• Issue 234 - January 2020

    01 January 2020




    Hi everyone, and welcome to the January issue of the Shanville Monthly. It's the start of a new year -- indeed, the start of a whole new decade -- and hopefully it's going to be a busy one on the Darren Shan front. I've had a little career break in the latter half of the decade just elapsed -- I'll do my best to make up for that in the first half of the forthcoming ten years. Mind you, having said I've been on a career break, I've still been busier than a lot of authors, and released a new book for adults just last month -- you can read more about that below, in case you missed it in all the yuletide madness. But, y'know, I was incredibly prolific during the 15 or 16 years before that, setting a crazy pace that would have exhausted most writers long before I had to pause to draw breath. It would be nice to get back to that kind of a level, so that's going to be my New Year's resolution -- Must. Write. More. But before I hurl myself at my keyboard, there's the minor matter of the first issue of the Shanville Monthly of the 2020s to get on with. I'm going to start with the new book that I mentioned, and then follow that up with the news of a signficant anniversary of the book that started the whole Darren Shan era in the first place...






    I released a new book last month, Molls Like It Hot, one of my Darren Dash novels for older readers. It's on sale exclusively through Amazon stores worldwide, such as in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, India, Brazil, Mexico, France, Germany, NetherlandsSpain, Italy... CLICK HERE to find the ebook in your local Amazon store, or CLICK HERE for the paperback edition. If you don't have a Kindle reader, you can download a free Kindle app to your tablet, PC, smartphone or whatever, and buy and read the book using that. If you want to learn a little more about the book before committing, read on...




    Eyrie Brown used to serve in the Army, until a tragic loss forced him to return to civilian life earlier than planned. Now he drives one of London's iconic black cabs. On a dark, wet night, he gives a lift to a wounded gangster, and everything changes from that point on.

    When the gangster gets in touch some time later, offering Eyrie a small fortune if he will take care of a mysterious young woman for a few nights, Eyrie is suspicious and hesitant. He can see trouble ahead, but the money will change his life for the better, so he reluctantly agrees to become a temporary guardian. But some deals should never be struck, and his charge turns out to be far more of a handful than he had ever anticipated. As twist follows twist and the bodies start to mount, Eyrie gets backed into a blood-soaked corner and must resort to desperate, inventive measures if he is to stand any chance of seeing his mission through and making it out of the weekend alive.
    Fast-paced, action-packed, gritty London-based noir, inspired by the likes of Mickey Spillane, Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.
    "Dash supplies plenty of rousing action and deadly gangster machinations to satisfy mob-flavored fiction fans. A thrilling tale loaded with bullets, bloodshed, and bodies." Kirkus.
    "Molls Like It Hot is the perfect item for choice for noir detective readers who like their stories unpredictable, multifaceted, and hard to put down." Midwest Book Review.
    "He weaves a wily tale of double and triple crosses you absolutely won’t see coming. This is definitely a fast, ferocious, and fun read." The US Review of Books.
    "Far from a pulp piece of noir fiction, Molls Like It Hot touches on deeper themes of morality, loyalty, justice, righteousness and the desperate lengths humans go to survive in dark times. All in all, Dash has delivered a wickedly entertaining slice of British noir." Self-Publishing Review.
    "If you read it in bed, you’ll want to stay up all night until you finish. Just be careful if you have a bad heart." Readers' Favorite.
    "Brutal, raw, disturbing…and positively addicting. I have no idea where the time went as I read, I have no proper words to describe what this book has done to me, but I do know this: Molls Like It Hot is a book I will never forget. " The Literary Connoisseur.
    "If you like your books witty, gritty, and full of action, this is the perfect book for you!" Kelly Smith Reviews.
    "Molls Like it Hot is a fast-paced, cinematic unflinchingly gritty piece of modern day noir that is both sophisticated and pulpy. " Books, Films and Random Lunacy.
    "This book strangely had me laughing at some of the most inappropriate moments and left me feeling so covered in grime that I feel like I need to re-evaluate my sanity while I take a shower." Reviews and Randomness.
    For more info about my other Darren Dash novels for adults, visit my Dashingly delightful website by CLICKING HERE.






    We're at the start of a new decade, but twenty years ago we were at the start of a whole new millennium, and one of the first books to hit the stands in January 2000 was an odd little number for children, by a writer with the name of Darren Shan, and the book was called... Cirque Du Freak! (It actually made it into some shops the month before, in time for Christmas, but the official release date was in January.)


    I'd published a book for adults in early 1999, under my real name (Darren O'Shaughnessy), but Cirque Du Freak was my first book for children and teenagers. It very nearly didn't get published at all -- every publisher in the UK turned it down when my agent first went to them with an early draft in 1997 -- but in the end a brave editor at HarperCollins called Domenica De Rosa took a chance on it, and the rest, as they say, is history.


    If you'd like to know how the idea for the book came to me, here are the first two paragraphs from my author notes for it, which appear on my web site -- you can read the rest of the notes by CLICKING HERE.


    "I had the idea for Cirque Du Freak on May 8th, 1997. I was looking after one of my aunt’s children. She was shopping, the kid was asleep in the back seat of her car, and I was sitting up front with nothing to read, having forgotten to bring a book with me. Out of boredom I looked around the car and found one of the Goosebumps books. I’d never read Goosebumps, since they weren’t on sale when I was growing up. I flicked through the book, reading little bits here and there. My two observations were: (1) It wasn’t a very good book, very formulaic and easy to predict. (2) Regardless of that, I’d have probably liked the book when I was younger, since it was so full of cliffhangers and easy to read.


    "Then I started thinking that what the world really needed was a book that was as fun and easy to read as Goosebumps, but which had some of the darkness and depth of Stephen King. That led me to think about one of my favourite King books, Salem’s Lot, and how I used to try to scare myself when I was younger by imagining what would happen if a vampire attacked me and turned me into one of them. That set me thinking about writing a story about a boy who meets a vampire and reluctantly becomes his assistant – and a few days later I was writing the first book of The Saga of Darren Shan!"


    It's been an incredible twenty years. Cirque Du Freak changed my life, and I went from being an unknown young man on unemployment benefits, living with his parents and writing in his bedroom, who had never travelled any further than London, to a globally best-selling author who got to go all around the world and meet thousands of lovely and interesting people. I don't know what the next twenty years hold in store for me, but the last twenty have been such a blast that I can have no complaints if it's a quiet slide back into obscurity from this point on. I've lived the dream that the vast majority of writers never get to experience, and if it's time for me to shift over out of the spotlight so that others can enjoy the ride for a while, so be it. Of course, if the opposite happens and I storm back into the maelstrom of popularity again, I won't complain about that either... :-)


    Anyway, I've loved every minute of it, and I'd like to say a very sincere thank you to all of you who have bought my books and read my stories, and sent me letters or emails or message on my old Message Board or Facebook posts or tweets, and come to my events or signings, and basically kept me company and made me aware of just how much my odd little stories mean to so many people. My success owes a lot to me, obviously, as well as my agent and Domenica and everyone else in the publishing world who has worked on the books over the last two decades, but ultimately, really, it's all down to you guys. If you hadn't read the books, and recommended them to your friends, and passed them down to your children... well, I'd probably still be sitting in my bedroom in my parents' house, unknown and unloved by the world beyond, writing hard and dreaming. You wonderful, freaky people made that dream come true, so again -- thank you.


    As a little mark of my appreciation, I'm running a special competition in this month's newsletter, so make sure you scroll down to the end and get your entry in before the deadline.






    I posted these links last month, but I know a lot of people buy new books in January, using vouchers or money that they got as gifts in December, so if you're looking to buy a complete Darren Shan set or two to kick-start 2020, here are some deals that will fill up your shelves without breaking the bank.


    First, for my fans in the UK, the lovely people in THE WORKS are currently selling a boxed set of all 10 books in my Demonata series for the ludicrously low price of just £15. Yep, you read that right -- £15, which equates to £1.50 per book. Even Lord Loss is happy to get in line and wait patiently for that particular offer! If you want to grab the books, you can either head down to your local branch of The Works as fast as your feet can carry you, or you can pop online and get them through their web site by CLICKING HERE.


    On the LOWPLEX book site, you can buy complete sets of all the UK editions of my major series all year round, at eye-bogglingly low prices. For instance, when I last checked, the Saga Of Darren Shan (aka the Cirque Du Freak series) will set you back just £17.99 -- that's for ALL 12 books! If you want all 12 Zom-B books, it's just £17.95! The 10 Demonata books cost £19.95 -- still a big bargain, but you can get them cheaper at The Works, so have a look above. They also have the 4 books in The Saga Of Mr Crepsley for a wallet-pleasing £10.99. Lowplex is a UK site, but they also ship to several countries around Europe -- Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland -- as well as Japan and the USA. You can CLICK HERE for The Saga Of Darren Shan -- AND you can find the rest of my work by searching for "Darren Shan" in the search box on the site.


    Looking further afield, I also found the following deals -- In the USA you can buy all 12 of the American paperback editions of the Cirque Du Freak series on Amazon, for less than $40 -- CLICK HERE.


    I couldn't find American sets of my other series on Amazon USA, but I did find sets of the UK editions, which American fans can buy -- my advice is to check the overall prices, inlcuding shipping, on both Lowplex and Amazon, to find the best deal.


    The Demonata, just under $50 -- CLICK HERE


    Zom-B series for $47 -- CLICK HERE


    The Saga Of Larten Crepsley for $22 -- CLICK HERE


    You can also buy the combined Saga Of Darren Shan and Demonata sets for $92 -- CLICK HERE


    I wasn't able to look for sets on every Amazon store worldwide, but I did spot The Saga Of Darren Shan on Amazon CANADA for $64 -- CLICK HERE


    Amazon AUSTRALIA had all of the UK editions of my series -- here's the link for Zom-B, which costs $60 -- CLICK HERE


    I've provided links to Amazon simply because they're the main player and I was able to easily find them, but I'm sure plenty of other places sell sets of my work too, so it's always worth asking your local bookseller, or checking out other online sites. Happy shopping!!!






    I used to be a big Coronation Street fan. (That's the world's longest running TV soap opera, for those who might not know.) I watched it religiously for many years, until I went on holiday to South America for three weeks around the turn of the millennium. That was too long to record the episodes that I was missing, and when I returned I just never got round to watching it again. I still think of it fondly every now and then, which meant I was tickled pink when this screenshot was forwarded my way. It was sent by a sharp-eyed fan of my books called Jodie. At first I wasn't sure why she had sent it to me. I recognised the character of Roy Cropper, who was one of my faves back in the day, but I had no idea who the other guy was. Then Jodie drew my attention to a book on the bedside cabinet, next to the clock, and all became clear.


    Dot Cotton on Eastenders was spotted reading one of my books a long time ago, so it's nice to see that I'm as appreciated in Salford as I am in Albert Square.   






    You might need to be subscribed to Twitter to see these little babies, which I'm guessing most of you are. If you're not, and have no wish to create a Twitter account, my apologies, but these were just too good not to share. You can always click on the links in any case, just in case they work for you regardless. So, yeah, these are short Cirque Du Freak video gifs, created by a Tweeter with the user name of @mari_mommm I've included a snap of the start of each gif, but you really have to see them in full to fully appreciate them. "Class in a glass," as we sometimes say here in Ireland when we're suitably impressed by something!


    For Gif 1 CLICK HERE


    For Gif 2 CLICK HERE






    Many readers of my books logically assume that of all my narrators and main characters, Darren Shan is the one most closely modeled on myself, since we share the same name. But as the old saying goes, to assume makes an ass of u and me!


    Darren Shan, as I'm sure pretty much all of you are aware, is not actually my real name, which is Darren O'Shaughnessy, so the character of Darren Shan isn't in fact named after me. I certainly have much in common with Master Shan, as I do with virtually all of my main characters -- they're all, to some extent, projections of myself, regardless of gender or age or skin colour or any other factors. None is a direct projection, and they all have many differences to me too, but when I'm writing a story, I tend to place myself within it, usually from the perspective of the main character (which is probably why I write in the first person more often than not), and we usually are more alike than different, for better or worse.


    Having said all of that, some characters do obviously reflect more of the author Darren Shan (i.e. Darren O'Shaughnessy) than others, albeit not in a straightforward or immediately obvious fashion. Newman Riplan, for instance, in my weird Darren Dash sci-fi novel An Other Place, is in some ways one of my more autobiographical creations -- that book in many ways was one of self-analysis and inner questioning.


    But the character who is the most like me -- albeit not in physical looks -- is probably Kernel Fleck from my Demonata series. It wasn't intentional, but whenever I look back at him, I see a lot of myself in his makeup.


    Which is a VERY long-winded way of saying that I really like it when fans decide to draw pictures of Kernel. The two abover were drawn by a fan called Emma. The first is an adpatation of a line from Spiderman: Into The Spiderverse. The second imagines an alternate timeline where a happy Kernel is out taking a stroll with his sister Annabella, who is mentioned VERY briefly in the original series -- I'd be very surprised if many of you remember her -- I have to admit, I'd forgotten about her too, and had to go double-check that she had actually been name-checked in them!






    I run an occasional feature on my blog/Facebook page called Tatoo Tuesday, where I share tattoos that have been inspired by my books. (If you have to ask what day of the week I share them, then you need to go back to bed and get some more sleep!)  If you're thinking of getting a tattoo inspired by a Darren Shan book, this recent Tattoo Tuesday snap sent in by a fan called Morgan should give you plenty of room for thought -- to borrow from the phrase book of one of our age's most knowing and eloquent sages, it's an absolute stonker!!!






    Now THIS is an odd one! I received an email from a fan called Misty a while ago saying "Hi. I just bought BEC and the back of the book is blank. I was just wondering if this is a misprinted book, as I have no others to compare it to."


    At first I wasn't sure what Misty was referring to -- I thought she was maybe talking about the last few pages inside the book, which are often blank -- until she sent through a photo and it all became clear. The text from the back of this paperback copy of Bec -- the extract, some review quotes, etc -- is missing. I've included a photo of how it SHOULD look, along with the misprinted back cover.


    The different colour scheme makes me suspect this was a later printing of the book, though I've no idea how many copies came off the printing press like Misty's, Maybe there were hundreds or thousands of them -- or maybe there was only one and Misty now owns it! Misprints like this are rare but not unheard of in the book world, and sometimes they can make a copy of a book far more valuable than it otherwise would have been, so I've advised Misty to hold onto her copy rather than take it back for a "correct" one -- just in case she's sitting on a demonic gold mine!!!






    The Junior Cycle in Ireland is the programme of subjects that students at secondary level study for the first three years, at the end of which they are awarded Junior Certs. Above is the list of recommended English novels for First Year students, and I spy with my little eye a certain freaky number nestled in among them...


    Actually, I think Cirque Du Freak has been a recommended novel for quite a few years now. It's weird seeing one of my books on an official school syllabus, because when I was growing up, these sorts of novels were frowned upon by the authorities -- if you wanted to read them during school time, you had to do so in secret, while pretending to read something else. I can remember having at least one "unsuitable" book confiscated by a teacher who caught me reading it during a reading period in class -- I think it was a James Herbert book, possibly The Rats. I think it belonged to a friend as well, who was none too happy with the situation!


    On the one hand, I think it's great that children are being introduced to modern books that will hopefully entertain as well as educate them. I love that the likes of Cirque Du Freak and Skullduggery Pleasant have been deemed the educational equal of more serious-minded books.


    On the other hand, it felt deliciously naughty to be reading "unsuitable" books back in the day, and running the risk of having them taken from you if a po-faced teacher peeped over your shoulder and growled, "What is THAT you are reading, young man?!?"






    There was a cool, 5 star review for Birth Of A Killer over on the Book Lover site recently. For those unfamiliar with it, Birth Of A Killer is the first book in my Saga Of Larten Crepsley series -- four books which explore his life over the course of the two hundred years before he crossed paths with Darren and Steve at the Cirque Du Freak. We learn far more about Larten and the society of vampires than we ever learned in the original series. The series went down very nicely with fans who had grown up with Darren -- indeed, Book Lover notes that "I like this first book in the Saga of Larten Crepsley much more than I liked any of the Cirque du Freak books" -- so if you haven't checked it out yet, head down to your local bookseller and ask them to order it for you if you can't find in on the shelves, or else look for it online through Amazon, Lowplex or any of the other usual suspects. In the meantime, you can read Book Lover's review by CLICKING HERE.






    Near the end of last year, a fan called Haley sent me the photo above, with the following explnation attached:


    "When I was younger I would write notes to my future self and hide them in places. Sort of a gift from my past self to my future self. As I have been downsizing, I went through my book boxes today and found this. Thanks for the memories!"


    I don't mind admitting that reading this note brought a happy tear to this jaded old half-vampire's eye. Lovely!




    To celebrate the twenty year anniversary of the release of Cirque Du Freak in January 2000, I'm running a competition offering up two sets of rare Cirque Du Freak books, one for fans who live in the UK or Ireland, and one for fans who live anywhere else in the world.


    Set 1, for fans who live in the UK or Ireland, comprises a first print, first edition signed copy of Cirque Du Freak, along with a signed proof copy of Tunnels of Blood, and a signed proof copy of Vampire Mountain.


    Set 2, for fans who live anywhere else in the world outside of the UK or Ireland, comprises a first print, first edition signed copy of Cirque Du Freak, along with a signed first print, first edition copy of Tunnels of Blood, and a signed proof copy of Vampire Mountain.


    (Proof copies, also known as ARCs, are editions of books that are produced in very small numbers ahead of publication, to be given away to reviewers and booksellers. They often don't feature the final cover, and can contain typos and other mistakes, as they are sometimes made before the final edit of the book.)



    If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning, read on...


    1) Answer this question: "When was Cirque Du Freak first released? I am looking for the MONTH and YEAR of release."


    2a) If you live in the UK or Ireland, send your entry to: [email protected]


    2b) If you live ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD OUTSIDE OF the UK or Ireland, 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, January 13th, 2020.


    (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, January 14th, 2020. 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 January. I thought I'd close out 2019 with a short "address to the nation" -- well, an address to the Shan nation anyway! So if you click on THIS LINK or the photo above, you'll be directed towards a short but very rare Darren Shan vlog. I'll be back here at the start of February with all the latest Darren Shan (and Darren Dash) 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.