• Issue 206 - September 2017

    01 September 2017



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the September issue of the Shanville Monthly. The chill of autumn is starting to set in, but I'm still buzzing after my trip to the Edinburgh Book Festival last month, and there's good news for my fans in Ireland -- I've agreed to do a couple of events here over the next two months, a talk in September, and a signing session in October. You can find out details for those below, along with all the latest Darren Shan related news and updates -- plus there's a special COMPETITION to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the release of the first Zom-B book back in September 2012!! But let's start with the new tour dates...






    Friday 22nd September -- 6.00pm -- PUBLIC talk, The Hunt Museum, Limerick. CLICK HERE.


    Saturday 28th October -- 2.30pm -- PUBLIC signing, Crescent Bookshop, Dooradoyle, Limerick. CLICK HERE.


    Good news for my Irish fans, especially those in or near the Limerick region. Although I'm not touring much this year, I've agreed to do a few one-off events, and a couple of new ones in Limerick have been pencilled in.


    The first is a public reading/Q&A session, and it will be on Friday, September 22nd, at 6pm, in the Hunt Museum in Limerick, and it's to tie in with Culture Night 2017. I'll be reading some extracts, not just from my books, but from books that had a big influence on me when I was younger, answering questions and signing afterwards. (But there won't be any books on sale, so you'll need to bring them with you if you want anything signed.) I think that entrance will be free, but I'll confirm that once the details appear on the Hunt Museum web site: http://www.huntmuseum.com/


    The second is a public signing to tie in with my favourite season of the year -- Halloween! It's taking place in the Crescent Bookshop, in the Crescent Shopping Centre, Dooradoyle, Limerick, at 3pm on Saturday October 28th. Everyone is welcome -- no need for a ticket -- just come along and take your place in the line. You can bring books from home and/or buy books in the shop on the day -- there are no limits on how many books I will sign for each fan. (The new paperback of Zom-B Goddess will have gone on sale earlier in the month, so this will be the perfect time to get that signed!) The-Crescent-Bookshop/


    These two events will almost certainly be your last chance to catch me in 2017, so if you can work one or both of them into your schedule, please come along and help me end the year on a high!!







    I had a great time at my book events in Edinburgh last month. The photos above are from my public event on Sunday 27th. It was a lovely venue -- an old theatre tent -- and we had a full house, and the experiment -- I let members of the audience choose extracts for me to read out loud -- worked really well after an inital spot of confusion. The next day I did a schools event in the festival's biggest book tent for 500 students from different schools, and that went beautifully too, though I had to be quick on my toes to answer all the probing questions that were launched my way! This was my 18th year in a row at the festival, and it was nice to see a mix of old fans who have been to many of my events over the years, and new fans who were only just discovering me -- thank you all for coming along and making it such a great couple of days.





    I loved performing in the old Bosco Theater tent at the Edinburgh Book Festival (see the photo above). I've given lots and LOTS of talks over the years. Most have taken place in book stores, libraries or schools, but I've appeared in plenty of unusual places too -- dungeons, castles, churches, shopping centre parking lots, and more. But as cool as it was to play in the Bosco Theater, I played in maybe my most unusual venue eight years ago last month -- the Fourth plinth in London's Trafalgar Square! There are permananent statues on the other three plinths, but they replace the statue on the Fourth Plinth with a temporary exhibit every several months or so. Eight years ago, the sculptor Anthony Gormley took over the plinth, and his idea was to put a different member of the public up on it every hour or the day and night, and they would be free to do whatever they wanted -- talk, dance, strip, meditate -- anything! I was lucky enough to get picked to go up, and I spent my hour reading out from my books and answering questions from the crowd. You can see the first few minutes of the event over on the One & Other archive by CLICKING HERE -- enjoy!






    When I travel to Edinburgh for the Book Festival every year, I also go to some shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The thing I love most about this festival is its sheer randomness and unpredictability. For instance, I had no idea when I got on my plane from Shannon that I would soon be having a chinwag with one of Ireland's most famous comedians, Tommy Tiernan (photo above) which would lead Mrs Shan and I to write off the play we had booked to see, and instead go watch a mime artist do a show with his 13 month old baby. (The baby was incredibly cute, though the show was only so-so.) And I couldn't have imagined, when we went to see another comedian called Nick Helm and were sitting about halfway back in the venue, that the performer would come storming up, grab me, and move me to the front row while relegating someone else to my seat. But above all else, it never once crossed my mind that I might end the night at the Adam Riches show, wearing a pair of goggles, with a pack of butter perched on my head, while a stranger fired darts at me with a gun and tried to knock it off! Yet all those things, dear reader, happened to me yesterday. Honest!





    A fan called Laura asked me last month why, in Cirque Du Freak, did Mr Dalton go with the police to try and get the little person selling the Cirque tickets? The answer was that he was just concerned about a freak show performing in his town, but that reminded me of something else -- when I read the script for the movie of Cirque Du Freak, I saw that they'd left out the character of Reggie Veggie, and that they'd also made Mr Dalton a bit more of a prominent character, having him come with the police to stop a performance of the CDF. I suggested they expand on this a bit further and have the Wolf Man bite off Mr Dalton's hands, so that he could have served the RV role if they'd made later movies. But, of course, they ignored me.


    I actually made a LOT of suggestions for changes when I read the script. As I've said many times, I do actually like the movie -- I think, on its own terms, it works quite neatly -- it maybe doesn't stand up that well compared with the books, but I think it compares favourably with other movies in the genre. But when I read the script, I was worried by how much of the storyline had been gutted, and how some key omissions were going to undermine the more dramatic moments. I accepted that they had to cut out characters and scenes to fit the running time -- it's no easy thing to squeeze three books into a single movie -- but I felt there were ways they could have done that and still stayed true to the darker spirit of the books. I sent the script back with a LOT of notes and ideas for how it could be tweaked to bring it more in line with the books. I knew I was probably wasting my time, but figured it was worth taking a few hours to show how they could keep the structure they'd come up with, but alter it slightly to also match the elements that made the books work.


    If I recall correctly, only one of those suggestions was taken on board, and it was a tiny one. There's a line in the movie where a character says something like "Let's get FU'd," and then when Darren looks at him oddly, he explains, "Freaked Up'd." That, I believe, originated with me.


    I often get asked why I wasn't more involved in the movie. The answer is simply that my involvement wasn't required. That's the way Hollywood works, and if you do a deal with them, you have to accept that. Occasionally a writer/director DOES want to bring the novelist on board and listen to their thoughts, but usually they want to do their own thing. And I'm absolutely cool with that.


    But, hey, just between you and me -- if they HAD listened to me and tweaked the script the way I suggested? It woulda been the Best. Film. Ever!!!!






    "Truly a spectacular read. Darren has been one of my favorite authors since I was a child, and if you read this book you'll understand why. He is capable of engaging you so far into the story you'll feel as if you're there. You won't be able put this book down, it's just filled with so many amazing twists and turns. I sincerely loved it."


    That lovely review was for An Other Place, my most recent release for adult readers, which came out under the name of Darren Dash late last year. The review appeared on the Amazon UK site a few weeks ago, and came courtesy of a fan called Kaitlyn. Fan reviews are always appreciated, and they can make a big difference in a book's longevity, so if any of you enjoyed An Other Place (or, indeed, any of my other books) as much as Kaitlyn did, it would be lovely if you could take a few minutes to post a review on your local Amazon site to help spread the word.


    To find out more about An Other Place and my other adult-aimed novels, visit the Darren Dash web site, which also has buying links to the UK and USA Amazon stores. http://www.darrendashbooks.com





    While we're on the subject of my Darren Dash books... I'm afraid I've had to raise the prices of the physical editions. Being a relative newcomer to the print-on-demand game, I'm still figuring out the whole pricing process, and was keeping the cost of the paperbacks as low as I could, because I don't want to rip off my fans. However, I've started to make some inroads into what CreateSpace call expanded distribution, where books are sold to libraries or resellers like Barnes & Noble, which is making them more widely available. We're not talking huge numbers, but it's an encouraging sign, and it's something that I'm hoping to build on, to make the books more visible and accessible, to try and make my Darren Dash sideline in books for adults a financially viable long-term prospect.


    The trouble is, those extra distribution channels are costly and I've been making virtually nothing on those sales, so I've had to recalculate and bump up the prices across the three books, on average by a couple of dollars/pounds/euros per book, depending on its length (which affects the printing costs). Sorry! Happily, for those of you who prefer ebooks, this doesn't affect the Kindle prices at all, and I've continued to keep those at an attractively low price -- regardless of size (and The Evil And The Pure is a whopper!) each ebook costs just $2.99 in the US store, £1.99 in the UK store, and €2.99 across the European stores -- worldwide stores are also in line with those prices. You can find buying links for all the books, both in physical and electronic format, on the Darren Dash site: http://www.darrendashbooks.com/





    "I think that this book is a perfect ending to a great series. It has twist and turns on every page, it has all the back story you could want and it has a fight scene that makes all the others look like a play fight. If I didn’t like the Saga of Larten Crespley so much then this would be my favourite series from Darren Shan but it only just loses."


    Reviewer Aaron Morrsi has concluded his reviews for my Zom-B series, producing a full review for each individual book. It was no small undertaking -- 12 books! about 2,500 pages!! -- so kudos to him for seeing it through to the end. Here are links for the last two reviews, and you can find links for all the other books on his site. Go give them a read -- after putting in much effort, he deserves an audience! BOOK 11   BOOK 12






    If you're a fan of my books, you might be interested in checking out the new book by Lily Luchesi, called Last Rites. Why? Well, as you'll see if you have a look at the dedication, Lily has taken inspiration from some Shantastically fabulous writers!!! The book is available through Amazon stores worldwide. If you're interested, here's the link for Amazon USA: https://www.amazon.com/Last-Rites-Paranormal-Detectives-5/…/ And here's the link for Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Rites-5-Paranormal-Detecti…/…/ And remember, if you're wavering between buying this or some other author's work -- it's always nice to support a fellow Shanster!





    A fan called Shahroz set up a Netflix petition a while back, asking them to consider adapting Cirque Du Freak into a TV series. Now, I think it's highly unlikely that anything like this will capture the eye of anyone at Netflix or any other major TV or film company, but if you'd like to add your name to it on the off chance that someone with connections spots it and is intrigued and decides to investigate further, here's the link: https://www.change.org/p/netflix-netflix-please-adapt-the-c…


    I get asked about the possibility of TV and movie adaptations all the time. It's something my agent is always investigating, and we've got to various stages with various projects with various companies over the years, but as of this moment, nothing is close to getting a green light. Hopefully that will change one day -- who knows, we might even end up in a Stephen King type situation, with a glut of adaptations coming all in or around the same time -- but in the meantime all we can do is keep our fingers crossed and hope that the luck of the vampires is with us!





    The Darren Shan Messageboard was out of action recently (we think because of the amount of spam that it had generated) but I've now cleaned it up and it's back in working action. The Messageboard is a throwback to the old days, before the rise of Facebook and Twitter, and it doesn't get used much now -- indeed, I only rarely drop in to have a look at it myself. But it IS still up there, and it can be a fun way to get in touch with and chat with other Shansters, so if you ever want to go check it out and create or reply to a few posts, here's the link: http://www.darrenshan.com/messageboard You never know -- you might get a personal reply from me if you're lucky... and patient!!!!







    I run a Tattoo Tuesday over on my Facebook page most weeks, where I feature Darren Shan-inspired tattoos that fans have shared with me. I ran a special Tattoo Tuesday three-in-row last month. All three tattoos feature the same Even In Death May You Be Triumphant quote, but the first was on fan Samantha's shin, the second was on fan Evan's shoulder blade, and the third was on the instep of fan Amber's foot!!! If YOU have had a tattoo based on a character or quote or cover from any of my books, and would like to share it with me, visit my Facebook page and send me on an image or too, and maybe YOU can be the star of a future Tattoo Tuesday post!





    A fan wrote to me on Facebook recently, asking if I could reveal where the name Harkat Mulds had come from. (They HAD read book 10, but it had been years before, and they couldn't recall.) I directed them towards Lake Of Souls, where that answer is revealed, but something that I also get last a lot is -- which name came first, Harkat's or the other name? (I'm being careful here, in case any of you have yet to find out about Harkat's previous identity.) The answer is... the other name!


    Harkat was originally called Harvey when I wrote the Vampire Mountain trilogy, and he was going to have been Evra. (Take the H and the Y away and spell the name backwards and see what you get.) But that was because I had thought Evra was going to be a major player in the series. I had planned to send him to Vampire Mountain with Darren, and have him play a key part in the main storyline. But when I came to write that trilogy, I realised it didn't make sense. Evra was a young man now, with a life of his own, and there was no logical reason for him to abandon the Cirque Du Freak and travel with Darren and Mr Crepsley. So I left him behind, but that meant, equally, that there was now no logical reason why he would have become a Little Person intent on working to safeguard the vampire clan. I left the name as it was, and mulled it over while I was writing those books, and in the end the perfect candidate presented him- or herself to me, and the rest is history!


    I write author notes for all of my books, so if you enjoyed the above snippet, and would like to find out more of the background secrets behind my works, go have a look on the Books part of my web site, click on any of the thumbnail covers, and prepare to be instructed and informed! http://www.darrenshan.com/books






    Here's another character aesthetic, courtesy of busy Twitter Shanster, Vampire Council. This one represents Wester Flack, Mr Crepsley's blood-brother, who played such an important part in his life, there for him in his bad times as well as the good. Wester, of course, was never mentioned in The Saga Of Darren Shan. To find out why Mr Crepsley never referred to him, you'll have to read The Saga Of Larten Crepsley, which covers the two hundred years of his life before he crossed paths with Darren and Steve at the Cirque Du Freak. There are four books, on sale as either paperbacks or ebooks, in the UK, USA and many other countries around the world. Have a look for them in your local book shop or on a site like Amazon. The first one is called Birth Of A KiIller, and it explains how Mr C and Wester were first thrown together, along with a whole lot more.





    A lady called Carrie wrote to me recently with the following, deeply moving letter.


    "Hello, today is a hard day for me and several of my friends. You see, 11 years ago today our friend Garrett took his own life, he was 15 at the time. But his favorite series was Cirque du Freak. In fact in what would become one of our last conversations he made me swear (for the hundredth time) I would read it. He had a lot of pain in his life but your books brought him joy. So... thank you. Thank you for being a bright spot in his world. I did read them eventually, and although I did have to shake myself from the thought that he made me read them so I would know that he wasn't dead, but instead was a vampire and he'd come back someday, I really enjoyed them. Thank you again."


    I was glad that my books had brought some joy into Garrett's life, but sad that they hadn't helped give him enough of a reason to hang on in there and ride out the rough times. Sometimes books, friends and family members can help steer us safely through the darkness. Sometimes they can't.


    Like Mr Crepsley in Palace Of The Damned, I've teetered on the abyss myself at times, and as I tried to say in that book, it's important that we give ourselves every opportunity that we can to hang on. I know the world is hard sometimes, and we feel alone and lost, and the future doesn't seem worth fighting for. But look again at Carrie's latter. 11 years after his passing, she's still a true, loyal friend to Garrett. If we leave this world, we leave behind people who love and care for us, so it's always worth thinking, before taking a step from which there can be no coming back -- are there people in this world who will miss me if I go? And if there are, is it possible that I can find the strength within to get through this thing, not just only for my sake, but for theirs? (If there's only one message that I hope my readers take away from my books, it's that we CAN overcome any odds and win out no matter what we face.)


    I like to think that Garrett's alive and well in another reality, and that he's still nagging Carrie to read my books, and smiling ruefully when he remembers the time that he, like Mr Crepsley, nearly checked out but didn't. But in this reality he's lost to us -- but not (and never as long Carrie and his other friends are alive) forgotten. Even in death may he be triumphant.






    Five years ago this month, on September 27th, 2012, my first Zom-B book went on sale. I released the rest of the series fast and furiously, and the 12th and final book saw the light of day in the spring last year. To celebrate the fifth anniversary of its public birth, I'm giving away three complete, signed hardback sets of the series as prizes in a competition. One set is made up of the British hardbacks, the second is made up of the American hardbacks, while the third is 91.66% Canadian. "91.66% ?!?!?" I hear you cry. Sadly, my Canadian publishers only published the final book as an eBook, so I've had to add a British copy of Zom-B Goddess to the 11 Canadian editions, in order to complete the set. I'm going to divide the world up into 3 sections, with one set up as a prize per section, so please make sure you enter the correct competition!


    1) Answer this question: "What year did the first Zom-B book go on sale?"


    2a) If you live in the UK or IRELAND, the prize for the winner will be the American set of books. Send your entry to: [email protected]


    2b) If you live in the AMERICAS (CANADA, USA, CENTRAL AMERICA, SOUTH AMERICA), the prize for the winner will be the British set of books. Send your entry to: [email protected]


    2c) If you live ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD (outside of the Americas and UK and Ireland),  the prize for the winner will be the Canadian set of books. 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, Wednesday, September 13th, 2017.


    (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 Thursday, September 14th, 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 September. Last month I was at a christening for my cousin John's latest addition to the family, a cute wee boy called Oisin. (Pronounced "Ush-een" although some people also (mis)pronounce it "Oh-seen".) I wasn't just a guest -- I was also the baby's godfather. That means I'm partly responsible for his spiritual guidance, which could be awkward if he ever comes to chat to me about such matters and I start waffling on about the vampire gods or the ways of the Kah-Gash... I'll be back at the start of October with all the latest news and updates, and another competition (because you guys are worth it!). Until then, all my bloody best, Darren Shan. x x x



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