• Issue 108 - July 2009

    01 July 2009


    Welcome to the special BIRTHDAY issue of the Shanville Monthly!!!!! Not only does July mark my 37th birthday (July 2nd, for those of you who are interested), it also marks the 9th birthday of the Shanville Monthly!! Yes, for nine years now I have been bringing you all the latest news, gossip and updates from the world of Darren Shan. 108 issues, every single one designed and created exclusively by... ME!!! That's right -- in case you weren't aware, I don't have anybody helping me out when it comes to putting these newsletters together -- I do them all by myself!! I like the connection to the fans which that gives me, and I think it makes the Shanville Monthly a bit more special than it otherwise might be. Anyway, that's enough back-slapping for the moment!!! I have quite a full SM for you this time round -- no huge news items to report, but lots of cool, interesting little tidbits! Let's start off with the Cirque Du Freak manga, which has proved something of a hit since its release last month...


    The first Cirque Du Freak manga went on sale in the USA and UK in June. Even though it's early days for the manga, there have already been several reviews of it, and most are extremely positive -- hurrah!!! I've created a section for reviews of the manga on my site, and will be adding to it as more reviews come in. If you want to have a look to find out what the critics are saying, CLICK HERE.

    I have added the covers of the first three American editions of the Cirque Du Freak manga to my web site -- the UK covers are pretty much the same, except the series name here, as with the books, is The Saga Of Darren Shan. The covers are all on Secret Shanville. To access them, CLICK HERE. You will have to join my online club and become an official Shanster in order to view the page -- it's for TRUE fans only!!! Remember, the manga will be coming out fast and furiously -- expect book 2, The Vampire's Assistant, in August!!! The manga should be available in any shop in the USA or UK which stocks manga -- if you don't see it on the shelves, please ask a member of staff to either help you find it or order a copy for you. Alternatively, if you prefer to order online, click on any of the following links:

    To buy from Amazon UK -- CLICK HERE.

    To buy from Borders UK -- CLICK HERE.

    To buy from Amazon USA -- CLICK HERE.

    To buy from Barnes & Noble USA -- CLICK HERE.


    I concluded my final edit of Hell's Heroes, book 10 of The Demonata, on Friday, June 5th. Here's what I wrote about it on my blog.

    Well, that's it -- it's all finished. This afternoon I concluded my final edit of the final book of The Demonata, so work on the series is now, after eight years and 4 months, officially OVER!! A long, complex journey that began on February 6th 2001, when I first set about tackling the story of Lord Loss, has now come to its end. There were no fireworks when I finished. There never are. Because I'm always juggling several books at the same time, I don't feel the same sense of completion that I suppose most writers do, when they work on a single project for a long period of time and then come to the end. I wrote the first draft of book 10 back in July 2006, so in a way the series has been "ending" for me for the last three years!! It's nice to have made it safely to the last page, but apart from maybe having a bottle of champers tonight, I won't be doing anything to celebrate -- after all there's still the October tour to come... and then the release of the book in other countries around the world at later dates... and the questions to answer at future events and signings... and -- well, in a way, hopefully, the series never will truly end for me. As long as you guys are out there keeping it alive, it will live on.

    Having said all that, the ending was special in one way. We had another power cut this afternoon, so I did my final stretch of editing in silence. I normally have music playing in the background when I work, but this time it was just me and the words, so I did find myself thinking about the ending more than I usually would have, reflecting on all that has happened over the last eight years, both to the series and to my life in general. It was a nice, slightly maudlin, but ultimately sweet way to wrap up work on what, I'm sure we'll all agree, has been a far from nice, sweet series!!! I'm sure I'll write books just as dark, or even darker than The Demonata, but I doubt if I'll ever again get to revel in a story which requires worlds made of guts, or demons that stab your eyes out and spit eggs into your bloody sockets which hatch into insects and chew you down to the bone, or heroes who routinely vomit over their enemies when they want to kill them!!! This has been an OTT journey through disgusting, gory, messy words -- and I've loved every last blood-spattered minute of it!!!! I hope you guys have too, and while we might have peaked on the gruesome front, I promise I won't ever go the way of respectability and stray too far from my dark, visceral path!!!!

    Hell's Heroes goes on sale in the UK and Ireland on October 1st 2009, and in the USA in April/May 2010. Release date in other countries varies.


    I was delighted to recently be granted permission by the band, Maximo Park, to use some lyrics from one of their songs at the start of Hell's Heroes. I've often seen other writers use song lyrics at the beginning of a book (Stephen King, in particular, does it almost all the time), and it was something I was curious to do one day. But I didn't want to do it just for the sake of doing it -- I would only do so if there was a very strong reason for including them. A couple of years ago, when I was first working on Hell's Heroes, I was listening to Maximo Park's first album, A Certain Trigger. It's a great album, but one song in particular got me buzzing -- Apply Some Pressure. I used to listen to it all the time, especially on planes -- I had a habit for a while of listening to the song shortly after take-off every time I took a flight, cranked up to full volume! It's a brilliant song -- click on THIS LINK to see the video if you aren't familiar with it -- but I had an extra special reason for loving it so much, because some of the lyrics tied in very neatly with one of the themes of Hell's Heroes. I thought it would be great if I could use those lyrics at the start of the book, so I asked my agent to seek the band's permission. For a long time we weren't able to make contact, and I thought the opportunity might pass me by, but at the last minute (literally!!), we were given the green light -- I was DEEEEE-lighted!!!!! I'm not going to say what the lyrics are, or how they tie in with the book. You'll have to wait until October to find out!! But have a listen in the meantime and see if you can guess (a) which lyrics I've chosen, and (b) what plot clues you can glean from them -- no prizes for anyone who guesses right, except for the prize of knowing you were a bit smarter than, and one step ahead of, most other fans!!!!


    We have slightly revised the final cover for the UK edition of Hell's Heroes. It's not very different to the previous draft, but we tweaked the colours ever so slightly and, more importantly, we also changed the shoutline at the bottom. On the previous draft it said "The Final Countdown..." While that tickled my funny bone, I wasn't 100% sure that it was appropriate, and the feedback I received from fans on my May tour of the UK confirmed this. So we went back and changed it -- see, I DO listen to what you guys say!!! The line now reads, simply, "This is the end..." I think that's much more effective -- I hope you lot do too!!! I've also added the back cover to the site, and I think it's a great example of the less-is-more approach!!! You can check out all the book 10 covers on Secret Shanville -- CLICK HERE. You will need to join and become a Shanster if you haven't already.


    The winner of the Demon Mask competition on the hip, hyper, horrible Demon Freak Bebo Web Site (check it out and join up if you haven't already by clicking on this link) was Stuart Blackie -- many congrats, Stuart!!! I think this was an incredible prize -- I'm just sorry I couldn't enter the competition myself, as I would have loved a chance to win it!! You can see a couple of photos of Stuart and some of his friends with the mask, by CLICKING HERE.


    Fighting Words is a creative writing centre, established by Roddy Doyle and Sean Love. Inspired by 826 Valencia in San Francisco, Fighting Words is located on Behan Square, Russell Street, Dublin 1, very close to Croke Park. Fighting Words helps students of all ages to develop their writing skills and to explore their love of writing. They have a really cool web site, and one of the quirkier parts of it features short clips of imagined works by famous dead writers, as "told" to current, living writers -- i.e. living writers pick a dead writer and try to write a very short piece either in the style of that writer or in their own style. The only rule is that you HAVE to mention Fighting Words in there somewhere! I was approached for a little piece recently, and ended up "channelling" James Joyce, writing a short piece that apes his impentrable masterpiece/piece-of-ridiculous-rambling (depending on how you look at it!!), Finnegans Wake, with a little bit of Ulysses thrown in there too for good luck!! You can check it out by clicking here.


    For my slightly older fans, I'm happy to confirm that my first D B Shan book Procession of the Dead is due for release in the USA on June 1st 2010. The even better news for the more impatient fans among you is that the second book of the series, Hell's Horizon, is due to follow swiftly on its heels - it's scheduled to go on sale just six months later, on January 1st 2011!!! I know it's been a long wait, but once these books hit, it's going to be fast and furious from that point on!!! You can check out the incredibly cool cover for Procession over on the Book Covers page on the D B Shan site by CLICKING HERE.


    I was even more talkative than usual in June, giving a number of interviews! First, I did a radio interview on a show called Moncrieff, on Newstalk -- an Irish radio station. It was an enjoyable chat. If you missed it, it is now available as a podcast, so you can listen to it by CLICKING HERE. It runs about 15 minutes.

    I also gave an interview to The Tainted Poet, a young adult book blog. You can read the interview in full by CLICKING HERE.

    Finally, I gave a short interview in wich I talked about blogging. I kept the answers deliberately short, as I felt it would be very precious of me to write a big blog ABOUT blogging!!! But if you don't follow my blog, and want a quick look at some of the reasons why I blog and what I blog about, CLICK HERE.


    My American publishers, LittleBrown, have decided to revamp the covers of the paperback editions of my Cirque Du Freak series, ahead of the release of the movie. They have released new versions of the first three books, and will be redesigning the covers of the other nine books over the course of the coming months. I've added the first three to my site, and will add the others as and when they become available. You can check them out by CLICKING HERE.

    I like the new covers, although, as with the original covers, the artists have gone for impact over authenticity -- hence the glint of a fang on the vampire of the cover of the first book!! I know some fans get irritated when covers aren't true to the content of the books, but I always think it's better to have a stylish cover that captures the spirit of a story, rather than one that slavishly and dully recreates a scene from the novel!!


    I know you're all anxious to find out if the Cirque Du Freak movie is any good -- I am too!! I haven't managed to see it yet, though hopefully I will in the near future. A fan called Karen caught Cirque Du Freak at a test screening in the States recently, and this was how she reviewed it on IMDB -- after reading her comments, I'm keener than ever to have a look!!!

    I watched a screening of this movie and loved it. I wasn't sure whether to expect a children's movie or adult movie, and it came out to be more like the latter. I grew up reading & watching "Goosebumps", and this movie made me feel like I was watching a "Goosebumps" film tailored for adults. John C. Reilly does a really great job acting; it's nice to see him do something more challenging again. If you are turned off by his work in movies like Walk Hard, Talladega Nights, etc., give him a chance in this movie. He really impressed me. Patrick Fugit was my favorite actor in the film; his character was visually an eyesore but also in some odd way incredibly adorable. And Chris Massoglia, of course, was a great lead actor. I would watch this film again when it officially comes out in theaters.

    That's only one fan's view, of course, but it's hopefully a good omen!!! Meanwhile, the original script writer of the film, Brian Helgeland, gave an interview recently in which he talked about his upcoming adaptation of The Taking of Pelham 123. He also spoke a bit about his work on the CDF movie, and mentioned how his draft was ultimately rewritten entirely by the director. It's an interesting insight into the way Hollywood works!! To read the interview, CLICK HERE. I think this also serves to illustrate why I kept out of the movie adaptation. I know many fans are surprised when I tell them that I had nothing to do with the movie, and can't understand why I stood back from it. Well, THIS is why! On a movie, a director has -- or should have -- complete artistic control. That's the way it should always work. When I write a book, I'm in control and I decide exactly what goes in and what doesn't. I bear total responsibility for the story which I create. A movie is the product of many different creative forces -- the writer, actors, crew -- but ultimately one person needs to be in charge, to pull everything together and ensure the film has a solid vision, and in my opinion that needs to be the director. Pretty much any great movie was made by a director who was able to bend others to his will, who made sure that he was in control of what was happening. I don't know what the Cirque Du Freak movie is going to be like, but I do know that Paul Weitz had his own very clear vision for what it should be, and wasn't afraid to rewrite the script when he felt that he needed to. It's a brave move for a director to make -- it means his head is firmly on the chopping block if things go awry -- but that's the way films SHOULD be made, by directors with the guts to stand by their beliefs. If I ever got involved in the movie business, it would have to be as a director, not a screenwriter. I'm used to exerting complete creative control, and could never work under any other conditions. The CDF movie is Paul Weitz's baby, not mine or Brian Helgeland's or anybody else's. He took it on, made it his own, and hopefully made an exciting, intriguing, freakish little movie. Rather than waste my time trying to control things which I CAN'T control, I prefer to stay focused on those things which I CAN control -- i.e. my books. If I had got closely involved with the making of the film, my writing schedule would have suffered and there would have been delays on the publishing front. If I could have controlled the film, i.e. if I could have directed it myself, maybe I would have been prepared to do that. But to mess you guys around to play with something that ultimately I could have no real control over at all?!? As far as I'm concerned, writers who do that have to be MAAAAAADDDDDDD!!!!!!!!


    I can now announce the date and time for my appearance at this year's Edinburgh Book Festival. I will be performing in the RBS Main Theatre on Tuesday, August 18th, at 10.00. I will be chatting and answering questions for an hour, then signing directly afterwards -- as usual, fans are more than welcome to bring as many of my books to get signed as they wish. This will be my 10th year in a row at Edinburgh, which makes me feel quite old and experienced!!!! It was the very first festival I ever attended, so it holds a special place in my heart, which is why I've gone back so often! To mark the occasion, I'm going to be revealing the title of my one-off fantasy book for the first time anywhere in the world!! I'm also going to officially announce what my four-book series is about -- I know many of you know already (indeed, I've read out extracts from it at the last two festivals in Edinburgh!), but this will be when I reveal it to everyone. I'll probably also read out another new extract from it. If you're interested in coming along, you can read a bit more about the event on the Book Festival web site, and book tickets, by CLICKING HERE and entering Darren Shan in the search box.

    I am also due to take part in one of the Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Series readings on Monday, August 17th, at 5.30pm in the Peppers Theatre. This event is running every day throughout the festival, and each day a different set of writers will each read a short extract from authors in various countries who are facing persecution for what they write about. I will be reading a poem by an African author, and one of the other authors in my session will be Iain Banks. You can get tickets from the Box Office on the day of the event, and they are FREE. If you want to come along to hear me do a very different type of reading, and to support an extremely worthy cause, just nip into the Box Office on the 17th and ask.


    Below you can find details for my tour plans in 2009. School events are for invited schools only. Public events are open to anyone, but usually you need a ticket to enter, so please contact the shop or event managers in advance to ensure a seat if you're interested in coming -- events usually last up to an hour, and I always sign after an event. Public signings are open to anyone who comes along -- and I am always happy to sign as many books of mine as people choose to bring along with them. In addition to the dates listed below, I will also be touring in the UK again in October to promote Hell's Heroes -- more details to follow.


    Thursday 9 2.30pm Public event at the Maritime Hotel, BANTRY, county Cork, Ireland. Visit their web site for more info: http://www.westcorkliteraryfestival.ie/



    Monday 17 5.30pm Public, group reading for Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Series at The EDINBURGH Book Festival. For more info, see above!
    Tuesday 18 10.00am Public event at The EDINBURGH Book Festival. For more info, and to book tickets, visit their web site: http://www.edbookfest.co.uk/index.html



    Friday 23 TBC Two school events in LUND, Sweden. Part of the LiteraLund Book Festival. See their web site for more info: http://www.litteralund.se/
    Saturday 24 12.00pm Public event in LUND, Sweden. Part of the LiteraLund Book Festival. See their web site for more info: http://www.litteralund.se/


    I was saddened to hear the news a few weeks ago that David Eddings has died. When I was a teenager, I absolutely LOVED The Belgariad. In fact, for a while, they were probably my favourite books in the whole wide world. They made a huge impression on me, and strongly influenced my writing -- indeed, I created the characters of Vancha March and Evanna as a direct homage to some of the creations of Eddings' world. I moved on from his types of books in later years, and it's been a long time since I dipped my toes in any of his books -- but as you'll see if you read the piece about him that was published in The Guardian, I don't think he would have minded that -- CLICK HERE. I love the fact that he wasn't precious about his work, that he was pleased if it only served the purpose of getting people interested in reading and then sending them on to find more challenging writers. In a way, I think I'm a lot like that myself. I know some of you are incredibly loyal, and have stuck with my books for several years -- and maybe will for many years more -- but a lot of my fans move on too. When you write for children or teenagers, that's inevitable, because everyone grows up, and it's natural to move on when you do. I never mind, because I've done that myself. But what I know from being a fan of works like The Belgariad -- and I hope it's something David Eddings realised too -- is that, generally speaking, nothing has as much as an impact on your life as the books you get into when you're just starting out. Sure, I've gone on to far more complex, layered, adult books since moving on from the fantasy books that I read in my teens -- but I still remember those books more vividly and fondly than just about anything I've read since. Virtually nothing rocks me these days the way The Belgariad transformed my world 20 or more years ago. My greatest hope for my work is not that people go on reading my books all throughout their lives -- but that they carry fond memories of my books with them as they set off on new adventures. David Eddings did that for me, and I know that I will always carry a large part of his legacy around with me as long as my brain and heart are ticking. I'll miss him immensely now that he's gone. We might never have met in life, but in my imagination we have run together more times than I can count, and even though he's finished with this world now, as long as I go on dreaming, he will go on running with me forever.

    I was also very sad when I learnt that the actor, David Carradine, had died. While he didn't make many great films during his career, he was the star of the seminal TV series, Kung Fu, which I absolutely adored when I was a kid -- I can remember watching it on Irish TV every Saturday night, and this was back in a time where there weren't very many interesting programmes on the two Irish channels, which were the only channels we had!! It was one of the coolest shows ever, and it made a huge impression on me. In fact, when I was first toying with ideas for The Saga of Darren Shan, my original brief was to write a vampiric version of Kung Fu, where Mr Crepsley would play the wise mentor role, and in each book they would have some sort of different supernatural encounter. I quickly realised that wasn't the direction in which I was destined to go, but if not for those initial discarded plans, perhaps I would never have found the path I wound up taking... Sleep peacefully, Grasshopper -- you brought much joy and colour into a young boy's otherwise fairly boring world.


    And that's it for July!! While I'm never overly bothered by birthdays, I have an exciting one lined up this year! Bas is surprising me with something in the morning, then we're going for a delicious meal in the afternoon, and topping it off by going to see Blur play live at Hyde Park later that night -- nice!!!! But don't worry -- I'm not forgetting about you guys!! Although I've got a few days off around my birthday, July is going to be a busy month for me -- I have an event in Bantry in Cork (see above) to keep me on my toes, and I plan to do lots of editing and writing over the course of the month. I'm always finalising the last few details of my October tour of the UK and Ireland -- expect full details about that in the next issue of the Shanville Monthly, in August. Until then, all my bloody best, Darren Shan x x x

    p.s. I know I normally run a competition to tie in with my birthday issues of the Shanvlle Monthly, but I wasn't able to this time round. Fear not though -- I plan to run one within the next few months, so keep your eyes peeled!!!!