• Issue 201 - April 2017

    01 April 2017



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the April issue of the Shanville Monthly. I hope you all enjoyed the special 200th issue last month -- I still can't believe the Monthly is that old!! This month we have the usual mix for you -- the release of a new edition Zom-B book in the UK... photos of fans... a link to a new review... and more. No competition this time, but that's because I'm gearing myself up for an extra special competition next month, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of when I started writing Cirque Du Freak. I don't yet know what I'm going to offer as prizes, but I'm going to try and come up with something appropriate and freakily fabulous! So stay tuned!!!






    There's exciting news for those of you collecting the UK paperback editions of my Zom-B books. Book 10 in the series, Zom-B Bride, goes on sale with its beautiful new cover early this month, on April 6th. It should be available in bookshops all across the UK and Ireland, and in other territories where the UK editions are sold -- if you don't see it on the shelves in your local bookshop on or after that date, feel free to ask a member of staff for assistance, and they should be happy to order in a copy for you. Alternatively you can buy it from an online seller if you prefer. Amazon UK are usually a reliable bet, and you can buy it from them by CLICKING HERE. However, they're not always the cheapest option, so if you're looking for the best price, I'd advise checking on a site like 123PriceCheck. (If you want the best of both worlds, to shop online but also support your local shop, Hive offers online convenience but also links in with high street stores.) You can also download it as an ebook if you want. And you can buy it as an Audio CD too. (Or download it on audio through Audible if you live in the USA -- unfortunately it's not on Audible UK.) You can't say we don't give you plenty of options!!! :-)


    There are only two more books to go now, before all of the series will be available in the new paperback edition. Book 11 goes on sale in July, then book 12 in October. The end is nigh... ish!!!!





    No events planned for the next few months -- I plan to be busy writing. But don't be too surprised if I pop up at the Edinburgh Book Festival at some point in August, given the fact that I've appeared there for the past 17 years in a row...






    If Jonathan Swift Wrote Horror... That's the title for a new review of An Other Place (my most recent release for adult readers, under the name of Darren Dash), by author Safie Maken Finlay -- you can read the full review by CLICKING HERE. It's a very nice, well-written review, and I especially liked it when Safie noted that the main aim of the book is "to unravel the layers people create to give a sense of meaning to their existence." This, in a nutshell, really was what I was doing with An Other Place. The book served like a mirror for me, in which I was looking at how I interpreted and interacted with the world. I'm quite OCD, and I wanted to look at what would happen if the barriers we erect for ourselves suddenly broke down, and if it's possible to create new meaning in a world where you've lost all sense of control.


    An Other Place is on sale through Amazon stores worldwide, either as a paperback or low-cost ebook. If you live in a country that doesn't have an Amazon market, you won't be able to buy the ebook, but you should be able to buy the paperback in your nearest Amazon store and have it shipped to you.


    When I released An Other Place, I was very unsure what sort of a reception it would get. It's very different to any other book that I've published, a dark, twisted, Twilight Zone-type mix of science-fiction, horror and Kafkaesque dystopia. I was expecting confusion and revulsion, but instead it's picked up one of the best set of reviews of any of my books, whether for YA or adults. The reviews have come from industry heavy-hitters like Kirkus, SFX and Starburst, as well as indie reviewers like Kelly Smith Reviews, Dread Central and The Literary Connoisseur. If you'd like to check them out, I've gathered all the links together in one convenient place, along with links to a couple of interviews I gave to promote the book. You can find them in the BLOG over on the official Darren Dash site: http://www.darrendashbooks.com/





    [This is a repeat article from last month, for anyone who missed it.]


    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 Wordhttp://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.





    [Again, this is a repeat from last month -- bargains like these deserve to be shared!]


    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






    There's nothing a cat loves more than reading a few pages of a zombie book before settling down for a snooze!  I spotted this adorable photo on the So Many Books, So Little Time site, when they reviewed Zom-B Angels. They didn't like it quite as much as the previous couple of books in the series, which was fair enough -- Zom-B Angels was one of those books where it was necessary to slow things down and answer some questions that had cropped up in the first three novels. I try not to do that too often with a series -- the ideal is to keep the story flowing while providing the reader with enough background information to fill them in on what's happened in the past -- but sometimes a story demands that I put the brakes on, and for me, the story is always king, and I just do what it tells me!! If you'd like to read the review, CLICK HERE but read it quietly, OK -- we don't want to disturb the cat... Oh, and by the way, the cat is called Princess Trixie -- clearly not named after any character in a Darren Shan novel, then!





    A fan called Brownwyn wrote to me recently. She's hoping to make it as a writer, and is beavering away industriously (which is always a promising sign) but she wanted to know "were there times when you lay awake at night in terror wondering if you were making a huge mistake? Did you not ever envisage yourself homeless and destitute with only your rejected manuscripts as your pillow as you lie on the cold, hard sidewalk, begging for change?"


    My answer ran as follows: "We all start out in the same place, and it's just as terrifying for all of us. You need to believe in the work and keep pushing yourself, which you seem to be doing, but that’s no guarantee of financial success. Lots of good – even great – writers aren’t, for one reason or another, popular writers. Most need to have other jobs to support themselves, even established authors – sometime those jobs can be related to their writing, e.g. charging for workshops in schools, but often it might be something else entirely. Have a backup plan. When I went writing full-time after having a crappy job for a couple of years, I figured I’d give myself a year, two at most – if nothing was happening, I’d get another crappy job for a year or two, then have a proper crack at the writing again. Even when I had the crappy job, I was writing at the weekends. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to support yourself by your writing alone – but most writers have to find a balance. Many find that they enjoy that balance – you do your day job and make money to pay the bills, then at night or the weekends you get to dream and do something just for fun. I never saw that weekend writing as a job – it was an escape, and it was lovely."


    Brownwyn also said it would be nice if there was a charity organisation set up by successful author to help out struggling writers, and wanted to know my thoughts. This is what I had to say on that point: "I actually don’t like the idea of a charity organisation for writers, because I don’t see us as charity cases. Loads of us struggle, yes, but that struggle is what defines us. I have quite a right-wing view when it comes to writing. I think each of us stands alone, and I think that’s a good thing, because it encourages us to push ourselves harder, out of our comfort zone. It’s very easy to sit around with other would-be writers, talking about how hard it is and how the world of publishing is dead set against newcomers, but I think newcomers shouldn’t be sitting around and moaning – they should be writing. Always writing."


    And for lots and LOTS more advice from me, some of it sage, some of it... not so sage... see the Writing Tips part of my site, where I've gathered together most of my thoughts on the writing process over the years.






    The webs we weave as we go through life are far more far-reaching and complex than we could ever have imagined when we were starting out. We find ourselves with ties to the most unlikely of people and objects, building up a series of connections that would baffle and mesmerise us if we tried to count them all. For instance, what on Earth could Darren Shan have to do with a hippo in distress?!? To find out, you'll have to CLICK HERE and read the short article.





    I often get asked if there are going to be any more films or TV shows made from my books. Hopefully one day there will be -- my trusty agent is always chatting with various people in the industry about possible adaptations -- but there isn't currently anything in the pipeline. However, one of my books WILL be appearing in a short animated film later this year. It's called The Magic Word, and the writer and director wanted to use pages from some of her favourite books to help make the sets. She asked me if she could use pages from one of my books, and I was more than happy to grant permission. You can find out more about the film here: http://www.themagicwordfilm.com/ And if you'd like to support it, to help get it made, there are some cool perks up for grabs over on its crowdfunding page: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-magic-word-short-animation-books#/updates






    Tattoo Tuesday has been a fun feature on my Facebook page for the last couple of months, when I've been featuring photos of tattoos based on my books. But on one week in March it took on a much more serious slant. The photo was sent to me by someone we'll refer to as Misa. The tattoo was pretty cool by itself, but Misa's accompanying email, which I've copied in below with her permission, took things to a whole new level of sobering coolness, demonstrating just how important stories can be in our lives.


    "I have borderline personality disorder because of childhood abuse, and sometimes I try to kill myself without really meaning to while I'm in a bad state. One of those times I was 18, and I had a psychotic episode that lasted days. I was hospitalised, and then arrested on release as a danger to myself. But then, I met people who listened. So so luckily the police helped me to a refuge, which helped me to another refuge and another, and eventually to my own home. And my Demonata books have come with me the whole way, years of travelling and a million different situations and they still sit proudly on my book shelf. The Demonata series, in my teen years, became a way for me to see the world in a way I could cope with. Sure, I wasn't fighting demons and magic, but I was fighting bullies, abuse and mental illness every damn day. Sometimes I would pretend that the beautiful and strong Meera Flame was walking beside me when I was scared to go outside. Sometimes I'd pretend that I was related to the cool-headed Dervish who would tell me to stop blaming myself, to do more and be more. Sometimes I'd pretend that Shark was by my side to fight off all of the things I was trying to avoid. There are so many more I can't even start on. It's been a couple years now since things have been getting better, partly because of the influence the Demonata series had on my life. Bec's story taught me that real strength is in the mind not the body, women are as strong as they make themselves, and we can push to do anything even if we're only small! Kernel taught me that sometimes, you have something special, without even knowing it's possible, that disabilities can be abilities that you just don't know how to use yet. Grubbs taught me that everything, everything can fall and you can pull yourself out the ashes, that having another part of you that you can't always control, that's done some awful things, that doesn't make you a bad person. Anyway. I know I've rambled a lot but I've always wanted to tell you how much these books saved my life. The number under the wolf [in the tattoo] was my hospital number from the time I tried to die, and accidentally started a new life. Thank you for everything, I don't know if I'd be alive today without the strength of your characters that pulled me through those years."






    A fan called Christopher wrote to me recently to say "I got married to my beautiful other half on the 19/2/17 and our wedding theme was books, as before we got together she wasn't a big reader until I introduced her to your books. First was the Demonata and ever since she has become a readaholic. And as the first books we both read where your Demonata series, we thought what better way to incorporate your books into our wedding than by having our wedding flowers made out of your Demonata books (sorry for destroying a book but the cause was worth it)." I agree that in this case the cause for the destruction was definitely worth it! What an absolutely beautiful thing to do with a special book on a special day! If you look closely, you can make out the word Beranabus of one of the leaves of the flower in the picture. I'm wishing the happy couple many long and wonderful years together, and hopefully they won't come a cropper when the demons attack!!






    If you're into cosplay, then I think you're going to dig this photo! A group of Shansters have been dressing up as characters from my vampire books to cosplay, and they've posted LOADS of photos of themselves over on Twitter -- stick Darren Shan into the search engine on Twitter, then click on the Latest link, and scroll down to the mid-March posts. If it inspires any of YOU to go out and try your own Darren Shan-inspired cosplay, make sure you send on some photos to me!





    The lucky winners of the March Shanville Monthly competition, in the order drawn, were:


    Jessie Thomas, England.

    Billie Foster, England.

    Jessica Boehm, USA.

    Elloise Jennings, New Zealand.

    Gemma Jones, England.


    There were 194 entries in total. Congratulations to the winners, who each get a signed Zom-B manuscript proof, and better luck next time to the rest of you. Watch out for a special competition next month, to tie in with the 20th anniversary of when I first started work on Cirque Du Freak!!



    IT'S A WRAP!


    And that's it for April. I'm working on a new book at the moment, part of a series that I've been chipping away at for the past few years. I can't say anything about it yet, other then to reassure you that even though I might not have much new material popping up in the shops right now, I am beavering away busily behind the scenes, and hopefully we won't have too much longer to wait before we can start moving things forward. In the meantime, I'll be keeping you guys in the loop on all that's happening in the Darren Shan universe every month, starting with the May issue of the Shanville Monthly, which, as I've already said, will feature a very special competition. How special? You'll just have to come back at the start of May to find out!! 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.