• Issue 117 - April 2010

    22 April 2010

    Hi everyone, and welcome to the April issue of the Shanville Monthly!!!! In the UK and Ireland, spring came and went last month -- we had a couple of weeks of nice weather, then it was back to freezing temperatures and snow!!! Oh well, surely the elements have to come good THIS month... don't they?!?!? I had a very enjoyable trip to Dubai and Hong Kong in March. I did a school event for 1000 kids in Dubai, then a public event for several hundred -- I was signing for close to an incredible 5 hours afterwards!!!! The school events in Hong Kong were excellent too. Bas and I also got to hang out with lots of other writers while we were in Dubai, such as Garth Nix, Jacqueline Wilson, Korky Paul, Roger McGough, Joe Abercrombie, Michelle Paver and lots more. Bas was especially delighted to end up sitting next to Kate Adie one night at dinner on a cruise!!!!!

    Anyway, enough of my name-dropping!!! This is another big month in the world of Darren Shan. For a start, my first ever published one-off novel, The Thin Executioner, goes on sale in the UK and Ireland, and I hugely excited about that!! I'm going on another far-reaching tour of the UK (with some Irish dates too) to promote the book, and the majority of my events this time round are for the general public -- to find out if I'm coming to a venue near YOU, scroll on!!! In the USA, there's a good chance that Hell's Heroes will start to appear in stores in April -- you can read a bit more about that, as well as the three other books which I'm going to be releasing in the States in a mind-boggling five month period, a bit further down!! You can also read about me making the Top 50 bestselling authors list in the UK in 2009 (something which, for me, was a huge highlight of the year so far -- I'm still beaming about it!!!!). There are updates about how the film has done... news about my tentative entry into the world of Twitter... info about how you can help join the fight against climate change (rather timely, I think, given the current unusual weather patterns)... an apologetic update about the new web site which was supposed to be live by now, but which is going to need another few weeks to get right before we launch it (SORRRRRYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!)... and more!!!!! Let's waste no further time on anticipation -- let's jump straight to the executioner's chopping block instead!!!!!!!


    Although May is the month I have continually listed as the release date for The Thin Executioner, it actually officially goes on sale on April 29th in the UK and Ireland -- so the waiting is almost over!!! I'm intrigued to see what the reaction from fans will be. This is different to my other books in that (a) it's a one-off, stand-alone story, and (b) it takes place on a fantasy world, not Earth. But those of you who might be worried that I'm leaving my horror roots behind -- there's no need to panic!! There's plenty of bloodshed and death in this book, along with grave-robbing, slavery and religious bigotry -- in many ways it's possibly my darkest book to date!! It's also my personal favourite out of all of the books which I have written so far in my career. I'm not saying it's my "best" book -- that's a matter for every individual fan to decide -- but it's the book I feel closest to and proudest of. I hope you guys like it even half as much as I do. If you don't -- OFF WITH YOUR HEADS!!!!!!!!

    The Thin Executioner should be on sale in bookshops everywhere across the UK and Ireland, but in case you can't find it, or prefer to buy online, you can order it from Amazon UK by CLICKING HERE.

    I'll be talking about The Thin Executioner a bit more next month, and adding my notes about the writing of it to my site. But in the meantime you can check out a video clip on Qik of me reading a short extract from The Thin Executioner at my recent event in Dubai. The picture quality isn't brilliant, as the person filming was quite a long way away from me, but the sound quality is OK, though you might have to turn your speakers up to the max!!! Anyway, for a sneak preview of the book, coming from early in the story, when the main character, Jebel Rum, seeks permission from the lord of his city to go on a quest which will almost certainly result in his death, CLICK HERE.


    I announced a few months ago that I was writing a four book series about Mr Crepsley, but I don't think I've ever confirmed the title of the series. To clear the matter up, I'm please to announce that it will be called:

    The Saga of Larten Crepsley.

    The first book, Birth of a Killer, hits the UK and USA at the same time in October this year.

    USA = United Shan of America!!!

    In America, 2010 is the year of the Shan!!! I will be releasing an incredible FOUR books over a whirlwind period of just five months, three for all ages, one for older readers. In order, they are:

    May 11 -- Hell's Heroes (book 10 of The Demonata).

    June 4 -- Procession of the Dead (book 1 of The City, a trilogy for older teens and adults).

    August 1 -- The Thin Executioner.

    October 5 -- Birth of a Killer (book 1 of The Saga of Larten Crepsley).

    In addtion to all of those, Hell's Horizon, book 2 of The City, comes out on January 5, 2011, making it five books in eight months -- how's that for a blistering schedule?!? Although Hell's Heroes isn't scheduled for release until May 11th, my books in America usually start hitting the shelves a few weeks early, so there's a good chance it will start to show up in lots of stores sometime during April -- so keep a sharp lookout for it!!! If you would prefer to order any of the books through Amazon, click on the title links listed above.


    The response from fans to City of the Snakes has been extremely positive, but I haven't heard from a whole lot of you guys yet!! If you read the book and enjoyed it, it would be great if you could write a short review on Amazon or some other web site, or even just drop me a line to let me know what you think, My adult books tend not to attract as much feedback as my books for younger readers, largely because they don't sell as widely, but also because older readers tend not to be as keen to review or blog about a book as younger fans. I'm always interested in hearing what fans think of my work, whether it's good, bad or indifferent, so don't by shy!!! Just to remind you, all three books of The City trilogy are now on sale in the UK and Ireland (but probably not in the same section of shops as my books for children -- if you can't find them, please do ask a member of staff to help you). If you prefer to order online, you can get them from Amazon UK.

    To buy Procession of the Dead from Amazon, CLICK HERE.

    To buy Hell's Horizon from Amazon, CLICK HERE.

    To buy City of the Snakes from Amazon, CLICK HERE.


    I was looking through a recent issue of The Bookseller and found a list of the 50 bestselling authors in the UK in 2009. Looking down through the names, I was surprised and delighted to spot that MINE was on it!!! I was at number 48, which might not seem particularly high, but lists like these are nigh on impossible to get onto -- it's a list of EVERY bestselling author, so you're not just competing with other children's authors, but with writers of adult fiction, biographies, cookbooks, etc. It's the first time I've made the top 50 list in the UK (I was at #60 in 2008) so I was tickled pink!!! Ten years into my career, I'm still picking up steam and finding new readers every year!! The future is bright -- the future is bloody!!!!!

    2010 TOUR

    Here are the details for my May tour of the UK and Ireland to support the release of The Thin Executioner. It's pretty complete, but I would still suggest double-checking the May issue of the Shanville Monthly before setting out to come to any of my events, just in case there are any last-minute changes. Monday May 3rd is a bank holiday, and schools are also closed on Thursday 6th for elections, so I've managed to squeeze in more public signings than usual -- hurrah!!! Public signings are open to anybody, there are no limits on numbers. For public events or schools events, you normally need a ticket, so please email the contacts listed below.

    Please note, I am also going to be appearing at the Listowel Book Festival on Sunday, June 6th, at 11.00am. CLICK HERE for more info from April 21st onwards.

    Plus, I am pleased to announce that I wil be appearing at the Edinburgh Book Festival again, for my 11th year in a row, in August!! I can't confirm the date or time of that yet -- the programme will be launched on their web site on June 21st. You'll be able to find out more then by CLICKING HERE.


    Climate Change -- love it or hate it, believe in it or not (and to me it seems like the only people who DON'T believe in it are representatives of multinational corporations who stand to see their profits slide if people start leading responsible, environmentally friendly lives -- their view seems to be that they'd rather make lots of money out of the planet while they can so that they can have a great time now, than try to keep the planet safe, clean and inhabitable for their children, grandchildren and generations yet to come), it's with us to stay. It's been a HOT topic these last few years (sorry -- couldn't resist the pun!!) and I think we're going to be hearing even more about it in the years to come. Having travelled a lot and listened to the first-hand accounts of people all around the world over the last ten years, I'm of the view that we're perilously close to breaking point -- if we haven't already pushed the planet too far. We need change, and we need it NOW, or the future is going to be a very uncomfortable place indeed. In London, an initiative has been launched to try and get people to come up with imaginative ways to fight the effects of climate change. Members of the public are free to chip in with their thoughts and suggestions, and celebrities have been asked for quotes to help highlight the adaptation strategy. I was delighted to give them some of my thoughts on the matter when they asked, and though my quote isn't on the web site yet, it should appear there fairly soon. To learn more about the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, and maybe come up with an idea of your own which can help save the planet (or even just London!!!), CLICK HERE. And do it TODAY -- if you don't, there might not be a tomorrow!!!!!!!


    The film has now been released in just about every country where it was scheduled for a cinematic release (with the possible exception of Italy, which was originally scheduled for a June 4th release date). In total, it has made over US$34 million at the box office. On DVD it had made over US$3 million after its first two weeks on sale in America (I don't have any figures for the other countries). Those are all the stats which I currently have to hand. As more present themselves over the coming months, I'll try to let you know about the revised figures here.

    On the DVD charts, here's how it fared in the territories where I was able to find out such information:

    Canada -- #1 bestselling DVD in the Rogers Video chart, #2 bestselling DVD in the Blockbuster Canada chart.
    Canada -- #6 on the DVD rental chart in both the Rogers and Blockbuster charts, #9 on the Blu-Ray Rogers rental chart.
    USA -- #2 on the Rentrak sales chart.
    USA -- #6 on the Blockbuster and Home Media Magazine and IMDB rental charts, #5 on the Blockbuster online renting chart, #7 on the Rentrak rental chart.
    UK -- #5 bestselling DVD on the MyMovies chart, #6 on Yahoo chart.

    Just to remind you, if you live in Ireland, the UK or the USA, the Cirque Du Freak movie is OUT NOW to buy or rent on DVD and Blu-Ray!!!! Or you can download it too, from sites like Amazon!!! The DVD and Blu-Ray include deleted scenes and two featurettes, a "guide to becoming a vampire" and "Tour Du Freak". There are extra deleted scenes available on the Blu-Ray edition (approximately 17 minutes' worth), and a U-Control function with additional cast and crew interviews. The DVD and Blu-Ray are available in stores all over the land to buy or rent, but if you prefer to buy through Amazon UK, you can order the DVD by CLICKING HERE FOR DVD or the Blu-Ray by CLICKING HERE FOR BLU RAY. In the USA, if you would rather buy it online through Amazon, you can order by CLICKING HERE FOR THE DVD or by CLICKING HERE FOR BLU RAY.


    My Russian publishers have created a web page to support my books. An interview with me is on it (in Russian), and I have also recorded a short video introduction to my books, which is on the page too (in English, although I did manage to say hello and goodbye in Russian!!!). To access it, CLICK HERE.


    I've often been asked if I had a Twitter page. The answer has always been no -- I like to blog at length!!! But recently it came to my attention that some people were pretending to be me on Twitter. To stop this from happening in future, I took over the account, @darrenshan, and I've tweeted a bit over the last few days. I'm still not sure it's something that I'm interested in using a lot, but I'm going to give it a go over April. If I get to like it, I'll turn it into a regular feature -- if I don't, I won't. If you want to follow my short little tweets (do let me know what you think if you do), this is the page for me: http://twitter.com/darrenshan

    Oh, and just to confirm, I do NOT have an official Bebo page. Anyone on Bebo who says that they are Darren Shan is lying through their back teeth!!!!


    The new version of Shanville was supposed to go live by the end of March, but due to technical difficulties, we have had to push it back. The new plan is to now have it go live before the end of April. I know this is the second time we have missed the deadline (it was initially planned to be up and running by the end of February!!), but this time we WILL hit the target -- promise!!! In the meantime, if you want to refresh yourself with what we have to look forward to, here's what I said about it last time...

    Big changes are about to be made to the Darren Shan web site. The site has undergone some radical changes of direction over the years (to check it out in all its various incarnations, CLICK HERE). The last major upheval was way back in the middle of 2005, just ahead of the release of Lord Loss. That was when I created the Vampires and Demons sub-sites and re-structured the whole site. It was a huge undertaking, but one that has seen us safely through almost five years of action, so I think we can all agree that it was pretty darn successful!!!

    Well, now the time has come to re-structure again. I'm always looking to improve and upgrade the site, and a lot has happened to the internet over the last five years. I've actually wanted to tinker with the site for the last 2 or 3 years, but decided to wait until The Demonata had run its course. Initially I was looking to only fine-tune things, but my web designer has convinced me to go much further than I had planned, and to pretty much tear the whole thing down and rebuild it using new software. When it's complete, it will be easier for you guys to find your way around, and easier for me to maintain and add to it. I'll be doing away with the current subscription method, where you have to register directly with me, and instead you'll be able to use RSS and whatever the hell else is currently out there -- I don't really understand it all, but I'm assured that it means you'll be able to keep more closely in touch with the movements of the site than ever before. Don't worry -- I'll still be doing a Shanville Monthly round-up every month, and if you wish, you can register just to be kept informed when that part of the site is updated. I'm also going to be setting up a new messageboard, run directly through the site. There will be a calendar, a hugely improved shop, a new section aimed at gathering together all of the writing advice and tips which I have been blogging about for the last few years, video links, and more.

    The plan is to launch the new site before the end of April. There should be no down time, and the new site is going to be bigger, better and more packed with cool features than ever before!! This is the 21st century, and the Darren Shan web site is going to reflect that fact BIG TIME!!!!!! Keep watching, folks -- there are exciting times ahead....

    And that's it for April!! I'm looking forward to getting back out on the road on tour at the end of the month -- I'm visiting some of my favourite haunts from previous tours, along with some new places too. I hope to see lots of you during the course of my travels -- as always, I'll be happy to sign as many of my books as you choose to bring along or buy on the day, so don't be shy about bringing your entire collection along -- if you're happy to carry such a heavy load around, I'm more than happy to sign them!!! I hope to get some more editing done before then (I'm already hard at work on my next series after the Mr Crepsley Saga, though it will be another year or two before I can say anything in public about it!!!). If you live in the UK or Ireland, I hope you'll read and enjoy The Thin Executioner. If you live in the USA, I hope you enjoy the apocalyptic conclusion to The Demonata. And if you live elsewhere... oh, this is getting silly now!!!! Time for me to light out and leave you guys alone!! I'll see you all back here at the start of May for the next issue of the Shanville Monthly -- actually, no, it will be a bit before the end of April, as it will need go live a few days early, before I head off on tour!! Until then, keep your fingers crossed that the weather improves, or I might need a snowmobile to get around!!!! All my bloody best, Darren Shan x x x