• Issue 240 - July 2020

    01 July 2020



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the VERY special July issue of the Shanville Monthly. Why is it so special? Well, because this is the 20th anniversary birthday issue of the launch of my monthly newsletter!! Yep, it was way back in the dark ages of July 2000 when I put together my first ever issue of the Shanville Monthly and uploaded it online at the start of August. I was still very new to the world of the internet in those days, and it was a very different place to the finely-tuned beast that it is today -- I was on a landline dial-up, and it could take an awful long time to upload even the simplest of documents -- there was no way I could have included all the graphics that you'll see in the current issue, as it would have taken an age. Up to that point, I would email occasional new items to anyone who had signed up to my mailing list, which was fine when there wasn't much to report -- but as Cirque Du Freak started to gather momentum, there were more and more items to inform my followers about, so it made sense to start doing a monthly newsletter, where people could swing by and check out the news in one easy go at the start of every month. I've never looked back!


    July is also the month when I celebrate my birthday, but that's no big thing, especially as I don't hit any significant milestones this year. But 20 years of the Shanville Monthly... I genuinely didn't think I'd ever make it this far. I still have moments when I wonder if I'm going to be able to scrape together enough interesting pieces for the next issue, but I've yet to come up anywhere near short, even though I'm not as busy as I used to be, not touring, and not releasing as many books as I was several years ago. Anyway, I think you'll all agree that a special anniversary like this calls for a special competition. I've been doing more competitions than usual this year, since it's also 20 years since the release of Cirque Du Freak, and this month I've come up with something even a bit more special than normal. Scroll on down to find out more -- the competition info, as usual, will appear near the bottom of the newsletter, after all the news and updates...






    As many of you probably already know, I write 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 -- and over the last couple of months I've been putting the ebooks of each on sale at a highly discounted price. The last of my sales is currently live, until 11pm on Saturday July 4th, and it's the first book that I actually released under the Darren Dash name -- The Evil and the Pure. It's a very dark crime thriller set in London at the turn of the millennium, and until July 4th, the ebook will cost just $0.99 on Amazon.com or £0.99 on Amazon.co.uk You can buy the American edition by CLICKING HERE. And the British edition by CLICKING HERE.






    I'm going on a blog tour of the USA from July 7th to 12th. I'm going to be popping up on a different blog on each day of the tour, and each one will have its own unique flavour and angle. The dates, links and other info are below. It should be a lot of fun -- hopefully you'll all be following me virtually every step of the way... :-) 


    July 6th - I plan to post a little Welcome Post on my own blog and Facebook page to kick things off.

    July 7th - Rajiv's Reviews - Review.

    July 8th - Books, Tea, Healthy Me - Video Interview.

    July 9th - I'm planning to add another post here, if not as a guest on someone else's site, then on my own blog.

    July 10th - Willow Writes And Reads - Review + Playlist.

    July 11th - The Reading Corner for All - Review + Favourite Quotes.

    July 12th - Mind of Luxe - Review + Favourite Quotes + Mood Board.






    A new interview with me appeared on CILIP (the UK's library and information association website) recently. I discuss my new Archibald Lox series, the difficulties of world-building when you set a story in another universe, writers who influenced the new books, when we might expect to see Volume 2, and a whole lot more. It's a short but wide-ranging interview, highly recommended. You can read it by CLICKING HERE


    just in case any of you still haven't heard about the new books... I released the first three eBooks of my new ARCHIBALD LOX SERIES at the end of March. The books make up VOLUME ONE of the Archibald Lox series and are meant to be read one after another if possible. 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. 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.


    Book One is FREE to download. Book Two is $1.99 or an equivalent price in other countries. Book Three is $2.99 or the equivalent price. Here are direct links for Book One -- I've provided specific links for Amazon and Google Play, then a general link for all the other places where they are available. AmazonCLICK HERE   Google PlayCLICK HERE   Other storesCLICK HERE


    If you're in two minds whether or not to check out my new Archibald Lox series, perhaps this video review by Content Consumer over on YouTube will convince you that it's worth a try. The reviewer reviews all three of the books that have been released to date, and is careful not to include any spoilers. You can watch it by CLICKING HERE






    There was a very nice feature about me in the Irish Farmers Journal last month, and no, I haven't swapped writing for farming -- it was included in the Irish Country Living supplement. :-) I talk about writing, my career, my new Archibald Lox series, and plenty more -- it also explains the origin of my Darren Shan pseudonym... You can access the article by CLICKING HERE. You will have to join the site to be able to read it, but that's very simply done, and you can unsubscribe immeidiately afterwards if you wish.





    I did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session over on Reddit on Wednesday, June 3rd. I answered loads of questions, about new books, old books, the writing process, the Cirque Du Freak movie, and lots more. If you'd like to check it out, to see what questions fans asked, and how I answered, just CLICK HERE.






    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.


    Alternatively, there's also an amateur audio version of Cirque Du Freak that's been shared with students by the staff (and their friends) of Court Fields School. I would normally never officially allow anyone to post audio recordings of my books online, but when lockdown started, I agreed to let teachers and librarians do this if they were teaching my books in class, so that they could continue to teach them to students over the internet. The Court Fields gang have now recorded all 33 chapters of Cirque Du Freak (book 1), each chapter read by somebody different. And they brought in a very special guest to read out the final two chapters -- ME!!!! I thought it would be a fun thing to do, and I'd never read out those chapters before (I've actually read out very few scenes from my books over my two decades of touring), so I gave it a go, and you can listen to those, or the entire book if you want, by CLICKING HERE






    The Museum of Literature Ireland recently launched a strand called NovelTeens, in which authors provide some writing tips via short videos for up-and-coming writers. Each piece is about 5 or 6 minutes long, short and to the point. I contributed a piece about editing, which is the fourth of the videos to air, and you can check it out by CLICKING HERE. Even if you have no interest at all in writing, you might want to check it out, if only to catch me in "shaggy mode"-- I've been letting my hair grow wild during lockdown, and I'm starting to look like a sheep!!! It's actually grown even longer since I recorded this a few weeks back -- soon I'll be more hair than man... :-)






    I'm a bit late sharing this piece of news, but the Cirque Du Freak movie has been streaming on Netflix Canada since May 5th, as you can see by CLICKING HERE. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, I'll leave it to the people of Canada to decide... :-)


    The movie has been streaming on most Netflix stores across the world in recent years, so if you've never seen it and you're interested in seeing how they butchered -- I mean, adapted my books, go check and see if it's playing in your local store. Heh heh! As I've said for the past decade since it came out, I actually enjoy the film on its own terms. It's an odd, quirky little movie with a strange but very talented cast, by no means perfect, but probably quite a lot of fun if you've never read the books and are coming to it as a Shirgin (a Shan virgin!). But, yeah, it can be hard to stomach if you're already a fan of mine from the novels, as it does take tremendous liberties with the source material. Oh well, it's better to have an unfaithful movie adaptation that none at all... isn't it?!?





    There was an interesting article on Screen Rant a while back, about 10 YA book series that were adapted into movies but failed to enjoy anywhere near the kind of success of the Harry Potter and Twilight movie series. You can read the article by CLICKING HERE


    Cirque Du Freak was one of the ten on the list, and regardless of one's view of the movie, there's no denying it was a box office flop, hence the lack of any sequels. I think the list highlights two intriguing things. The first if that it's very difficult for movie makers to successfully adapt a book series -- they fail far more often than they succeed. The second thing is that a few of these have gone on to be far more successfully adapted for TV, which suggests that maybe that's a better medium for large-scale story-telling.


    Work is still ongoing on a possible Cirque Du Freak reboot (although everything has stalled at the moment, because of Covid-19), and the plan is to go down the TV series route with it, if all works out. We haven't yet got to the stage where we'll be pitching the idea to studios, so it's very early days, so don't go getting too excited. Hopefully, if it gets off the ground, it will enjoy some of the success of shows like A Series Of Unfortunate Events or His Dark Materials -- although there are plenty of flop TV shows too, so, you know, don't anyone go counting any chickens just yet!!! :-)






    As a lifelong lover of the horror genre (surprise!) I'm always on the lookout for new angles. Sure, it's still fun just to be scared or grossed out if it's done in an entertaining way, but what I really I love is seeing how truly creative writers and directors can take horror off in directions that are able to surprise even a longtime aficionado like me. You think you've seen everything, and then a Guillermo del Toro comes along and you realise there are so many more places that the genre can take you. So I was very pleased to see an article called "Surreal Horror: A Seven-Book Starter Pack" over on the Nightfire site a while back, talking about horror books that run a good bit weirder than the norm. And I was even more pleased to see one of MY books in among the seven -- Procession Of The Dead, which was actually the first book I ever published way back in 1999 (under its original title, Ayuamarca). If you've never read any of my work for adults (and although I found fame as a children's author, I was writing for grown ups first), this gives you a little taste of just how strangely they can run... CLICK HERE for the article.






    This short video by a book blogger over on YouTube brought a happy lump to my throat and a cheerful tear to my eye. Really. CLICK HERE to find out why -- the bit that's relevant to me starts at the 1 minute 48 seconds mark, and runs to the end... :-)






    There was an author interview with debut novelist Rachel Hobbs on the Hasty Book List site recently. The first question was, "Which author do you draw inspiration from?" And, well, I don't think anyone's going to be expecting a prize if they guess what her answer was... :-) :-) :-) You can check out the full interview by CLICKING HERE


    If the name of Rachel Hobbs seems familiar to some of you, and you're scratching your head, wondering where you've heard it before... then you've probably read one or more of my Darren Dash books for adults. Because before her foray into novels, Rachel was a keen blogger who wrote reviews of my Dash books, and I've featured a few quotes from her on the covers and Amazon pages. I'm delighted she's made the leap to being a published author, as I know she's been building up to this for a long time, and I always love it when a fan of my books soldiers on through the rocky years (we pretty much ALL face rocky years) and goes on to release work of their own. If you'd like to check out Rachel's novel, Shadow-Stained, you can find it on Amazon (I'm sure it's on sale through other Amazon stores around the world too, if not elsewhere) by CLICKING HERE






    This is a very sweet post from the Tombstones And Books blog (the blogger is also known as Molly Marie, whose artwork and cosplay I've featured on my own blog and Facebook/Twitter pages quite a few times). The blogger talks about the books that made her, from Guess How Much I Love You, right through to Cirque Du Freak -- and it's not too often that I see my books sharing the same post as something like Guess How Much I Love You!!!! She talks about the books she loved as a child, why she loved them, how they impacted on her life. It's short but lovely, the kind of post that all of us who love books will immediately be able to relate to. You can check it out by CLICKING HERE






    Back in March, a fan of my Cirque Du Freak / Saga of Darren Shan series called Connor set himself the task of reading all twelve books in the space of twenty-four hours. It was a mammoth undertaking that pushed Connor to both his physical and mental limits. Thankfully for the rest of us, Connor filmed himself throughout the course of his "ordeal" and edited it all together into a very amusing half hour video over on YouTube. If YOU have ever thought of challenging yourself to read an entire Darren Shan series in the space of a single day, watch how Connor got on -- then think again!!! :-) CLICK HERE to watch the video.



    TOP 100



    I often get asked to recommend books to readers who've enjoyed Cirque Du Freak or one of my other tomes and want something else to move on to while they're waiting for the next Darren Shan novel to come trundling along. I've always got plenty of recommendations up my sleeve, based on books that I've read and enjoyed over the years, but nowhere near as many as The Reader Teacher, who put together a pretty comprehensive list of 100 (yes, One Hundred!) recommended books for children in Year 6 -- i.e. children about 10 or 11 years of age. There are so many books in here that I love -- HolesThe Hobbit, Artemis Fowl, Charmed Life (which was a big influence on my Archibald Lox books -- see below), The Graveyard Book, Skellig... It makes me want to read all the ones that are strangers to me, to find out if I'd love them as much as those that I'm familiar with! You can download and print off a poster or checklist of the recommended reads (especially useful if you're a teacher or librarian), and you can find the links for those, along with the titles of all 100 books, by CLICKING HERE




    To celebrate the twenty year anniversary of the Shanville Monthly, as well as my birthday, and the ongoing 20th anniversary of the release of Cirque Du Freak, I''ve done a sweeping search of the Shanville vaults and come up with five sets of four VERY rare prizes -- I'd say any one of the four items in any of the five sets would probably be near impossible to track down if you set out to get it today, and as for tracking down all of four of them... not a hope in all the hells of the Demonata universe! So, what do I have for you? Well, each of the five winners will receive all three of the posters modelled (rather poorly, I must admit) by me in the photos below.


    The first one is, quite frankly, an astonishing find. It's a promotional poster for Cirque Du Freak, made by my British publishers HarperCollins, to be sent to book sellers, librarians, schools and so on -- and it dates all the way back to when the book was first released, in January 2000!!! I had no idea that I had any of these in storage, and I'm amazed that they've lasted so well. As far as I'm aware, this is the FIRST EVER piece of Darren Shan advertising merchandise. If I'd found these before I found anything else, in all honesty I'd have probably stopped there and offered only these as the prizes this month, since they're such incredibly rare items. But luckily for you guys, I'd already put most of my five sets together, and I'm in a generous mood, so I'm also including...

    An American poster for the Cirque Du Freak series, which was made to tie in with the release of the final book, Sons Of Destiny, and one of my tours to the States to promote it.

    And rounding out the trilogy of super rare posters is the British tour poster for my Sons Of Destiny tour. This was a massive tour, the biggest I'd done to that date (October 2004), and the poster lists all (well, most of) the spots that I hit while on the road. A true piece of Darren Shan history.


    The posters by themselves would, I'm sure you'd all agree, be more than enough -- but I'm not stopping there!! Each of the five winners will ALSO receive one of the following T-shirts that various publishers of mine have made over the years -- I've included photos of the front and back if there is an image on the back, or just the front if the back of the T-shirt is blank:


    Taiwan, on tour to promote my Cirque Du Freak books. Size -- Large. (But quite a small Large!)

    Taiwan, on tour to promote my Demonata books. Size -- XL.

    USA, a T-shirt made by Universal to tie in with the Cirque Du Freak movie. Size -- XL.

    Japan, on tour to promote my Cirque Du Freak books. My publishers hired a theatre for a couple of days and transformed it into a Darren Shan fantasy world, and we put on shows there. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Size -- XL.

    USA, on tour to promote Cirque Du Freak. These were made for my first tour of the USA, in October 2001, and I've worn these at events far more than any other T-shirt in the years since. Size -- XL.


    When you enter, you can request which T-shirt you would prefer -- Taiwan Cirque Du Freak OR Taiwan Demonata OR USA movie OR Japan tour OR USA tour. I can't guarantee that I'll be able to provide you with your preferred choice if you win, but I'll do my best.


    I will sign all of the posters and T-Shirts.


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


    1) Answer this question: "Which T-shirt you would prefer if you win -- 1) Taiwan Cirque Du Freak, or 2) Taiwan Demonata, or 3) USA movie, or 4) Japan tour, or 5) USA tour?"


    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, Tuesday, July 14th, 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 Wednesday, July 15th, 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 July. I hope you've all enjoyed the 20th anniversary issue as much as the 239 that preceded it! :-) It's a huge milestone, and hopefully there will still be plenty to come, so let's raise our mugs of Vampire Mountain's finest ale to the next twenty years and beyond!!!! I'll be back here at the start of August with the next batch of 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.