• Issue 221 - December 2018

    01 December 2018



    Ho-ho-ho-hi everyone, and welcome to the Christmas issue of the Shanville Monthly! December is usually a quiet month in the publishing world, and I've had a quiet couple of years on the publishing front, but nevertheless this is a full-to-the-brim issue of the Shanville Monthly, with plenty to report on, including helpful tips for Christmas presents... a very special Christmas competition... a teaser for a pre-Christmas sale on one of my books for adults, and lots more. But first, here's news of a regular annual visitor to the Darren Shan world...





    It's that time of year again, when I resurrect my Shanta Claus short story for a week or so on my web site. For those unfamiliar with it... Shanta Claus is an ever-evolving story that I first released back in 2000 or 20001, to link in with Tunnels of Blood. Since then it's grown to include references to (and characters from) almost all of my books -- it's the only place in the Darren Shan universe where my various series interconnect, albeit in a very tongue-in-cheek manner. It's a light-hearted tale in which we follow Father Christmas around the globe (and beyond) and watch as he crosses paths with a large number of characters from my novels. It will only be online for a week or so, before I take it down again, so don't miss it! You'll be able to find the link (as well as one to a Twas The Night Before Christmas spoof that I wrote a while back) by CLICKING HERE the week of the 17th of December. Enjoy!






    If you're thinking of getting some Darren Shan books as Christmas presents for someone this year (or, indeed, if you'd like to be given some of them!) you probably won't find a cheaper and easier way of ordering them than through Lowplex, who offer sets of all my YA series at incredible bargain prices -- they're based in the UK, but ship worldwide.


    The Saga Of Darren Shan is usually about £19.49 for all 12 books. CLICK HERE


    All 10 of The Demonata books will probably set you back a slight bit more, £23.99 or thereabouts, CLICK HERE


    You can normally get an even better price if you buy both The Saga Of Darren Shan and The Demonata -- I've seen them sell for just £33.99CLICK HERE


    Want to find out what Larten Crepsley's life was like before he met Darren? The 4 book Saga about his early centuries will cost you in the region £10.99CLICK HERE


    Finally, you can normally get the entire Zom-B set -- 12 books -- for around £17.99CLICK HERE


    There's a small charge for shipping in the UK, but if you order over £30 worth of books, it's absolutely free. Lowplex ship worldwide, and while shipping WILL set you back more if you live outside the UK, their rates are pretty reasonable and the overall price will still work out quite attractively. Amazon also sell these sets in other countries, so my advice if you live outside the UK is to price them up on both Lowplex and Amazon, including shipping on both, to see which works out better for you. Happy shopping, bargain hunters!!





    I never read Goosebumps when I was a child, for the simple reason that they didn't exist at that point in time. But the Goosebumps books DID exert an influence on my career as a children's author. I've often told the story of how the idea for Cirque Du Freak came to me, but for those unfamiliar with it, here we go again...


    I was sitting in a car, babysitting one of my cousins, who was asleep in the back while his mother was off shopping. I normally took a book along with me to read in quiet moments like those, but I forgot to bring one with me that day. Looking around the car, I found a copy of a Goosebumps book and flicked through it, reading odd bits and pieces. I was aware of the Goosebumps phenomenon by that stage, but this was my first time actually reading any part of one of them.


    I noted two things as I flicked. One was that I would have loved a series like this when I was a child -- I have no doubt that I would have devoured them and been a big collector. But as an adult I was rather critical -- from what I was reading, every chapter ended with a little scary cliffhanger, which was then laughed away at the start of the next chapter -- e.g. a character saw what looked like a ghost, which turned out to be a sheet hanging up -- stuff like that.


    As I sat there I thought what I would have loved even more as a child was something that was as easy to read as Goosebumps, packed with shocks and scares, but which was a good bit darker, that didn't pull its punches, but rolled with them.


    Then I had an idea of a boy meeting a vampire at a circus, and a few days later I was off and writing the first few pages of a book that I had decided to call Cirque Du Freak.


    The reason I'm bringing this up now? Because of THIS ARTICLE about books to read for children who have enjoyed Goosebumps but are now outgrowing them. There are lots of good ideas for books that those children can move on to, that will hopefully help them keep reading -- and to my delight, one of those books is about a couple of boys who go to a very unusual freak show when it comes to town...






    My older fans might want to check out this interesting, lengthy new review for my last Darren Shan book for adult readers, Lady Of The Shades. CLICK HERE.
    I still write and release books for the adult market, but these days I do so under the name of Darren Dash, to clearly differentiate them from my YA work. If you'd like to learn more about those books, pay a visit to www.darrendashbooks.com





    I often get asked by fans who my favourite characters are from my books. There are the obvious stand-outs, like Mr Crepsley, Dervish and, of course, Darren Shan! But I often say that the villains are usually the most fun to write. I'm seldom as happy as a writer than when I'm writing a scene where a Steve Leopard or Lord Loss is cutting loose, destroying all around them with a mad, evil glint in their eyes. Of all my villains, the loathsome Dan-Dan in my Zom-B books is maybe the one I had the most wicked fun writing about, which is why I especially enjoyed this reader's take on the despicable child-killer. It comes from a fan called Sean McBride, who recently posted a review on Goodreads of Zom-B Gladiator, the book which marked Dan-Dan's first appearance. CLICK HERE.






    A fan called Heather sent me a couple of photos of one of the walls in her home, and when you cast your eyes over them, I think it will quickly become apparent why she felt the need to share them with me, and why I felt the need to share them with you. The images are based on the characters as depicted in the Cirque Du Freak manga -- all 12 books were adapted and are on sale in Japan, the USA, the UK, Canada, Taiwan, China and lots more countries. I VERY highly recommend them -- they're almost as cool as Heather's wall!





    THIS REVIEW is an interesting new review by a viewer called Logan of the Cirque Du Freak movie, from someone who enjoyed it enough to raise his head above the parapet and admit that he enjoyed it, even though he knows he's going against the popular grain.


    Actually, in truth, Logan's opinion ISN'T a minority opinion. There's no doubting the fact that the CDF film was a financial flop -- it didn't reach a huge audience, and didn't come close to making its money back -- that's why there were never any sequels. (Though I remain hopeful that it will get rebooted one day.) But in terms of critical response, it fared nowhere near as poorly as a lot of people believe. I read every review of the film that I could find when it was released. I'm quite OCD in that way when it comes to my work -- I like to read every review of my books that I can, and even though I had nothing to do with the making of the film, I was curious to get as true and broad a gauge of the viewing public's opinion of it as I could. I read more than 120 reviews, and they broke down pretty neatly into even thirds. One third of reviewers gave it the thumbs down (although many of those dismissed it mainly on the grounds that they saw it as a Twilight cash-in, which of course it wasn't, since it had been in the works since long before those books or films came out). A third were neutral -- it had flaws, to be sure, but good things too in their opinion. And a third gave it a clear thumbs up.


    As the old cliche goes, history is written by the winners, and sometimes it doesn't paint an entirely accurate story. Logan's 7/10 isn't too far off the mark of where most critics rated it back in 2009 -- 6/10 would probably be even more accurate, but yeah, although many fans of my books dislike it for obvious reasons, two-thirds of movie critics at the time (people who virtually all were unfamiliar with my novels, who came to it with no preconceptions) ranked it from fair to good.






    What's this -- a Lego Darren Shan set?!? Well... yes and no. Sadly, mostly no. I found this on a site called Brickipedia, where fans recreate characters and scenes from their favourite books, using Lego pieces. These aren't official, and will never be on sale, but they tickled my fancy and I thought you guys might be interested in having a look too -- just think of them as fan art in 3D. When you click on the link, ignore the links for the books, but scroll down to Sets and Minifigures. There aren't many, so it won't take you long to have a look at them all. CLICK HERE.




    I enjoyed THIS REVIEW by a reader over on Goodreads of my novel Zom-B Baby. What caught my eye was his comment about the parallel with Night Of The Living Dead, and how both that film and this series serve as social commentary as well as grisly horror stories.


    The first two Living Dead films were definitely inspirational in driving me in the direction I took with my Zom-B books. On the one hand I wanted to tell a twist-packed, horrific, fast-paced action series. On the other I wanted to raise a warning flag about the dangers we face if we put our trust in the hands of fascists, xenophobes, racists and fearmongers, and give them them power to decide our fates. That seemed like an important thing to point out in the mid-noughties, when I was starting the series. Sadly it's become more relevant than ever with the rise of truth-defying, rights-denying, far-right zealots in a number of countries across the globe -- headed, in a move that would have been hard to predict ten or twelve years ago, by the global super-power in North America that once declared itself to be the bastion of freedom, equal rights and tolerance for all.


    If you read my Zom-B books for the first time today, you'll probably find it hard to believe that they weren't directly written in response to what's been happening in the UK, USA and certain other countries over the last few years -- but, sadly, the warning signs were there long before Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and their ilk ever hit the scene, and people just didn't pay enough attention to them. That's what's so galling about the situation we've found ourselves in. It could have been so easily avoided. Maybe we just needed a few more zombie babies prancing about the White House and the Houses Of Parliament back in the day...






    This was posted on Twitter a while back, by a fan called Steph. The "Mr Crepsley is illiterate" reveal in my Cirque Du Freak books was one of the smaller shocks of that series, but one that I felt worked especially well and caught readers completely off-guard. This reminded me of when I managed to successfully and slyly pull the rug out from under everybody's feet, so it made me chuckle, and I hope it tickles your funny bone too.





    I'm guessing most of the people reading the Shanville Monthly have read at least some of my Saga Of Darren Shan (AKA Cirque Du Freak series) books. But just in case you haven't, HERE is a link to a page on the Jack And Jill Of All Trades site, listing five good reasons why you should consider reading them. (And one good reason, in their opinion, why you should steer clear of the film adaptation!)






    On the Darren Dash front, I ran Halloween Sunburn ebook sale, which went far better than I had anticipated. It made the Top 100 Free Books on the Amazon charts in the USA, Canada, UK and Australia, and in the Free Horror Books charts it got to #2 in Canada, #3 in the USA, #4 in the UK and #7 in Australia. (There's a chance it might have charted even higher -- I kept a close eye on proceedings over the 48 hours of the sale, but it wasn't possible to check it every hour of the day and night.) I wasn't anticipating getting anywhere near those positions -- it's very hard to market a book successfully and make a lot of people aware of it, even when you're giving it away for free -- so I was well chuffed!


    The ebook of Sunburn is now back to its full normal price, but like all of my Darren Dash books, that's still very low -- just $2.99 in the USA, £1.99 in the UK, and a similar price in other Amazon stores worldwide. There are paperback editions as well, and although those are a good bit more expensive because of the printing and shipping costs involved, I do keep them as low as I feasibly can. For more info about my Darren Dash books for adults, and convenient buying links for the ebooks and paperbacks, visit: http://www.darrendashbooks.com/


    I plan to run another Darren Dash sale a few days before Christmas, on the winter solstice (i.e. midwinter's day, which should give you a pretty good clue as to which book will be going on sale!) so make sure your eye on my Facebook and Twitter feeds around the 21st...






    To celebrate Christmas, I'm running a competition and offering up a unique prize to two lucky winners -- a signed mouse mat. But these aren't mass-produced mouse mats -- each is a one-off that I had made for myself, and I have used both of them personally on a daily basis.

    The first prize features the original cover of my Darren Dash horror novel, Sunburn. I got it before the book was published in May 2015, and used it for around a year and a half.

    The second prize features the cover of my Darren Dash sci-fi novel, An Other Place. I got that back in late 2016 as a replacement for the Sunburn mat, and again used it for about a year a half.

    I used both of these mats every day that I was working or relaxing in my office at home, when I was writing, replying to emails, surfing the web, etc. Each is ingrained with countless cells of mine, from my palm and fingers, so who knows, as science advances, maybe the winners can use these to clone their very own Darren Shan one day in the future!

    I've been holding these back for a special occasion, and what better time can there be than Christmas?!? I have signed them with both my pseudonyms (Darren Dash AND Darren Shan) and dated them Xmas 2018. These are truly singular items, impossible to duplicate or replace, so take good care of them if you end up being one of the winners.


    1) Answer this question: "What major holiday is celebrated worldwide on December 25th?"


    2 Send your entry to: [email protected]


    3) Put your NAME in the SUBJECT BOX when you send your e-mail. Make sure you INCLUDE YOUR FULL POSTAL ADDRESS in the body of the e-mail, as well as the answer, so that I can easily send your prize to you if you win. Also, if you prefer one of the mats to the other, please state your preference -- I can't guarantee that you'll get that mat if you win, but I'll do my best.


    (4) Closing date is 11.59pm, Pacific Standard Time, Thursday, December 6th, 2018. (07.59am Friday 7th, UK time.)


    (5) This competition is open to fans 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 Friday, December 7th, 2018. 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 December -- and 2018. As I said as the start of this newsletter, I know I've had a quiet couple of years, publishing-wise. The Darren Dash books have been trundling along nicely, and hopefully we'll get to see another one of those next year, but it's been very quiet on the Darren Shan front, at least on the public face of things -- behind the scenes I've actually been beavering away on a number of different projects. Hopefully I can finally get my new Shan series up and running in 2019 -- although I can't make any guarantees, and it's by no means improbable that we'll have to wait unitl 2020 -- and if things work out sweetly on other fronts, I might have one, two or even three big pieces of exciting news to share with you over the coming twelve months. So enjoy the lull, because once it breaks, we might all be in for a busy few years ahead... I'll see you back here at the start of January for the first Shanville Monthly of 2019. Until then, I hope you all have a bloody brilliant Chirstmas and New Year's! Darren Shan. x x x



    Follow Darren Shan on Facebook and Twitter. He also has a (very rarely updated!) YouTube page.





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