• Issue 114 - January 2010

    01 January 2010


    Happy New Year everyone -- and Happy New Decade too!!! This is an extra special month for me, because it marks the tenth anniversary of the first ever release of Cirque Du Freak!!! It was January 2000 when CDF first came out in the UK and Ireland, released right at the start of the new millennium (which makes it easy to remember!!). Actually, some stores got their copies a bit earlier, in December 1999, to try and sell some stock in time for Christmas -- but January 2000 was the official release date, and the month when it first began to appear widely in stores throughout the UK and Ireland. Well, except for in WHSmith stores -- they banned the book initially, afraid that it would attract negative publicity!! Luckily it didn't, and the good folk of WHSmith swiftly repealed the ban.

    The book trade has changed dramatically over the last 10 years, as has my position in it, and indeed in life itself. There were more chains operating back in 2000, such as Ottakars and Dillons. The internet was still in its infancy and most books were bought in shops, not online. There were no ebooks as such. Author web sites were a novelty, not the norm. MySpace, Facebook and their kind didn't exist, so it was difficult to promote new work. There were many more independent book stores. There were far les dicsounts than you can currently find. You didn't see lots of books in your local supermarket.

    I was already a published author -- my first adult book had seen print in 1999 -- but not a successful one. Cirque Du Freak was the book which changed my world completely. It allowed me, first of all, to come off the dole and actually make a living from writing. It gave me the chance to travel and buy nice things and move into my own place. It led to me meeting with Bas and settling down with her. It helped me grow as a person (I know that sounds yucky and sentimental, but it's true!!) and make more of a connection with the world and the people in it -- I'm very shy by nature, and had found it difficult to fit in with others, but the experiences of travelling around to promote my books helped me overcome my shyness. It set me off on a course I had never seriously considered -- the life of a children's author -- and helped me uncover lots of cool new stories. It took me into the realm of hollywood, and into countries where I had never been or even dreamed of being published in.

    The past ten years have been a magical, wondrous time for me, and I know how lucky I've been -- lucky to have sold lots of copies of my books, lucky to still be able to come up with good ideas, lucky to have found publishers willing to take a chance on me, lucky to have hooked up with the best agent in the business, lucky to have literally fantastic fans who don't annoy me or disturb me in any way at all (ten years of unbelievable success, and not one stalker or truly nasty, abusive fan yet!!!).

    This would have been a special month for me no matter what, but it was made even more special when I found out that I was one of the top 100 bestselling authors in the UK over the last decade!! You can read abou that below, and there's plenty more news too, including the first two Thin Executioner covers, release dates for the Cirque Du Freak movie in the UK and USA, a VERY special competition, my round-up of all the main 2009 news, and more!!! So, without any further ado, may I now kick-off the 114th monthly newsletter from the 69th bestselling author in the UK of the past decade...


    In the UK, the bookselling industry bible, The Bookseller, tallied up sales over the first decade of the twenty-first century to find out who had sold most books in the UK. They created a list of the 100 bestselling authors of the last 10 years in the UK, covering every type and genre of book published -- children's books, adult's books, cookbooks, educational books, biographies, etc. etc. And guess who clocked in at Number 69 -- yep, none other than that dashing young master of horror, Darren Shan!! Now, that might not seem like a very high placing, but it's virtually impossible for authors to crack this sort of list, so I was delighted to see my name on it!!! It's a measurable sign of just how far I've come since Cirque Du Freak was first published 10 years ago -- from absolutely nothing to a place on the Top 100 chart. And to do it across a decade... to hang in there and keep going and sustain my place while other authors have enjoyed short peaks of fame and then faded away to nothing... well, I've been grinning every day since I found out!! Now the battle begins to see if I can hold onto my place - or even improve - over the next decade!!!!! To check out the full list of the 100 bestselling authors of the decade, you can find it on the Telegraph site by CLICKING HERE.


    Oh boy!! To celebrate the start of the new decade, I have a double whammy for you guys -- not one, but TWO covers for The Thin Executioner (my next book), one from the UK, the other from the USA. The covers are complete contrasts, one very subtle, the other gloriously OTT. I love them both equally -- but which one will YOU prefer?!? As well as the finished covers (actually, the American cover is from the ARC -- an Advanced Reading Copy which is being distributed to journalists, librarians, reviewers, etc -- the final cover will look pretty much the same, but I'll hold off adding it to the site until closer its release date), I have also added the early drafts of the covers, so you can see how they evolved. The Thin Executioner will be released in the UK at the start of May 2010, and in the USA at the start of August 2010. The covers are on the Secret Shanville part of my site -- to view them, you will need to join and become a Shanster if you have not already. To access the page, CLICK HERE.

    I'll be writing lots more about The Thin Executioner a bit closer to May. For now, let's just say that out of all the books I've ever published, this bloody, brutal beauty is my own personal favourite...


    There's good news for fans in the UK and USA who either didn't see the Cirque Du Freak movie when it was in theatres, or who have been eagerly waiting to add it to their library at home in order to watch it again -- you don't have much longer to wait!! In the UK and Ireland, the DVD and Blu-Ray of Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant will be released on February 15th, 2010. It will include deleted scenes, a "guide to becoming a vampire" and "Tour Du Freak". I know they shot a whole load of material of the Cirque and its performers which didn't make the final cut, so hopefully we'll now get to see a whole lot more of the world which was created for the film. The DVD and Blu-Ray will be available in stores all over the land upon release, but if you prefer to buy through Amazon UK, you can pre-order the DVD by CLICKING HERE FOR DVD or the Blu-Ray by CLICKING HERE FOR BLU RAY.

    In the USA, the film will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on February 23rd, with the same features as the UK editions. Again, it should be available in shops everywhere, but if you would rather buy it online through Amazon, you can pre-order by CLICKING HERE FOR THE DVD or by CLICKING HERE FOR BLU RAY.

    NEW FAN ART!!!

    After wayyyyyyyyyy too long a gap, I have added LOTS of new fan art to my site, to both the Vampires and Demons sections -- with more to come later in January!! There are new additions in most categories, although there are some which I was not able to add ahead of Christmas, so do please check back again soon for more!

    For Vampire fan art, CLICK HERE.

    For Demonata fan art, CLICK HERE.


    I have updated the links in all of the Shops on my web site, adding in links to buy every edition of my books which are in stock and on sale (or coming soon). You can now easily buy the Manga editions of my vampire books on both sites. On the USA side, I have included links which let you buy eBook versions of all of my books through Barnes & Noble (or you can buy Kindle versions through Amazon if you prefer). Fans in the UK and elsewhere, please note that eBooks are currently not legally available anywhere outside of the USA.

    For the UK Demons Shop CLICK HERE.

    For the UK Vampires Shop CLICK HERE.

    For the USA Demons Shop CLICK HERE

    For the USA Vampires Shop CLICK HERE.

    2010 TOURS

    I know it's a long way off, but I've already booked up for a couple of international tours in 2010. In March, I will be visiting Dubai for the first time, and I will also be returning to Hong Kong. Dates, times, and more information to follow in a later edition of the Shanville Monthly.


    Below you can find the planned global release dates for the movie of Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant. Please note, all dates are subject to change, and all dates are decided by Universal -- I have nothing to do with the release schedule.

    16 December 2009 -- I have updated the list with the latest schedule. Please note, the list below includes every territory where the movie will be released in theatres. Universal have decided not to release the film theatrically in several countries where it previously planned to (I was especially upset about the decision to not release it in Taiwan or Hong Kong, since I know there are lots of my fans in both those places). The film, I assume, will be released in those countries direct to DVD. My apologies if you're a disappointed fan in one of the affected areas, but it's unfortunately not something I have any control over.

    SWITZ. (F) 06-Jan-10
    CHILE 07-Jan-10
    GERMANY 07-Jan-10
    NEW ZEALAND 07-Jan-10
    SINGAPORE 07-Jan-10
    SWITZ. (G) 07-Jan-10
    AUSTRIA 08-Jan-10
    PERU 14-Jan-10
    BRAZIL 15-Jan-10
    VIETNAM 15-Jan-10
    ROMANIA 22-Jan-10
    PHILIPPINES 27-Jan-10
    THAILAND 28-Jan-10
    VENEZUELA 05-Feb-10
    COLOMBIA 19-Feb-10
    SPAIN 26-Feb-10
    CZECH REPUBLIC 04-Mar-10
    AUSTRALIA 11-Mar-10
    ARGENTINA 18-Mar-10
    JAPAN (Toho Towa) 19-Mar-10
    ITALY 04-June-10


    You can read an enjoyable review of Cirque Du Freak, and a short, very amusing bit about Hell's Heroes, on writer Anne Dunlop's blog by CLICKING HERE. The reason I've highlighted this review is that Anne started out by reading some of Hell's Heroes before she'd read any of my other books. Feeling lost, she was going to discard me, but luckily a friend convinced her to give me a proper chance by starting with my first book, so she read Cirque Du Freak and now she's hooked!!! The moral being, if you're ever looking to interest a friend in my books, start them off on Cirque or Lord Loss, NOT the last book of either series!

    2009 ROUND-UP

    My first TV appearance of the year was also my first ever TV quiz show -- I appeared on a couple of episodes of The Book Quiz on BBC4 in the UK. Lots of fun to film, though I haven't exactly been inundated with offers to go on lots of other quiz shows -- maybe I have a face better suited to radio or a voice better suited to mime!!!!! Early in the year, all 12 books of The Saga of Darren Shan were re-released in the UK with new, flashy covers. Fans of the older covers grumbled, but the refreshed covers have proved very popular with newer fans. Photos from the movie set began to appear at last, after months of secrecy -- the excitement among fans began to build.

    My second book for adults, Hell's Horizon, went on sale in the UK and Ireland in March. I also announced that month that I had struck a deal with HarperCollins to publish my next five books in the UK -- though I didn't reveal what those books would be about for a few more months!! One of my highlights of 2009 was being asked to write a foreword for a book for Tottenham Hotspur (the UK soccer team which I support). To help promote the book, I got to go onto the pitch at half-time during a match on March 21st (we beat Chelsea 1-0!!), and do an interview. I also did a schools event for the club later in the month and got to visit the training grounds and tour the stadium -- happy days!!!

    In May, Dark Calling, the second last Demonata book, went on sale in the UK and Ireland, while Book 8, Wolf Island, hit the USA. In the UK, Dark Calling sold more copies in its opening week than any book of mine had previously done. I went on a tour of the southwest of England and Wales, and it was another amazingly busy time on the road for me. I also visited Norway for the first time on tour, where I relied on the mental strength and stimulus of my audience to drive me on through an event when I was suffering with the mother of all hangovers!!! It was announced in May that the release date for the movie would be January 2010.

    In June the first Cirque Du Freak manga was released in the UK and USA at the same time. On June 5th, I completed my final edit of Hell's Heroes, the 10th and final book of The Demomata -- my 8 years adventure in the universe of demons had come to its end, even though the book wouldn't be published in the UK until October (and the USA in April 2010). I was sad to mark the passing of two legends, David Eddings and David Carradine, both of whom were big influences on me in my earlier years.

    In July I turned 37 and the Shanville Monthly celebrated its 9th birthday. Midway through the month, Universal announced that they had changed their minds and would now be releasing the movie on October 23rd. Over the next few months there was a glut of photos, stills, interviews, trailers, etc. On the book front, I also changed my mind this month, and decided to do away with my alter ego, D B Shan. Thus, all of my books from this point on, whether for adults or children, will be released under the name of Darren Shan. The manga continued to spread like wildfire -- the second volume was published in August, while several countries around the world signed up to release their own editions of it. Poland became the 39th country to publish my books, while Polish became the 31st language into which my novels had been translated.

    In August I appeared at the Edinburgh Festival for the 10th year in a row -- a personal milestone which I was absolutely ecstatic to notch up!! I announced the news which every Shanster had been waiting for ages for -- that my next book would be called The Thin Executioner, and that I would follow that up with a four book series about Mr Crepsley and his life before he met up with Darren Shan. I got to see an advance screening of the film, and to my relief I liked it. As I said all along, I had nothing to do with the making of the movie, so I went in like every other fan of the books, not sure of what to expect. In the end, despite all of the changes they had made, I thought it worked pretty well on its own terms, and I was pleased to do what I could to promote it through my site. I also got to go on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in August, as part of the Antony Gormley One & Other art installation -- one of the strangest and most intriguing performances of my career!! My hour-long appearance is still online, and you can check it out by CLICKING HERE.

    October was a completely crazy month!! It started with the release of Hell's Heroes, the final book of The Demonata, in the UK. I went on a massive tour to support the book, covering the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland, and ended up doing my longest signing to date -- 6 and a half hours in Waterstones Bluewater!!!! The book once again broke my record for first week sales, and then broke it again in its second week, when it sold even more copies -- Shan mania was still on the rise, even after 10 years!!! The tour ended with the European premiere for the Cirque Du Freak movie in my local cinema in Limerick. Then Bas and I had to move out of our house ahead of a major extension to the property. Then I went on tour to Sweden for the first time. Then I went on holiday to Florida. And then, on October 23rd, the movie was released in the USA and UK. Phew!!!!

    In November I did a couple of events in Swindon and Wexford, my final public appearances of the year. Then I pretty much took things easy for the next couple of months -- I figured, after the year I'd had, I deserved a bit of a break!!! Having said that, I continued to edit throughout November and December, readying my 2010 books, to make sure I got them out on time, and that each new book was as strong and as tight as it could possibly now -- even when I'm taking things easy, I still seem to end up doing more work than most authors at their busiest!!!! And that's the way I like it!!!!!!!


    To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the release of Cirque Du Freak, as well as being one of the top 100 bestselling authors in the UK over the last decade, I'm going to run a unique competition this month, for fans everywhere. I've run lots of competitions over the years, with all sorts of prizes -- signed books, Tshirts, hoodies, promotional merchandise, etc. Since I'm always keen to break new ground and try new things, I've decided to offer a prize this time which I've never offered before to celebrate this special anniversay. And what I came up with in the end was...

    A poem.

    Basically, the winner of the competition will receive a poem written especially for this competition. I haven't written it yet, and won't until the competition has finished, because I'm going to TRY to include the winner's name in the text of the poem. Now, I can't make any guarantees -- I'm not a professional poet, so I doubt it will be great poetry, and it might not be possible for me to find a way to incorporate the winner's name in the poem. But I'll do my best -- I suspect the poem will mention "ten years" or "decade" and my books at some point, but, as I said, I haven't written anything yet, so I can't say even that much for certain. I've no idea how long it will be either!! But it WILL be a one-off, unique poem, and the winner will get the only handwritten, finished copy in the world. I might include a scan of the poem in a future issue of the Shanville Monthly, but there will only be one written copy of the final draft, which will go to the winner -- so you stand to win a truly unique piece of Darren Shan literature!!! To find out how to enter, read on...

    Here are the entry links, along with the full terms and conditions:

    1) Answer this question: "How many years has it been since Cirque Du Freak was first released in the UK?"

    2)Send your entry to: [email protected]

    3) The competition is open to people in all countries .

    (4) Put your NAME in the SUBJECT BOX when you send your e-mail. I will not accept your entry if you don't! And make sure you INCLUDE YOUR FULL POSTAL ADDRESS in the body of the e-mail, as well as the answer -- and don't forget to add the name of your country. This is so that I can easily send your prize to you if you win!

    (5) Closing date is midnight, UK Time, Sunday, January 17th, 2010.

    (6) This competition is not open to anybody who works for one of my publishers, or my relations.

    (7) Only one entry per household -- if you send in more than one entry, ALL of your entries will be rejected. If more than one person in a house wants to enter, you'll need to make a joint entry.

    (8) The draw for the winners will be made on Monday, January 18th, 2010. It will be a completely random draw, made by Darren Shan personally. (I use an online number generator to pick the winners.) I will try to notify the winner by e-mail, and will post their name on the Shanville Message Board and in the February issue of the Shanville Monthly.

    (9) Information submitted by entrants WILL NOT be shared by me with any other individual or company. I'll keep your details on my PC, then delete the info once the competition ends.

    (10) My decision will be final -- so there!!!!


    And that's it for January!! Now that I've spent most of the Shanville Monthly looking back, let's look forward for a while, because this is going to be another big year for me! In the UK I will be releasing 3 new books -- City of the Snakes for adults in March (along with the re-release of the first two books of The City trilogy under the name of Darren Shan), then The Thin Executioner in May and the first Mr Crepsley book in October. In the USA I will also be releasing the last Demonata book -- that comes out in April, Procession of the Dead in June (my first book for adults), Thin Executioner in August and the first Mr Crepsley book at the same time as the UK in October -- what a six months they are going to be for my American fans!!!! On the internet, I plan to completely re-design my web site, hopefully by the end of the first quarter of the year -- it's going to be big and bold and beastly!!! I also hope to write plenty more new books, both for children and adults, and the touring, of course, will continue as it always has -- if all works out, I'll be doing my regular May and October tours of the UK and Ireland, I'm already scheduled to make a first-time visit to Dubai and a return trip to Hong Kong, and maybe I'll manage to slot in one or two more places too.

    I might be ten years older than I was when Cirque Du Freak first hit book shelves, but I'm just as hungry and determined to do the best job I can as I was back when I was a fresh-faced 26 year old who didn't know what the hell the world was going to make of his strange little book about vampires and circus freaks!! The last ten years have been amazing, people -- but I'm hoping that the next ten will be even better (and bloodier!!!) for us all. I'll be back here in February with my next Monthly round-up. Until then, all my bloody best, and my sincerest thanks for having accompanied me (however long or short you've been a fan) on my ten year odyssey into darkness, Darren Shan x x x