• Issue 118 - May 2010

    01 May 2010
    Hi everyone, and welcome to the May issue of the Shanville Monthly!! This is a monster month for me -- the final Demonata book comes out in America, The Thin Executioner is released in the UK, I head out on tour, and there's also the long-awaited revamp of my website!!!! Busy, busy, busy!!!! I can't wait to see the reaction of fans to Thin -- I'm sure I'll get a good feel for what you guys think when I'm out on tour in Ireland and UK at the start of May -- my fans have never been shy when it comes to telling me exactly what they think of my books!! Speaking of the tour, I often get asked if I only sign my latest book, or if there is a limit on how many books per fan that I will sign. The answer is NO. The way it works is that I will personalise and write a message in one book for each fan who comes, and I always let fans decide which book they want the message in (most choose to get it in the new book, but they're not obliged to -- it can be an older book if they prefer). But, having done that, I am more than happy to sign the rest of your Darren Shan collection too, so if you want to bring all 20-plus books along from home, and are strong enough to carry them all around at the same time, feel free!!!! I also happily sign the manga, as well as the covers for the audio books and DVD. basically, if it has my name on it, I'll usually sign it!!!!!



    My first ever one-off, stand-alone novel, THE THIN EXECUTIONER, is on sale in the UK and Ireland NOW!!!! Early reaction from critics who got their hands on a pre-publication ARC or proof has been VERY positive -- here are the earliest reviews to date, and I'll be adding more to my site over the coming weeks as and when they come in:

    1) http://amitybooktalk.blogspot.com/ -- Darren Shan is the author of the Cirque Du Freak series. This book is quite a departure for him. First of all, the book I read is an advanced copy I received from one of my students. This book will be out in August 2010 - and I will be lining up to buy it for the media center.

    Jebel is the third son of a respected executioner. His father has told the village that his two older sons will battle to see who will have the honor of succeeding him - poor, thin Jebel is left out. He decides to go on a perilous quest to petition the fire god for invincibility and hopefully return to his village a hero.

    This book has it all - a hero, plenty of villians, and a romance. Plus, be aware this book is plenty violent and gory in parts.

    On the back cover it states that Darren Shan was inspired by The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: after I finished reading The Thin Executioner, it was interesting to see how many similarities I could find. I think more mature readers will devour this book!

    2) http://mrripleysenchantedbooks.blogspot.com/2010/03/darren-shan-thin-executioner-book.html -- There is a new Darren Shan book in the offering, but the first thing to say is that this is probably not the type of book that you may have been expecting from Darren Shan. It's not a horror/gore-fest - it has none of the normal associated themes of Demons, Vampires and monster-like creatures ripping out each others throats. In fact it is very different to any of the other book series (Cirque du Freak and Demonata) that he is also well-known for. Although the book still reads like a high action ride of terror, it is written in a more traditional style about a brutal nation of warriors. Jebel’s family holds the highest honour; his father is executioner but Jebel is considered too thin to compete to replace him. Humiliated and furious, Jebel vows to regain his honour in a quest to petition the fire god for invincibility. The journey is long, filled with unknown monsters and by the end of it, Jebel isn’t quite sure what he wants anymore.

    The book follows Jebel's adventure into unknown lands in a quest to find the mystery god, who can give him unimaginable powers, which I know sounds like a cliche. However whilst it may turn out to be just another tale that's been told and passed down through the generations, Jebel still sets off on his search. . . . and the nightmare begins.

    The story is well written with many thought provoking emotions running through the dialogue between Jebel, and his slave Tel Hesani. These leave a lasting affect on the reader, which add a new dimension to the book. The detail that has gone into the plot and the pace of the story are equally very good. It's a brutal ride; covering religious and cult themes that have you chilled to the bone. The encounter with the tribe known as the Um Saga and their leader Qasr Bint is not for the faint hearted or the younger reader. Be warned that this book, whilst different to other Darren Shan books, has not been toned down in any way.
    I loved the book; it had me shocked, captivated and engrossed all at the same time. This is the first of many 'standalone' books to come from Darren Shan; it's good to read something different from him, and see him flex his creative arm in order to find new readers. This book will find a new army of fans and add to his popularity. What will he write next?

    3) http://sarwatchadda.blogspot.com/ - I must admit I've not been a fan of Shan until now. The book's got a great Arabian nights flavour but it's subject matter is pretty serious, the nature of belief. It follows the trials of a mis-fit son as he goes on a quest to gain supernatural power, and instead gains enlightenment. It's like Pilgrim's Progress but with decapitations.
    I think that last comment is my favourite so far!!!! To make up your own mind, you're going to have to go and read the book! The Thin Executioner should now 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.

    You can check out a video clip on Qik of me reading a short extract from The Thin Executioner at a 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.


    Hell's Heroes, the 10th and final book of The Demonata, goes on sale in the USA on May 11th -- hurrah!!! Readers in the States can now finally find out what happens to Grubbs, Kernel and Bec at the end of the series. Has Bec really betrayed humanity and cut a deal with Lord Loss?!? Will Grubbs be able to control the beast within himself?!? Will Kernel abandon those he has been fighting with?!? And, the biggest question of all -- if these three messed-up teenagers are mankind's best hope, how much longer can the world hope to stand?!? If you live in America, you can find out the answers to these questions and a whole lot more by heading down to your nearest book store or library and securing a copy of Hell's Heroes!! Or, if you prefer to buy online, you can get the book either through Amazon by CLICKING HERE or through Barnes & Noble by CLICKING HERE.


    Following hot on the heels of Hell's Heroes, my American publishers, LittleBrown, are releasing my first book for older readers in the USA in June. Procession of the Dead is a book about a young man who wants to become a gangster. His wish comes true, but as he climbs the ranks, he comes to realise that all is not right in the world of crime to which he has pledged himself... or, indeed, inside his own head!! You can read this book as a one-off, since it tells a self-contained story, but it is also the first book of a trilogy -- the second, Hell's Horizon, comes out in January 2011. The book should be available in all good book stores, but you can also pre-order it through Amazon if you prefer, by CLICKING HERE. On the Amazon page, you can also read reviews from members of the Amazon Vine program, readers who get sent copies of certain books ahead of publication. Most of these readers were not existing fans of mine, so their reviews make for interesting reading if you're suspicious of my work for adults!!!


    It's ALIVE!!!!!!! Yes, I'm delighted to be able to announce the arrival of the newborn Darren Shan web site to the world!!! It's been almost ten years since I first lanuched my site. Back then I did it all myself, following the instructions from a "How To Create Your Own Web Site in 24 Hours" book!!! We've come a long way since then, though up until this latest overhaul we still used the basic site-building tools that I used in the beginning, since I was comfortable with that way of doing things and could exert more control over the site by sticking with what I knew. But the world and the web have moved on, and my designer convinced me that it was high-time we junked the old way of doing things and dragged the site kicking and screaming into the 21st century!!!

    The new site is a beast of an entirely different calibre. It might take a bit of getting used to, since it's more complexly structured than the old site, but ultimately it will offer a far smoother browsing experience -- you'll be able to find your way around much easier than you could before, and get from one section of the site to another in quicker time. It will be easier to view fan art, photos, etc. Easier to find out info about the books, and to access my notes. The site will look slicker and work more efficiently, offering more options and links from any idividual page than I had before. Most importantly, it will be more FUN!!!!!

    To start browsing the new site, just go to the regular Darren Shan home page: http://www.darrenshan.com But please note, the site is NOT yet complete -- because I'm heading off on tour on April 29th, we've had to launch the new site a few days shy of its scheduled completion. Most of it is in place, but some links and features are not yet active, and some of the material from the old site has yet to be copied across. So if things don't work quite the way they should, don't worry, just give us a few days and we'll soon have it sorted.

    If you run into any problems with the new site, or can't find a page that you want, we have kept the old site intact, so you can go and browse there as you did before. The new link for the old home page is: http://www.darrenshan.com/oldsite.html All of the old links are accessible from there.

    I'll go through the new site features in more detail in next month's Shanville Monthly, once everything is in place and the dust has settled. For the time being, feel free to browse and explore at leisure. It's the dawn of a new age in the webby world of Darren Shan, and the new site's going to allow me to do much more than I ever did before (for instance, I plan to launch a video section in the near future), so keep checking back -- you ain't seen nothing yet!!!!!


    I was delighted to find out that in all of the libraries in Ireland, I was the #1 most borrowed Irish author in 2009!!! That's a massive achievement, and one that I'm particularly proud of because I've spent a lot of time touring around the Irish libraries over the years. The Irish librarians have always been great supporters of my books, even back in the days when I was an unknown and just starting out. They were the first group of people in the world to really push my books and invite me in to do events. It gives me a nice warm buzz to have climbed to the very top of the Irish mountain of authors in the libraries!!!

    2010 TOUR

    Here are the details for my May tour of the UK and Ireland to support the release of The Thin Executioner. 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.

    Click here for all events information


    In the UK, Voyager, the HarperCollins imprint which publishes my City trilogy for older readers, is celebrating its 15th birthday this year. To commemorate that, they have put together a trailer featuring some of the many fabulous books which they have published over the last decade and a half. A couple of my books are included in the trailer, so if you've read and enjoyed those, and would like some tips for other similarly themed books, you'll pick up lots of ideas here!!! To check it out, CLICK HERE.

    Meanwhile, in the USA the first review of the American edition of Procession of the Dead is in -- and thankfully it's a really good one!! The review appeared in Publishers Weekly, which is the industry trade bible, read religiously by most people in the book trade. A good review here is seen by a LOT of people behind the scenes, which can help it find its way to more book shelves than it normally would. Not only did Procession get a good review, but is was a Starred review too -- they award a star to books they REALLY like!!! Let's hope this is a good sign for things to come!! To remind everyone, Procession of the Dead is a book for older readers, the first of a trilogy called The City, and it goes on sale in the USA in June.

    Shan’s dystopic thriller, the first in a trilogy already published in the U.K., is an excellent, twisting foray into a world of deceit, murder, and mystery. Capac Raimi arrives in an unnamed city, a place ruled by a man known as the Cardinal, and quickly realizes that he has no memory of his life elsewhere. When the Cardinal kills Capac’s uncle and offers Capac a job based on a dream and Capac’s Incan name, the young man’s life takes a turn for the fantastical. While training to serve the Cardinal, Capac embarks on a strange, gripping search for clues to both the disappearances of his friends and his own past. The dialogue is realistic, the characters and settings are vivid, and the plotting is tight, complemented perfectly by a bleak, desolate tone. Any fan of postapocalyptic fiction will find it absolutely riveting. (published in June)



    Getting factual figures from Hollywood can be a bit like trying to get blood from a stone -- studios are VERY secretive about their earnings!! But from what I've been able to find out online, by April 27th the Cirque Du Freak movie had made more than $38 million at cinemas worldwide, and over $5 million on DVD sales in the USA. I've no idea at the moment how much it has made on DVD rentals in the States, or sales and rentals in other countries. The budget for the film was listed as being $40 million, so if that was the case, it has now made more money than it cost to make. But with Hollywood, the general rule of thumb is that for a film to break even and return its budget to the studio, it needs to make at least double its budget, maybe even more!!! So while the film is by no means a complete financial flop, it can't be classed as a runaway financial success either. Where that leaves the future of the series is anyone's guess. To date, I haven't heard anything about Universal moving forward with a sequel. Having said that, nothing's ever certain in Hollywood, so if the film does well on DVD and TV worldwide, and interest in the series continues to grow, there's always a possibility that they might decide to make another film. In short I'd have to say, watch this space -- but don't hold your breath!!!

    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.


    You can view a clip of me reading out a scene from Birth of a Killer, the first book of The Saga of Larten Crepsley, in Norway last year, and talking a little bit about it afterwards. At the time, I hadn't announced what the 4 book series was going to be about -- that's why there are some gasps of excitement when I reveal it at the end!!! So, if you want a little sneak preview of Birth of a Killer, CLICK HERE. And remember, Birth of a Killer goes on sale at the same time in the UK and USA in early October 2010.


    To my surprise, I've been enjoying my trial stint on Twitter, so I have decided to keep my account open indefinitely and make it a regular feature!! My account is @darrenshan, and I've been tweeting very regularly so far, sometimes 3 or 4 times a day, depending on what's going on in my life. I find it useful for commenting on films or bands, things like that, so it's got quite a different feel to my blog. If you want to follow me on Twitter, this is the page: http://twitter.com/darrenshan

    Please note, I don't follow many people on Twitter, or respond to most queries (there just isn't time), but I DO read all of the comments, and appreciate the feedback.


    And that's it for May!! I'm looking forward to my tour, and I hope it turns out to be as manic and busy as my last few!! If you're planning to come along to see me, it's worth noting that on recent tours I signed for an average of 2 hours or more at almost every venue!! My advice, if you're coming to a signing, is to try and get there early! At my public events, I talk for about an hour, then sign afterwards -- again, for an average of 2 hours or more, depending on the size of the crowd. You need to be patient at a Darren Shan signing or event!!! But fans usually have a lot of fun waiting -- they can read the latest book in line, chat with other fans, make new friends, then meet me, get their books signed, ask me any pressing questions, have their photo taken... In real life, I'm not scary in the slightest, and I love meeting my fans, so don't be shy!!!!! While I'm on the road, my technical team will be busy putting the finishing touches to the new web site, and I'll probably add some new nuggets to it when I get back home. Either way, I'll be back here again at the start of June with the next issue of the Shanville Monthly.

    Until then, all my bloody best, Darren Shan x x x