• Issue 197 - December 2016

    01 December 2016



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the December issue of the Shanville Monthly. It's Christmas this month of course, and my gift to you guys is a new book! Sadly, it's only for my older readers, but hey, you youngsters get loads of stuff this time of year -- it's good for the oldies to have something to look forward to as well! The book I'm talking about is my latest Darren Dash book, and you can read more about that below. I've also rounded up all the most recent Darren Shan news, and thrown in a Christmas competition as an added bonus. Ho-Ho-Ho!!!






    As most of you probably already know, I write books for adults under the name of Darren Dash. My latest release came out this month, and it's called An Other Place. It is on sale exclusively through Amazon stores worldwide, as both a paperback and ebook. You can learn a bit more about it by visiting my Darren Dash website: www.darrendashbooks.com You'll also find direct links to the UK and USA Amazon and Kindle pages there.


    If you live in another part of the world that has a local Amazon store, e.g Canada, Australia, France, India, Japan, Mexico, you can order the book through them -- although be aware that in some stores (such as Australia and India) it's only avaialble as an ebook. If you live in a country that doesn't have a local Amazon store (or if you want the paperback and your local store only offers the ebook) you can order a paperback copy through your nearest store, e.g. USA or UK, as Amazon ship worldwide -- but I'm afraid shipping is likely to add a fair bit to the price.






    An Other Place has been picking up incredible reviews. To be honest, I wasn't sure what sort of a reaction to expect, as this is a very strange book, and I was braced for a lot of negative feedback. But so far readers have been mesmerised by it, as you can see from some review snippets on the back cover above. More reviews have come in since I put the cover together and here are extracts from a few of them:


    "Lewis Carroll, L. Frank Baum, and Brett Easton Ellis may have written some weird stuff, but An Other Place tops all of it, both in terms of re-readability and overall scope." Dread Central.


    "An Other Place is a deliciously quirky novel that is surreal and powerful in equal measure. It is challenging and absurd, artistically brave and politically conscious, but this abstract painting of a novel is one thing above all else… completely original." Books, Films & Random Lunacy.


    “You can try and try but you will never guess the ending nor even 5 pages ahead as to where the story is going to take you.” Daniel Davies, Goodreads.


    "I have never read anything like An Other Place. It is truly a one of a kind... twisted and very disturbing in some parts. 5/5." Jessica Boehm, Amazon.


    "This was utterly brilliant. Darren Shan/Dash is a master in horror, somehow it is so funny! I've LOLed and quoted this book and I want to recommend it to anyone who likes weird books. 5/5." Odette Knappers, Goodreads.


    I'll be adding links to the full reviews to my Facebook and Twitter pages over the first few weeks of December, so check them out if you want to read more about what people have had to say about An Other Place -- then go read it for yourself and see what you make of it!!! :-)






    "He knows when you are sleeping... he knows when you're awake..." Yes, it's that time of year again, when I dust off my old SHANTA CLAUS story!! For those new to my world, I should explain... I've written several tie-in stories to my books over the years, which can be found in the EXTRAS part of my web site. But one of those stories -- my personal favourite -- only appears online for a week or so every year, around Christmas time. It's a quirky, not-to-be-taken-too-seriously story set around the time of Tunnels Of Blood, but which includes crossover elements to almost all of my other books -- this will be the only place in the world of Darren Shan where you can find vampires, demons, zombies and more, all appearing in the same story together! I usually tweak and update it slightly, so it changes (to a small extent) every time round. I'll be posting a direct link to the story when it goes online at some point in the week leading up to Christmas, on Twitter and Facebook, or else just keep checking on the EXTRAS page. If you miss it, you'll have to wait twelve months before it goes live again!





    I have good news for my blind or partially sighted fans in the UK. Bec, the fourth book in my Demonata series, is now available through the RNIB in braille. Converting books into braille is a very time-consuming and costly process, so only a small selection of novels get released in this format every year. I'm delighted that Bec is one of them. To find out more about the RNIB and the great news they do, visit their site: http://www.rnib.org.uk





    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/






    One of my favourite TV quiz shows of the last few years is The Chase. I don't watch it all the time, but it's a fairly regular feature of my days, especially if I'm in London where I only have Freeview, not Sky. So I was tickled pink when a fan called Shane spotted this on a Saturday episode last month and dropped me a line through Twitter to share it with me. Shane said he nearly got whip lash from looking up when he heard my name! I wasn't the correct answer -- for that to have been the case, the question would have had to have read, "Part of which children's book series was written in Darren Shan's bedroom?" Which would have made it a rather easy one for the contestant to answer!!!





    A Norwegian fan called Tyra wrote to me recently, asking if I would answer some questions about an article she was writing concerning truth in fiction. It sounded interesting, so I agreed to take part. You can see the finished article here: http://ubok.no/blogg/sannhet-i-fiksjon You can use Google Translates to get a fairly accurate translation of the whole article, but for those who don't speak Norwegian, here are my answer in English to the original questions:


    1. Would you say you use a lot of truth in your fiction? Why/why not? Yes, I write about "true" things, such as 9/11, racism, the rise of xenophobia over the last fifteen years, because I believe it's important for writers to reflect upon the times in which they live, even if they work in genres such as fantasy and horror.


    2. Do you purposely base character/events on true people/event? Not very often, no. I name a lot of my characters after people I know, but don't base those characters on the people whose names they share.


    3. Do you think a book based on real people/events are better than other books? No, I don't think it makes any difference. A good story needs to work on its own terms, regardless of whether or not it's based on real events.


    4. Do you think it's okay to use real people/full names in books? Well, I do it all the time, but usually only with friends and family members, who like it when I name characters after them. I think you need to be careful if you're going to use real names for characters who are actually based on real people.


    5. Do you recognize personalities of your friends/family or yourself in yours or others books? Yes. I think all of my main characters, to one extent or another, are reflections of myself, even though I don't base any of them directly on myself. And I'll often use little things about people I know -- for instance, I have a cousin who can stick his tongue up inside his nose, and I used that for a character called Evra Von!





    When I was at the World Horror Con in Utah earlier this year, I recorded a podcast for Writing Excuses, in which I was interviewed by writers who wanted to me to talk about the writing process -- something I'm always happy to wax lyrical about! They came up with some excellent questions, and they seemed very happy with my answers. If you'd like to listen to the interview, it went live to tie in with Halloween, and you can access it by CLICKING HERE





    A fan called Wendy had to write a song for an exam, and decided to appropriate different quotes from my books when writing the lyrics. You can listen to the song by clicking on the link below, and read more about its genesis and story by clicking on the Show More button on the page. That's Wendy on piano, by the way -- a friend of hers is singing. CLICK HERE





    I enjoyed this review of my Saga Of Darren Shan / Cirque Du Freak series, primarily because the reviewer noted how the tone got more adult as the books progressed. This was something I put a lot of thought into while I was writing the series. Although Darren the character started out as a pre-teen, he was pushing thirty by the end of the storyline, and I wanted the narrative voice to reflect this. While I obviously didn't want to take it *too* far into the adult world, I did want there to be a very distinct difference between the voice of Darren in the first and last books, and for that to be a gradual process that readers can see happening along the way. The change is subtle, especially if you read the books with breaks between each volume, as opposed to reading them all in one go, so I'm happy when a reviewer or reader notes it, as it helps reassure me that I wasn't entirely wasting my time obsessing over the minor details that many people probably don't ever pick up on!! To read the review CLICK HERE






    This is a nice review of the first Zom-B book, by a woman who is scared of zombies, was dubious about the novel's exploration of racism, and who only bought the book for her boyfriend, but who ended up enjoying it despite her misgivings. CLICK HERE





    We're all used to Best Of lists, but this one is intriguingly niche -- a list of the Top 6 First person Zombie Narratives!! i.e. zombie books, films or TV shows that are written or filmed in the first person! There are some great recommendations in there, and I was delighted to see Zom-B in among the mix -- indeed, it's one of only two books that make the cut. To find out what else is on the list, CLICK HERE


    Meanwhile, if you're looking to buy some good YA horror books this Christmas, either for yourself or for someone else, you can find a list of spine-shivering recommendations over on the Ginger Nuts Of Horror's Festive 50 guide to buying YA horror fiction. I was very pleased to see one of my series listed among the recommendations. But which series was it, I hear you cry?!? To answer that, you'll have to click on the link to find out!!! CLICK HERE





    I was interviewed by Maximum Pop! when I appeared at YALC in the summer, and you can now view the video online. It's short -- just 4 minutes -- but we cover a lot of ground, and I talk about my writing process, what I'm working on at the moment, what I'm watching on TV, and why I'm basically just a monkey for my fans!!! You can check it out by CLICKING HERE





    The winners of the November Shanville Monthly competition, who each won a signed copy of Ayuamarca (the first book I ever published, under my real name) were:


    Liam Gotts, Wales.
    Luke Harris, England.
    Antonio Guzman, USA.


    Congratulations to the winners, and better luck next time to everyone else who entered! If you weren't one of the lucky ones, perhaps luck will be with you next time, speaking of which...






    These days I release my books for adults under the name of Darren Dash, but it wasn't always that way. I've released books for adults under a few different names over the years, first as Darren O'Shaughnessy, then as D.B. Shan, and then as Darren Shan. To celebrate the release of An Other Place, I'm offering three sets of The City Trilogy as prizes in this month's competition, which is open to fans aged 16 years or older. Book 1, Procession of the Dead, is a rare proof copy -- these were printed in a small batch and sent to reviewers and booksellers before the book went on sale. That one bears the name of D.B. Shan. Book 2, Hell's Horizon, was also published under the D.B. Shan name, while book 3, City of the Snakes, has the more familiar Darren Shan branding. All three books are impressively sized trade paperbacks, and I will sign each book with the name that is on the cover. There aren't too many signed sets of The City books in these formats knocking around, so the winners will be picking up a nice rarity! To find out how you can be in with a chance of winning one of the three sets, 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 is the name of the second book in The City Trilogy?"


    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, Friday, December 9th, 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 Saturday, December 10th, 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 December. I hope you all enjoy the holiday period and get to spend it with the people who matter most to you. I plan to spend Christmas at home with my family, then head to London with them for New Year -- Dante loves fireworks, and our flat overlooks the London Eye, so it's a match made in vampire paradise!! I'll be back here at the start of 2017 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.