• Issue 200 - March 2017

    01 March 2017




    Hi everyone, and welcome to the March issue of the Shanville Monthly. I like to think that every issue of the Shanville Monthly is special, but this one is especially special -- because it's the TWO HUNDREDTH!!! Yep, this is the two hundredth time that I've pulled together all the latest Darren Shan news and updates, having started way back in August 2000. When I wrote that first issue, I wasn't sure I'd have enough material to produce a newletter every month, but here we are, all these years later, and I haven't struggled to fill it yet! I've covered all sorts of news items over the years, from translations of my books in new countries, to chart success in lots of different markets, to the movie announcement. The titles of most of my books have been revealed here for the first time, and often the covers too. The internet has changed a lot since issue 1 launched, and these days I'm most active on Facebook, which offers a level of instant connectivity that I could have only dreamt about back then, but you guys stil enjoy the Shanville Monthly (based on the feedback I've had from you), so I'm going to be carrying on with it, at least into the near future, and maybe even far beyond. I normally use this section to bring up the highlights of what the issue contains, then dive into one of the most recent bits of breaking news, but this month let's break with tradition, and may I instead invite you to slip back seventeen or so years with me...





    If you're wondering what the first Shanville Monthly newsletter was like all those moons ago... well, there's no need to wonder, as you can click on a single link and find out almost instantly! I archive all of the issue of the Monthly, and you can find the links in every issue, over on the right-hand side of the screen. They're integrated into the new-look site, so they don't look exactly the way they did when they first went live, and most of the links in them are long inactive, but the text is all there, for anyone who is interested in dipping in and out. Here's a link to that very first issue, which was published way back in August 2000, when I was flagging up the global markets into which Cirque Du Freak had so far been sold, and preparing for my first ever trip to the Edinburgh Book Festival.  http://www.darrenshan.com/news/shanville-archives/2000/08/ 






    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. That said, I'll be doing occasional, one-off events while we're waiting for the next Darren Shan book to come along, and I have three of those coming up this month.


    Thursday, March 2nd -- 10.00am -- I'm doing a school event at St Gabriel's School in Limerick. (I take my son for swimming lessons there, so I couldn't say no when they asked!!)


    Thursday, March 30th -- 1.30pm -- I'm doing a Twitter chat with the students of Glenthorne School. This will also be accessible to other on Twitter -- check out my Twitter account closer the time for more info.


    Friday, March 31st and Saturday April 1st -- I'm doing a number of events (both large-scale and small-scale) and signings at the Sci-Fi Weekender festival in North Wales, an epic coming-together of fans of sci-fi, fantasy and horror, featuring authors, film and TV stars, and a whole lot more. For more information about the Sci-Fi Weekender, click here: http://www.scifiweekender.com/






    If you live in or near Haverfordwest in Wales (or know someone who does) get thee (or them) down to Victoria Bookshop ASAP for a terrific Zom-B Buy One Get One Free offer. And it's the new paperback covers, not the old ones -- sweet!!! I'm guessing similar offers might be running in other book stores around the UK, so if you're interested in picking up the first half of my Zom-B series for half the price, head down to your local booksellers and have a scout around. Good luck!!





    I had a couple of queries from different fans recently, asking about which of my books are available in audio format. Well, it's a bit complicated, given how many books I've released, and that different versions have sometimes been released in the UK and USA, but here's the situation as it currently stands. I'm not going to include cassette tape adaptations, or foreign language audio books, of which there are also a few.


    All 12 books in the Cirque Du Freak series (known in the UK as the Saga Of Darren Shan) are available on audio in the USA and UK. They were produced by my American publishers, and are available on CD through sites like Amazon, or as downloads through Audible, both the USA and UK branches.


    All 12 Zom-B books are also available on audio in the USA, again either as CDs through a site like Amazon, or as downloads through Audible. In the UK, the first 4 books were released in audio by a British company, and these are on sale through Amazon UK or Audible UK. But that company then went under. You can get the American CDs for the other books through a site like Amazon UK, but they're normally expensive. They're not currently available on Audible UK -- I'm looking into it, to try to have that changed, so wish me luck!


    Lady Of The Shades, one of my books for adults, is available either as a CD or download through Amazon UK and Audible UK. It's also available through the USA Audible site, although it doesn't show on Amazon. (Though you could always order it through Amazon UK or another site if you were happy to pay the shipping charges.)


    Hagurosan, a short story that Barrington Stoke adapted into a short book, is available as an audio CD in the UK though a site like Word For Word: http://www.wordforwordaudio.com/product.php?id_product=1174


    Finally, the first 6 Demonata books were released on CD in the UK years ago, and can probably be tracked down online through a site like Amazon UK or Abebooks or Alibris or eBay. These are not currently available through Audible.





    If you love a bargain, and don't own all the books in The Saga Of Darren Shan (aka the Cirque Du Freak series), then have I got exciting news for you! The complete set is back in stock at Lowplex UK, for the eye-watering, virtually giveaway price of just £16.99!! Yes -- all 12 books for just 17 quid!!!! That's a whopping 76% discount. And their international shipping rates are very reasonable too, so even if you live outside the UK, this will still probably be the cheapest way you're ever going to find to buy the whole series in one go, especially given the fact that sterling has fallen by so much over the last year or two. Click on THIS LINK for a shortcut to Cut-price Freak Heaven!!


    And the good news doesn't stop there! If your collection is shy The Demonata series, you can pick up all 10 books for just £17.99. CLICK HERE


    If you want to buy both series together, without having to click more than one link, you can do that too -- all 22 books for £31.99. CLICK HERE


    Want to find out what Mr Crepsley's like was like in the 200 years before he met Darren and Steve, but don't want to spend more than £10.99 on the four book prequel series? CLICK HERE


    They also sell the UK paperback editions of the first 6 Zom-B books -- but be warned, these are the old look editions, and the rest of the books are being released in a different format. CLICK HERE


    Finally, they have the first 6 manga volumes of The Saga too, but there's only 5% off those, so it may well be that you can find them cheaper elsewhere. CLICK HERE





    Click on THIS LINK for a VERY cool short comic strip by a young reader, recommending some good books to read in the summer. It focuses mainly on my first Mr Crepsley book, Birth Of A Killer, with a nice nod for Zom-B too, as well as some books by a guy called Derek Shandy or something like that...






    These dolls were modelled to look like Darren and Evra from my vampire books, by a fan called Colette. I think they're really cool, if somewhat eerie looking. I bet they'd be bestsellers if they were put on sale with the other merchandise at the Cirque Du Freak!





    It was Valentine's Day last month, which prompted me to wonder -- what would be the perfect Darren Shan Valentine's Day book for those of you of a romantic but dark and menacing disposition?!? There's actually far more romance in my books than a lot of people might believe -- Darren and Debbie, Larten and Arra, Jebel Rum and his true love. We got to meet the three loves of Mr Crepsley's life in The Saga Of Larten Crepsley. We had a book called Zom-B Bride in my zombie series. Sunburn (one of my Darren Dash books for adults) charted how much a young man will sacrifice to save the life of the one he loves. While An Other Place (my latest Darren Dash book) revolved in large part around a very odd love story.


    But I think the book of mine that could best be described as a straight-up love story -- albeit a very twisted, sinister love story -- is Lady Of The Shades, the last book for older readers that I released under the Darren Shan name a few years ago. I don't want to give too much away if you haven't read it, but it centres on a writer of ghost stories who falls in love with a beautiful woman, but then starts to wonder if she might be more ethereal than she seems. It's my most twist-packed book, I think, and the one that focuses on affairs of the heart more than any other. Just don't go in expecting a lovely Mills & Boon style ending, because, y'know, when the Master of YA Horror tells a love story, it's just got to be one of the darkest and most disturbing love stories you're ever likely to read...


    You might be able to find Lady Of The Shades in your local bookshop or library. If not, try a site like Amazon UK (you can also buy it through the American Amazon store) and get a copy for the special (twisted) someone in YOUR life next Valentine's Day!





    If you want to know how to bring a lump to a hardened horror writer's throat, check out this email from a teacher called Debbie in the USA which she recently sent to me... "Mr. Shan, I'm a fifth grade teacher from NJ, and I've been reading your Cirque Du Freak, A Living Nightmare, to my class for the past 15 years. I just wanted to let you know how much my students enjoy it. They beg me to read and to read more than one chapter at a time, and they love your cliffhangers at the end of the chapters. My class this year has talked me into reading the second in the series, as well. I have the rest on my classroom bookshelves and just had to replace some, as they were getting worn. I've noticed in fifth grade, some children begin to fade away from the enjoyment of reading and I can wholeheartedly say that your books have changed lives. I've had several parents over the years tell me (some with tears) that they can't believe their child is reading again. Thank you so much for that!"






    A teacher called Tim sent me the following email and picture, about how The Demonata proved to be a useful educational tool in a science class. Just when you think you've heard it all...   


    As a teacher-in-training, I am often challenged to motivate my pupils in a way that is unconventional yet effective. Today, my class had to dissect the heart of a sheep, making drawings of the arteries, veins, ventricles and many other such things. As one might come to expect from pupils their age, this was met with responses like "Ugh, no way, that's gross, why would I do that?" and similar phrases. Many of my pupils said that they considered it to be challenging, because of the emotional aspect attached to dissecting what once used to be part of a living creature. By recalling my love for horror and using that to connect with my pupils, I used your fantastic quote: “Life is a challenge, and only those who rise to the challenge truly know what it means to live” to inspire my pupils, and off-handedly mentioned the Demonata series which I have always been very fond of. Some of my pupils recognized the name, and this gave me a way into drawing them towards the assignment at hand, because "if Grubbs can live with blood and gore, so can you". Repulsion quickly turned into carnage and bloody, gory delight, with pupils happily (scientifically) hacking and cutting away at the hearts! I am glad that you managed to provide me with ways to not only form a bond and connection with my pupils, but also for them to do scientific exploration. Thank you, from the bottom of my not-yet dissected heart!





    The original draft of Lady of the Shades (one of my books for adults which I released under the Darren Shan name) was nearly a third as long as the finished book. In it, I wrote a lot more about the book that the main character, Ed, was working on, and linked it in more closely to the story of the novel. Ultimately I decided to cut out a lot of that material, as it was slowing things down and might have confused many readers -- the scenes were important for me, in understanding Joe's mind, but they weren't important to the main story. One of the ideas I played around with was the possibility that our universe might be one giant, complicated hologram. It was an idea that scientists had started talking about in the 1990s (when I began the book) and it has recently hit the news again, as a new generation of scientists are starting to suggest that the theory might have legs -- click on the second of the links below to read more about that. Whether or not the theory is correct remains to be seen, but HERE'S A LINK to a chapter that I cut out of Lady which covers some of my discarded ideas and explains why ghosts might be a reality in a universe of holograms. It also includes colons and semi-colons, which I've eliminated from my writing style over the years -- but here's proof that I used to write the "right" way.  And HERE'S THE LINK to the Sky News article about the universe possibly being a vast and complex hologram.





    Good, honest, truth-seeking journalists are needed now more than ever, so it's good to see some of them are starting young, in the High School Insider section of the Los Angeles Times. One of those young journalists is Isaias Garcia, and even though his ultimate goal is to become a firefighter, he's a pretty good writer too. I was chuffed to see him mention that my books were what first got him into reading -- it's always lovely when you can help open someone's mind to the power of words. Best of luck in the future, Isaias, whether it's whether that's wrestling with a pen or a fire hose!  http://highschool.latimes.com/author/isaias022414/






    Mrs Shan and I spent a weekend in New York last month to celebrate the 15th anniversary of our first date. (Because we didn't marry for another 11 years -- in romance, as in writing, the Shan man works surely but slowly! -- that continues to be our main anniversary.) Above are a couple of photos, taken in Central Park and Times Square. I've got to be honest -- while the trip was primarily about our anniversary, it was also a work trip. Central Park and Times Square both feature in the new series that I'm working on. There was an especially important scene in the second book, set in Central Park, which I needed to research. I'm all about killing two birds with one stone...  And for those of you wondering how work on the new series is going -- I'm making good progress on my first edit of the second book, trimming it down nicely. Once that's done, I'll be turning my thoughts to the first draft of the third book, and if that comes together neatly inside my head, I could be looking at hitting the GO button for book 1 in the near future. Of course, if it doesn't come together neatly, that could be problematic -- but I always believe in hoping for the best!!





    I'm aware that some of my fans in the UK might be waiting eagerly for the fourth volume of the Zom-B Chronicles, which collects the 7th and 8th books of the series. It was due for release around now, but that was before my UK publishers, Simon & Schuster, decided to rebrand the paperbacks and re-schedule them. With the new-look paperbacks of volumes 7, 8 and 9 only hitting the shelves recently it didn't make sense to release the next volume of the Chronicles around the same time. So I'm afraid it's been pushed back until the revamped paperbacks have finished coming out. The current release date is December 28th, though to be honest, there's a chance it might never see print -- given the long gap after the third volume, I'm just not sure there's going to be a demand for more. (They seem to have stopped in the USA as well.) As always, if plans change, I'll let you guys know as soon as I'm informed.





    I recently came across a teaching plan for Cirque Du Freak. It's a collection of resources for teachers who want to teach the book and who are looking for guidance to how best to use it in class. Now, I have nothing whatsoever to do with this, so I don't know how helpful it might be, whether it's good, bad or indifferent. And in my experience, most teachers who want to deviate from the normal curriculum are pretty inventive when it comes to making up their own plans. And while it's not especially expensive, it isn't free. But, just in case any teachers out there are looking for something like this, I figured I'd share the link and leave them to assess its merits themselves. So here it is: http://www.teacher-of-english.com/resource.php?id=1554






    The winners of last month's competition, each of whom received a signed copy of the second edition of Sunburn, were: Krisztian Szasz, Hungary. Emily Holland, England. Eveliina Viljanen, Finland.


    This month, since we're celebrating the 200th issue of the Shanville Monthly, I wanted to offer some really special prizes. ALL of the prizes I put up for offer have something unique about them, but I wanted to give away something REALLY unique this month -- and after a quick raid through my files, I think I've found just the right things! When we get to the final stage of the editing process on each of my books, it's called the proof stage. At this point my publisher sends me a printout of what the finished book will look like, with everything the way it will appear in the book, but printed on A4 sheets of paper. This is my opportunity to read through the book the way the readers will, and my very last chance to make any last-minute corrections. I never change anything major at this point -- it's mostly about catching any mistakes that might have slipped through, and perhaps tweaking the occasional word or two.


    I sometimes get more than one copy of the proofs. The idea, going back to the old days before the internet and emails, is that you mark up any final changes on the printouts, then return one set by post to the publisher and keep the other set for yourself. Of course these days I do everything by email, noting down the pages and line numbers for easy reference. I keep the set that I work on for myself (although I think I've thrown out some in the past) and most of the additional sets go into the recycling bin once the book has been published, as they take up a lot of space and I've no use for them any more. However, I happened to hold onto a few of the Zom-B proofs as I was going along with the series, and these are what I'm offering as prizes this month. I'm pretty sure my publishers will have long destroyed any of their own sets, so apart from the sets in my files, these are true one-offs as far as I'm aware -- I have no more spare sets of them, and never again will have. (Though I do plan to give away a few proofs of other books of mine in a future competition.)


    I have five proofs in total up for grabs. First prize will be the British proof for Zom-B Baby. This includes the cover art, which the American proofs do not -- they simply have a blank page where art is going to go. Second prize will be the American proof from the very first Zom-B book. Third prize will be the American proof for Zom-B GladiatorFourth prize will be the American proof for Zom-B MissionFifth prize will be the American proof for Zom-B Clans.


    1) Answer this question: "When was the first issue of the Shanville Monthly published?" I'm looking for the month and year in your answer. As an example, if you were asked when issue 200 was published, the answer would be March 2017. (HINT -- you can find the answer elsewhere in this issue of the Shanville Monthly.)


    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, March 10th, 2017.


    (5) This competition is open to everybodyeverywhere 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, March 11th, 2017. 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.


    (10) My decision will be final.



    IT'S A WRAP!


    And that's it for March. I hope you've enjoyed the latest issue of the Shanville Monthly, and, indeed, the previous 199 if you've been with me that long! (Does anyone here remember reading that first issue back when it originally hit the web?!?) It seems like an awful long time since we hit issue 100, back in November 2008. Will we make it to issue 300, or will new technology or something else knock us off-course along the way? Only time will tell the answer to that question, but I certainly plan to be back here next month with issue 201 -- touch wood! Until then, all my bloody best, Darren Shan. x x x



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