• Issue 238 - May 2020

    01 May 2020



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the May issue of the Shanville Monthly. The BIG news this month is that I released three new books, the start of a new series, at the beginning of April. I wanted to reveal the news in last month's newsletter, but they hadn't gone live across all the different book stores yet. But now, without any further ado, I'd love to introduce you all to...






    After four years without any new Darren Shan books, I sneak-released the first three eBooks of my new ARCHIBALD LOX SERIES at the end of March, without anyone noticing, which was a lot of fun! The three books make up VOLUME ONE of the Archibald Lox series and are meant to be read one after another if possible. That's why I released them at the same time. I'll release a bind-up edition at some point down the road, which is probably also when I'll release a physical edition of Volume One, collecting all three books in one place.


    I was planning on releasing these later this year, with a lot of build-up. Then Covid-19 hit hard and countries started going into lockdown, so I figured this would be a better time to put them out there, since I know a lot of people are stuck at home, trying to find ways to pass the time, and I hoped this would make isolation a little more bearable for some of you.


    The eBooks are available through pretty much all the major online sellers -- Amazon stores worldwide, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Google Play, etc. I've also made them available to libraries, though it could take a while before they come onto those systems.


    Book One is FREE to download. Book Two is $1.99 or an equivalent price in other countries. Book Three is $2.99 or an equivalent price in other countries.


    Here are direct links -- I've provided specific links for Amazon and Google Play, then a general link for all the other places where they are available.



    Amazon: http://mybook.to/ArchieBridge

    Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=oUjbDwAAQBAJ

    Other stores: https://books2read.com/u/4AzG7q



    Amazon: http://mybook.to/ArchieEmpress

    Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Darren_Shan_Archibald_Lox_and_the_Empress_of_Suanp?id=HUnbDwAAQBAJ

    Other stores: https://books2read.com/u/3nvQEe



    Amazon: http://mybook.to/ArchieVote

    Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Darren_Shan_Archibald_Lox_and_the_Vote_of_Alignmen?id=S0nbDwAAQBAJ

    Other stores: https://books2read.com/u/bOoWJg


    If you read the books and enjoy them, PLEASE tell your friends and contacts, and maybe even write a short review for them on the store where you picked them up. By rush-releasing the books, I haven't been able to put any kind of a marketing plan in place, so these will thrive or fail on word of mouth alone in the immediate future -- and probably the far-flung future too, since you only get one chance to make a first impression, and I've deliberately (but happily) blown that chance... :-)






    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.





    I wasn't sure what the reaction from readers would be like to my Archibald Lox books. I've greatly scaled back the horror -- while it has its menacing moments, this is a fantasy series, much lighter than Cirque Du FreakThe Demonata or Zom-B. Indeed, one of the reasons I broke Volume One up into three parts and made the first book free was so that if fans didn't like it, they wouldn't feel compelled to read on, and wouldn't have wasted any money on it. To my relief, my fears have proven ill-founded, and the books have generated a great early response from readers, drawing a swathe of positive reviews on Amazon and GoodreadsBloggers have fallen for Archie's charms too. For instance...


    ...Addicted To Media said of Book 1: "Archibald Lox and the Bridge Between Worlds is a perfect middle grade book. It has a beautiful cover and an alluring title with the promise of high adventure. Most importantly? I couldn't put it down and read it in almost one sitting, starting last night and finishing at 5am this morning (I did grab some sleep in between). For grabbing my attention from the very first page and making me excited about a series for the first time in ages, I give Archibald Lox and the Bridge Between Worlds a superb five out of five stars." To read the whole review, CLICK HERE


    ...The Haunted Wordsmith said that Book 1 was "filled with fantastic characters, true to form description, and Shan’s distinct writing style, Archibald Lox is sure to enthrall readers of all ages." Check out the full review by CLICKING HERE.


    ...Philip Aldous noted that, while this is primarily a fantasy series and not horror, "there's an underlying darkness, with villainous assassins called the SubMerged who're hot in the heels of our heroes, as well as twisted humanoid monsters referred to as Hell Jackals." Read the full review by CLICKING HERE.


    ...and Toni Higgs tore through the entire trilogy and published reviews for all three of them! She said of the third: "The book was a thrilling, exciting, and fun ride with a smattering of gore, and it had a satisfying ending with enough of a to-be-continued feel to keep me excited to read volume two whenever that gets released." You can read the full review for Book 1 by CLICKING HERE, Book 2 by CLICKING HERE, and Book 3 by CLICKING HERE.



    AN OTHER #1



    It's always sweet to hit a #1 spot on Amazon -- and doubly sweet if you do it twice on the same day! As you can see from the screen shots above, my sci-novel novel for adults, An Other Place, which I published under the name of Darren Dash, pulled off that remarkable feat last month on Amazon UK. Granted, the categories were fairly niche, but it still had to outsell from very big names, so I'll happily take and crow about the placings! :-) If you're interested in visiting An Other Place, CLICK HERE to be directed to your local Amazon store -- BUT be warned, this book is VERY weird, and definitely NOT for children!!!






    As I said above, these day I write my books for adults under the name of Darren Dash. I've released 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. The most recent is Molls Like It Hot, a fast-paced thriller that's quickly built up a devoted following -- it may well prove to be the most popular of my Darren Dash books, based on the feedback to date. I'm going to be running a sale of the eBook from May 25th to 28th, 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. This is the first time I've offered the book at a reduced price, 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.






    As I said back near the start of the lockdown, I'm perfectly happy for teachers to use my books for online lessons with their students. If that involves teachers or librarians recording themselves reading a book of mine aloud and posting it online, that's absolutely fine. The staff of Court Fields School have been doing this since the very early days of social distancing, and were about three-quarters of the way through Cirque Du Freak at the start of May -- you can check out their efforts by CLICKING HERE. Different staff members and some of their friends and family have been taking turns to read a chapter, and a little dickie bird tells me that they have a very special guest lined up to read the last couple of chapters, so make sure you check back closer to the end of the book...


    When I was writing this post about the school, I popped onto their web site to grab an image to use. While I was there, I noticed that the school is split into four Houses, which are called... Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire and Topaz!!! If you don't know why that news excited me, then you haven't read my Archibald Lox books yet!! I'm wondering if there might be more to the staff and students of Court Fields School than at first meets the Born eye...






    I was delighted to see Archibald Lox and the Bridge Between Worlds listed as one of Childrens Books Ireland's recommend reads on the Sean O'Rourke show on Radio 1 towards the end of April. When you don't have a major publisher whipping up interest in your latest book, it can be tremendously hard to get a mention like this, so many thanks to the gang at CBI for the shout-out -- as well as to my hard-working publicist Catherine who has been firing off word of Archie's debut to her long list of contacts! :-) You can see what else CBI recommended by CLICKING HERE.





    I've been posting an awful lot about Archibald Lox in this newsletter -- hey, it's my first new Darren Shan book in four years, so of course I'm excited! -- but I haven't forgotten my other books, so let's temporarily break clear of those world-hopping stories for a couple of links to books from my Zom-B series.


    First up, there's a YouTube review of the fourth book, Zom-B Angels, by AtheiSocial. This was recorded before the lockdown, when long hair and a beard were a matter of choice, but I think a lot of guys are going to end up looking like this after a few more months of not being able to go to our local barber, so it seems that AtheiSocial was one step ahead of the rest of us on that front!! :-) CLICK HERE


    Next, here's a link to a potentially very useful site called Recaptains, which provides plot summaries for book series. The idea is to provide a recap of early books in lengthy series, so that readers of the later books can quickly remind themselves of what happened previously. They have an entry for the first book in my Zom-B series, so if you read that ages ago but got no further, and are thinking of picking up Zom-B Underground and the rest of the books to continue, and don't want to read book 1 again... then this is the site for you!!! I will just point out that by its very nature it contains HUGE spoilers, so, y'know, if you haven't read Zom-B, you probably shouldn't read this either... CLICK HERE






    I was delighted to hit the Amazon top spot on the Children's Fantasy chart for free books with Archibald Lox and the Bridge Between Worlds, on both Amazon USA and Amazon UK. Top dog on either side of the Atlantic -- nice!!! I actually think it was #1 on the overall free Children's eBooks chart on Amazon USA for a while too, but I didn't think to check that chart until a week or so after the fact -- doh!!!






    A question I got asked a lot in April was -- why no physical copies of the Archibald Lox books?!? Well, it's a bit of a long answer, but here goes...


    Originally I wrote the Volume One story arc as one big book -- and it really WAS big -- the first draft was 80,000 words or so longer than the finished books! Even after I'd edited it down, it still came in at over 105,000 words, which is long for any book, but VERY long for a children's/YA book.


    I decided fairly early on that I wanted to release it as three eBooks, but the problem with releasing paperbacks of those was that it would make it VERY expensive for fans to buy, and I didn't want to be accused to trying to cash in. So I figured I'd release it as three eBooks as planned, but do the physical edition (a paperback) as one big book.


    But I knew that when I released the paperback, I would also need to make that edition available as an eBook, as some fans would want it in that format, as one big eBook with the same cover as the paperback. If I released that edition at the same time as the three shorter eBooks, the different editions would be in competition with one another, and I felt that might confuse things for everyone.


    So I was juggling with all that, trying to work out which way to go with it, when the Coronavirus struck, and that made my decision an easy one.


    As far as I'm aware, Amazon aren't producing or shipping self-published books at the moment, prioritising essential products and other products that don't need to be stored in their warehouses. There are other ways of getting a paperback made and distributed, of course, but Amazon is the main player, and the one I know about from my adult books. There was no way I could release a paperback of Archibald Lox in such a short time frame.


    So I've put the paperback on hold for the time being. My plan, if I self-publish it, is to release it at some point in the summer or early autumn, depending on what happens with the virus and Amazon. But there's also a chance that it might be taken up by a traditional publisher -- they do a much better job with physical books than I could ever do, so if I can get it published that way, that would be my first preference. If that happens, it might mean a longer wait.


    Either way, I'll keep you guys in the loop, and once know more, YOU will know more. For the time being though, it's eBooks only. Sorry.






    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, 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.





    I met up with an old friend of mine shortly before the lockdown started (hi, Cathy!) and we went for a meal and to see a David Bowie tribute act. The next day she was chatting about me with a young cousin of hers, who immediately wanted to know how much I was worth! In the old days there could have been no answering that question, but in this era of the internet that should be a fairly easy fact to find out, right? So she popped online, and lo and behold, there it was, on a site called Celebstrendingnow dot com (Facebook won't let me link to it, so they obviously already know that it's a home of Fake News chancers). And according to them, I'm worth a nice little...


    ...wait for it...


    124 million dollars!!!


    That's not a typo! And there are no decimal points involved!




    Cathy, of course, knew that was absolute nonsense (I've done nicely out of my books, there's no denying that, but nowhere even NEAR that sort of a figure -- if that figure was the Sun, I'm so far removed from it that you'd have to call me Pluto!). But that didn't stop her from dropping me the link accompanied by a cheeky little text: "If I'd known you were worth that much, I wouldn't have paid for the meal last night!!!" :-) :-) :-)






    Let's wrap up this issue of the Shanville Monthly with the first piece of fan art based on my new Archibald Lox books, by the oh-so-incredibly-talented Amity Lee! The art features Archie and Inez, the two main characters in the books -- and you'll find out why there are so many mushrooms when you read the books!!! As I said to Amity Lee, I love this to bits, but I do worry that she's set the bar so high for others to follow... :-)



    IT'S A WRAP!



    And that's it for May. I ran a fun prank post on April 1st, saying that I had decided to record an album of punk and metal songs, using children's musical instruments like those in the photos above. I caught a good few of you out -- heh heh!! I then double-downed on the prank by posting again late that night, saying that I'd decided to release the first three books of my new series a few days earlier without telling anyone -- loads of people assumed that was a joke too, until they checked and realised that not only had I fooled them with a lie, but I'd fooled them with the truth too!! I don't think I'll ever top that double whammy of an April Fools Day joke, so maybe I'll ease up on the pranks next year... or maybe not!!!! Anyway, all pranking aside, I'll be back here at the start of June with 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.





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