• Issue 226 - May 2019

    01 May 2019



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the May issue of the Shanville Monthly. I had great fun at the start of last month, when I caught up huge numbers of fans with an April Fool's joke that made them think I was retiring to run a nursery school -- as if! You can read the post near the end of this newsletter, as long as you answer the following question honestly -- did I catch you out?!? All the other Darren Shan and Darren Dash news and updates from the past 30 days are gathered here too, for those who missed them on my blog and Facebook.






    I was pleased when I got an email a few weeks back notifying me that one of my books had been chosen for a Wiki article about YA horror books. But when I clicked through, I was less pleased to note that the book they'd chosen was City Of The Snakes, the third book of my The City trilogy -- which were written and published for adults. You can check out the list by CLICKING HERE.


    I'm very proud of my City books, and they have a strong cult following among my older fans, but I certainly wouldn't class them as YA books. I mean, sure, they'd be fine for readers at the older end of that spectrum, e.g. 17 or 18 years old, but I wouldn't really recommend them for a 13 or 14 year old. (Although I do appreciate that every reader is unique, and I've no problem with children who read ahead of their normal age range -- I was big into Stephen King and other horror writers for adults when I was 13 or 14, so it would be hypocritical of me to tut at others who have followed in my reading footsteps.)


    I never wanted to publish for children/teens and adults under the same name. I argued strongly with my publishers not to release my adult fiction under the Darren Shan brand (for a while they compromised by releasing them under the D B Shan name), but they convinced me to let them do it, promising that my books for older readers would never wind up in the children's or YA sections in book shops and libraries, or feature on lists like this one. Time has proven me right and them wrong, which is why these days I release my books for adults under the name of Darren Dash. I don't try to hide my other pseudonym -- I'm happy to mention the Dash books on my Darren Shan web site and in Facebook posts -- but I think it's much clearer this way, i.e. anything that comes out under the Darren Dash name is intended for grown-up readers. The City trilogy and Lady of the Shades retain the Darren Shan name on their covers, but my plan is for everything for adults from The Evil And The Pure onwards to come out under the Dash name.


    If you're of a suitable age and are interested in checking out my latest work for adults, you can learn more about them over on www.darrendashbooks.com I love it when my older fans enjoy my non-YA work -- just don't go mixing them up with my Darren Shan novels and buying them for your favourite 12 year old!!!





    I enjoyed THIS ARTICLE over on the Bustle website -- 20 Nostalgic Book Series That Seriously Need To Be Made (Or Re-Made) Into TV Shows. The writer included one of my series, but it might not be the one that most of you would imagine...


    Oh, and if any of you are wondering, after you've read the piece, if the series of mine in question is anywhere near being adapted, the answer, sadly, is no. I hope it will be one day, for either TV or as a movie, but it will take a brave producer to take THIS twisted little monster on!!! 






    One of my German fans was very excited to spot the Cirque Du Freak movie streaming on Netflix in Germany. I hope that excitement held through their viewing of the film, though I know there's a good chance that it might not!  The CDF movie is streaming in quite a lot of countries, I think, including the USA. In the UK it used to be on Sky -- I'm not sure if it still pops up there, or if it's now available on Netflix -- to be honest, I'm more of a DVD man -- these new-fangled technologies bewilder me... ��






    We're on a bit of a Germanic trend here... My book, Vampire Mountain, was recently reviewed on a German site, Books And Phobia. It's a very nice review, and I especially liked the short, apt summation at the end, which went:


    "Significantly quieter than its predecessor, but no less thrilling, the 4th volume of the Darren Shan series managed to fully immerse me in its world. In addition, many secrets were revealed that more than surprised. I hope it goes on like this."


    If you'd like to read the full interview, CLICK HERE, then (unless you speak German) copy and paste the text into Google Translate or some similar online translator for a pretty accurate translation.






    There are some dedicated Shansters in Year 6 of Elmhurst Primary School, and they sent me a few photos recently to prove how literally into my books they are. The first picture looked a bit spooky to me, with all the faces covered and everyone standing in the same pose -- it put me in mind of the children in an old sci-fi horror film called Village Of The Damned. (If you've never seen it, I strongly recommend it, but make sure you catch the 1960 original, not the 1990s remake.) But the second photo beautifully captures the joy that a good book can bring -- THIS is why we read, for the excitement, the thrills, and the sheer positive love that an engaging story can stir within us -- yes, even if it's a horrifying story about vampires, zombies or demons. Reading time in schools is vitally important, and it's something I think we need more of, but we should never lose sight of the key fact that children should be taught that reading is FUN. If children are encourage to read for entertainment, as these students are doing, they'll make improvements right the way across the educational board. But the fun must come first.





    I was writing about the Kallin -- characters from my Demonata series -- in a blog post last month. I did a quick Google search on them, just to make absolutely sure that I was right in assuming that they only featured in Demon Thief. It's been a long time, and I wondered if I might have used them again later in the story line -- back in the day, I'd toyed with the idea of having them return, and I was very sure that I hadn't followed through with that idea, but, y'know, it's always better to be safe than sorry... Anyway, while I was searching, I came across this Wikepedia page, which lists most of the named characters and demons from the Demonata. It even includes a Grady family tree, which would have been very useful for me when I was writing the series!  WARNING -- the page contains spoilers galore, so you shouldn't read it unless you've read all of the series, but for those familiar with my demonic symphony, it should stir some fond old memories and remind you of just how twisted and remarkable a ride the journey was. I don't have a favourite series that I've written, but The Demonata is the one I'm proudest of, because it was so damn ambitious and so damn tricky to pull off!



    GO ON, GO ON, GO ON!

    A fan called Eytan recently posted a photo of his Zom-B collection. He has the American hardcovers, which look lovely when stacked together neatly, but what especially caught my eye was the cover of Zom-B Circus on his tablet. (It's a short novel that I wrote as an addition to my Zom-B series, and is only available as a low-cost ebook.) I know a lot of readers love the physicality of printed books, and don't like to dabble with ebooks, partly (sometimes largely) because their collection can't be showcased the same way as paperbacks and hardbacks. And, hey, I get that too -- I'm a big collector, with all my books stacked alphabetically, and a special section for my first editions and signed copies. But, y'know, a book can look cool on a tablet, computer screen or e-Reader too, and the two universes -- the physical and the virtual -- CAN exist together harmoniously, as Eytan's photo proves.


    I still read physical books, but I read a lot of books on Kindle these days too. I find there are pros and cons to both. Physical books certainly have a charm about them that you just can't reproduce digitally, but I love the ease of downloading an ebook, the fact that you don't have to worry about finding space to store your collection (a genuine concern for any true bookworm in the old days), and also that it affords access to books that might no longer be available in any other format, if they ever were in the first place -- such as Zom-B Circus. (My British publishers did print off a limited run as a free giveaway with SFX magazine, but it was never published for sale.)


    So, if you're still sitting on the ebook fence, as I once was, nervous about stepping foot on the other side for a bit of virtual grazing... go on, give it a go, you might be surprised by how much you like it.





    Vlogger JJ Goodman set himself the task of reviewing all ten books in my Demonata series in March -- he proclaimed it to be Demonata Month! Did he succeed in his goal, or did he come up short at the very end? More importantly, what did he think about the books?!? To find out the answers, visit JJ's YouTube page by CLICKING HERE -- and make sure you check out at least a few of his lengthy, fun reviews while you're there.






    A fan of my books called Ryan was reading one of his textbooks in school recently and was nicely surprised to spot a familiar cover attached to one of the articles... The book was called The Publishing Business, and I'm including a photo of its cover -- both photos were kindly supplied by Ryan. For those who might be unaware, all 12 volumes of The Saga Of Darren Shan/Cirque Du Freak series were adapted into a manga edition. It was originally released in Japan, then translated and released in a variety of countries around the world, including the UK and USA. All 12 graphic novels are still available, though you might have to go to an online supplier like Amazon or Abebooks or Alibris to track them all down.



    D.E.A.R. ME!



    It was national D.E.A.R. day in many countries across the world on April 12th -- D.E.A.R. stands for Drop Everything And Read. At midday local time, many teachers and students -- along with anyone else who wanted to get involved -- put all other considerations aside for half an hour or thereabouts, to pick up a book and read. It's a cool little initiative, and while it would be great to have a worldwide D.E.A.R. day every week, we'll settle for once a year if we have to, safe in the knowledge that it will generate at least SOME new readers. (Some schools do it every day for a week.)


    I absolutely LOVE how the staff and students in CBS St James in Ireland prepared for D.E.A.R. First, they transformed their staircase into a bookcase, as you can see in the first two photos. (The eagle-eyed among you might spot a satisfyingly freaky tome close to the top step!) They then prepared baskets full of books that matched the titles on the stairs, and distributed these among themselves at 12 noon ont he 12th -- and no doubt the only sound for the next thirty minutes was the sound of turning pages. (And maybe some gasping and squealing from those who were reading Cirque Du Freak...)


    If YOU have some free time on April 12th next year when the clock strikes 12, you too can become part of D.E.A.R. -- just pick up a book and read. For a bit more info about it, and how it got started, CLICK HERE.





    There was a lovely mention for my first published novel for adults, Procession of the Dead, over on a YouTube post recently, by vlogger Samuel Davis. He posted a video in which he talks about five books that changed his life -- called, appropriately enough, 5 Books That Changed My Life! He chats about how he grew up on The Saga Of Darren Shan, but if he had to pick just one book, it would be Procession. The language gets a bit salty in places (F bombs get dropped!) but Samuel has a very amusing reviewing style, so I'd highly recommend this for fans who aren't offended by the occasional swear word. (And, to be fair, if you're old enough to have read Procession Of The Dead, you'll have encountered plenty of F bombs within its pages already.) CLICK HERE for the vlog -- the section focusing on Procession kicks in just after the 4 and a half minutes mark.






    I chanced upon a couple of odd photos over on Twitter early last month -- birthday drawings of Mr Crepsley! I wasn't quite sure if this is a random thing -- if one fan decided to do a fun birthday themed drawing, which was seen by another fan who then did their own version -- or if it was a Shandom thing, i.e. if a group of fans came together and chose a certain date in April as the grumpy vampire's day of birth. I posted the pictures on Facebook and asked if anyone could enlighten me -- a fan called Reiko replied and reminded me of an old Twitter post of mine from 2016, in which I responded to a quesiton about Mr Crepsley's birth date by saying I didn't know, but that "Vancha assured me with a straight face that Mr C was born on April 1st..." It was meant as a joke -- April 1st being April Fool's Day -- but I'm tickled pink that some fans took it as canon -- and, hey, for all I know, maybe Vancha WAS telling the truth... :-) :-) :-)


    The first drawing is by a fan with the user name of MikeYoshi. I wasn't able to decipher the second artist's name, as it was in Japanese.






    There was a lovely new reader's review for Midsummer's Bottom (my most recent novel for adult readers, released under the name of Darren Dash) by a fan called Jordan over on the Amazon UK site recently. I don't normally flag up fan reviews, but this was a lengthy one, which must have taken a lot of time and effort to compose, so I felt it was worthy of being highlighted here. Some of the remarks were:


    "...it's not like most of the other work Darren Shan/Dash has put out but I'm glad to say it is very funny there were several moments where I actually burst out laughing while reading..."


    "Taking a risk to write something so completely different from all his other work was a huge gamble but it absolutely paid off as this book is fantastic..."


    "At the start I didn't really like the characters because they all seemed to have unlikeable traits, but... as you read on you really do get attached to them and you're really rooting for the best to happen to them... when you get to know their personalities and see how funny and likeable they actually are..."


    "This book is as much as a comedy as it is a drama and I'm glad to say that the execution of both of these genre's was handled spectacularly..."


    I love it when one of my stories connects with readers so deeply -- and I love it even more when they take the time to let me know by emailing me, or better still, let others know by writing a review like this. I'm giving Jordan a big virtual High Five, and I don't even mind that he got the name of the main character wrong while posting the review!!!   


    You can check out Jordan's full review for the book (along with lots of others) by CLICKING HERE.






    I like to post an April Fool's joke every now and then -- I don't do it every year, only when I a) remember, and b) think I can really pull it off a trick people. This year I decided to use the birth of my newborn daughter as ruse to make fans think I was retiring -- and it worked a treat -- I caught loads of people out!! In fact, it worked too well in at least one case, when a fan didn't read all the way to the end, and missed out the crucial fact that this was only a wind-up!! Anyway, here's what I posted on April 1st -- watch out next year, in case I go for you again!!!


    I've been giving the future a lot of thought over the last few months, as I prepared for the arrival of our baby daughter, Gaia. Writing has been very important to me for a long, long time, but babies have come to mean even more to me. It will sound strange, but as much as I love writing, I love changing nappies and burping babies even more. The more time I can spend around babies, the better. I don't mind the screaming and crying -- it's music to my ears.


    Now that Gaia has come, I think it's the perfect time for a career change. So, while I know it's going to disappoint a lot of my fans, I'm going to be stepping back from the life of an author to care for Gaia and open a creche. That will allow me to spend even more time with her, and hopefully with lots of other babies too. It's an odd career move, I know, but in this life you have to chase your dreams, no matter how weird they might be, no matter what people think of you.


    So, from today, I am a writer no more, but a child carer. I'll be posting details of the creche here once it's up and running -- maybe some of you living in the Limerick area will be interested in bringing along your own wee ones over the coming years -- I promise I'll take good care of them! I plan to keep this page going, only instead of posts about my books (of which there will be no more) and horrific, freaky stuff, I'll be posting pictures like the two below, of me with Gaia and my other little wards, along with tips about how best to wipe soft little bums, the best angles to use when bottle feeding, and so on.


    I know it's going to be different. I know it's not going to be to every Shanster's liking. But, hey, it's a brave new world, so why not give it a go and embrace the change along with me? I mean, I've published fifty gory, blood-soaked books. That's more then enough, isn't it? Time to close the cover on this chapter of our lives and move on.


    The end.


    Oh, except for one last thing...




    APRIL FOOL!!!!!



    IT'S A WRAP!


    And that's it for May. If you don't like waiting for your Shan news fix, I post pretty much every day on Facebook and on my web site's blog, which I've started doing again after a long absence. (I kind of forgot it was there, to be honest!) A lot of the stuff doesn't get posted here, as it's not "news" per se, but it includes lots of stuff that will surely be of interest to most of you, such a s fan art, Shsn-inspired tattoos, my thoughts on movies and books, etc. So, y'know, feel free to go have a look and follow me if you want to be kept fully in the freaky loop. Either way, I'll be back here at the start of June with a roundup of all the latest 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.





    If you received an email with a link to this issue of the Shanville Monthly (or other updates on my site) it's because at some point in the past you subscribed to get updates from me. I don't share your details with any third parties, and do not hold them on any independent device -- everything on the subscription front is done through Google Feedburner, and you can read about their privacy policy by CLICKING HERE. (I might change to a different provider in the future -- if so, you will have the choice to opt in or opt out as you see fit.) If you're happy to continue receiving emails from me, you don't need to do anything, and you will continue to be sent updates whenever a new issue of the Shanville Monthly goes live. If, at any point, you wish to unsubscribe, there will always be an Unsubscribe link in any email notification that you receive from me, and you can simply click on that to have yourself removed from my mailing list.