• Issue 231 - October 2019

    01 October 2019



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the October issue of the Shanville Monthly. I always get excited when October comes around, because the countdown to my favourite holiday of the year kicks in -- I'm talking, of course, about Halloween! I'll probably be out trick or treating with my children this year, as well as handing out lots of treats to the neighbourhood kids when they come knocking on my door -- it promises to be a busy night. But before that, there's the small issue of the October issue of the Shanville Monthly to deal with. It's quite a big one this month, with a few more items than usual, including news of two special ten year anniversaries, and a competition to tie with one of those. But let's start off with something that's a bit of a political rarity these days -- positive news from Iran!!!






    Iran has been a problem for me for many, many years. I've no political axe to grind, and absolutely nothing bad to say about Iranians in general. It's the publishers.


    I think almost all of my books have been published in Iran -- but they've all been published illegally. Despite what any of the Iranian publishers might say -- and some of them have lied blatantly when fans have questioned them about this matter, saying they have struck a deal with me, or that they were unable to contact my agent, or that I was looking for crazy money to sign over the rights -- they have stolen my work, published it without my authorisation, and paid me nothing. They have been literal (and literary) thieves and liars, which is why I was never able to officially recognise the various Iranian editions that have been released over the years, or feature them on my web site. Until now.


    Proving to my delight that leopards CAN change their spots, a couple of Iranian publishers engaged in a legitimate bidding war last year for the right to legally publish my Zom-B books. At the end of the day, a company called VIDA won the battle, and the first two books were released a while back. (Indeed, more may have come out since then -- I'm not certain.) I had to wait to make the offiicial announcement, until the contracts have been exchanged and the first payment made, but now all that has happened, so at long, long last I am thrilled to be able give an Iranian publisher my official seal of approval and welcome Iran to the lengthy list of countries where my work has been published.


    This is the link to the Vida site: http://www.vidapub.com/


    And this is the page on my web site where I list every country where my books are offiicially available, along with cover images of all of my books that are on sale in each country: https://www.darrenshan.com/covers/


    Welcome to the team, Iran. I am truly ecstatic -- and relieved -- to finally have you all aboard! 





    Italian reviewer Frankie has been working their way steadily through my Saga Of Darren Shan / Cirque Du Freak series, posting a review for each book. Alas, all good things must come to an end, and Frankie posted their final review, of book 12, Sons Of Destiny, last month. Frankie starts the review by saying: "I'm still extremely shocked. I don't know how much sense this review will make..."


    That was a worrying start for me, but then Frankie went on to note just a few lines later: "This last book, I think, was one of the best I read this year." And I was able to relax after that and enjoy the review! 


    You can enjoy Frankie's review too, by CLICKING HERE -- there are also links on the page for her reviews for the other 11 books. If you don't speak Italian, don't worry, you can simply copy and paste the text into something like Google Translate for a pretty much word-perfect translation.






    It's been ten years since this demonic little baby hit book shelves for the first time, bringing my ten book Demonata series to a furious, bloody, packed-full-of-surprises end. The official release date in the UK was October 1st, 2009. Hard to believe a decade has passed -- it seems like only three or four years to me. I don't have a favourite series -- when you spend so much time working on a long series, you get very close to it, and both love it and hate it -- love it for the sense of satisfaction it brings to work on something so mega and see all the pieces finally fall into place -- hate it for all the time and effort it requires, and all those days when you can't see a way forward and think it's going to crash and burn around you. Having said that, The Demonata is the series that I'm proudest of, because it pushed me way out of my comfort zone, and took me on a journey the likes of which I honestly didn't think I had in me. When I look back on it these days, my jaw tends to drop -- "I really did all that?!?" The Saga Of Darren Shan and Zom-B were relatively straightforward, with the narrative arc progressing naturally and smoothly from one book to the next. But there was nothing natural or smooth about The Demonata! After Lord Loss, the next five books were written entirely out of sync with the sequence in which they were eventually published. I knew there had to be a way of linking them up that worked, and that would allow me to take the story forward to where I knew I wanted it to finish -- but I was damned for a long time if I could figure out what that way was! In the end, with a deadline looming (the only time that's ever happened to me -- I normally work on my books far ahead of when they get published) I had the idea for Demon Thief, and everything started to come together. It was an epic, chaotic undertaking, the likes of which I doubt I'll ever embark on again, and I'm so amazed and delighted that it all worked out. The Saga remains by far my most popular series, and I think for good reason, but The Demonata... personally I think this one sees me at my wildest and my finest.


    If you'd like to get the full background to the series, how it was written and how I only gradually figured out the structure, I've written extensive author notes for all ten books. You can find them in the Books section of my web site by CLICKING HERE.


    To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Hell's Heroes' release, I'm running a competition this month with a demonically suitable prize up for grabs -- read on to the end of this newletter to find out more and enter...





    When you write a long series of books, as I have done a few times now, one of the problems is the scarcity of reviews for later entries. It's relatively easy -- if you have the backing of a major publisher -- to secure lots of reviews for the first book, as reviewers are usually more than happy to read the "launch" book for a new series that is coming out from a well-established publishing house. But reviewers aren't the same as fans -- they have a responsibility to their followers, and a good reviewer has to read widely and write about lots of different books, not just stick to their authors and series they like best. So, by the time you're three or four books in, the reviews are normally as thin on the ground as survivors in the aftermath of a Demonata attack!


    But thankfully a few intrepid reviewers break the standard rules and go on to write reviews for those later, less-written-about tomes. One such reviewer is Cornix Regina over on the Reviews And Randomness web site, who recently completed her reviews for all twelve of my Zom-B books, returning to the series after a lengthy gap. You can pick up the thread with Book 8, Zom-B Clans, by CLICKING HERE, and use the Next Entry link on that page to flick to the review for Book 9, then Book 10, and so on.






    It's also been ten years since the release of the Cirque Du Freak movie -- October 2009 was a hell of a busy time for me! The official release date in the USA and UK was October 23rd, but we had the European premiere in my local cinema in Limerick on the 13th. That was a really special night for me. I had come to the end of a mammoth tour in support of the book's release... I was delighted but exhausted... and to wrap it up watching a movie based on my books, in the company of my family (including my grandparents, who have since passed on) and lots of friends... it was surreal but incredible. Look, I know the movie has had a mixed reaction from fans of the books, but I like it on its own terms, and it has brought lots of new readers my way over the ten years since, people who see the film, enjoy it, then come check out the books on which it was based. Of course I wish it had been more faithful, and hopefully one day it will get rebooted (preferably as a TV show) and will stick closer to the story and spirit of the books, but hell, to have seen a big bucks version, however loosely based on the true Saga, play on a big screen... well, I consider myself very lucky little man, and even if the film was as bad as its harshest critics claim (and I genuinely don't think it is) I'd look back on it fondly regardless.





    There was a post on the New York Public Library web site recently, by a reviewer called Alex, entitled Always: Endearing and Enduring Reads! Harry Potter Read-Alikes. As the title implies, it's a list of novels that the author believes might appeal to fans of the Harry Potter books, along with a very brief review/snyposis of each one. One of mine is listen among them -- to find out which one caught Alex's eye, CLICK HERE.





    There was a new review for the second book in my Zom-B Series, Zom-B Underground, over on the Wonderoes blog recently. It was a very nice, positive review, and I liked how the reviewer noted that "the first book is more like the calm before the storm in a lot of ways and Zom-B Underground is the start of the actual storm."


    Sweetly put! Some readers were disappointed that the first book wasn't wall-to-wall zombie action, but I always think it's important, if you're writing a long series, not to over-use the key villains too early in proceedings, or you run the risk of people getting bored with them long before the end. Although, actually, as the reviewer will find out as she moves along, and as readers of the entire series already know, the zombies aren't the real villains in these books. Not by a long shot. Anyway, it's a really well written review, and you can check it out by CLICKING HERE.






    I often run a Tattoo Tuesday post on my blog and Facebook page, featuring photos of fans who have had tattoos based on phrases or characters or images from my books. One of them last month broke all sorts of ground. Look hard at the photo above, sent to me by a fan of my books called Danny. Do you know what it says? No? Oh, but you do!!


    Because as well as being a big fan of my books, Danny is also a big fan of J R R Tolkien's books (as, indeed, am I -- Murlough was in part inspired by Gollum), and he thought it would be a neat idea to pay homage to both of his favourite authors, so he decided to get a tattoo of my most quoted quote, "Even in death may you be triumphant..."


    ...but written in the ELVISH language invented by Tolkien!!!!


    Hear that little clicking sound, people? That's the sound of the bar settling into place, having just been raised by several dozen notches!!!   





    It's always nice when a fan says they've enjoyed my books -- but even nicer if they say their lives have been changed by reading my books. I know from my own reading over the years that while books are mostly just about entertainment or escapism, certain books can be so much more than that. They can be friends and mentors. They can open our eyes and expand our minds. They can change the way we think about things in this world and universe. They...


    But enough from me. Let's CLICK HERE and hear from a fan and YouTube vlogger called CoffeeCat, and hear about the four books that changed HER life, including a freaky little number from yours truly...




    A fan of my Demonata books recently queried the pronunciation of Grubbs Grady's real first name -- Grubitsh. She had been pronouncing it Grub-its for years, had been challenged over it by a friend, and wanted me to act as judge -- alas, I had to rule against her, as the correct pronunciation is actually Grew-bitch (with a hint of an S in the "bitch" sound). Well, I say "correct," but since I made the name up, there's no actual right or wrong way to say it -- but Grew-bitch is the SHAN way.  There are some very weird names in my Demonata books, so I provided a handy little pronunciation guide for the more out-there names in the first three books, which you can find in the Extras section of my web site, by CLICKING HERE -- this will ensure that none of you need ever make a Demonic faux pas again! 






    I stumbled upon this stunning visualization of Mr Crepsley online a while ago, and it's a depiction of him that I don't recall ever seeing the like of before -- done as an illustration on a stained glass window! This blew my mind -- just when I start to think there's nothing my fans can do to surprise me, they always find a way. It was drawn by a fan with the user name of Korihi, and you can check out more of the artist's work over on their web page -- including similar stained glass versions of Darren Shan, Steve Leopard and Kurda Smahlt. I was going to include all four portraits here, but figured it would be nicer to drive visitors towards the artist's page, so go CLICK HERE ASAP -- trust me, you won't regret it -- all four pieces are amazing!





    This is a bizarre one! As most of you probably already know, I write for adults as well as children/teenagers, and these days I release those books under the name of Darren Dash. Back in 2015, there was a review on the Crossing Pixies site for my latest Dash release, a horror novel called Sunburn. (The site has since been re-titled and is now known as Kiki's Epeolatry.) It was a lovely 5 star review, and I featured a summation quote from it on my Amazon pages, where it has remained ever since, which reads: "This demonic masterpiece does not fail to disappoint even the biggest of horror fans." And I thought nothing more of it in the four years since, and nor did any of the thousands of people who saw the quote on any of the worldwide Amazon sites. Until a fan called Sarah emailed me to say: "I recently purchased Sunburn and am very excited to read it, however I just wanted to point out that your "praise" from Crossing Pixies says "this demonic masterpiece does not fail to DISAPPOINT even the biggest of horror fans". Don't worry, I'm sure I will love it none the less. " At first I was confused. There was no typo. Why was Sarah bringing this to my attention? And why had she highlighted the word DISA...




    Of course, when I went back and read it again, it was suddenly oh so clear that, even though the line was MEANT to praise the book, it was actually doing the exact polar opposite.


    "This demonic masterpiece does not fail to THRILL even the biggest of horror fans." That would have been fine.


    "This demonic masterpiece WILL CERTAINLY NOT disappoint even the biggest of horror fans." That would have been fine too.


    But -- "This demonic masterpiece does not fail to disappoint even the biggest of horror fans." Well, that's actually saying that the book DOES disappoint!!


    DOH!!!! I guess sometimes, when our brain knows what a sentence is SUPPOSED to say, it deliberately mis-reads it and overlooks what it actually SAYS. Luckily, I've always been someone who's able to laugh at his own mistakes, and I hope Kiki will get a good chuckle out of this too -- I've emailed her to let her know that this post is going out, though I didn't say what it was about. I've thought about editing the quote on Amazon, or removing it, but it tickles my funny bone to leave it up there -- I'll be interested to see if anyone else spots the mistake in the years to come, or if they're all as dunder-headed as myself!! 


    To check out the full review, to make sure I'm telling the truth about it, and that it IS actually one that praised rather than rubbished the book, CLICK HERE.


    And if you want to find out more about my Darren Dash novel, you can visit my Dashingly delightful site here: www.darrendashbooks.com



    ROCK ON!


    A fan on Twitter with the user handle of Vonspooker wrote a song inspired by my Demonata books. In the musician's own words: "Ended up writing a full song loosely based on/inspired by ideas presented in @DarrenShan's Demonata series. Hope you guys like songs about demons so powerful they're literally just a universe of fire that wants to burn everything." I'm guessing quite a few of you reading this DO like those types of songs, so here you go -- CLICK HERE and get those rock fingers ready!!!!



    EY UP, PET!





    Shansters naming their pets after characters in my books is not a new phenomenon (perhaps most famously, many years ago one of Jonathan Ross's daughters named the family cats Darren and Steve!) but I think a fan of my books called Haley might have named MORE pets after Shan creations than anyone else I've heard from. In the photos above, you can see the four adorable little critters that she's named over the years. The first three are quite straightforward, and anyone who has read all of The Saga Of Darren Shan / Cirque Du Freak series will know immediately who and why they were named after. The fourth -- Kurda -- might prove a bit more elusive, until you take into account that it looks a little like a Komodo DRAGON, recall the events of Book 10 -- The Lake Of Souls -- and put two and two together... 





    A recent review on the But Why Tho? site for a new Harley Quinn graphic novel mentioned in summation that it "should be a must-read for all Harley Quinn fans and fans of YA novels such as Cirque du Freak." I haven't read any Harley Quinn stories -- although I'm familiar with the character from the movie world -- but maybe it's time to start... If any of you are intrigued to learn more about Breaking Glass, the new graphic novel, you can read the full review by CLICKING HERE.





    Shakespeare invented a plethora of words and phrases that have become part of our established, everyday lexicon --such as "All's well that ends well," "cold comfort," full circle," "something wicked this way comes," and a whole load more. Very few authors manage to come up with a new twist of letters that pass into the common language -- the vast majority of us work from the same verbal palette, and if we do occasionally invent a new word or phrase, it usually never sees life outside of the story in which it features. And that's fine -- for me, the aim of a writer should be to tell a good story, not expand the world's vocabulary -- that would be a strange aim indeed! Still, I'm sure the ghost of Will Shakespeare would be tickled pink by how his work has impacted on our language -- a nice bonus, after the plays and poems have thrilled and terrified and made us swoon or laugh.


    I won't ever hit those inventive, widely-used heights that the Bard reached, or even come anywhere close, but at least one of the phrases I've coined is enjoying life beyond the confines of my books and the circle of my readers. ("Even in death may you be triumphant" remains my most popular phrase, but I've never seen that used by anyone who isn't a Shanster. Perhaps it will seep through into the wider world one day, but hasn't so far.) That phrase was a title in my work, and it's one I'm sure you're all familiar with -- CIRQUE DU FREAK.


    Now, I can't say with 100% certainty that nobody had ever used those three words together before, but if they did, I never came across them, and as far as I'm aware I was the first to use them in this way. I didn't think much about it at the time -- it just seemed like the perfect title for the unusual little children's book that I started writing back in May 1997 -- but I've been seeing it crop up in all sorts of different places over the years, without any connection back to my books. The latest spotting was in an article about an upcoming Halloween Ball, in Ireland. It sounds like it's going to be good, creepy fun, and in among the descriptions you'll find a certain familiar line -- CLICK HERE.


    I feel a bit like a proud father -- I've sent my child out into the world, and occasionally reports like this prove that he's doing all right and thriving. 






    To celebrate the ten year anniversary of the release of Hell's Heroes, the last book in The Demonata, back in October 2009, I'm running a competition and offering up all six of the Demonata audio books that were released in the UK. Sadly, my UK publishers stopped producing the audio books after Demon Apocalypse, and have shown no signs of ever returning to finish off the last four books, but hey, these six should keep even the biggest of Shan fans happily engaged for many, many blood-soaked hours! I will sign and date each audio book, and make mention of the ten year anniversary. If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning, read on...


    1) Answer this question: "How many years has it been since Hell's Heroes was first released?"


    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


    (4) Closing date is 11.59pm UK time, Monday, October 7th, 2019.


    (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 Tuesday, October 8th, 2019. 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 and my blog 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 October. My son Dante started school last month. We had a look at all our local, modern schools, but decided they weren't quite what was in order, so we've sent him back in time to a 19th century institute of education. By the look of him, Dante doesn't seem too worried. "This is the worst you can throw at me? Bring it on, fools. Bring. It. On!" :-) I hope you all have a great time trick or treating on31st -- if any of you dress up as characters from my books, do please share a photo or two with me. Assuming I'm not carted off on the night by witches, I'll be back here at the start of November with another 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.