• Issue 211 - February 2018

    01 February 2018



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the February issue of the Shanville Monthly. I've been putting a monthly newsletter together for more than seventeen and a half years, and I love that even after all this time I'm still finding new things to add to the mix. I mean, sure, for the most part one issue is much the same as any of the others, with the latest reports about what's going on with my books, but quite often I have brand new, random updates to throw into the melting pot. As an example, this month I find myself chatting about Trivial Pursuits and a hugely popular Japanese girl band, while also providing readers with a virtual inside view of my guts!!! Yep, you never know quite what you're going to get with a Shanville Monthly -- that's why I like them so much, and I hope you guys enjoy the variety too!






    On Christmas Day, some of my extended family came round to my house in the night and we played board games, as we've done for quite a few years now -- it's always a nice way to round off the day. This year we played one of the Trivial Pursuits editions, which we've done for the last two or three years -- it's the one where players can bet on whether or not they think the person answering is going to get it right or wrong -- a good way to find out whether or not your family and friends think you're smart or an idiot!! So I was tickled pink when a fan called Ryan spotted a question about me in one of the other editions of the game, and sent me a couple of photos of it. "Made it, Ma -- top of a Trivial Pursuits card!!!!"





    There was a fun mention of my books on Morning Musume's morning diary on January 20th, helpfully captioned in English for those of us who don't speak Japanese! Morning Musume are one of the biggest Japanese female bands ever, with 50 Top 10 singles and over 21 million copies of their records sold! The clip should take you straight to the bit where a couple of the members are chatting about Cirque Du Freak, but just in case it doesn't, you can find it from the 9 minutes 10 seconds mark.CLICK HERE If you'd like to check out their songs, you can find lots of their videos over on YouTube. 






    We're still fairly fresh into 2018, so let's hope it's a good one for us all, and that we don't fall prey to a demon apocalypse like the one depicted in this drawing! Mind you, if we DO get swamped by demons, we can't complain too much if they're as cool-looking as this lot! The drawing is by Paul Harding, and it's the original line art that was used for the American hardback edition of Demon Apocalypse many years ago. Paul published it online, and I loved seeing the artwork in menacing black and white, without any text to distract from it. I hope you guys love it too.


    If you're looking for a Demonically delightful bargain on my Demonata series, the entire UK paperback set (all 10 books) is on sale on Lowplex for less than £20!! (The last time I checked it was just £17.49!) They ship worldwide -- shipping outside the UK usually adds a fair bit onto the price, but the overall cost still tends to end up coming in far less than you would pay if you bought all ten books anywhere else. CLICK HERE





    The Times Educational Supplement in the UK asked the following question on Twitter recently.


    TES: If you could teach one book, and one book only, for the rest of your career, what would it be?


    A teacher called Mr Whiteside was among those who responded, with:


    MR WHITESIDE: Zom-b by @darrenshan to my Year 7s. Sadly, never a more poignant tale for these right wing popularist times. B is an anti-hero to rival Heathcliff.


    I often talk about writers recylcing ideas and themes from just about everything they've ever read or seen, often subconsciously. I certainly wasn't thinking about Wuthering Heights when I wrote Zom-B, but I did read it for school many moons ago, so maybe Heathcliff WAS lurking somewhere in the depths of my brain when I was creating B Smith, and played a secret part in the birth of one of my edgiest central characters. And yeah, I agree with Mr Whiteside that, sadly, Zom-B has grown ever more relevant and poignant since I started it before the worrying rise of the far right in several countries. I wrote the books as a fantastical warning of what can happen if we don't take a stand against extremists, and allow them to trick and pressure us into bowing to their whims and dancing to their tunes, and unfortunately reality has caught up with and overtook me in the years it took to write and release the novels.







    I don't think I've mentioned before that my three Darren Dash books for adult readers are all available on Kindle Unlimited for those who've signed up to it -- meaning you can read the ebooks of all three of them for FREE! You can find links to the Kindle editions of the books in your local Amazon store below. If you prefer paperbacks, there are physical editions too, and the ebooks are lowly priced for those of you not with Kindle Unlimited. (If you don't have a Kindle reader, you can buy and read them by downloading the free Kindle APP to you PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone.)


    An Other Place (sci-f): http://mybook.to/anotherplaceebook “This is, by far, the best book of 2016, possibly the best book of this decade.” Kelly Smith Reviews.


    Sunburn (horror): http://mybook.to/sunburnebook "Like the Hostel films, they have a lot of set up and then shizzle hits the fan... and then hits it again for good measure!" Dark Readers.


    The Evil And The Pure (crime thriller): http://mybook.to/evilandpureebook "The book flaunts the grim panache of a London crime saga, and all the characters are engaging, no matter how despicable they are. Not for the faint of heart, but this novel’s character studies and ever shifting plot will excite fans of English noir." Kirkus -- a Recommended Read.





    After a break over the Christmas period, I've started adding my author notes for all of my books to my Facebook page. I'm drawing towards the end of The Demonata series -- I should add notes for the last few books in that series over the next couple of weeks, before moving ahead. You can scroll back through my Facebook posts to find the older notes, or you can find them all gathered together on one convenient page on my web site by CLICKING HERE.






    Before I started publishing my books for adults under the name of Darren Dash, I released a few under the name of Darren Shan. Lady Of The Shades was the last of those to see print -- it was my most commercial book on the adult front, a thriller with a ghost story element, or a ghost story with a thriller element. (You don't find out for sure until the end, and even then it's not 100% conclusive.) My publishers wanted more in that vein, but I felt drawn to explore alternative avenues, hence the start of my dance across genres under the Darren Dash handle. Anyway, the reason I bring this up is that the book recently picked up this very nice comment over on Twitter from a fan called Grant Miller:


    "This book is seriously sooooo good, hook is soooo good and the twists just get better and better. Love it @darrenshan @darrendash"


    While I plan to use the name of Darren Dash for all my adult work from this point onwards, I'm just as proud of and close to my earlier books, so I figured this would be a good time to bring it to your attention, in case it hasn't crept across your radar before. It's still in print in the UK, so you can ask your local bookseller to order a copy for you, or order through a site like Amazon UK, and although it was never released in the USA, you can pick up the UK edition through Amazon and probably other similar sites. (It was also translated and released in some other countries, such as Japan, Taiwan, Hungary, Germany, Greece.)


    To keep up to date with my upcoming releases for older readers, visit www.darrendashbooks.com





    If you're a teacher or librarian -- or a student hoping to inspire a teacher or librarian -- who's thinking of maybe trying to organise a virtual author event in 2018, I'd advise having a look at these tips from a teacher called Lucas Maxwell who has set up some very cool Twitter chats between authors and his students -- including me. Twitter chats are a really good way of tempting an author to interact with your school or library group, as they don't involve us having to travel or do very much -- and we're a lazy bunch for the most part!!! :-) I've done some Skype events over the years, and they're fun too, but they involve a bit more organisation and effort, and as an author I worry about the quality of the video feed, and how it's playing at the other end. A Twitter chat is a neat, hassle-free alternative that can bring an author into your classroom or library and hopefully really spark interest among your students. To find out what Lucas had to say about them, CLICK HERE






    Sometimes fans react to your characters in a way you don't anticipate as an author. Take Evra Von in Cirque Du Freak as an example. I liked Evra when I created him, and he played an important part in the storyline -- similar, in fact, to the role that Bill-E would later play in my Demonata books. But he's not one of the major players in the overall series. He's centre-stage in books 2 and 3, and has an important part to play in the latter stages of the story, but in the grand scheme of things he doesn't get that much actual page-time. I hoped readers would enjoy his scenes, but I never thought they'd take him to heart and champion him as one of their favourite characters.


    But they did! All these years later, I still get fans telling me that they loved Evra Von, and in some cases they produce drawings of him to prove it. Indeed, after Darren and Mr Crepsley, he's probably the character of mine who has been drawn by fans more than any other. (Lord Loss is up there too.) Which is lovely, don't get me wrong, just a bit... strange, as I never saw it coming.


    Anyway, above are two recent drawings of everybody's most beloved snakeboy. The first is by a fan from the Far East, I think, who based their version on the Evra that we saw in the movie. The second is by a fan called Ellie, and sticks more closely to the Evra as described in the books. Enjoy, Evra fans, enjoy!



    TOP 15


    A fan called Lily posted the following a couple of weeks ago, and I was delighted by her second choice of admired authors!! For those who don't know, Darren Dash is the name I now use when releasing books for adult readers. Three are on sale so far through Amazon stores worldwide either as paperbacks or low-cost ebooks, with a fourth to hopefully come around midway through 2018. To find out more about my books for older readers, visit www.darrendashbooks.com


    A fun activity for the New Year:
    Help promote authors among your friends!
    The Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. List fifteen authors that you admire and recommend their books for others to read.


    1. Rue Volley

    2. Darren Dash

    3. TL Travis

    4. Faith Marlow

    5. Terri Garey

    6. T.H. Morris

    7. Elizabeth Corrigan, Author

    8. E.M. Whittaker - Urban Fantasy & Paranormal Author

    9. SJ Davis

    10. A.Giacomi

    11. Stephen Kozeniewski - Author

    12. Elizabeth Montgomery

    13. S.L. PERRINE

    14. Jenn Nixon

    15. Tania Hagan Author







    Many fans and reviewers have tried to probe deeply inside me over the years, to find out what makes me tick. They shouldn't have bothered, as there's an app for that these days! My mother bought me a T-shirt for Christmas that allows people with smart phones to download an app that lets them "see inside me." Of course the images aren't of my actual insides, but they're still pretty cool -- I bet Lord Loss and Dan-Dan would get an extra special kick out of them -- "Ah, the memories," they would sigh.  Thanks, Mum!





    Two literary giants left this world behind for the redder pastures of Vampire Paradise last month. First I heard that Ursula K LeGuin had died. I haven't read a huge amount of her work yet, but I loved Earthsea Trilogy and it had an influence on the new Darren Shan series that I've been working on for the last few years.


    Then I found out that Jack Ketchum (real name Dallas Mayr) had also died. I was lucky enough to meet him last year at World Horror Con, where we were both guests. He was a cool writer, a fascinating raconteur, and a true gent. I'm still working my way through his back catalogue. Of those I've read, The Girl Next Door is outstanding -- very dark, extremely disturbing, but essential reading.


    Even in death may they both be triumphant.






    I checked the old Darren Shan messageboard on Christmas Day (a ghost town now, but it used to be buzzing back in the days before I moved to Facebook and Twitter, THE place for Shansters in the early noughties to congregate online) and found a post from a fan who was watching a show on YouTube about the subterranean terrors of the London Tombs, and spotted one of the zombie babies from my Zom-B series in one of the scenes. Think I'm joking?!? CLICK HERE and fast forward to the 9 minutes 13 seconds mark and think again!!!! :-)


    I actually had one of those zombie baby dolls at my wedding when I got married, as a centrepiece -- we perched it on a throne that happened to be in the hall where our dinner was being held. Happy memories!!!


    Of course, if you haven't read my Zom-B books, you won't know about my eerie yet loveable army of zombie babies, will you?!? My advice -- go track down copies ASAP. As many readers before you have discovered, Zom-B is a zombie series unlike any other, with all sorts of off-the-wall add-ons and twists that you won't find anywhere else!! To nab a set of the British paperbacks at an incredibly low price (around £20 for all 12 books!!), visit Lowplex by CLICKING HERE






    A journalist called Fergus writes for a newspaper called The Corkman, which is printed in Cork (hence the name!) in Ireland. It's a local newspaper, which focuses on stories that will be on interest to people in Cork. He was looking for something a bit different one day, struggling for inspiration, when he happened to have a look at my latest Facebook post, which was about my book Bec -- only for his story to drop nicely into his lap!! You can check out Fergus's piece in the attached photo.






    These are the sorts of shelves I like to find in book shops!! A fan sent me this photo of the Darren Shan section in Chamblin Bookmine, Jacksonville, Florida. If you live in the area, and are looking for a Darren Shan bargain, now you know where to go!


    Those of you who live outside of the States -- don't worry -- you can get your hands on a bargain too! Lowplex have the entire Saga Of Darren Shan series on sale for just a little over £20 for all 12 books! They ship worldwide, and although shipping outside of the UK will be expensive, the overall price should still work out very pleasingly. CLICK HERE



    IT'S A WRAP!



    And that's it for February. I went with a group of friends to the Marcus restaurant in London on a late Christmas lunch last month. Because of a lucky cancellation, we got bumped up to the chef's table, which meant we had our own private room overlooking the kitchens where the chefs were hard at work -- sweet! I've been busy editing my next Darren Dash book over the last few weeks, and it's looking on track for its middle-of-the-year release -- I'll be announcing more details about that one over the coming months. And now it's time to turn my attention (again!) to the first book of my next Darren Shan series -- it's taking a lot longer to knock into final shape than I had anticipated, but hopefully we'll be making headway with that one soon as well -- as soon as I have any news to report about it, you'll be able to read about it here first. I'll be back at the start of March with another roundup of all the Shan-related 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.