• Issue 230 - September 2019

    01 September 2019



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the September issue of the Shanville Monthly. Now that summer is behind us, I'll be putting the holidays to one side and focusing on work for the next few months. I've had a bit of a lazy summer, so it's time to make up for that. Let's start with a quick round-up of the latest Darren Shan news, including articles about my only (probably) events of 2019, Hungarian vending machines, the Cirque Du Freak movie streaming on Netflix UK, and a whole lot more. Oh, and there's a disco-dancing Mr Crepsley too. Think I'm joking?!? Read on and you'll find I never joke about disco!!!





    I had a lovely time at the Edinburgh Book Festival last month. It's the 20th year in a row that I've appeared there, which is quite a remarkable achievement, even is I do say so myself! I remember, many moons ago, when I'd been invited back a few times, thinking I might make it to 10 in a row, but doubting that would actually happen -- I assumed there'd be a year or two where either they wouldn't invite me, or I wouldn't be able to go because of a prior commitment, or a flight would get cancelled and I'd end up not being able to get there. But, to my delighted surprise, I made it to 10 without any mishaps, and then started wondering if perhaps 20 in a row might be feasible. If I'd been a betting man, I wouldn't have wagered even a pound on it, because it seemed so unlikely -- yet, as you can see from the photo below, I made it! To celebrate the 20th anniversary of my first appearance there, I did some old readings, focusing on my first three books, Cirque Du Freak, The Vampire's Assistant and Tunnels Of Blood. I did two events on the same day. I started with a school event, playing to a packed house in the main theatre -- 750 excited kids from various schools. School events at external venues like this can be tricky -- sometimes groups cancel at the last minute because of travel gremlins, or the kids aren't allowed to stay on afterwards to get books signed -- but this one went nice and smoothly, and I spent a very busy hour and a half signing books once I'd got done talking.



    After a short break, I returned in the evening for my public event. This was a smaller crowd, but pretty much everyone there was a hardcore Shanster. Some were seeing me in action for the first time, but others had come to events or signings on multiple occasions. Many were local, but a good number had come from far and wide, taking hours out of their day (or even longer) to make the trek to the Festival site. I did some old readings which went down a treat, even though I was a bit rusty and made a few mistakes, then spent almost two hours signing books and chatting with fans later, including one with the Twitter user name of Amity Lee, who you can see in the photo below -- ahe came dressed in honour of Mr Crepsley, she'd made an incredible Madam Octa, and she presented me with a beautiful piece of art -- but that didn't prevent her from getting strangled!!



    Rare events like these remind me of how much I miss the touring side of my job. I've spent most of the last few years off the road, for a number of reasons (between book series... wanting to spend time with my kids... feeling like it was the right time for a break, after a decade and a half of constant touring). I don't know if I'll ever tour as aggressively again as I did in the past, but hopefully I'll start getting out a bit more from next year, depending on what happens with the new series. For now, I'm just going to enjoy the memories of my most recent appearance at the EIBF. I hope that everyone who was there enjoyed the events even half as much as I did!






    I have a very strong fan base in Hungary, especially for my vampire series, and Cirque Du Freak was recently chosen to be released in a vending machine edition.


    "Vending machine edition?" you mutter. "What on Earth is that?!?"


    Well, it's exactly what it sounds like. In Hungary they now have vending machines for books, and they create special editions of the chosen books to fill the machines. I'm told that most of the books to date have tended to be older, "classic" books, which made it all the sweeter when Cirque Du Freak was chosen to be the latest installment -- it's clearly growing old gracefully!


    They had a launch party to announce the news when Cirque Du Freak was issued. I filmed a short video for it, which you can check out by CLICKING HERE.



    The launch looks like it was a LOT of fun -- I wish I could have been there! You can see a short video that was taken on the night by CLICKING HERE. And you can view loads of photos like the one above by CLICKING HERE.





    There was a very nice article over on the Courageous Nerd blog recently, looking at my career and how it has impacted on a budding young author's decision to chase their own writing dream. It's #4 in a series of Writers' Spotlights, and is definitely worth a quick look -- it won't take up too much of your day. CLICK HERE.


    A few follow-up articles were also published on the site, in which the blogger discusses how they would go about making a better TV or film adaptation of Cirque Du Freak, what actors might be suitable for certain roles, and more. To check out what they had to say, and to see if you agree or not, CLICK HERE.






    The Cirque Du Freak movie is now streaming on Netflix UK, for those fans in the UK and Ireland who want to spend a couple of hours with the cinematic equivalents of Darren Shan, Mr Crepsley, Steve Leopard and co. (It's also streaming in certain other countries, so if you have Netflix, have a quick look to see if it's available in your zone.) The movie is NOT faithful to the books and many fans despise it with a vengeance, but it did serve as a nice introduction to my world for many readers who were not familiar with my work, and on its own terms I think it’s a quirky, interesting little film. Anyway, if you want to make up your own mind about it, you know where to find it...


    When I posted that news on my Facebook page, it gained a lot of traction, and one fan started a petition to try and convince Netflix to adapt Cirque Du Freak for TV. There have been other petitions like this in the past, which I've shared, and I'm happy to share this one too -- if you'd like to lend it your support, CLICK HERE. It's unlikely that any petition like this will actually lead to anything -- but you never know. Behind the scenes, my team have been working for years on trying to get CDF rebooted, and things might at last be moving forwards on that front, though I can't say anything more than that right now. With our combined efforts, maybe we can all make something happen together... :-)






    There was a review of the first Zom-B book over on the Wonderoes blog recently, by a reader called Danielle, and it's one that really caught my eye, because it dwells on the racism elements of the book and characters, and how I explored them in the story. It was a very risky move, starting a major series by focusing on a character who isn't very likeable, who at their best is a racist enabler, and who at their worst is an actual racist. I hoped that readers would trust me enough to go on B's journey regardless, that they'd accept that I wouldn't be doing this unless there was a very good reason, and I wouldn't lumber them in the long term with a main character that they could only hate. Without giving too much away, B's story is one of a search for redemption, which asks the question -- is it possible to atone for sins of the very highest order?


    Being honest, a good number of readers found the racist elements a bit too much to stomach, and weren't prepared to travel with me beyond that first book. I believe we live in a world of greys, and I'm always fascinated with trying to get into the mindset of those who live towards the extreme edges of what the majority of us consider acceptable, moderate behaviour. Maybe I'm a blind-eyed optimist, but I think that where there is understanding and empathy, there is room for change, even among the most despicable of people. Maybe it's my Christian upbringing, or maybe it's just the amount of good, decent people I've met all around the world in the course of my travels, but I believe that most people who have done grievous wrongs DO have the capacity to change paths, to turn away from the darkness, to try and repent for their crimes. But that also requires US to give them the chance, and that can sometimes be the hardest part of any drive by a miscreant to right their wrongs. I understand why some readers were unprepared to give B the benefit of the doubt, and how they maybe felt uncomfortable at being asked to identify with her. But sometimes we have to step outside our comfort zone if we want to truly try and change this big, bad old world of ours, and while I'm genuinely sorry that Zom-B turned some readers away, I can't apologise, because I think it's a story that needed to be told, and that it raised issues that needed to be raised -- perhaps even more so now, in this world where the far right is thriving, than it was when I wrote the books.


    Anyway, it's an interesting, well-written review that I highly recommend checking out -- and the writer was very careful not to reveal any spoilers, so you can read it regardless of whether or not you have read the book. CLICK HERE.





    Do you think you could write a quick, one-minute summary of the entire Saga Of Darren Shan / Cirque Du Freak series?!? It's a tall ask, but one brave teenage reviewer decided to take on the challenge, on the web site Bookmarks And Bobby Pins. You can read her review by CLICKING HERE -- and if you fancy having a stab at writing a short summary yourself, feel free to share it with me. 




    A French blogger on the site Au Coin Du Fer recently posted a nice summary for the Cirque Du Freak manga series, all 12 volumes of which were released in France some years back. (The manga was originally published in Japan, but has been translated and released worldwide in lots of other countries, like the USA, UK, Taiwan, etc.) The piece is in French -- mais oui! -- but if you copy and paste the text into a service like Google Translate, you'll get an almost word-perfect translation. Prendre plaisir! CLICK HERE.






    I don't do mash-ups of my differing universes, despite the number of times that fans have remarked on how "cool" it would be to see Lord Loss team up with Mr Tiny, or Dervish take on the vampaneze, or Darren go out on a date with B Smith. My various series exist independently of one another, and for the most part that's the way I intend to keep it -- things can just get very messy otherwise, as we've seen over the years with the Marvel and DC universes -- sometimes (most times) it makes sense to quite while you're ahead.


    (That said, there WILL be a small bit of a crossover between my next Darren Dash book and Lady Of The Shades, but it's only the teeniest of crossovers, a brief scene that will make readers of Lady smile, but that won't make any difference to anyone who hasn't read it. I don't mind the occasional little Easter Egg like that.)


    However, I've no problem at all with fans mashing up my universes, whether it's in fan fiction or in drawings like this one sent to me by a young lady called Emma, which features Kernel Fleck from my Demonata series, and Darren Shan from Cirque Du Freak. I never read fan fic (it's just never appealed to me), but I love looking at fan art, and this one tickled my fancy big time. I hope it makes you guys chuckle as much as it made me giggle!





    The Times India recently published an article entitled Magical Books Like Harry Potter For Your Little One's Library. Not the catchiest of headers, I know, but at least it lets you know exactly what it's about!  The article lists ten books, old and new(ish) that might appeal to fans of the Harry Potter books, and one of my books is running proudly among the herd. To find out which one, and to see what else they recommend, CLICK HERE.






    I stumbled across the above meme online when I was writing about the Times India article, and I immediately knew I had to share it!  Of course I would never claim that my books are better than Harry Potter or any other book or series. The nice thing about being a reader is that you don't have to have one single favourite. It's not like supporting a sports team, where you see the other teams as the enemy. When I read a good book, I want to go on and read MORE good books, regardless of who they were written by. I've never seen writers as being in competition with one another. The more good books that are out there, the better for all of us, as that wide-ranging quality is what brings new readers to our world of literature and hopefully keeps them there, flitting from one book and author to another. While I find it very complimentary if a fan says to me that they only read my books, I also feel sorry for them, because I know there's so much else out there that would delight them too, and some of it might even touch them more than mine. Unlikely, to be sure, but hey, you never know unless you try!!! :  Oh, and HERE is the page where I found the meme.





    I've always been a fan of Top 5 and Top 10 lists, whether they're to do with books, films, bands, albums, etc -- it's interesting to see how people rate and rank things, and if nothing else, they provide us with some good recommendations of new material that might be worth checking out. Of course, the only thing in my view that's better than a Top list, is a Top list that features ME in it!!! �� I was very touched to see my work mentioned (very highly) in a recent Top 5 list over on The Book Geordie blog, especially as it was a list of Top 5 Favourite Childhood books of all time, and I think there are few things dearer in life to us book worms than favourite childhood books. To find out what other books made the grade, and where mine placed among them -- and, indeed, which specific work of mine was chosen -- CLICK HERE.






    A fan of the Cirque Du Freak manga called Pendex sent me this collage a while back, illustrating how intriguingly the characters of Darren and Evra Von had aged over the course of the series. The first row shows what they looked like in volume 1, when they were mere whipper-snappers of lads. The second row hails from volume 3, a few years later, when they were getting ready to deal with a crazed serial killer. And the third row captures them as men (in years if not in appearance in Darren's case) when their paths crossed again in volume 7. I know the Cirque Du Freak movie divided fans, but I've met very few who have had anything but unreserved praise for the manga adaptation. Takahiro Arai and his team stayed very faithful to the books, even while putting their own spin on things that gave it a life and feel all of its own, and these few pictures show the amount of thought they put in to making sure that even the smallest of details rang true throughout. If you haven't yet read the manga, I recommend them most highly -- they appeared in Japan originally, but all 12 voumes have been translated and released in the USA, UK, Taiwan and many more countries. If your local bookseller can't order them for you online, track them down online -- they're worth the effort!






    I'm a huge fan of Billy Wilder, the movie writer and director who made such classics as Sunset Blvd, Stalag 17, and Some Like It Hot. I only recently saw a photo of his headstone, and I love it! As fans of his films will know, "Nobody's perfect" is the famous and perfectly fitting final line of Some Like It Hot. The reason I'm sharing this is because I've been working hard recently on the latest edit of my next Darren Dash book for adults, and as I mentioned here before, it's a darkly tongue-in-cheek noir story that has been inspired in part by the classic film noirs that Wilder made (such as Double Indemnity), and whose title has been directly inspired by Some Like It Hot. I'm still not revealing it, but we're getting closer to the point where I will be able to, There's still a small chance that the book will see the light of day before the end of the year, although it's far more likely that we're looking at a 2020 release date. I'd push it out quicker if I could, but, hey... nobody's perfect!!!! For info about my other Darren Dash books, click here: www.darrendashbooks.com



    IT'S A WRAP!



    And that's it for September. The hilarious drawing of Mr Crepsley, abover, was sent to me by a fan with the user name of cirquedufrick. I had been talking in a post about Mr Crepsley and what he might have been up to in the 1970s -- it was a period that wasn't covered in Brothers To The Death, the fourth and final book of The Saga Of Larten Crepsley. I jokingly said that he loved flares and disco, and this picture was cirquedufrick's response. Once I'm done dancing beneath a disco ball, I'll be back here at the start of October with a roundup of all the latest news and updates. Until then, all my bloody 1970s best, 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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