• Issue 241 - August 2020

    01 August 2020



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the August issue of the Shanville Monthly. Summer's a traditionally quiet time in the YA book publishing world, but I've got plenty to report on regardless, including news of an upcoming sale... a round-up of last month's blog tour... a Cirque Du Freak song... and lots, lots more. Let's kick things off with info about that sale...






    Nobody could accuse me of setting over-inflated prices when it comes to the first three books of my new Archibald Lox series. Book 1 is permanently FREE to download, while book 2 costs just $1.99, and Book 3 is only a slightly more expensive $2.99, meaning you can get the entire first Volume (there will be three Volumes in total) for less than $5, or its equivalent in other countries.


    BUT, as pleasingly priced as the books already are, you'll be able to get them even cheaper this month! Basically, I've managed to snag a BookBub promotion. For those who don't know about BookBub, it's a site that offers its followers loads of cool book deals, and all the books are either free or heavily discounted. There are lots of these book promotion services, but BookBub is by quite a long way the king of the hill, and pinning down a slot is very difficult. I've finally managed to have the first Archibald Lox book accepted by them, which will hopefully bring it to the attention of thousands of new readers who were completely unaware of it before.


    To tie in with the promotion and make the most of the opportunity, I'm going to be temporarily reducing the cost of Book 2 and Book 3 of the series to just $0.99 each, which means you'll be able to snag all three books for just under $2!!! I'm guessing most of you reading this have already heard about the Archibald Lox books and downloaded them, but in case you haven't, you might want to wait a few more weeks to make your purchase...


    The promotion is due to run from August 13th to 20th, and will be featured across all the stores where the Archibald Lox books are on sale -- Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Google Play, Apple, etc.


    Oh, and for those of you waiting patiently for the paperback edition(s) of Volume 1... the good news is that I have started looking into this. It's going to take a while to line it up -- I want to make it as widely available as possible, so as well as producing an edition through Amazon, I'm also going to be producing an edition which will be on sale through other stores too -- but I'm hoping to release it a good bit before the end of this year. I'm still mulling over whether to release it just as a single large bind-up, or to also make it available as three smaller books, for those who like the digital covers and want paperback editions to match. If you've any thoughts about that, let me know, and it might help sway me one way or the other...


    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. You'll easily be able to find Books 2 and 3 while you're on the Book 1 page of your store of choice.


    AmazonCLICK HERE   Google PlayCLICK HERE   Other storesCLICK HERE





    I went on an 8 day blog tour in July, promoting the first three Archibald Lox books. It turned out to be quite a bumpy ride, for all sorts of reasons (I think my publicist Jennifer is still recovering!). While it didn't quite go according to the original plan, and seemed set to fall apart practically every day, it all came together in a fun way in the end, and has left us with a wealth of fresh material to relish. To make it easy for you to see what went down, where and when, here's a handy little round-up list with links.


    DAY 1 -- in my introductory tour post on my own blog, I created a Mood Board, CLICK HERE.

    DAY 2 -- again on my own blog, I featured a lengthy Q&A which had been due to appear on the original tour organiser's blog. CLICK HERE.

    DAY 3 -- I finally made it off of my own blog, for reviews of the three Archie books on Rajiv's Reviews. CLICK HERE.

    DAY 4 -- I did a fun interview on the Ally Shields blog. CLICK HERE.

    DAY 5 -- back on my own blog, I featured a Behind The Covers article, explaining the story behind the Archie covers. CLICK HERE.

    DAY 6 -- I did a rare video interview for Books, Tea, Healthy Me. CLICK HERE.

    DAY 7 - there was a double header on The Reading Corner For All. First, they featured a deleted scene from the third Archie book -- CLICK HERE. They also reviewed the books -- CLICK HERE.

    DAY 8 -- there was also a double delight on the final day, on Mind of Luxe, with a review and another deleted scene, this time from the second book. CLICK HERE.






    I've recently had quite a few shocked reactions from fans looking to buy the manga editions of my Cirque Du Freak books. The manga was originally released in Japan from 2006 to 2009, and was then released in translated editions in lots of countries across the world, including the UK and USA. (I was involved with the translation back into English -- I went through the translators text and made lots of little changes and tweaks, to bring it more firmly in line with the language of the books.) There was a healthy print run, and they sold nicely, but surprisingly I don't think they've ever been reprinted, and since it's been a decade or so since they came out, that's made them quite hard to buy for readers who are just finding out about them and looking to track them down. It's also made some of them VERY expensive, such as the little bad boy in the photo above, which will set you back about £400 or $600!!!!


    Hey, the manga are GREAT, but they're not worth THAT much!!!!


    As far as I'm aware, there are no plans to reprint the manga, BUT don't despair -- I've been on this case for a while now, gently nudging my publishers along, and we're working on relasing digital versions of all 12 volumes in the not too distant future. That means you'll be able to buy them the same way you buy an eBook, at a MUCH more reasonable price. It's proving to be a tricky, time-consuming business, because of rights issues and technological issues, but we seem to be getting there, so hold tight, and don't take out a mortgage to buy the print editions, OK?!? :-)



    MASK UP!




    Last month, I asked any artistic Shansters who might be thinking of drawing any of my characters in the near future if they could possibly display them wearing masks, as I think we're all going to have to get used to that as we move forward through these troubled times, and it might help if we see people we admire -- whether real or fictional -- leading the way and setting the trend. There was a swift and wonderful response, and I featured as many of the drawings as I could over a number of posts during the first half of the month, I've featured a few of them above -- Juni Swan, drawn by Emma. Mr Crepsley, by Steph. Evra and Darren, by Kendra. Amd Kurda, by Jess. I've thrown in a photo of myself too, wearing a lovely pumpkin mask that Mrs Shan sourced for me -- I draw lots of admiring glances when I wear it when I'm out and about! If you scroll back through my recent blog tour entries (there's a post about that earlier in this newsletter, and if you click on the link for Day 1, you'll easily be able to access the other seven days) you can check them all out -- and they're really worth checking out.






    An Australian musican who goes by the name of Necronata has just released a new single called Cirque Du Freak, with a really cool accompanying video. It's a deliciously dark mix of metal, pop and punk -- VERY catchy!! You can read a bit more about it and check it out by CLICKING HERE


    Now, I've written lots of times in the past about how the phrase "Cirque Du Freak" has crossed over into common parlance over the last twenty years, and is often used without any reference to my books, sometimes by people who'd never even heard of my books. But in this case I've a sneaky suspicion, prompted by the lyrics of the first two verses (below), that Necronata is a confirmed Shanster, and deliberately paying homage to my work...


    I wrote a symphony
    From the sound stilettos
    Snapping all the necks
    Of all the zombies in club
    Like a Darren Shan novel
    Coming back from the dead
    This grub's hooked on that
    Same demonic drug love


    If you want to go straight to YouTube to watch the video in full screen, CLICK HERE


    And if you'd like to check out an interesting interview with the artist from a few months back, when he was still working on putting this song together, CLICK HERE






    There was a fun article published over on Buzzfeed a couple of months back, entitled 20 Book-To-Movie Castings That People Actually Kind Of Hated. It's one of those pieces of internet fluff that shouldn't be taken too seriously, but which will kill a few minutes of your time and make you nod in agreement or scowl with incredulity at least a few times. To read it, CLICK HERE


    I was firmly in the latter camp when it came to number 6 on the list, which was John C Reilly as Mr Crepsley in the Cirque Du Freak movie. I know he divided opinion, with a lot of people unable to separate him from the more comical characters than he's become famous playing, but in my opinion he's a brilliant, versatile actor, who's graced many a fine serious movie (one of the most recent being Stan & Ollie, when he nailed Oliver Hardy to a heartbreaking tee). I loved it when he was cast as Mr Crepsley, as I always felt the actor playing him should be more of a quirky bent than a dashingly good-looking leading man. And he actually read all the books in the series and championed their cause with the team adapting them, pushing to have the film more faithfully reflect the tone and story of the books -- unfortunately, the writer/director had other ideas. Still, I felt he was the best thing in the movie, and that its best moments all happened when he was on screen.


    As I've always said, I enjoyed the movie on its own terms, for what it was, but I fully understand those fans of my books who look upon it as an abomination, as it really did take massive liberties with the story and characters. I'm more than happy to respect the opinion of those who hate it and do their best to blank it from their memories, and I never try to argue a different point of view with them. But when it comes to John C Reily in it... no, sorry, I'm not having it! He's a great actor, he turned in a cool little performance and gave his all with the material he was dealing with, and that's that -- end of discussion!!!! :-)






    I did an interview with IndieReader several months back, when I released my most recent Darren Dash book for adults, Molls Like It Hot. They didn't publish it for a few months, and when it did hit the net, I was in the middle of my promoting my new Archibald Lox series, and never quite found the right time to slot it in. But now that I've slowed down on the Archie promotional front (at least until I release the paperback edition of Volume 1, which will hopefully be later this year), I'm finally finding time to get round to sharing the many articles and pieces of fan art which have been accumulating since early spring time.


    It's a nice, sharp, short little interview, mostly focusing on Molls Like It Hot, but covering some other areas too. If you'd like to check it out, click here: CLICK HERE


    And if you're unfamiliar with my Darren Dash work, you can find out more about those books on the official Darren Dash web site: http://www.darrendashbooks.com/






    There was a fascinating episode of the Why do we read this? podcast a couple of months ago, where the co-hosts look at the similarities between the original Pinocchio story and The Simpsons and... Cirque Du Freak! One of the hosts has read the CDF books, and is describing them to the other host, who is unfamiliar with the novels, which makes for an interesting format. They start talking about Cirque Du Freak around the 40 minutes mark, although you might want to listen to the entire thing from the start to tie it all together... CLICK HERE


    At one point they question whether I carried the story on past the first trilogy in the series only because sales were positive. i.e. did I sign a contract for the first three books with my publishers, wait to see how they went, and then sign another contract to write more. It's a perfectly legitimate question, because there are lots of writers who do work that way, but it's not MY way.


    I always write want I want to write, then worry about the publishing side of things further down the line. With Cirque Du Freak, I'd written the first draft of Book 2 even before we sold the first book -- in fact, I wrote it even when it looked like Cirque Du Freak WASN'T going to be published, as no publishers were interested in it. And I was working on the first draft of Book 9 (Killers of the Dawn) when Book 1 was released in January 2000. So, if the books hadn't sold well (and while they ticked along nicely in the UK over the first couple of years, they certainly weren't instant bestsellers by any stretch of the imagination) and my publishers had decided to bow out early, I'd have "wasted" three years of my life, working on books that would never see the light of day. But, y'know, I wouldn't have looked on it as a waste, because I loved the story that I was creating, and I was determined to tell it all the way to its conclusion.


    As my self-published newest Archibald Lox series proves, I'm all about the story, not the sales. It's lovely when books of mine get publishers excited and get released by traditional publishing houses and reach a much wider audience and sell like hot cakes. But if publishers don't see what I see in a story, I push on regardless. For me, the story is king, and I'm just a loyal servant.





    A fan of my Lord Loss novel called Jessica decided to film a trailer for it as part of her graduate class. It's a dark, creepy little video, well worth the couple of minutes or so of your time that it will take to watch. You can check it out by CLICKING HERE






    As I've said previously on this page, one of my favourite reviewers is George Bastow over on the Books, Films & Random Lunacy site. It's not just that George usually gives my books a glowing review -- always a good starting point! -- but he writes in a very smooth, clever, amusing way, fashioning reviews that are genuinely entertaining to read, as opposed to a review that simply says, "Yeah, read it, liked it." I'm not saying there's anything wrong with a short, blunt review -- like any author, I'll take any bit of praise that's going a-begging! -- but I appreciate the time and effort that a more dedicated reviewer like George puts in. Which is why you should take a few minutes to check out his review for my first three Archibald Lox books -- not for my sake, not even for the books' sake, but for George's sake!! :-) CLICK HERE


    While we're on the subject of Archibald Lox, the lovely drawing above is by Amity Lee, depicting a scene from the first few chapters of Book 1, when my locksmith crosses universes and runs into a very strange girl in the shadows of an abandoned aqueduct. She tells him her name is Inez. He tells her his name is Archie. It's the beginning of a beautiful friendship, but from that point on, nothing for Archie will ever again be the same... It's interesting that Amity Lee chose this scene to illustrate, as I wouldn't be at all surprised if we return to this aqueduct in Volume 3, which will hopefully see the light of day a couple of years or less from now. There's a little secret lurking in the shadows that I think we missed the first time round...






    I'm hard at work on the first draft of the third volume of my new Archibald Lox series -- 250 A4 pages in, but still a long way to go! While I was beavering away on it one day late in July, I had to nip back to check out some sections from the first two volumes, which reminded me of how much I've done with the story already, and all the different places I've wandered with it, which for some reason reminded me of... Hyperion.


    I've spoken of my influences in quite a lot of interviews over the last few months, citing some of the books and authors that were very consciously on my mind when I was putting together the framework of the new series. (I'm sure there were plenty of unconsious influences too.) I've mentioned the likes of Diana Wynne Jones, Urszula Le Guin, Neil Gaiman and J K Rowling, but one author and series of books that I forgot to tip my hat to are Dan Simmons and his incredible Hyperion Cantos books.


    The four-book sci-fi series was spread out over the course of the 1990s, beginning with Hyperion, continuing with The Fall of Hyperion, then - after a sizeable break, which also reflected a sizeable break in the storyline - conluding with Endymion and The Rise of Endymion. It's a mammoth, twisting, mind-bending story, covering centuries and involving a huge myriad of characters, plot-lines and settings. It's science-fiction at its most ambitious and finest, incredibly dense and otherworldly in many ways, but also very human and moving. It took me on a ride like no other, and was definitely in my thoughts when I began piecing together the universe of the Merge.


    My Archibald Lox series is fantasy, not sci-fi, and I'm sure it won't ever hit quite the manic heights that the Hyperion books did -- I like to consider myself a nicely skilled teller of tales, but Simmons in full flow and on form is a beast of a whole different kind, and his best books (Carrion Comfort, the Hyperion Cantos, The Terror) are among the very best that the genres he works in have ever seen -- but I hope some of the scale and wonder of that series is mirrored to some degree in my own. I've aimed BIG with the Archie books, telling one boy's coming of age story on a grand scale, involving lots of locations and a cunningly structured narrative that doesn't really all come together until the last few chapters of the final Volume, and Simmons' Hyperion Cantos played a very important role in pointing me down that path and challenging me to stretch myself to my very limits as a writer... and then stretch some more.


    If you haven't read the Hyperion books yet, I highly recommend you go hunt them down as soon as you can. They're winners! And hey, when you're finished with those, if you liked them, come give Archibald Lox a try -- like sprinters chasing Usain Bolt in his prime, he won't win in a race with the Hyperion books, but I like to think he'll run them a moderately close second or third... :-)




    Just under 400 of you entered the July Shanville Monthly competition, meaning everyone had almost a 1 in 80 chance of winning -- much better odds than if you do the Lottery!! But in the end there could only be 5 winners, and the names that came out of the hat in the random online draw were, in the order drawn...


    Shaleiya Raya, USA.

    Summer Wright, USA.

    Denise Spencer, New Zealand.

    Sarah Carre, United Kingdom.

    Alfie McAlister, United Kingdom.


    I was able to supply four of the five winners with the T-shirt of their choice, which was nice -- I was worried that all five would choose the same one! Thanks to everyone who entered. Congratulations to the winners. And better luck next time to everybody else.



    IT'S A WRAP!



    And that's it for August. The Shan clan were due to go on a trip to Mallorca later in the month, but we've knocked that on the head because of the Covid-19 situation, and instead will be spending a few days on a staycation in Ireland a bit earlier in the month. We probably won't get the sunshine, but the welcome will be warm and the scenery will be spectacular, so hey, you won't be hearing any complaints from us! Expect a few photos in my Sunday family-snap blog posts over the coming weeks (and maybe months!). I'll be back here at the start of September 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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