channel 30 - Freeview
    Channel 616 - Sky digital
    Channel 701 - Telewest
    Channel 598 or 67 - NTL cable
    (3) There will be a radio interview with me on RTE Radio 1 on Sunday, November 7th, at 6.00p.m. The show is called The Funday Show, and you can learn more about it by clicking here: http://www.rte.ie/radio/thefundayshow/ This was recorded at one of my library events in Dublin (Pembroke, to be exact) and should feature me doing a short reading, and answering some questions from fans as well as the interviewer.
    (4) There will be an interview with me appearing in the Irish Examiner sometime in November (probably within the first 3 weeks). I think they're going to be doing a pullout supplement about literature, and it will be in that. There might also be something about me in the Evening Echo, but I have no idea of the date on that one!!!


    An online newspaper -- catchingly called The Newspaper and accessible at http://www.thenewspaper.org.uk -- is running a competition for readers to win a set of signed copies of the 12 UK books of The Saga of Darren Shan!! All you have to do is answer the following easy-peasy question: What is the name of Mr Crepsley's spider? Send the answer, and include your name, age and address, either by e-mail to [email protected] OR by snail mail to Darren Shan, The Newspaper, PO Box 8215, Sawbridgeworth, CM21 9WW, U.K. There are 5 sets of the books up for grabs, and the closing date is December 31, 2004. I have nothing to do with the running of this competition, so I don't know the full rules and can't answer any queries that you might have, but I imagine it will only be open to readers living in the U.K. (and maybe Ireland). If you want to be certain, send an SAE to the address above and ask for a set of the full terms and conditions. May the luck of the vampires be with you!!


    Recently, readers of the Fox Kids Mag were invited to ask me any questions they liked, and I answered a selection of them. You can find the Q&A by clicking on the link at the bottom of this message. But first -- A WARNING!!! Some of the questions are SPOILERS and give some important plot twists away, especially a MASSIVE twist from BOOK 9:KILLERS OF THE DAWN. IF YOU HAVE NOT READ BOOK 9, DO NOT CLICK ON THIS LINK!!!!!!


    The DesTiny tour was, of course, my sole raison d'etre in October -- I spent virtually the entire month on the road, travelling around the U.K. and Ireland, meeting thousands of fans and signing LOTS of thousands of books!!! I was completely unprepared for the amount of fans turning up and the enthusiasm displayed!!! All of the other tours I've done here have consisted largely of school events -- i.e. of reaching the unconverted. This was the first time I'd undertaken a large tour where I would have to depend on fans motivating themselves to turn up in large numbers -- and, boy, did they!!! I was signing for at least 2 hours at practically every event, sometimes closer to 3 hours!!! Loads of fans had several books from the series, and a good number had all 12!!! Many of the book stores were taken by surprise too -- quite a lot of them said that they'd rarely, if ever, seen so many fans turning up for a signing or event! (A few were none too happy when I made it clear that I intended to sign EVERY book for EVERY fan!!!! Though most, I should add quickly, were delighted!) I had a blast -- the month flew by, and felt like little more than a week. Genuine, huge thanks to everyone who made the effort to come and see me -- I really do appreciate it, and realize how fortunate I am to have such a supportive fan base. You guys -- you brave, loyal, bloodthirsty Shansters -- are the best fans in the world -- FACT!!!!! Now, before I choke up with tears -- I kept a blog (of sorts) of my month on the road, adding fairly recent updates from the tour to the Shanville Message Board News forum. And here it is!
    October 2nd: Just completed the first event of my Destiny tour, at the Children's Bookshop in Pinner. The event was held in a school and about 200 people came to it. The store arranged lovely cookies adorned with web-shaped icing, and "blood" to drink -- which tasted suspiciously like Ribena to me!!! I've been to Pinner a couple of times before, so this was the perfect place for me to start -- almost like home turf!!! That was extra important when I came down with a cold the day before!!!!! Yup, the touring author's worst nightmare -- a sore throat and running nose!!! Luckily it's not too bad, and I'm fighting hard with Lemsip and throat lozenges, but if you're coming to any of my early events don't be too surprised if I have to stop every few minutes or so to blow my nose!!!!!! Maybe I should dub this the Snots of Destiny tour!!!!!!!!!
    October 7th: Ay carumba!!! This tour is MAD!!!! The school events have been great, with loads of kids buying the books -- and the public events have been amazing, with hundreds turning up at each one so far, leaving me signing for at least 2 hours at each event, sometimes more!!!!! Newcastle has probably been the biggest public crowd so far -- I was there for 3 hours in total!!!! Roll on DesTiny!!!!!!!!!!
    October 15th: Phew -- well, I've made it to the halfway point of the tour, all limbs intact, voice still holding up, fingers still able to grasp a pen and scrawl my signature!! It's been incredible -- enjoyable school events, huge turnouts at each and every public signing, loads of fans turning up with all 12 books, some in costumes (the fans, not the books!!!), queueing patiently for hours. The public signing at lunchtime in Milton Keynes was a particular standout. Since it was held in school hours, I expected only a handful of ultra-loyal Shansters to turn up. Boy, was I wrong!!!! LOADS came, either faking sickness to get out of school, or asking permission of their teachers! Some even came WITH their teachers! And those who couldn't get out of school sent along their parents or brothers or sisters or friends!!! I was signing for more than THREE HOURS in total!!!!! Now, I'm sure some people will tut-tut-tut at the idea of kids playing hookey to come meet an author, but I think the kids are the ones who've got their priorities right!!! Sure, school's vitally important, but one missed day isn't going to make much of a difference to anyone, and how often does the chance come along to meet one of your favourite authors in person?!? Milton Keynes is my kind of town, where commonsense is put before red tape!! I'll definitely be trying to come back on my next tour of the U.K. -- as well as to several of the other places where I've been wonderfully received and treated like a true Vampire Prince -- which is pretty much everywhere!! Uh-oh -- I think my next tour might have to be even longer and wider-ranging than this one!! HELP!!!!!!!!!!!
    October 23rd: Well, I'm facing into the final week of the Destiny tour!! Hard to believe, actually -- the last 3 weeks have flown by!!!! Other authors sometimes think I'm crazy for doing so many events when I'm on tour (most will only do 1 or 2 a day, whereas I do an average of 3, sometimes 4!!), but I find that when I'm working hard, the time flies by, which makes the tour much more enjoyable. Sure, it's tiring, but also lots of fun! It only feels like I've been on the road for a week or so!!

    The first few days of my Irish tour were probably the hardest of the entire tour. I had a 4 hour drive after my Sunday event to get to Mayo, then a 4+ hours train journey to get from Mayo to Meath the following night -- meaning I didn't get to my hotels until 11 o'clock on both nights. The travelling is the worst part of any tour -- but at least I get lots of reading done while I'm motoring, flying or training it around!!

    Very pleased with all my Irish events, though I would have wished for bigger turnouts at some of my library events. In some cases the librarians limited the number of people who could come, in order to give everyone there lots of space. Which is fine -- but I prefer big crowds. As those who've seen me will know, I like to get volunteers up to act out little plays at events, and it always feels a bit odd doing that if there isn't a big crowd to watch. Next time I'm going to make it absolutely clear that I want packed houses -- "Squeeze them in like sardines!!!!!"

    As in the U.K., I was absolutely delighted with the turnouts at my evening public events. I enjoy doing school and library events, but you have a guaranteed audience at those places, many of whom know nothing about you. It always gives me an extra special buzz when lots of people make an effort to travel to watch me at a public event. I know how easy it is to simply stay at home and watch TV or play a computer game -- and I really do appreciate those who go out of their way to come see me!! You guys are the BEST!!!!!!!

    Highlight of the week was probably the public event at Eason's in Dublin. Eason's had been very reluctant to hold a public signing. In the beginning they just wanted me to do a school event, and I really had to press to get it turned into a public event with signing. I was a bit worried that not many people would hear about the event, and that it might be a small turnout. So it was hugely satisfying when I got there about 20 minutes early and saw loads of people already waiting, books in hand, gagging for the Shan-man!!!!! Now I've got a couple of days off (my first free weekend of the month!!), then it's time for the final stage ... time to meet MY destiny!!!!!!
    October 30th: And so the tour has finally come to a close!! One month ... a couple of dozen cities (or thereabouts) ... loads of events ... countless signed copies of my books!!! The final event took place at Whitby. There was a great turnout, and I was stunned by how many of the people had travelled huge distances to be there -- I think only a handful of people actually came from Whitby!! Most of the others had travelled for an hour, two hours ... even more!!!

    This was the first big public tour that I've done in the U.K. and Ireland, where there have been lots of public, after-school signings and events. I was worried about crowd turn-outs, and if I'd have many events where only a few people would come to see me. But, to my great relief and pleasure, that didn't happen -- a couple of hundred or so fans turned up at pretty much every event or signing, making it a hugely successful and enjoyable month for me! To be honest, the month flew by -- it was hard work, and tiring, but I LOVED it!!! Thanks again to everyone who made the time to come and see me, and allowed me the privilege (which is how I always see it) of signing their books for them!!!

    Until next time, all the bloody, happiest best -- Darren.


    The Darren Shan touring show will continue across the globe in 2005 -- there really is no rest for the wicked!! Plans are already being made for me to visit a number of countries around the world on book tours next year. Latest addition is a return trip to Taiwan!! Here's what I currently have lined up (N.B. dates, venues and times are subject to change -- please keep checking back for updates).


    January 21 (Friday) -- Interviews.
    January 22 (Saturday) -- Signing in Tokyo, all day.
    January 23 (Sunday) -- Signing in Osaka, all day.
    January 24-26 (Monday - Wednesday) -- Visit Kumano and Koyasan, and maybe fit in a School event there (but that is still to be confirmed, and may not be possible).


    March 31st - April 4th. More details to follow.


    Thursday, April 21st, 2005 -- arrive Budapest.
    Friday, April 22nd -- fly to Debrecen for events that day.
    Saturday, April 23rd -- Budapest International Book Fair, Budapest Congress Centre. 10:00 – interviews, dedication. 17:00 – dedication in Mammut Libri Book Palace.
    Sunday, April 24th – Budapest International Book Fair, Budapest Congress Centre. 10:00 – dedication.


    Details to follow.


    Check out the recently restored Links section of Shanville at http://www.darrenshan.com/links/index-links.html and while you're at it, here's another couple of cool sites for you to cast your eyes over!
    First, there's a new literary web site for readers in the U.S.A., designed to get schools more involved in reading, which looks quite interesting. If you want to check it out, or get involved with it, the link is: http://www.teacherweb.com/La/DutchtownMiddleSchool/FortheLoveofLiteracy/
    Second, this one's been around a while, but I only paid it a visit recently and was suprised by how interesting and addictive a place it is! The site is called Bookcrossing, and its aims are to ... well, why don't you go there and have a look yourself?!? The link is: http://www.bookcrossing.com/home


    And that's it for November! I'm going to be burning the midnight oils on the home front this month, catching up on all the work I had to postpone while away in October, answering my mail, knocking my next few books into shape, etc. I'll be back here in December, for the final Monthly of the year -- and a Christmas competition!!! Until then, all the bloody best, Darren Shan x x x