• Issue 190 - May 2016

    01 May 2016



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the May issue of the Shanville Monthly! I had a great time on the road to tie in with the release of Zom-B Goddess in the UK and Ireland, last month. It was a privilege to meet so many dedicated fans, some of whom had just discovered me, other who have been reading my books for a decade or longer -- it was a real mix of the old and the new! I gave lots of interviews in April, to link in with the release of the final book in the series, and you can find most of them below -- sorry if that makes this issue a bit interview-heavy, but it's just the way things worked out!






    I published my author notes for Zom-B Goddess shortly after the book went on sale. In them, I mostly talk about the ending of the book, which was VERY different in the first draft, and explain why I changed it. If you want the full background story, you can find it by CLICKING HERE


    The response from fans to the book has been mostly hugely positive. I particularly enjoyed this lengthy response by Laura-Elizabeth Howes, who poste it to me on my Facebook page: "So I've literally just this second finished Zom-B Goddess, and as per usual with the final books in your series', it was everything I dreamed it would be and so much more. In true, sadistic Darren Shan fashion you took everything we thought we'd known for nearly an entire series and revealed it to be an elaborate yet simple lie that none of us will have ever seen coming, not even if we had a zom-b's lifespan to think about it. Also in true Darren Shan fashion, your Zom-B series isn't about what we'd immediately assume it is... Zom-B is not a series about zombies; it's about racism, sexism, religion, politics, corruption, humanity and our future as a species. This series is so truly important and is one that I wholeheartedly believe that every young person should read so that every one of us with a conscience can see that we need to "stand up and shout out, not just at occasional rallies, not just by casting our votes in elections, but all the time." It might have been too late for B's world, but it's not too late for ours. Thank you, Darren. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart, and the heart of every Shanster, for once again creating something so beautiful and powerful and heartbreaking and horrific and heartwarming all at the same time. Zom-B was truly a work of unequivocal genius. I live for your words, and they never ever let me down."


    You can check out more reviews on Amazon UK, Amazon USA and Goodreads. If you're of a similar mindest, having read the book, it would be lovely if you too could post a review on one of those sites or elsewhere.


    Zom-B Goddess should be on sale in all good book stores across the UK & Ireland, USA, Australia & New Zealand, as well as an ebook in Canada -- if you can't see it on the shelves, please ask a member of staff if they can order in a copy for you, or else you can order it through one of the Amazon sites above. (Or, if you live in the UK, you can use this online PriceCheck site to find the best available price through a variety of sellers: 123PriceCheck.)





    If you missed me on my recent UK and Ireland tour and are weeping into your pillow every night, weep no more!! You might still be able to get a signed copy of one of my books if you hurry to a shop where I visited while on the road, as I signed stock in all of them. Mostly I signed copies of Zom-B Goddess, but in many of the shops I signed lots of other books too. If you don't live near any of the shops, you might be able to order a signed copy over the phone and have it posted to you, if you do a bit of research and get in touch with them. You can find out where I went on the tour in the April issue of the Shanville Monthly.





    There was distressing news for fans of the Zom-B audio books a few months ago, when my publishers declared their intention to stop making them after Zom-B Bride, meaning the last two books would never be released in that format. To be honest, I was distressed too! I immediately got in touch with my publishers and asked them if they would reconsider. If not, I asked if it would be OK if I recorded audio versions myself and released them on YouTube -- they'd be nowhere near as polished as the official adaptations, of course, but at least it would mean fans who had come all that way with B would be able to listen to the big finale. (People who hear me talk at events sometimes compliment me on my reading voice, and suggest I record the books myself, but I know that I lack the necessary vocal skills that such a full-on job requires. I'm OK in a vocal sprint, but I'd come up well short in a marathon!) Thankfully, in a show of proof that big publishing houses are ultimately run by real human beings who are open to dialogue, the powers that be at LittleBrown changed their minds and have decided to record and release the final two books in the series -- HURRAY!!!!! As far as I know, Emma Galvin will be recruited to conclude B's tale, with the audio book of Zom-B Fugitive due to go on sale on May 10th, and Zom-B Goddess on June 7th.





    I had a lovely time on tour in Ireland and the UK last month (as well as in Utah, of course!). Thanks to everyone who turned out to see me on the tour, as well as to all the booksellers who hosted me, and Catherine and the gang at Simon & Schuster who set it all up. While the Zom-B Goddess tour is now over, I'm doing a few additional events over the summer. You can find the details below, with at least one more to be added over the coming months. Don't forget, if you're coming to any of my events, I'm always happy to sign as many of my books as you wish to have signed.



    Friday 22nd July

    3.00pm -- public event, West Cork Literary Festival, Bantry, Co. Cork. For more info and to book tickeets CLICK HERE.



    Saturday 30th July

    3.00pm -- panel event at YALC, at the London Film & Comic Con. I will be signing afterwards, from 4pm to 6pm. For more info and to book tickets CLICK HERE.





    What were YOU doing eight years ago? I was starting work on the first Zom-B book, knowing I was at the beginning of a marathon, not sure when exactly I was going to get to the end. Fast forward eight years, and here I am, work complete. How does it feel to invest eight years of my life in a single story? What's my emotional state now that I've come to the end of the line? You can find out in THIS FEATURE PIECE that I wrote for The Guardian, in which I talk all about coming to the end of a long series. Even if you haven't yet started on your Zom-B adventure, you might be interested in this, as it's more about a writer's journey than the books themselves. It will also probably be my definitive word on the subject, as I say pretty much all that needs to be said in this.





    "I had no idea when I wrote Cirque Du Freak or Lord Loss that I was at the start of something monumental. With Zom-B it was different, and I knew going in that it would be at least nine or ten books. That made it a very off-putting process, because I could see to the very top of the mountain that I had to climb before I took my first step, whereas with the other series I was halfway up before I realised what I’d let myself in for!" That quote comes from an interview I gave to So Many Books, So Little Time, as part of a blog tour I did last month. I answer plenty of other questions too, including talking elusively about what my next big project will be. You can read the full interview by CLICKING HERE.






    What? Don't YOU have a headstone out front of your house with the name of your home on it?!? The photo is actually a few years old, but THIS INTERVIEW is brand new. It's from my local newspaper, the Limerick Leader, focusing mainly on my thoughts about the end of the Zom-B series.





    I was very pleased to see Zom-B feature on a list by Phil Earle of Top 10 illustrated children's novels that open the door for reluctant readers. Phil interviewed me a while back, but I don't think that influenced the inclusion of Zom-B -- it's not like I threatened to sic the living dead on him if he didn't partake in a bit of quid pro quo!!! There are lots of other great recommendations on the list too (well, nine of them!), along with Phil's reasons for choosing them, and you can check them out by CLICKING HERE.





    Sci-Fi Now is one of the leading magazines in its field, so I was very happy to give them a lengthy interview for the digital version of the mag when they asked if they could lob a few questions my way. Even though Zom-B has been sold as a horror series, which it primarily is, it's also heavily beholden to the sci-fi field, especially films of the 1960s and 70s, such as Planet Of The Apes and Soylent Green. The interviewer came up with some interesting questions, including whether or not I pay any attention to fan feedback when writing a series, and you can read my answers by CLICKING HERE.





    I did a radio interview with Joe Nash on Live 95 FM last month, and we were joined by a special second interviewer during our chat. A young fan called Ciaran was treated to a big surprise on the day, and was brought in to help Joe interview me. Our meeting was videotaped and you can see a nervous Ciaran getting ready to enter the studio, and then most of my interview with himself and Joe. It's a really nice piece, and it's up on YouTube, so people all over the world can watch it. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zwbM0g5OiIg





    "I hate the phrase, “Reading is important.” It makes it sound as if reading is like brushing your teeth or eating enough vegetables. Reading is exciting, thrilling, mind-expanding. Books are dangerous, sexy, revolutionary." That quote comes from an interview I recently did with Book Angel Booktopia, for part of a book blog tour. In the interview, I also talk about library closures, my favourite reads, Kanye West (!!!!) and a whole lot more. If YOU are feeling 'dangerous, sexy and revolutionary,' you can check out the full interview by CLICKING HERE.






    While I love all my fans equally, there's no denying that some go that little bit further than others, whether it's tracking down multiple copies of my books, coming to meet me many times when I'm on tour, or even committing my name to their flesh, as a fan called Michaela did last month! Here's what she had to say about her tattoo: "On Thursday I finally met Darren Shan at Waterstones in Doncaster. Such a nice guy that he done me another signature on a card so I could get it tattooed and here it is!! Yes that's my knee and it hurt like hell but SO worth it!!"





    Do you want to know which author I would totally fangirl over? Or what my spirit animal is? Then you need to head to the YA Series Insiders site, where they featured me in a number of Q&A articles over the course of last month. For the link to a page of fun, quick-fire Q&A: CLICK HERE. And on this one I talk about one of the books that most inspired me to become a writer: CLICK HERE. In this one I reveal which character refused to stick to my script: CLICK HERE. And in this one I reveal the most common question that I get asked: CLICK HERE. There were a few more, so scroll back through their posts for April if you're interested.





    The Scottish Book Trust asked me to provide them with some of my top tips for writing horror and you can find out what I came up with by CLICKING HERE.





    I don't give too many video interviews, as the logistics make email or phone far easier options. But when one of the nicest guys in the publishing industry -- and a damn fine author to boot -- asked me if I'd sit down in front of a camera with him for a chin wag, how could I say no?!? Yep, I'm talking about Phil Earle, author of books like Heroic and Demolition Dad, who is also the current writer in residence over on the Booktrust site in the UK. He recorded three short video interviews with me recently, in which we discussed books, comics and more, and you can find all three segments on the one page by CLICKING HERE.





    I did a couple of radio interviews last month which are now available as podcasts, although I'm not sure if they'll play for people outside of Ireland -- I guess the only way to find out is to click on the links and see what happens!!


    Anton Savage Show, Today FM, 10 minutes: CLICK HERE.


    Limerick Today, Live 95FM, 18 minutes: CLICK HERE.





    What the hell is wrong with my mouth?!? Adventures in YA Publishing have started a new feature, where they ask authors to read out a few lines from one of their favourite books. I was happy to take part, and you can see my short video in their first YouTube post, where you'll find out which book I chose (hint: it was written by Neil Gaiman). But watching it back, I was struck by the weird way that my mouth appears to move in the clip. It's almost as if I'm not really talking, but just lip-syncing to someone else's words! Is it a trick of the shadows, or do my lips really move like that?!? Answers on an e-postcard please... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9Bhjw94RKA&feature=youtu.be





    There's a real art to packing a bag for a journey, and a fan called Joel drew my attention to this drawing by a "master artist" which he found online. The attention to detail is incredible! I don't know who created it originally, but they certainly know their (pickled) onions!!!





    I've some bad news for my fans in Canada. A few of you had contacted me, asking about the hardback edition of Zom-B Goddess, which was scheduled to go on sale the same time as in the USA. The date kept getting pushed back, so on behalf of my fans I asked my publishers, HarperCollins Canada, what the correct release date was. Turns out they'd taken the decision NOT to release it in hardback, and hadn't bothered to inform me!!! The book IS available in Canada as an eBook, but they have no plans to put out a physical edition at any point in the near future. All I can suggest to those of you wishing to buy the hardback to complete your collection is to order one of the American editions from Amazon USA or some such similar site -- although it's not exactly the same as the other Canadian editions, the difference isn't massive. Apologies for this -- to say I'm gobsmacked about HC's lack of communication is putting it mildly!! If you're happy to buy and read it as an eBook, CLICK HERE.





    Have you ever thought about what you'd like your last thought to be? Of course the Grim Reaper can take any of us in the blink of an eye, no time for deathbed thinking, but assuming you go at a more leisurely pace, what would you like your final mental image to be?


    I went on holiday to Lanzarote last month, with Mrs Shan and Dante, and I took the little fella in for a swim twice a day. He LOVED it. We've been going to swim classes since he was very young, so he's always been comfortable in the water, and has really come on in recent weeks, gaining even more confidence, to the point where he now happily throws himself in, trusting me to pull him up before he drowns. One of the things we did is submerge ourselves beneath the water together. I'd tell him we were going under, then say, "Dante, ready, go," and we ducked beneath the surface for a few seconds. We both had our eyes open while we were down there, and we'd grin at each other wildly, and he normally grabbed my ears for good measure. Decades from now (hopefully!) when I'm shuffling off my mortal coil, lying in my own bed and gazing wistfully at the ceiling of my bedroom (again, hopefully!) I hope that my thoughts return to those moments as my eyes close for the final time. Fixing on that image of my young son, staring at me with total love as we hang suspended in the water, cut off from the world above, just me and him, and his delighted grin...


    Yeah, that would be a good way to fade to black.


    How about you? Any idea of what you'd like YOUR final image to be? No worries if you can't think of one just yet. You have the rest of your life to figure it out.





    A rather cool librarian at Bingley Grammar School in West Yorkshire got in touch with me a while back to ask if I would help her out with a writing competition for her students, to promote literacy. The competition was rolled out to over 1,700 students, aged from 11 to 18. They were asked to write about a fictional character that had had the most impact on their life, and I agreed to feature the winning piece on my Facebook page and in the Shanville Monthly, as an incentive to get more of them to participate. (Those who didn't take part were threatened with a visit by Lord Loss and a pack of zombies!) The winning three entries were by Cameron Parker, Maryam Mahmood and Cameron Tarpy, and here's the complete text of Cameron's first-placed piece, which is all about a certain Master Pleasant...

    My favourite character out of all books is Skulduggery Pleasant, from the series by the same name, written by Derek Landy. The main reason is because of his incredible deductive skills (he’s a detective) and knack for solving the unsolvable. He is incredible at looking at clues and using them to save lives and defeat evil.

    As well as his deduction skills, Skulduggery is an expert at all the martial arts you can name, and then a few more. He is also a mage who practices Elemental Magic, the manipulation of earth, air, fire and water. As well as that, he is a skeleton, resurrected by magic in a war between magical forces.
    Despite being a hard-core fighter, Skulduggery is also compassionate and loyal to his allies and friends. Even though he is fairly disliked in the magical community, he takes this into his stride and is not swayed into being bitter and spiteful.
    One of Skulduggery’s best characteristics is his dry sense of humour. He is constantly making witty remarks and lightening the mood of all around him. When the situation is dark and all looks lost, you can trust Skulduggery to say something that will either make everyone chuckle or grimace.

    Another great trait about Skulduggery is his resilience and determination. Paired with his deduction skills, he is a brilliant asset for the magical community, and has saved lives on numerous occasions (which has improved his popularity somewhat). Many times the world has been in dire need of someone to step up and save it, and with the help of some friends and allies, Skulduggery has managed to be the saviour.
    If I had to choose the best trait of Skulduggery, it would be his loyalty. He is loyal to a fault. He would even go so far as to offer his life to save others. He would never turn his back on a friend, and would travel to the ends of the earth to save someone he cared about.

    One of the only faults about Skulduggery is that he won’t let anyone or anything stand in his way when trying to reach a goal, especially if that goal is one close to his heart (or where it used to be). This can lead to harm to those who stand in his way, even if they have good intentions. However, sometimes he can see reason.

    All in all, Skulduggery is a caring individual with a sharp mind and instincts. He is loyal to a fault, one of the best detectives in the business. He is resilient and resourceful, and has used his skills to save the lives of many people. He can find something funny to say even in the darkest situations (and even when people don’t want to hear it). All in all, he is a brilliant character.





    And that's it for May. After all the touring of the last couple of months (Dubai, Ireland, UK and USA) I'm going to be resting from events for the next few months, although I'm doing a scattering of festivals over the summer, as detailed earlier on in this issue. The plan is to get lots of writing and editing done between now and the end of the year (and, indeed, well into 2017). That means you won't be seeing as much of me on the road as usual in the near future, but when I do return, I'll probably return with a vengeance!! But while I might not be overly active publicly for the next year or more, I'll be keeping you all up to date with what's going on in the world of Darren Shan every month with the Shanville Monthly -- some things never change! I'll be back here at the start of June with all the latest news and updates, and (if all goes according to plan) a VERY special competition. 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.