• Issue 192 - July 2016

    01 July 2016




    Hi everyone, and welcome to the Sweet 16th July issue of the Shanville Monthly! Yes, the Monthly is celebrating its 16th birthday, having first gone live back in July 2000. I've typed in an awful lot of words since then, posted up many photos, included more hyperlinks than I could possibly count -- all to keep you, the erstwhile Shanster, up to date with all that's new and exciting in the world of Darren Shan. The internet has seen many changes in that time -- the rise and fall of MySpace and Bebo, the growth of the current new cool kids on the block, Facebook and Twitter... people's browsing habits have changed, with Apps on phones swiftly replacing bookmarks on desk computers. I've tried to keep abreast of those changes, and I love the way social media sites allow me to have an even closer and more immediate connection with my fans. But I'm also old school -- I celebrate my own birthday as well this month, and turn a much more mature 44 years old on July 2nd -- and I have a soft spot for the old ways too, and even though a monthly newsletter is a bit of an anachronism these days, I sitll like putting my various posts together, adding a bit extra to the mix, and delivering them up here. So that's what I do at the start of each month, and long may it continue!! That's a recent photo of me above, so that you can see what I look like going into my 44th year. I'm accompanied in the photo by Mrs Shan, who was celebrating turning the big 4-0 a week or so before my birthday -- I think she's wearing the years with a bit more style than I am!!!






    I'm doing a trio of events in Ireland, England and Scotland over the summer. You can find the details below. 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 tickets CLICK HERE.



    Saturday 30th July -- 3.00pm -- panel event with Dawn Kurtagich, Derek Landy and Alex Scarrow 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.



    Monday 15th August -- 5.00pm -- public event, Edinburgh Book Festival. For more info and to book tickets CLICK HERE.





    I've given many interviews over the years, but THIS ONE for an academic journal is probably the longest, most probing and wide-ranging of them all. Even those of you who think they know everything there is to know about me will probably find plenty to surprise and inform you here! If you only ever read one interview with me from now until doomsday, this is the one to read.





    My UK publishers, Simon & Schuster, are going to be revealing the new UK paperback covers for the Zom-B books at YALC on Friday, July 29th (the day before my event there), and they'll also be revealing them through the site, Maximum Pop that day, at the rate of one every hour, so the rest of you wil be able to check them out too -- I'm not sure yet of the start time, but will reveal it as soon as plans are confirmed. I'll also be revealing the covers personally through my Facebook and Twitter accounts later on. I was absolutely blown away when Simon & Schuster revealed the new look to me, and I hope you guys are every bit as excited when you see them. They've completely redesigned the visual concept of what the books are, and done loads of cool, clever things with the new images. They've also worked in a wicked back-cover master-image that will only take shape when all twelve books are lined up in the correct way. Trsut me -- the new look ROCKS!!!!!






    Do YOU want to listen to a free excerpt of the audio book of Zom-B Goddess? Of course you do!! The final book in the series came out in audio format last month, and you can either buy it on CD (fans anywhere in the world can order it from the American branch of Amazon by CLICKING HERE, as long as they're happy to pay Amazon's shipping costs) or as an audio download (USA only) through Audible or any similar American site. All the other books in the series are available too, so have a listen to Emma Galvin bringing B to life, and if you like what you hear, go track the grisly babies down!!! Warning -- I won't be held responsible if your ears start bleeding at all the horror, the horror!!!!!





    If you haven't yet given my Zom-B books a try, maybe THIS concise, overall review of the series will tempt you to dip your toes into its undead waters. It doesn't contain any real major spoilers, and captures a lot of what has made the books so appealing to those who've read them -- while the first book certainly divided readers (the hard-hitting exploration of racism was too much for some to bear), those who pushed on past it had a wild and wonderful time, and the later books in the series have probably earned the most rave reviews of any of my work. Go on, give them a try -- you know you want to!!!





    My books are nicely represented in this Top 10 Book Series for Teens list -- sweet! Plenty of other great recommendations too, for anyone who is looking for an exciting new series to invest their time in. 



    IT'S A WRAP!


    "So the big question for me when writing this review is, can Darren Shan write a good finale to a series? The answer to that is yes, he really bloody can."


    That snippet comes from a review of Sons Of Destiny, by a guy called Aaron Morrsi, who has recently reviewed all twelve books in my original vampire series. Ending a long series is always difficult, because so many different readers want so many different things from the story by that stage. It's impossible to please everyone. Ultimately you have to absolutely ignore what everyone else wants, and write the ending that the STORY wants. That's the way I've always worked, taking no other considerations into account except for what I feel works best for the story. But it's always a relief when a reviewer agrees that I've wrapped things up in a suitable fashion -- phew!! :-) If you want to read the rest of Aaaron's review CLICK HERE And here's his review for Lord Of The Shadows: CLICK HERE And The Lake Of Souls: CLICK HERE





    When I started putting my web site together sixteen years ago, back in the middle of the year 2000, I decided to create something aimed at the most exhaustively curious fan. I knew there would be sections of the site of no real interest to the vast majority of people who visited, but I didn't let that hamper me -- I was determined to include as much info about myself and my books as I possibly could, for those few fans who wanted to go further than the majority. One of those rarely visited areas is the Events Archive, where I list every event or signing that I've ever done -- dates, venues, crowd sizes, the length of time I was signing, etc. There's no real need for it, I know, but the fan in me loves the fact that this sort of information is available to other fans. Also, it does occasionally prove useful -- I've had a few people contact me over the years, having picked up a signed and dated copy of one of my books, wondering if I could tell them where exactly it was signed -- thanks to the archive, most of the time I can. It's also an interesting way of gauging the measure of my popularity in different places and at different times, and seeing where I'm more or less popular. I updated the Archive recently, including all of my Zom-B appearances from the last few years, so if you want to find out where I only drew a handful of people, or where I played to a crowd of 950, CLICK HERE.





    Having been inspired by so many authors over the years, it's always nice to hear from an up-and-coming writer that my books have been inspiring for them -- for me, it's the literary equivalent of paying it on, hopefully not just entertaining one generation with your own works, but fanning a love of books in future writers who can carry on where you leave off. (Hey, we've all gotta die in the end!!) A young author called Taran Matharu mentioned my work recently in an article in The Guardian, which you can read by CLICKING HERE. I've met Taran a few times and he's a very amiable young man, one with a bright future ahead of him. Read the interview, which includes a nice mention of my stuff, then go check out his books -- maybe HIS work will inspire YOU to pick up a pen and give wordsmithery a go!






    When I wrote Cirque Du Freak back in 1997, it was an unqualified failure in the eyes of the entire publishing industry in the UK. My agent sent it to twenty different publishers, and they all rejected it. Logic told me to stop there and then and move onto something else -- since every "expert" in the field had turned the book down, it had to be worthless. But I told logic to go stuff itself! Sometimes you have to believe in yourself and stand up for that belief, even when everyone else is standing against you. I had a gut feeling that the "experts" were wrong, so I pushed ahead and fought to try and get it out there -- and when I did, with the help of an editor called Domenica DeRosa at HarperCollins who decided to take a chance on it, things didn't turn out too badly for the freaky little book in the end!!!


    One of the things I did, to try and prove to myself that the book had value -- and to improve it if it had clear shortcomings -- was make some copies and distribute them to a dozen or so children in Askeaton Primary School in Limerick, where my mother taught. I also gave each reader a questionnaire, which I asked them to fill in, so that I could study their feedback and take it on board. Their responses were hugely positive, and that helped bolster my belief that I was onto something good and gave me the courage to keep on fighting for the book. I came across a copy of the questionnaire a few days ago, when I was filing away some other material, and thought I'd share it with you guys, as it played such an important role in my fledgling career, at a time when I'd been hung out to dry by the industry and was badly in need of a few kind words. If any of you would like to print off a copy and fill it in to share your thoughts with me, feel free!






    Another Shanster has gone down the tattoo route, with an eloquent-looking version of my favourite quote from any of my books. This time it's a young lady called Mony, and she chose to situate the tattoo on her collar bone, near her throat -- ouch!!! Mind you, if a vampire or vampaneze ever goes to nibble her there, maybe they'll spot this and it will make them pause for thought... well, assuming they're not illiterate like a certain orange-haired vampire that we all know!!





    While those long, summer school holidays can be an amazing time for a child or teenager, they can also be a slow, boring time if you don't find enough things to fill the days. Which is why THIS GUIDE will prove indispensable for any parents in Ireland who are looking for ways to amuse their young ones this year. Of course, while 49 of their recommendations are very, very good, one in particular -- #29 -- is outstandingly Shantastic!!!





    I really enjoyed this Cirque Du Freak trailer that was put together by a group of 9th grade students. I know that some of my books are used in a lot of schools now, and I occasionally worry that dry, humourless teachers might turn them into boring textbooks that will drive readers away from my world, so imaginative, creative exercises like this help set my mind at rest. Thank the vampire gods for inspiring teachers like Mr Winchell, who understand that to get more students reading, you have to help them realise that books are primarily all about FUN!!!!





    If you enjoy playing the game Hangman, then check out a site called Fact Monster, which has created three different versions of the game, based on the characters in my vampire books -- CLICK HERE. See how many you can get right before the noose tightens!!!






    I'm a stickler for the fine details, but even so, sometimes things slip through the cracks. For years I thought my Brazilian publishers had stopped publishing The Saga Of Darren Shan at book 11, since I never received any copies of the twelfth book. But a post from a fan several months ago helped me realise that they HAD actually released the final book, and it had simply not reached me. The publishers very kindly sent on replacement copies, and here's what it looks like. You can see the rest of the Brazilian covers by CLICKING HERE And you can check out the covers of my books from every country that they've been release in HERE I recently added new covers from Russia and the Czech Republic.





    I love this rocking Fanmix put together by a lady called Danielle, of songs that reminded her of scenes in my Cirque Du Freak books. She also lays it out very cleverly and clearly, so that you can see where the tie-in to each song has come from. I haven't heard most of the tunes here, so I've plenty of new material to listen to after this!! CLICK HERE





    Snap quiz!! Do you think you can name every novel I've ever written? Well, it's time to prove it! Someone has put together a fun book quiz, giving you ten minutes to wrack your memory and fill in the blanks. Note -- it doesn't include my Darren Dash novels, and you only need to enter the second word in the title of each of the Zom-B novels. Good luck -- and no cheating!!!! CLICK HERE



    100 YA BOOKS


    The Amazon UK editors put together a list of 100 Young Adult books to read in a lifetime, and I was pleased to see a freakily fabulous entry in the Fantasy & Science Fiction section! If you want to check out what else made the list, either for recommendations or to compare it against your own list of must reads, CLICK HERE





    This is a sweet video review for Koyasan, a short book that I released for World Book Day in the UK many years ago. It's currently out of print, but loads of them were printed, so you can usually pick up a cheap copy on the Amazon UK site if you search for it. CLICK HERE





    I don't have many professional regrets, but there IS one thing I've done that I wish I could undo. To find out what it is, check out this intriguing and entertaining article, which also lists "confessions" from 27 other regretful writers. CLICK HERE





    A reviewer called Emily posted a lengthy video review for Lord Loss a while ago, and now she's back with one for Demon Thief. And, yes, she's right -- Demon Thief IS set about thirty years before Lord Loss, even though it's the second book in the series. The storyline jumps backwards and forwards in The Demonata, since nothing is stable or forever in that universe, not even time... CLICK HERE





    There was a lovely, surprise review for Cirque Du Freak and my other vampire books in The Guardian last month. Nice to see my original series still drawing strong reviews after all these years! CLICK HERE






    Do YOU want to steal the shirt from my back?!? To celebrate the end of my Zom-B tours, I'm offering up two of the rarest Darren Shan prizes you're ever going to come across -- exclusive tour T-shirts! I had three Zom-B T-shirts made back before the first book was released, and I've been wearing them to events and signings while on tour for the three and a half years since. Occasionally I've worn something else, but mostly it's been one of those three T-shirts. They've travelled the world with me, from the USA to Hungary to Dubai, and the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland. And now I'm giving two of them away, keeping only one for myself. This really is a once-in-lifetime opportunity -- I doubt the winners will be a hurry to part with these, so they might never come up for grabs again. But that's not all -- I'm also giving away three complete Zom-B sets to the first three winners, along with a couple of copies of Zom-B Goddess for the next two. All the books have been signed, and so have the T-shirts. To find out how you can be in with a chance of winning, read on!


    The FIRST prize will be a signed T-shirt and signed hardback American editions of all twelve Zom-B books.


    The SECOND prize will be a signed T-shirt and signed trade paperback UK editions of all twelve Zom-B books.


    The THIRD prize will be signed trade paperback editions of all twelve Zom-B books.


    The FOURTH and FIFTH prizes will be a signed hardback UK copy of Zom-B Goddess.


    1) Answer this question: "What age will I turn on July 2nd this year?" (HINT -- the answer can be found in this newsletter.)


    2) Send your entry to: [email protected]


    3) 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. This is so that I can easily send your prize to you if you win. Please also include your age, although this is not mandatory.


    (4) Closing date is midnight, UK Time, Monday, July 11th, 2016.


    (5) This competition is open to everybody, everywhere in the world, unless you work for one of my publishers or are one of my relations.


    (6) You can only enter the competition ONCE. If you try to enter more than once, ALL of your entries will be disqualified.


    (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 or after Tuesday, July 12th, 2016. 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 winners by e-mail, and will post their names in the Shanville Monthly, and on Facebook too.


    (9) Information submitted by entrants WILL NOT be shared by me with any other individual or company, although entrants aged 16 years or over will be added to the Darren Dash mailing list, unless they request not to be added.


    (10) My decision will be final.





    And that's it for July. I'm hard at work editing what will hopefully be my next Darren Dash book (for adults) so I won't be going wild with celebrations around my birthday -- though I'll certainly have a mug or two of ale to mark the big occasion! If you can come to any of my events this summer, I'd strongly advise popping along, as I won't be on the road very much over the coming year, so chances to catch me in action are probably going to be few and far between. I'll be back here at the start of August with all the latest news and 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.