• Issue 174 - January 2015

    01 January 2015



    22/jan/2015 -- my apologies if any of you received an email over the last few days, regarding the February issue of the Shanville Monthly. This was sent in error, and completely my fault -- apologies!! The February issue will go live at the start of the month, as usual.


    Hi everyone, and welcome to 2015 and the January issue of the Shanville Monthly. I hope you all had a nice Christmas and are looking forward to the year to come. I had a quiet, enjoyable first Christmas as a father. New Year's Eve was quiet too -- we usually have a house party in London, as our flat overlooks the London Eye (hence the reason so much of the action in the Zom-B books is set around there!) and the annual fireworks show, but with a small baby in tow, we decided to keep our heads low this year. Not to worry -- we'll just have to party twice as hard next year!! Even though it's just the beginning of the year, I already have plenty to report on in the first 2015 issue of the Shanville Monthly. There's interior artwork from Zom-B Bride.. the UK cover of the third Zom-B Chronicles collection... links to FREE Zom-B books... an exciting competition for budding writers in the UK, in which the judge is yours truly... and there's even a song!!!







    Zom-B Bride, the tenth book in the series, goes on sale in the UK and Ireland and Australia and New Zealand on February 12th, and in Canada and the USA on February 24th. While things calm down a little after the brutal, shocking events of Zom-B Family, this is, in its own way, maybe the weirdest and most unsettling entry in the series, as we finally get to spend some quality time with everyone's favourite clown, Mr Dowling, as B is escorted to his underground lair, where truth and revelations lie in wait... along with the most bewildering and life-changing decision she will ever have to face. This is a book that's going to make your jaw drop and your insides clench, and you might never hear the phrase "Here comes the bride" again without having to suppress a small, involuntary shiver...


    Zom-B Bride will be on sale through all good booksellers -- if you don't see it on the shelves of your local shop, do please ask the staff to order in a copy for you -- or you could ask them to pre-order it in advance, to make sure you get it nice and early. Alternatively, if you prefer to buy online, there will be loads of places where you can either order a physical copy or download it as an eBook. Here are a few that normally offer very good value.


    AMAZON UK.   HIVE (in cooperation with your nearest independent book shop).












    This January marks the 15th anniversary of the publication of Cirque Du Freak. Yep, it was way back in January 2000, at the dawn of the new millenium, that Cirque Du Freak first hit bookshelves in the UK and Ireland. It seems hard to credit these days, on the back of massive global sales, lots of love from readers, and acceptance worldwide by librarians, teachers and parents, but Cirque Du Freak was a book that nobody wanted -- virtually every children's publisher in the UK turned it down when it was offered to them! Thankfully a single editor at HarperCollins, Domenica DeRosa, decided to take a chance on it after she had initially rejected it along with everybody else -- but then she left to have twins and didn't come back, so it very nearly got rejected again by her replacement! Whether it was luck or DesTiny, HarperCollins rather reluctantly went ahead and published it, and the rest is history. It certainly wasn't an instant bestseller, but as word spread, it became more and more popular, maturing with the years like a very fine, freakish wine!


    Cirque Du Freak is without doubt the defining book of my career to date. It's not just the book of mine that has sold the most copies -- it's also the entry point for the vast majority of my fans, as well as being the launchpad for my career. Although it's not my first published book (that was Ayuamarca -- later to be re-titled as Procession of the Dead -- which came out a year earlier) it was the first to generate any real interest, and sales allowed me to continue to write full-time. It sold into lots of territories across the world, allowing me to travel, opening up all sorts of new frontiers, and established me as a children's author, something I had never foreseen prior to writing the book. I have no idea what my life might have been like without it. Perhaps I would have found success with something else, but then again, maybe I wouldn't. Either way, it's woven into the fabric of my DNA, and the man I am today is the freak that this book made me!


    To celebrate the anniversary, I decided to pay a little nod to Cirque Du Freak in my upcoming book, Zom-B Bride. Although it's not now going on sale until February, it was originally lined up for a January 2015 release, so I decided to include a line from Cirque Du Freak in it. I'm not going to say what the line is just yet -- I don't want to spoil the surprise -- but look out for it in February! I'm pretty sure you'll recognise it when you come to it... it will be freakily familiar!





    As usual, the wonderful Warren Pleece has produced interior art for Zom-B Bride, and these are actually my favourites pieces that he has come up with so far -- the artwork has been excellent from the beginning, but I think he hits new heights this time round! Here are some of his roughs from the book -- but you'll have to read the finished book to see the final, fully realised work, and they look even better -- and trust me, they're almost worth the price of the book all by themselves!!



    First up, we have a look at B being delivered to Mr Dowling by the eerie, mysterious babies who have been haunting the series ever since book 1 -- and yes, in Zom-B Bride, we finally find out what the deal with them is! Take time to note the severed heads pinned to the wall -- is B's head soon to join them?!?



    The next picture finds B... sharing a bath with Mr Dowling and his henchman, Kinslow?!? Surely that can't be right! Well... all I can say, without spoiling any surprises, is that's no ordinary bath, and she might be safer off if it was filled with piranha!!



    Finally, a very nervous B is directed towards an operating chair, much like those you find at a dentist's. But Mr Dowling isn't interested in root canal surgery -- and is that a pair of handcuffs he's holding behind his back?!? Is B about to suffer the way she did at Dan-Dan's hands? You'll have to wait until February to find out!





    Last month I revealed that we were going to release the last couple of Zom-B hardback books at a later schedule than originally planned -- book 11 in September 2015, and book 12 in March or April 2016. We have also decided to alter the release schedule for the paperbacks in the UK and Ireland.


    The paperback edition of Zom-B Clans, the 8th book in the series, was originally scheduled to go on sale in February 2015, but we have now pushed that back to March 2016, with the rest of the paperbacks to follow at differing intervals, the last one coming out in May 2017.


    I know that won’t be welcome news for those of you collecting the paperbacks, but to be honest, I always thought we started bringing out the paperbacks too early. Because of the super-fast release schedule for the hardbacks, I argued that we shouldn’t release the paperback versions until the series was finished in hardback. My publishers disagreed and started to release them concurrently with the hardbacks, but the feedback from book shops was that we were just releasing too much product each year and they couldn’t cope with it. Hence the decision to revert to my initial plan.


    There are two ways for paperbacks collectors to look at this. One is that it’s disappointing that you have to wait ages between books 7 and 8. But the other way is that if my publishers had heeded me in the first place, you wouldn’t even have book 1 yet! So instead of mourning that you have to wait so long for the last 5 books in paperback, rejoice that you got the first 7 so swiftly!!!


    The third volume of the Zom-B Chronicles bind-ups goes on sale on 9th April 2015, as previously planned (see below), but after that there will be a delay with the subsequent volumes moving forwards, with the fourth volume currently scheduled to see print at some point in 2016, exact date TBC.


    My apologies for all the chopping and changing, folks, but that's the problem with trying something that nobody else is doing -- sometimes it works out, but other times it throws up complications that have to be dealt with.


    In the USA, LittleBrown will be releasing the second volume of the Zom-B Chronicles in paperback at some point during the course of the series run, but a date has yet to be confirmed.


    For the latest release schedule for all my books, click here.






    The third volume of the Zom-B Chronicles will be released in the UK and Ireland on 9th April 2015, and that's the cover above, revealed here exclusively for the first time. I really like the look and feel of the Chronicles covers -- they make a very nice package. The third volume collect books 5 and 6 of the series, brigning the first half of the storyline to a close. You can pre-order the book by CLICKING HERE. I'm not sure when volume four will be released -- it's been affected by the delayed release of the paperbacks (see above) and is due to see print at some point in 2016, but no exact date has been decided on yet.





    It's been a long time coming, but I've FINALLY added my author notes for Zom-B Family to my web site. In the notes, I talk about the writing of the book, the need to trim it down after deliberately going too far with the first draft, and there's even a deleted scene from the book! WARNING -- you should not read the notes unless you have read the book, as they contain spoilers galore!! You can find the notes HERE.

    I've written author notes for all of the books that I have released, in which I talk about inspiration, where names come from, how long they took to write, etc. THIS is the link for the page on which they can all be found.






    Zom-B Underground, the second book in the series, goes on sale in France on January 15th. The first book has been drawing some rave reviews from French reviewers -- CLICK HERE to access them -- so I hope this one finds favour too! You should be able to buy or order the book in your local bookshop, or else you can buy online from Amazon France by CLICKING HERE. That's the cool-looking cover above, so you know what to look out for!! Vive le living dead!!!!! 





    If you like zombies, and you like Darren Shan, and you like free books, then I've got some great yuletide-related news for you!!


    UK & Ireland -- Zom-B Circus, the short, additional book that I wrote for my Zom-B series, is now FREE as an eBook in the UK until January 4th!!! Although the story links in with the main storyline, it also works as a stand-alone novella, so it's the perfect starting point if you haven't read the books yet and want to have a taste of what they're like before committing for real. To download it before the offer expires, CLICK HERE.


    AUSTRALIA -- the first Zom-B book is now FREE to download on iBooks until January 14th.

    CANADA -- Apple have included Zom-B in their "First in a Series" promotion, so the first Zom-B book will be FREE until January 13th via iBooks. But also, to link in with that, they're offering the next few books in the series at discount prices too! Zom-B Underground will be $2.99, Zom-B City will be $4.99, Zom-B Angels will be $7.99, while Zom-B Circus will be $2.99.


    USA -- I'm afraid the USA aren't currently running any free offers on my books, BUT... the first Zom-B e-book will be featured in NOOK’s "Start a Series” Sale running January 1st to 5th. During this time, the e-book will be priced at a very tempting $2.99. (I think it might also be available on Amazon at that price too.)

    It would be lovely if you could all help spread the word by sharing news of these offers with everyone you know in the approproate countries. This is a great opportunity for us to expand our circle of Shansters, by tempting in new readers with the FREE (or reduced price) offers, but people can only try it if they know about it. Your help will be hugely appreciated, and will afford you Official Darren Shan protection when the zombies attack!!!!






    If you like my Saga Of Darren Shan/Cirque Du Freak books, you MUST listen to this!! It's a brilliant song recorded by a band called Lee's Portrait, all about the relationships between Darren, Steve and Annie. It comes with a really cool video too. Listen, Like, and most important of all... SHARE!! To access the song on YouTube, CLICK HERE.





    The 12 winners of the December Shanville Monthly competition, in the order drawn, were:

    Alvianti Fajarsari, Indonesia.
    Eloise Doherty, UK.
    Sacha Huynen, Belgium.
    Darci Meyers, USA.
    Atte Kola, Finland.


    Haditha Mohamad, Indonesia.
    Fergus Dennehy, Ireland.
    Kinsey Moore, USA.
    Cory Hwong, Malaysia.
    Nicole Blea, USA.
    Jordan Adesina, UK.
    Steven Ellans, UK.


    There were 245 valid entries in total. Thanks to everyone who entered. Congratulations to the winners, and better luck next time to everybody else!!






    UK's premier science-fiction, fantasy and horror magazine, SFX are running another writing competition, where people in the UK aged 16 years or older are invited to write a short story about zombies -- and once again, I'm going to judge the winner!! There was a great response to the first Writing Dead competition, so SFX were keen to sanction a sequel, and I really enjoyed reading the shortlisted stories, so I was keen too -- so here we are!!


    The rules are pretty much the same as before -- five stories will be shortlisted by the SFX staff, and I will read those and choose my favourite as the overall winner -- but we've added a few extra twists to things this time, to tie in with the Christmas season!! To find out more, and to submit your entry once you've written it, CLICK HERE. Closing date is 3rd February 2015.



    A, B, CZECH!


    Good news for my fans in the Czech Republic — the first Zom-B book goes on sale there on 31st March 2015. CLICK HERE for more information -- I haven't yet seen the cover, but will share it with you once I have.





    The web site http://www.teenreads.com is looking to put together five finalists for Best Teen Book of 2014. They’re inviting fans to nominate their five favourite books (or less) of 2014, and the five with the most votes will go forward to the final. Three of my books are eligible -- Zom-B Clans and Zom-B Mission and Zom-B Family (for some reasons that one doesn’t show up in their list, so you’d need to include it in the OTHER box if you wished to nominate it). If you’d like to vote for one or more of them, or indeed for any other book released in 2014, this is the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SLXJ2G3 You have until February 2nd to cast your vote.






    British/Irish librarians and teachers, take note! We're starting to work on my next book tour in 2015, to tie in with the launch of Zom-B Bride, and I'm going to be doing school events from February 12th, and maybe into the following week. I might also be doing a few around World Book Day on March 5th. If you're interested in trying to arrange or be involved with a Darren Shan school event around those dates, email your request through to Lorraine Keating: [email protected]

    You can also enquire about my availability on other dates next year -- I'm usually quite flexible when a GOOD event is in the offing!! To REALLY increase your chances of snagging me, look to team up with some fellow schools or libraries in your area, so that you can offer a large, multi-group event. I like to work with big crowds, so the more students you can offer, the better!!






    Can you spot any familiar faces in this photo taken in the Odeon Cinema in Limerick recently, after a showing of the movie Paddington?!? Dante slept through most of the film this week, so he doesn't really have an opinion of it, but Mrs Shan and I enjoyed it very much! I also enjoyed the fact that I was the token dad in among a gaggle of mothers -- proof that I'm a firm believer in gender equality!!!!!





    I did a Skype event with Connally school in Waco, Texas a while back (see last month's issue of the Shanville Monthly. I'm always in two minds about Skype events -- I'm never sure how much the audience are getting out of it, since I'm not there in person. But yesterday I heard from the librarian who arranged it, and I'm starting to reassess my approach -- maybe I'll do more of them in future. If YOU are a teacher or librarian interested in setting up a Skype event with me (or if you're a student, try to get a teacher or librarian interested) you can send in your request using the Contact form on www.darrenshan.com and I'll do my best to try to arrange something with you. Anyway, here's what the librarian from Connally had to say...

    We just received our library order of all of the Zom-B books to date. The kids are going nuts! I had to shut down the library for the rest of today so that I could get them processed. I know that they will be waiting at the door on Monday morning at 7:30 when we open. I also went to our local bookstore this past week, and the manager stopped me, and asked, "What's up with all of the Connally kids looking for the Zom-B books?" She looked at me strangely then, because I started laughing. I explained that you had Skyped with us, and she understood then. She then proceeded to tell this new librarian that I "might" want to give her a warning before we Skype with any other authors.





    I recently received an email from a fan called Cameron, asking about whether free versions of my audio books that can be found online are legal or not, and whether I get anything when people listen to them. He very sweetly added:

    "I'm a big supporter of artists getting the proceeds from their hard work, and I would not wish to support a service that jips you out of what is rightfully yours. I don't want to listen to the books on this page if they've been obtained illegally or without your knowledge."

    The short answer is: NO. If you come across a site offering free versions of my books (or any other established author's) in any sort of format, you can be certain that they are illegal and that the writer is not being paid anything for them. There are occasional exceptions -- one of my books will be coming up for free later this month, and I'll let everyone know about it when that happens -- but it will always be clear if an author has approved the pricing and is choosing to give a book away for free. But those are rare.

    I'm not going to start preaching about the rights and wrongs of illegal downloads -- we live in a world where pretty much anything creative can be found for free online, and a lot of people have no problem with that. I'm old school. I'm not against using the net to sample certain things that I like -- for instance, if I'm going to a gig, I might listen to some of the artist's songs through YouTube -- but if I want to listen to a whole album, I buy it. If I want to read a book from start to finish, I buy it. If I want to watch a film... you get the picture!!!

    Now, of course, my books have sold very well over the years, and I've made lots of money, and I can afford to be precious. But the thing is, I had the same view when I was a penniless teenager and student and 20-something. There are alternatives to getting hold of the books, albums and movies you like -- libraries are the ideal place to start, or you can borrow them from a friend, or look for them second-hand. I was pretty much always able to find what I craved, without resorting to stealing, which is what illegal downloading is.

    Hmmm.... I'm not doing very well at not being preachy!!! OK, no more talk of "stealing," as I know that can rub the wrong way with a lot of people who are in favour of illegal downloads. But I do feel that I have to add, that whatever about the moral issues, illegal downloads are dangerous. They suck money away from creators. Many bands make almost nothing from their albums now, and instead rely on touring and merchandise to make their living. Writers can't really do that -- we're reliant on our book sales. If large numbers of readers follow in the footsteps of music fans and start downloading books illegally, there's no Plan B for the writers -- they'll be forced to stop writing, or start doing it part-time. Careers will be destroyed and great books will be lost to all of us forever.

    I know the arguments in favour of illegal downloads, and I'm not going to rail against them, as in some cases they can be valid. Sometimes, if you're trying an author or band for the first time, you don't want to spend a lot of money on something that you might not like, so you download one of their works for free -- if you like it and come back for more, but buy it legally next time, great, no harm done. Some people download things for free, but then blog about them and spread the word if they like them, and encourage other people to go out and buy the work -- again, that's good for the creator.

    But if you're getting ALL your books for free, and paying not a single penny or cent to the people who are writing them... well, to paraphrase Cameron, do YOU want to support a service that jips writers out of what is rightfully theirs???

    We're in this dance together, people. A writer without readers is like a table top with no legs -- he or she is going to come crashing to the floor very quickly! To have a vibrant book scene, we have to work as a team. The shortcuts for readers are easy and tempting, I know, and I pass no moral judgement on those who make them -- I know all too well what it's like to have very little money. All I ask is that you look a little further down the line and assess the consequences of your actions. Because there ARE consequences. And the key consequence isn't that you're robbing a creator of a small sum of money... it's that you might ultimately be working to rob yourself of more of that creator's work in the future.

    I hope all that wasn't TOO preachy!!!!! My apologies if it was!!



    2014 ROUNDUP


    My wife and I found out on New Year's Eve last year that we were pregnant, so we spent the first nine months of 2014 preparing for the arrival of Dante, and that was obviously the fulcrum of the year as far as my personal life went.


    On the work front I released an incredible six -- yes, SIX! -- books in 2014. Five of those were part of my Zom-B series -- in order, they were Zom-B Gladiator, Zom-B Mission, Zom-B Clans and Zom-B Family, plus my short additional ebook, Zom-B Circus (which is still free to download in the UK for the next few days -- it's also for sale at very good prices in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). On top of those, there was my latest book for adult readers, which I released under a different name, and only as an eBook -- to find out more about that if you're one of my more mature readers, click here: http://www.darrenshan.com/verify/


    As well as the new books, other books of mine came out in various countries around the globe, and the second half of my Demonata series was re-released with revised new covers in the UK -- look for them in your local bookshop or online on Amazon UK. Also, the final books of The Saga Of Darren Shan/Cirque Du Freak were released as audio books in the UK and USA.


    It was another busy year on the road, with loads of great events across the UK, Ireland, Canada, Hungary (where I had HUGE crowds -- it was Shan-mania all over again!), and New York in the USA. I quickly lost track of the number of books I had signed and necks I had strangled!!


    A couple of very cool songs were written about my work in 2014. The first was about Lord Loss, by Rose Weekes: https://soundcloud.com/roseweekes/lordloss Then there was one about Darren, Steve and Annie from my vampire books, by Lee's Portrait: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTqMWG1pcxQ&feature=youtu.be


    I ran a writing competition in conjunction with SFX magazine in the UK, and it went so well that we're doing it again: https://www.futurecompetitions.com/WritingDead2/


    I ran more competitions on my site than ever before, giving away hundreds of signed books and various other prizes. I also treated fans to lots of new covers and exclusive interior art.


    I was added to the official school curriculum in Ireland (respectability at last!!), and books of mine appeared on a number of Best Of lists over the course of the 12 months. I gave lots of interviews, wrote some original articles, did a blog tour and a few Skype events. My UK publishers established the beginnings of a Zom-B Army on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ZomBArmy


    February marked the 15th anniversary of the publication of my first ever book (Procession Of The Dead, for adult readers), while October marked the tenth anniversary of the completion of my Cirque Du Freak/Saga Of Darren Shan series.


    So, all in all, a nice quiet forgetful year... NOT!!! I hope 2015 proves every bit as productive, although I won't be releasing quite so many books (though I have three planned at the moment, which isn't too shabby!). All that remains for me to add is a big THANK YOU to all of you guys for your support over the last year (and before), and I hope to carry on entertaining you well into 2015 and beyond -- and I hope 2015 is a GREAT year for you.







    And that's it for January. I hope this is the start of a wonderful year for you all. After an ultra busy 2014, in which Mrs Shan and I had our first baby and I released six -- yes, SIX books!!! (Zom-B 6, 7, 8 and 9, plus Zom-B Circus, plus my latest book for adults) -- 2015 looks like it will be a small bit quieter. I "only" plan to release three books this year (Zom-B 10 and 11, plus a new book for adults), though who know, maybe that will change! Of course raising Dante is going to be keeping me on my toes as well -- this time next year he should be walking, but there's a lot of parenting to be done between now and then! I'll be touring too, and since I don't have as much writing and editing to do as last year, hopefully I'll be able to spend even longer on the road over the coming twelve months. I'll be back here at the start of February in the lead-in to the release of Zom-B Bride, along with all the latest news, including some more sneak peeks at the interior art of Zom-B Bride and some tour updates. Until then, all my bloody best, Darren Shan. x x x



    Follow Darren Shan on Facebook and Twitter. He also has a (very rarely updated!) YouTube page.