• Issue 232 - November 2019

    01 November 2019



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the November issue of the Shanville Monthly. I trust you're all still buzzing after Halloween, and while the Great Night has come and gone for another year, I've posted a few articles this month that tie in with it, which will hopefully help keep the ghoulish groovy vibe going for a little while longer...






    I haven't given many interviews in recent times, largely because I haven't had any new books to promote, but in the run-up to Halloween a new Q&A session with me was published on the Horror Writers Association website, in which I talk mostly about the boundaries of YA horror, what they are, where they lie, and how they can be pushed. It's a pretty cool interview -- the questions were posed to me by Dave Jeffery, a well-established horror author, and I think some of the best interviews happen when one writer is quizzing another -- definitely worth a few minutes of your day if you're a fan of Darren Shan or YA horror or just good interviews!  CLICK HERE.






    Halloween might now be over for another year, but any day or night is a good time for a bit of spine-tingling spookiness! With that in mind, the helpful bloodsuckers at Netflix USA have compiled a list of vampire movies and TV shows that are currently streaming through them, including a certain Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant. (It's also showing on Netflix in many other countries, including the UK and, I think, Canada.) CLICK HERE to check out their recommendations.


    As usual, when mentioning a showing of the movie, I feel compelled to point out i) I had nothing to do with it, ii) it is in pretty much no way faithful to my books, iii) but I do think it's an odd, quirky little film that works quite well on its own terms. If you can divorce it from its source material, and take it for what it is as opposed to what those familiar with the books wished it could have been, then you may well enjoy it, and it might be worth scheduling into your Halloween viewing time. If, on the other hand, you're going to spend the 100 minutes grumbling things like -- "Where's Sam?" "Why did they replace Darren's love interest, Debbie, with a monkey girl?" "Why have they revealed key facts from later books?" "Why is Mr Tiny driving around in a car?!?" -- then maybe this one isn't for you...   


    One quick comment on the Netflix comment about the film getting a poor reception from critics. While the movie certainly didn't do much business at the box office (hence no sequel), the reviews were actually nowhere near as damning as the popular view seems to hold. I read every review of the film that I could find when it came out 10 years ago at the cinema. I clocked about 120 reviews in total, and they divided into pretty equal thirds. One third of reviewers DID hate the movie, although primarily on the basis that they saw it as a Twilight cash-in, and thus dismissed it out of hand. (This despite the fact that the movie had been in the works long before Twilight became a thing.) One third gave it the equivalent of 5 or 6 out of 10 -- they liked certain elements, disliked other elements, but felt it was an OK and interesting flick, worth a look as long as you weren't expecting TOO much from it. And one third of the critics gave it the equivalent of 7 out of 10 or more -- they genuinely liked it.


    Anyway, if you want to make up your own mind, and you have a Netflix subscription, then this is your chance. Just, as I said, try not to think about the books TOO much, OK?!?






    An advert for Midsummer's Bottom, my most recent release for adults under the name of Darren Dash, was featured recently in the Kirkus magazine and web site, on a list of 27 Great Indie Books Worth Discovering. Full disclosure -- it was a paid-for advert, not a list of books chosen by Kirkus. But to qualify to pay for the advert, your book had to have received a positive review on Kirkus in the past -- which Midsummer's Bottom DID happily get back when it was released. (I'm always nervous when I send a book to Kirkus to be reviewed, as they can be fairly savage at times!) The ad links to the review of the book, so you can easily check out what the reviewer had to say about it, by CLICKING HERE.


    For more info about my Darren Dash work, visit www.darrendashbooks.com which lists all the novels, tells you a bit about them, provides easy buying links, etc. etc. and indeed etc.!!! There's a new Dash book on the way in the near future, a Mickey Spillane-inspired piece of London-set noir. Stay tuned for updates...






    I've linked to a lot of Top 10 and My Favourite Books lists over the years, but this one is slightly difference -- and the difference tickled my fancy big time! Instead of just listing his favourite books, a blogger called Liam Reads instead challengeD himself (and, by default, the rest of us) to quickly name the ten books that he would rush back into his house to rescue if the house was on fire. (Not that anyone should ever rush back into a burning house to rescue a book, of course -- even if it's one of mine!) To find out which books Liam chose to save, CLICK HERE





    I've linked to the Courageous Nerd web site before, but I feel it's worth linking to again, as a few different articles about my books have been published there since the last time. On the home page you can read about different literary interpretations of vampires, while in the Books section (which I'm providing a direct link for below) you can find the author's list of Top 10 Cirque Du Freak characters, an article about what happened to the humans in the CDF books, and also a very nice piece about a major twist in Ocean Of Blood, the third book of my Saga Of Larten Crepsley series. CLICK HERE.


    I don't want to post any spoilers here, as I know not all of you will have read the Mr Crepsley prequel series, but if you do go ahead and read the article (which DOES contain spoilers -- so beware!), I will just note that the identity of the baby in question came as a shock to ME too! When I started the series, I had no idea that was going to happen. I knew there was going to be a major confrontation at the end of the second book, which would leave Mr Crepsley in an extremely dark and lonely place. And I knew from fairly early on that a baby was going to be involved -- I just had this image of the guilt-stricken, brooding vampire holding an utterly innocent young child, further driving home the awful reality of what he had done. But I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with the baby. Would Mr Crepsley simply leave him on the ship when he departed? Would he take the baby and deposit it in a crack in the icy wasteland to perish? Would he keep it alive and find a home for it later, with foster parents who would give it a good home?


    Then I thought about another plot problem that I was facing, of how to link Mr Crepsley with a character who was mentioned in the original series, who was a very important part of his life. And suddenly the answer shot up at me, almost like a flying fish darting out of the waters of an (yes, I'm going to go there!)... Ocean of Blood!!!!!


    If you'd like to learn more about the background to my books, I publish author notes for every book that I release, talking about where the ideas came from, how I wrote them, if characters are named after real people, etc. You can access them all by CLICKING HERE.






    One of my favourite characters from any of my books is Mr Dowling, from my Zom-B series, so I was absolutely delighted when a fan called Evelyn presented me with this drawing of him -- I think it's maybe my favourite picture of him to date! I came up with Mr Dowling long before I had the idea for the first Zom-B book -- a bookseller in Ireland whose surname was Dowling was driving me around to a few events, we were talking about horror, she said she was terrified of clowns, I started describing the most ghoulish clown I could think of to her as she drove along, and I promised her that I'd feature him in a book one day and name him after her -- which I did, some years later. He's a real nightmarish creation -- being a big fan of Stephen King's It, I was trying to out-Pennywise Pennywise, and even if I didn't quite manage that, I think I did come up with a killer clown who can proudly prance alongside the finest in the genre without looking TOO out of place. What pleased me even more was finding a way to develop the character -- Mr Dowling starts out as just a creepy clown, and could very easily have become a one-dimensional scare villain, but as those who've read the books can attest, over the course of the series he becomes far, far more, as we learn more about his tragic past and what drove him to become the creature that we first meet in book 2 of the series, Zom-B Underground.


    For those of you who haven't yet read Zom-B, I recommend investing in the complete set of UK paperbacks, which you can pick up at an incredibly low price on Lowplex -- just £17.95 for all 12 books! They ship worldwide. CLICK HERE. You can also find the set on Amazon stores around the globe, so it might be worth checking on both sites for the best overall price.





    I did a nice, relaxed Skype event last month with a school in Texas. Their librarian contacted me by email, asking if there was any possibility that we could make something happen at short notice. We managed to find a time that worked for us both, and I spent a fun half hour chatting with the kids, answering their questions and doing a short reading from one of my books. I'm not doing any touring at the moment, and the way things are shaping up on the writing and publishing front, it might be a while before I'm out on the road again. But I do like to squeeze in the occasional hassle-free Skype event, with schools and libraries. If you're a teacher or librarian, and would like to get in touch to make an enquiry, you can contact me directly using the Contact form on www.darrenshan.com -- just make sure you include the correct email address, as it's hard for me to reply if you make a mistake while typing!  Oh, and it might be worth including your personal email address in the body of the text, as school email systems sometimes block my replies and treat them as junk mail...






    I've been seeing quite a few memes based on my books recently, and I've been gathering them up and posting them to my blog and Facebook page. One of them last month was this little spaghetti-starring masterpiece that captures the moment in The Vampire Prince (Cirque Du Freak book 6) when Mr Crepsley and Harkat risked thier lives to spare Darren the seeming impending wrath of the Vampire Princes. This was shared with me by a fan with the awesome Twitter handle of... Awesomegoatwolfchild! The only downside to this meme is that I now how one of my son's favourite poems stuck inside my head:


    "Spaghetti Spaghetti! You're wonderful stuff,

    I love you spaghetti, I can't get enough."


    The poem is by Jack Prelutsky -- Goggle it if you want to read the entire poem -- but make sure you read it incredibly fast and passionately, as I do every time I'm reading it out loud to Dante just before bedtime!



    IT'S A DATE!



    A fan of my Saga Of Darren Shan / Cirque Du Freak books recently asked me about the dates that are listed at the end of the final book, Sons Of Destiny. What did they mean? Well, there's no great mystery -- at the end of a series, or a stand-alone novel, I like to list the date that I started work on the series/book and the date that I did my final piece of editing work on it. It's something that Stephen King does in his work, and I always liked that and thought it was a good idea, so I do it too. These days I usually make it clearer, e.g. I say "Written between..." but in the past I assumed people would automatically know what the dates referred to. But as the old saying goes, "To assume makes an ass of u and me," and it wasn't too long before I realised that just because it was clear to me, didn't mean it was clear to everybody else!




    I attended one of the SciFi Weekender events last year, where genre fans gather for talks, signings, movie screenings, cosplay, and a whole lot more. It was lots of fun, and hopefully I'll get back to another one at some point. The most recent event was staged at the end of October, around the Halloween weekend, and for the first time since they started, they held an awards ceremony, where attendees got to vote on their some of their SFW favourites... and look who got a nod in the Author category!  To find out more about SFW, and to nab tickets for the next event before it undoubtedly sells out, you can visit their web site by clicking here.






    I guess For Those Who Like Harry Potter Books articles are like buses -- you wait ages for one, then two come along in quick succession! For, yes, following on from last month's link to a Harry Potter Read-alikes post, this month I'm delighted to include a link to a page on The Reading Lists site entitled... The Best Books Similar To Harry Potter. The article does exactly what it says on the tin. Four reviewers list several series that might appeal to Harry Potter fans who are looking for other rich literary worlds to invest a lot of their time in. One of my series gets a nod -- indeed, it's the first one up -- but it's not the same as the one that was listed in last month's post, so even if you read that one, you definitely should read this one too... and you can do that by clicking on this oh-so-convenient little link.






    I couldn't conclude this issue of the Shanville Monthly without featuring this meme, which proved a big hit when I posted it on my blog and Facebook last month. Heh heh heh. I think this Cirque Du Freak movie adaptation meme, supplied by a fan with the user name of Jimothy, is going to have haters of the CDF movie rolling around the floor with laughter. I mean, it's a pretty funny meme no matter what you think of the film (let's face it, even the film's greatest lovers -- and there are plenty of fans who DO love it -- can't claim that it was the most faithful of adaptations), but if you're one of those who love the books but think the film was an abomination... yeah, this is gonna hit your sweet spot big time!!! As always when I'm posting about the movie, in anticipation of the inevitable questions -- I don't hate it; I like it on its own terms; at the same time, of course I wish the makers had been more faithful; and hopefully it will get rebooted at some point, most preferably for TV.





    The winner of the October Shanville Monthly competition was... drum roll...


    RONALD MILES, of the good ol' US of A.


    I also ended up giving away five small mystery prizes -- I had an unexpectedly high number of entrants, so I decided at the last minute to dole out five runner-up prizes too. I had a quick look round my office and came up with five very small but quite rare demonic items -- but I'm not saying what they were, so that they'll come as a (hopefully nice) surprise to the five lucky runner-ups! And those were, in the order drawn...


    TAZZY JENINGA, the Netherlands.






    Thanks to everyone who entered. Congratulations to the winners, and better luck next time to everyone else! Look for another contest soon on a future issue of the Shanville Monthly.



    IT'S A WRAP!


    And that's it for November. We might be heading for the darkest, coldest period of the year, but I'm beavering away on a couple of new books (one for adults, one YA) and hopefully I'll be able to brighten up the winter with some lovely warm news over the next few months, so stay tuned for updates... In the meantime, I'll be back here at the start of December with another roundup of all the latest news and updates in the Christmas edition of the Shanville Monthly. 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.





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