• Issue 196 - November 2016

    01 November 2016



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the November issue of the Shanville Monthly. I'm gearing up for the release of my next Darren Dash book for adults next month, so I'll be putting the cover for that together this month and getting it ready for publication -- normally I'd allow myself more time to do that, but I wanted it to be available to fans for Christmas, because I figured with all the love and joy of the festive season, the world needed a little twisted darkness to balance out the scales!!! You can read more about the new Dash book below... there's info about an exciting Zom-B Kindle UK sale... a competition for my older fans to tie in with the Dash release... and lots, lots more. But let's start with the Zom-B Kindle UK sale, because that's time sensitive.






    All 12 books in my Zom-B series are currently on sale on Amazon UK's Kindle site, to tie in with the Halloween season. They now cost just £0.99 each, instead of £4.99 -- which means you can download the entire series for less than £12, instead of nearly £60!!! But hurry -- this offer will end on November 7th.


    This is an incredible offer, and I doubt my publishers will put the series on sale at such a keen price too often in the future, so please share this news with anyone you think might be interested -- this really is the best possible time to invest in the Zom-B series. Here's A LINK that allows you to buy all 12 books at the same time, although if you prefer, you can also buy them individually.


    By the way, you don't need a Kindle ereader to avail of this offer -- you can download a free Kindle app to your ipad, smartphone, Mac, etc., and use that to buy and read books.






    As most of you probably already know, I write books for adults under the name of Darren Dash. Two have already been released, and I can now reveal that the title for my next Darren Dash book for adults is...


    An Other Place.


    I'm aiming for a December 1st release date, and it will go on sale exclusively through Amazon stores worldwide, as both a paperback and ebook. I'm fairly confident of being able to make that release date, but if I hit any unexpected delays or obstacles over the next few weeks, I might have to revise it and push it back. Keep your fingers crossed!


    I've already sent an ecopy of the book out to a host of reviewers and bloggers. If YOU are a reviewer or blogger, and would like to have a read of An Other Place ahead of its release, use the contact form on www.darrendashbooks.com to drop me a line and put in your request.


    Oh, and the image above is only a teaser for the cover, NOT the full image. I'm still working on putting that together, and it will probably be much closer to the release date before I can reveal it. Unlike the first two books, this one will be professionally designed, so it's gonna look COOL!!!! (I'm going to get The Evil And The Pure redesigned too around this time, but Sunburn will have to wait a while for a touch-up.)


    I've written a few posts recently on the Darren Dash site, talking about how the next book is going to be VERY different to anything I've ever released before (I think the best way to describe it is Kafkaesque), and I have no idea how readers are going to react to it. Well, while that still stands, I sent it to my editor (hi, Zoe!) with instructions to be brutally honest with me (a lenient editor doesn't do an author any favours -- it's their job to point out flaws in a book before the readers can) and here's a little of what she had to say about it.


    "In terms of the book as a whole, my overall response in a nutshell? *Wow.* To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect, and nothing went where I thought it would, which is probably the biggest reason I enjoyed it as much as I did. So much commercial fiction that lands in my inbox is so inherently predictable that some days it feels as if I sleep-edit through my work. [This book] woke me up. Pinter meets Barker via Dr Who. It ticked all the boxes for me: Unexpected, unsettling, and utterly original."


    So, even if the rest of you hate it, at least it's worked for ONE reader!! Though hopefully quite a few of you guys are going to enjoy its weird darkness as much as Zoe did.  In fact, the first two reviews came in shortly before I put this issue of the Shanville Monthly to bed, and you can read a little of what the reviewers wrote below...





    The first review of An Other Place (a book for adults that I will be releasing under the name of Darren Dash in December) was by Kelly of the excellent Kelly Smith Reviews site. I'll be honest -- I was VERY nervous when I sent this one out to reviewers. I honestly had no idea what the response would be, and feared they would view it with disgust and disdain, as it's a weird, warped, potentially highly offensive story. There's still plenty of time for those negative sorts of replies, so I'm not counting any chickens, but the first one started like this:


    "An Other Place is, by far, the best book of 2016. Possibly the best book of this decade."


    And ended with:


    "It's rare that I get a book that has my mind going like this, and you can't imagine the pleasure this gives me. All I can say is that if you don't read this book, you're doing your brain a great disservice. This is about society, pack mentality, creationism, and so much more, all wrapped up in one crazy package. 5/5 -- brilliant. Just brilliant."


    That'll do nicely!!


    The second review for An Other Place arrived hot on the heels of the first, by well-titled The Literary Connoisseur. Here's a snippet from it to whet your appetite:


    "I have been successfully terrified by Darren Dash's YA books (written in his alias, Darren Shan), but never to this extent. Darren Dash has opened a new artery of terror in An Other Place, and has let the adrenaline-laced blood flow into his readers... All in all, An Other Place is unlike any book I have ever read. It had hints of The Twilight Zone, Pines, and Station Eleven, but not quite. An Other Place was an entity of its own."


    If other readers are as terrified by the book, we might have to think about moving Halloween from October 31st to December 1st!!!! :-)


    I'll post links for the full reviews closer to the book's publication date. In the meantime I'll wait for those other reviews to start trickling in and keep my fingers crossed that their fellow readers get as much out of the book as they did.


    To learn more about my Darren Dash books, visit www.darrendashbooks.com





    Ten years ago, I published a short book called Koyasan for World Book Day in the UK. Like most WBD books, there was only a single, very large printing, of about 300,000 copies, and the price was just £1. It's a book I'm very fond of, and it introduced a lot of new readers to my work in the UK and Ireland -- lots of fans still bring copies to be signed and personalized when they come to meet. But for the last ten years it has been out of print. While it's been easy enough to get second-hand copies online in the UK, it's been impossible to buy a copy directly through a site like Amazon UK, and it was never published in the USA.


    A few months ago, a fan wrote to ask me if the book would ever be made available to download through Kindle. That set me thinking, and I got chatting with my agent, and the upshot is that we have now put it back on sale through Amazon stores worldwide, as a low-cost Kindle download -- it's £1.99 in the UK, $2.99 in the USA, and a similar price in the other stores worldwide. It's a gentler book than most of my work, more of a fairy tale than a horror story, though it does feature some spooky scenes and some nicely menacing monsters. It's the perfect introduction to my stories, especially for younger readers of 8 or 9 years upwards.


    If you're interested in completing your Darren Shan collection, this is the link for the UK store: CLICK HERE This is the link for the USA, where it's seeing print for the first time ever: CLICK HERE And it is also on sale in all the other Amazon stores worldwide, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, etc.






    The Year 6 pupils in North Harringay school in London had a visit from the police recently, who set them the challenge of writing a report about the death of... Darren Shan!!! No, don't worry folks, I haven't been beheaded in North London! It was to tie in with my book, Cirque Du Freak, which I assume the students are studying in class. I think this was an absolutely brilliant idea, and shows how a really thoughtful, inspirational teacher can engage with their children and help bring books to life. Reading shouldn't be a dry, boring pursuit, and good teachers get that, and help their students get it too. So, a big Bravo! to the North Harringay staff who set this up, and huge Thank You! to the real police officers (yes, these aren't actors!) who took time off to come into the school to chat with the pupils.





    I'm not doing many events at the moment, since I'm between projects and don't want to go on the road without a new book to promote. As much as I love meeting my fans, after seventeen years of touring, I must admit I'm enjoying the break, and it's also giving me more time to write. That said, I'll hopefully be doing occasional, one-off events while we're waiting for the next Darren Shan book to come along, and I've just confirmed the first of those, for the start of April next year. It will be in North Wales, at the Sci-Fi Weekender festival, an epic coming-together of fans of sci-fi, fantasy and horror, featuring authors, film and TV stars, and a whole lot more. It's held over the space of a couple of days, and I'll be doing a few different events while there. I'll be arriving on Friday March 31st, so I might be making an appearance or two later that day, though I imagine most of my events will be scheduled for Saturday April 1st. I've only just agreed to take part, so details are sketchy at the moment, but it sold out last year, so if you're thinking of coming along, my advice would be to book up sooner rather than later. For more information about the Sci-Fi Weekender, click here: http://www.scifiweekender.com/






    Kaleb Horak spotted these candy cobwebs in the USA and wrote to ask me if the makers got the idea from Cirque Du Freak. I've no idea if these WERE inspired by the candy cobwebs in my Cirque Du Freak book (chances are they probably weren't), but if any of you have tried them, make sure you let me know what they taste like, so that I can pass the feedback on to Mr Tall...





    A young lady called Jess recently decided to ask a variety of people on Twitter for advice on "how to make it" in your chosen creative career. It's a tricky thing, giving life advice in 140 characters or less, but she garnered some interesting responses -- and it's also intriguing to see how most of the advice was largely, at heart, a variation of a similar theme. I was one of the people Jess approached, and you can find out what I and the others had to say by CLICKING HERE





    Libraries in the UK and Ireland are under attack like never before. Politicians have used the recession to push through loads of library closures, and to replace trained staff with volunteers or even nobody at all in certain free-access libraries. It's a very worrying, harmful trend, that deprives the less economically well off of the access to books, periodicals and a whole lot more that provides them with at least some of the opportunities that those with more money enjoy. I relied on libraries a lot for access to books when I was younger, so I feel especially passionate about this issue, so I was happy to lend my support to a letter to the most recent secretary of state for culture in the UK, asking that something be done about this disgraceful situation. You can read a bit more about it by CLICKING HERE





    To link in with Halloween, the So Many Books, So Little Time site listed a few recommendations on good horror books to read if you wanted to get into a suitably ghoulish mood for the big night. One of the series they recommended was Zom-B, which is proof that they have impeccable taste!  You can check out the full list by CLICKING HERE






    How well do you know your Darren Shan characters?!? It's time to put yourself to the test in this fun quiz set by a French fan of the manga version of The Saga Of Darren Shan. You don't need to be able to read French in order to complete it, and indeed you don't need to have seen any of the manga either, as long as you're familiar with the books. So -- no cheating now -- how many can YOU score?!?  http://www.quizz.biz/quizz-997319.html





    The winners of the October Shanville Monthly competition came from all over the globe -- two from the Czech Republic, and one each from Germany, Mexico and Thailand. I think this is maybe the first time I haven't had a few winners from the UK and USA, so while this was bad news for my fans there, it was great news for the worldwide Shansters, and proof that you really can win one of my competitions no matter where on the planet you live!!! The five winners, in the order drawn, were:


    Miroslav Prajer, Czech Republic.
    Axel Espriella, Mexico.
    Rattanaporn Jindasawat, Thailand.
    Anita Opitzova, Czech Republic.
    Carla Plieth, Germany.


    Thanks to everyone who entered, and better luck to the rest of you next time! You won't have long to wait for the next competition -- just scroll down a little bit more!!!!





    A fan wrote to me recently, asking who on earth was Charna?!? For those who don't remember, "Charna's guts!" was one of the more favoured curses among the vampires in my Saga Of Darren Shan/Cirque Du Freak books. Well, I did actually explain about Charna in the Extras part of my web site many years ago, when I was also explaining how to pronounce the names of the characters. So if you want to find out where the curse originated -- or how to properly say Murlough's name (it's NOT Mur-low!) -- click here: CLICK HERE You can find loads of other cool stuff in the Extras section, including short stories, deleted scenes from my books, and a whole lot more -- so make sure you take some time and have a little root round while you're there.





    CLICK HERE for an interesting article about how apps can help children and teenagers to engage with books. I often get asked for my views on ereaders, and the truth is I'm all in favour of them, as they make books more accessible than they've ever been before, and also tie them in with other, modern technologies. People tend to forget that paper books were once at the cutting edge of modern technology too. Technology isn't our enemy. Books are a form of entertainment, and I don't go in for the "superior" arguments that many snobbish readers like to spout -- a good book is no different in most significant ways to a good film or a good TV show or a a good comic or a good video game. Books offer a different experience -- only with a book does each participant (i.e. reader or viewer) get to create the look of the story entirely in their own unique way, inside their head, using their own imagination -- but they're still primarily part of the entertainment industry, and I think that's the key to generating new readers among the young, by helping them see that reading is, first and foremost, FUN. If ereaders and apps can help us get that message across, they have my full support.


    I get the whole other side of the argument too, that there's nothing to match the look and feel and smell of a physical book -- I have a large collection of books, including a lot of first editions and signed books, which I cherish. But the most important thing for me is the story. Ultimately I don't care about the format, whether a story is delivered on a Kindle, on paper, or on papyrus. The story is king, and the means of delivery that matters the most to me is the means by which that story can be delivered to the widest possible audience. Lots of readers prefer to read paper books -- fine, the printing presses aren't going to die out any time soon, so that hunger will be fed. But there are lots of other potential readers who are more accustomed to getting their entertainment thrills through a computer or tablet or phone -- and I say, rather than take the moral, "physical" high ground, let's go take our stories to them too, using any "virtual" means possible.






    As I said above, these days I release my books for adults under the name of Darren Dash, but it wasn't always that way. I've released four books for adults (The City Trilogy and Lady of the Shades) under the name of Darren Shan, a couple of books (the first two City Trilogy novels) under the name of D B Shan, and back in the very beginning, in 1999, the year before Cirque Du Freak came out, I released my first ever book, called Ayuamarca (it was book 1 of The City Trilogy) under my real name, Darren O'Shaughnessy. Ayuamarca only sold a couple of thousand copies, so it's one of my rarest books, and can be difficult to find. I republished it years later as the much more sensibly titled Procession of the Dead, under the D B Shan and then Darren Shan names, and re-edited it and tightened it up. To celebrate the upcoming release of An Other Place, I'm offering three copies of the original printing of Ayuamarca as prizes in this month's competition, which is open to fans aged 16 years or older. I will sign each book with my real name, and that in itself is a rarity, as I only ever sign the name that is on the cover of any given book! To find out how you can be in with a chance of winning one of the three books, read on!


    Please note, you must be 16 years or older to enter this competition, and your entry will be accepted as proof of your age.


    1) Answer this question: "What was the name of the first book I ever published, in 1999?"


    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.


    (4) Closing date is midnight, UK Time, Tuesday, November 8th, 2016.


    (5) This competition is open to everybody aged 16 years or older, 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 Wednesday, November 9th, 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.



    IT'S A WRAP!



    And that's it for November. Dante "enjoyed" an extended spell in hospital in late September. He was admitted with a nasty stomach bug, but then had a couple of seizures, so we had to stay to make sure they were nothing serious. Part of that entailed having an EEG, which involved him being hooked up to a computer that could monitor his brain waves. I know it looks like something out of A Clockwork Orange, but it was a painless procedure, and although he was annoyed to have so many things stuck to his head, he took it with good grace. He's much, much better now, and hopefully it will be a long time until our next trip to the hospital, though I think it was more stressful for us than him -- he basically sat around playing on the iPad all day long, and had a grand old time of it! As I said at the start of this newsletter, I'll be working on getting An Other Place ready for print this month, but I'll probably also be working on some other upcoming books of mine as well, which are in different editorial stages. There'll be more about those further down the line, but in the meantime I'll be back here at the start of December with all the latest news and updates, and maybe even another Darren Dahs related 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.