• Issue 237 - April 2020

    01 April 2020



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the April issue of the Shanville Monthly. I have a couple of BIG news items to share with you this month. I'll be leading with the first of those below, but unfortunately the second isn't ready to be shared with you yet. When large sections of the world (including Ireland, where I live) went into lockdown, I started thinking about if and how I could respond. Nothing overly dramatic or heroic -- I just wanted to do something that would help people stuck at home to pleasantly pass away a few hours of their enforced isolation and social-distancing. I hit upon a few ideas fairly swiftly (you can read in the second entry, after the Zom-B news, about one that I've managed to make happen), and one idea in particular really motivated me, so I've been pushing things along as fast as I can to make it happen. I had hoped to be able to make my announcement on April 1st -- I liked the idea that many of my fans would at first think it was an Aril Fool's joke, before realising it was actually on the level -- but technical issues have pushed me back slightly. It shouldn't be too long of a delay -- hopefully only a matter of a few days -- so keep an eye on my social media feeds (Twitter, Facebook and my blog posts) over the next week or so, for some news that will hopefully be well received by those with all the time in the world on their hands and who are wondering how best to kill it...



    ZOM-B TV SHOW?!?



    Although I've dropped hints in the past about potential adaptations of my work, I tend not to make any official statements until and unless a project get a green light. Many, many books linger in "development hell" for years, or even decades, and I don't like raising my fans' hopes only to then disappoint them if a film or TV show never actually materialises. But...


    There was a post over on the Screen Daily website last month, about a move to create a TV show based on my Zom-B books. You can read it by CLICKING HERE.


    I'm not going to say a whole lot about this at the moment, in case it leads to nothing, but now that the cat's out of the bag, I do feel like I need to add a public comment, to clarify. The other company mentioned in the article, Electric Shadow Company, has been working on a TV adaptation of Zom-B for a few years now. They've shown remarkable faith in the books, and have kept pegging away solidly, determined to make it happen, which has led to them now teaming up with Fantastic Films. I hope it all works out. It's certainly looking very positive. And they seem keen to involve me in the process, so if it does go ahead, there's a very good chance we'll end up with something far more faithful to the source material than the Cirque Du Freak movie was -- although, obviously, many changes and tweaks will need to be implemented if it's to be fleshed out into a multi-episode TV series. But, as I've often said in the past when fans ask about books of mine that have been optioned (as Cirque Du Freak was, years before it actually got made)... don't hold your breath!!! :-)


    With luck, I'll be back here at some point in the near future to report on positive progress and taking things to the next stage, etc, etc. Until then, fingers crossed, everybody!!!






    As many of you already know, I write for adults as well as children. These days I publish my books for older readers under the name of Darren Dash (see more about that in the next entry), but before that I released four under the name of Darren Shan. The first three of those were the City trilogy. They're books that I'm incredibly proud of, and they've built up a real cult following over the years. They're a strange, distinctive mix of genres -- crime, detective fiction, and urban fantasy. I don't think you'll have read anything quite like them anywhere else -- there's a John Connolly sort of vibe to them (even though I wrote them long before I read my first John Connolly novel) but the fantasy elements are far more pronounced here.


    Since I know a lot of people are lying low in an effort to thwart the Coronavirus, and quite a few of those are reading more books than normal to help pass the time, I thought it would be a nice idea to lower the price of the City eBooks. I ran the idea by my agent, he agreed with me, so now each of the books can be bought through Amazon UK for just £1.99. Here are the links:




    We don't control the pricing in every territory, but I had a quick look online and the American and European Amazon stores don't seem to be selling them for too far off that mark -- I think $2.99 and €2.99 respectively.






    As I said above, these day I write my books for adults under the name of Darren Dash. I've release five so far -- you can find out the titles and more about them by CLICKING HERE. I've covered all different sorts of genres with the Dash books -- I like to experiment and try new fields. One of them, An Other Place, is a dystopian sci-fi novel, and it's easily the weirdest thing I've ever published. I had no idea what the reaction to it was going to be, since it's a puzzling brain-melter of a story, where questions are priorotised more than answers, and the plot doesn't follow any kind of traditional story arc. Some readers were left befuddled and bemused by it all, but to my surprise the vast majority really dug it, and it's picked up glowing reviews and a strong, loyal following since publication. I'm going to be running a sale of the eBook from April 9th to 15th, on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (I can't run sales for the other Amazon stores -- sorry). The normal price of the book is $2.99 in the USA and £1.99 in the UK, but during the sale it will be just $0.99 and £0.99 respectively. So, if you're thinking of giving it a try, you might want to wait until the sale kicks in...


    You can buy the American edition by CLICKING HERE. And the British edition by CLICKING HERE.


    I'm also going to be running a sale of my latest Dash book, Molls Like It Hot, in late May, for those of you who like a bargain and are happy to wait...






    If your children (or you) are stuck indoors because of the Coronavirus, and you're struggling to find things for them (or you) to do to pass the time, and you don't want to shell out loads of money (especially since there's no telling how long this is going to last), audio books supremo Audible have some good news for you -- they're offering a selection of children's audio books that you can listen to for FREE. And if it's that not good enough news -- one of those books is Cirque Du Freak, read by Ralph Lister. You can access the Audible FREE AUDIO BOOKS page by CLICKING HERECirque Du Freak is in the TWEENS section.





    A few teachers got in touch with me early during the lockdown to enquire about the possibility of filming themselves reading Cirque Du Freak, so that they could share it with their students. They had been reading the book in class, but schools have now been suspended, so they were hoping to carry on with it online, so that they could keep their students engaged. I normally have to play Big Mr Meanie whenever anyone asks me about something like this, because there were audio books produced of these by my publishers, so they control those rights, and can get a bit angry when those rights are infringed. But these are highly unusual times, and I think the rule books need to be thrown out the window. So...


    Yes. If any teachers are reading this, and you've been using any of my books in class, or were planning on using them over the next couple of terms... If you're forging ahead with virtual teaching, then feel free to record yourself reading the book, and feel free to share those recordings with your students. Or if you're reading them live to your students via Skype or Facetime or whatever... that's fine too. Basically, all normal bets are off for the duration of the shutdown. You have my permission to do whatever you have to with my books if they help you get through it.


    Stay safe, everybody.





    I always feel honoured when fans of my books dress up as characters from them for World Book Day, which fell early last month. A couple who go in on the game this year were Elliot, in the first photo below, who dressed up as Darren Shan, and Katie-Louise, who dressed as Darren's mentor, Mr Crepsley -- what a lovely world it would be if it turned out they bumped into each other on the streets and teamed up for the day!! :-)







    A blogger called Lauren, with the user name of Northern Plunder posted on World Book Day about the books that had shaped her childhood, and I was touched to see one of mine in among the mix. She noted: "I remember walking between classes with my nose in a book, waiting until the last second when a teacher spoke to stop. This world hooked me in and I loved it! It was dark, tense, and made me cry a whole lot." To find out which book Lauren was blogging about, and what other titles made the cut, CLICK HERE.


    There was a new review for Lord Loss on the A Little Fool Reads site. I don't think too many authors get a summation that notes: "the general creepiness is impossible not to love." I thought that was a great phrase. I might even adapt and adopt it as a motto -- "Darren Shan -- making creepiness lovely!" :-) You can read the full review by CLICKING HERE.


    There was a nice, short, overall review of my Demonata series over on the Stevie Nicks Book Club on Instagram. You can check it out by CLICKING HERE.


    This seems like a good time to mention that if you're holed up because of Coronavirus, and looking to kill a substantial amount of time by reading some books, and if you haven't yet read my Demonata novels... well, this might be a good time to dive on in! If you CLICK ON THIS LINK you can buy all 10 books through Lowplex for less than £20, so they won't set you back too much either -- they ship all around Europe, and to the USA, Japan, Hong Kong and a few other territories as well. They were temporarily closed for business due to the viru, but hopefully will be open again in the very near future. Lowplex sell my other series too, again at amazingly low prices -- do a quick search for Darren Shan on their site to find out more.






    Like almost eveyone else in Ireland (and many other countries), I'm trying not to mix much with people in public at the moment, keeping my head down at home with my family in an attempt to do our part to help halt the spread of the Coronoavirus. We've had to change a lot of our habits over the last few weeks, and one of those involves washing our hands more frequently. I'm sure many of you will have already been informed about this need to wash thoroughly, and have probably been told you need to sing a song like Happy Birthday each time you wash your hands -- when you finish the song, that's when you stop washing. But, hey, how many times can we sing Happy Birthday to ourselves without going mad -- especially when it's not our birthday?!? I'd already started playing around with other songs when the user Vampire Council over on Twitter posted this Cirque Du Freak meme, featuring a song that might be familiar to you if you've read on through the Vampire Mountain trilogy arc. It requires a bit of repetition, but hey, anything's better than belting out Happy Birthday for the dozenth time in a day, right?!? :-) As light-hearted as this might seem, I think we all need to take the hand-washing advice VERY seriously, and anything that helps with that is a good thing, no matter how ridiculous it might at first appear...





    I was tickled pink to see Cirque Du Freak listed as March's Recommended read over on the JD Hardie Youth Zone Facebook page. Never heard of the JD Hardie Youth Zone? I've got to admit, I hadn't either, which is hardly surprising, since it's a youth precinct in the town of Port Hedland in Western Australia -- which is a LONG way removed from where I live in Ireland!


    I'm always amazed by how widely around the world my books have permeated. When I wrote the first draft of Cirque Du Freak back in 1997, I was living with my parents outside a tiny village in Limerick (I still live just outside it). I had no internet access -- indeed, I'm not sure at that point if I'd ever even been online! I was hoping to sell the book in the British and Irish markets, and maybe a few countries around Europe if I was really lucky, but the thought that it might find its way all across the Americas to the west of me, and all the way east to the likes of Japan and South Korea and Taiwan, and indeed to the complete other side of the world to where I lived, to Port Hedland in Australia...


    All I can say is that it would have sounded like fiction if anyone had told me that was going to happen. I would have nodded, smirked, and muttered, "Yeah, pull the other one, that one's got bells on!!!"






    When it comes to sending my Darren Dash books for adults out to reviewers, I have a fairly long list which I work from, which I've been putting together over the last few years. (Always happy to add to it, so if anyone reading this contributes reviews to a site or blog or anywhere else, just give me a shout if you'd like to be kept in mind for my next release.) Because of the different genres that I work in, I don't reach out to every reviewer on every occasion -- for instance, if someone only reviews sci-fi, there's no point sending them a thriller.


    One of the review sites on my list is Angelic Impression. They mostly review fantasy novels, so at first I wasn't going to send them my latest release, Molls Like It Hot, as it didn't seem like a natural fit. But in the end I did, and I'm very pleased I made that choice, as the reviewer really enjoyed the book and gave it a glowing review, noting in her summation: "It was something a bit different to what I'm used to, something not fantasy for a change. But a welcome change, I'm glad I read it."


    As a reader (and writer) I've always been happy to dance around between genres, tying myself to no one mast, trying out most things if they sound like they might be a good read. Most publishers don't like writers who mix up genres as much as I do. Most reviewers don't like it either. Indeed, I guess nor do most readers. So I was genuinely delighted and impressed when the Angelic Impression reviewer stepped outside of her comfort zone and granted Molls the benefit of the doubt. If you'd like to read the full review, you can find it by CLICKING HERE.






    I saw the final episode of TV show The Deuce last month. It was a top-notch series (albeit one strictly for adults!) with an absolutely stunning finale -- the last few minutes rank up there for me with the ending of another TV show, Six Feet Under, which I think wraps with probably my favourite ending ever.


    It made me think about my books and how they end, and which ending I would pick as my favourite if I could only choose one. It's a tricky one to call. I've been happy with all the endings of my books. I spend a lot of time considering and planning them, and handle them as carefully as I can, and in each case I feel that I've done the best job possible. They don't always please all the fans -- especially with the long series -- but in my opinion each one is as apt a conclusion as I could conjure up.


    The Thin Executioner is one that I recall fondly, not least for the fact that it ends with a declaration of love to my then-girlfriend, now-wife.


    The ending of Zom-B seems to be the one from my multi-book series that worked best for readers, and I have to agree that I too love the way it stopped and the questions it left unanswered.


    But the one that really stands out for me is the ending of City Of The Snakes, the final book in my City trilogy. It's a quiet, gentle ending, that might not be high on the list of many other people's Best Shan Endings ever list, but for me it just worked, and it's one that I remember vividly and proudly.


    How about you guys? Which of my endings most tickled YOUR fancy? Or, conversely, when do you think I really messed it up?!? :-)






    Following on nicely from the post above... the cover of the American edition of the first book in my City series, Procession Of The Dead, has been listed on the ShortList web site as one of the 50 best book covers ever. If you want to see what else made the list -- you can also vote for your favourites, vote against those you dislike, and suggest others that you think should be added to it -- CLICK HERE.






    Twitter user Vampire Council (again!) cherry-picked some drawings of Mr Crepsley from the CDF manga, and used them to suggest what his profile pic might be like on different social media platforms. I must confess, the only one of these that I use is Facebook, and although I very occasionally pop onto Instagram to look at a drawing or photo, I don't think I've ever visited the Linkedin site, and have definitely never been on Tinder -- that's an odd name for a social media site -- is it for people like scouts who enjoy setting camp fires??? :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)





    The winners of the March Shanville Monthly competition were, in the order drawn...


    1st prize -- Daryl Edwards, England.
    2nd prize -- Gerald Chat, USA.
    3rd prize -- Silas Hall, USA.
    4th prize -- Laura Connor, England.
    5th prize -- Ben White, Northern Ireland.


    Thanks to everyone who entered, congratulations to the winners, and better luck next time to everyone else!


    I should be running another competition in the near future (I'm trying to have a few more than usual this year, to tie in with the 20th anniversary of the release of Cirque Du Freak). If you want to make sure you don't miss it, subscribe to the Shanville Monthly to be notified when a new issue goes live every month. You can always find the subscribe button on the Shanville Monthly page, over on the left-hand side of the page.



    IT'S A WRAP!



    And that's it for April. It was my daughter Gaia's 1st birthday last month. Like any other parent, I wonder what my children are going to become when they grow up. Doctors, writers, geologists, astronauts, politicians, sports stars, scientists, spies, accountants?!? The possibilities at the moment are limitless, but based on the evidence of this photo, I think it's a safe bet to say that in all likelihood Gaia is actually going to grow up to become... Winston Churchill!!!! :-) I'll be back here at the start of May with all the latest news and updates, including more info about that other BIG piece of news that I mentioned at the start of this newsletter. 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.