• Issue 242 - September 2020

    01 September 2020



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the September issue of the Shanville Monthly. I know some sun lovers get sad about the move into autumn at this time of year, but hopefully the double-hitting news about the incoming paperback editions of my new Archibald Lox series and the omnibus relaunch of the Cirque Du Freak manga will help perk you all up! Those are the big stories this month, though there's plenty else to catch up with too, including chart success for Archie, the anniversary of the first issue of the manga, and a promising little update on the potential Zom-B TV series. Oh, and there's a very cool, unusual competition too! Read on to find out more...






    I have a long awaited update for those of you who've been waiting patiently for the paperback edition(s) of Volume 1 of my new Archibald Lox series. I've finally started putting these together, and can confirm that after much consideration I've decided to release both a collected bindup of the first Volume in one book, as well as paperback editions of the three individual titles. So you'll have a choice -- you can buy Volume 1 as a single book and read the story the way I originally wrote it and intended for it to be read (I'll be making this edition available in a digital format too) or you can buy and read it as three short books, the way I broke it down for its digital release. The bindup will have a new cover, very different to the eBooks, while the individual titles will feature the eBook covers.


    My advice is to get the bindup -- as well as putting the story back the way it was, it's going to be a few dollars cheaper than if you buy the three books separately. Although, having said that, I know a lot of you love those original covers and want to see them on your book shelf. You could of course buy both editions, but I'm honestly not doing this for that reason -- I never like to milk my fans, and thought long and hard about just releasing the cost-effective bindup edition, but in the end I decided to give fans the option, as quite a few of you said you wanted to be able to buy the shorter books.


    Oh, and even though I've previously said I wouldn't be doing it (because I didn't think it was a genuine option) it's looking like I might do a hardback bindup edition as well, primarily for libraries, though it could also be an option for those of you who want to seriously splash the cash!!


    I'm aiming for an October 1st release date, but that will depend on a number of factors -- if things take a little longer than anticipated to come together, that could push back to later in October, or possibly even November.







    My Archibald Lox eBooks went riding high in the Amazon and Apple charts last month, on the back of a BookBub promotion and a temporary price reduction of Books 2 and 3. (Book 1 is always FREE, so I can't reduce the price of that one any further!) As you can see from the attached photos, Book 1 got to the #2 spot on the FREE books chart -- that's the overall chart, including books for adult as well as children -- while over on the Apple charts, it hit the top spot in the YA chart -- woo-hoo!!! On Amazon Books 2 and 3 both also soared high on the Children's Fantasy PAID books chart, hitting the #11 and #14 slots respectively, while on Apple Book 1 made it to #7 on the overall FREE books chart.


    Here are direct links for the eBook of Archibald Lox and the Bridge Between Worlds -- 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






    Last month I wrote about how I was trying to nudge my publishers towards releasing digitial editons of all 12 volumes of the Cirque Du Freak manga, as they're out of print and some of them have become almost impossible to track down for less than several hundred dollars each. That's still hopefully going to happen, but in addtion there's a printed omnibus edition of the English language version on the way, which I only found out about when a fan got in touch with me to say that Yen Press had announced on Twitter and Facebook that they were going to release an omnibus edition of the Cirque Du Freak manga. It was the first I'd heard of it -- or so I thought! In fact, when I looked back through my records, I found that Yen Press had approached me in late 2018, asking if they could produce an omnibus edition of the manga, featuring two titles in each volume. (So, Volume 1 would collect Books 1 and 2, Volume 2 would collect Books 3 and 4, etc.) I agreed to this, but then so much time passed that I assumed they'd changed their minds and decided not to proceed with the plan, and I forgot about it!


    Anyway, it's been a long and complicated journey -- because the manga was originally published in Japan, my Japanese publishers control the copyright -- but there does finally appear to be light at the end of the tunnel, with Yen Press announcing a date in January for the release of the first omnibus edition. There's much about this that still has to be clarified, such as will they release all six volumes of the omnibus at once, or if not, what will the waiting period between each volume be? Will these only be available in the USA, or in other countries? And we're still working on making a digital edition available, though it's unclear whether this will happen at the same time as the omnibus editions, or if it will now be pushed back. I'll share those answers as and when they get answered, but for now, manga fans can stick 19th January 2021 in their diaries... and keep their fingers crossed!!! :-)


    Oh, and here's the link to the omnibus page on the Yen Press website, though there's not much info there yet, and some of the details listed appear to be incorrect -- I think it's going to be much longer than 208 pages! CLICK HERE






    Tying in neatly with the post above, I clocked the following tweet on Twitter from August 23rd, on Weekly Shougakukan Edition @Wsstalkback which said:


    "On this day in 2006 Takahiro Arai started his first serial in WSS --an adaption of "The Saga of Darren Shan." Arai won a contest to be the illustrator of this manga that ran from August 23, 2006 to February 18, 2009 and now will see an English re-release by Yen Press in 2021."


    Wow -- hard to believe it's been 14 years since the manga began! I remember very vividly when my Japanese publishers asked me to choose my favourite from the five or six shortlisted artists. Each of those had been asked to roughly illustrate the first chapter or two of the manga, showing how they would adapt the story from the books if chosen to be the series artist. I was like a kid in a candy store as I read through them!


    There were no words (or if there were, they were in Japanese), so I had to base my decision purely on the visuals and how the story flowed. All of the artists were incredibly talented, and some had a lot more experience than Takahiro Arai and their work was much more polished. But his storytelling ability shone through -- there was a pace and life to his work that for me placed it quite a long way ahead of the others, even though it was clear that this was a young artist with a lot still to learn. I told my Japanese publishers that although I would support whoever they chose, Takahiro Arai was my first choice to adapt the books. Luckily they saw it the same way (or perhaps were swayed by my advocating for him) and went with him, and the rest is freaking beautiful history!!!


    All 12 volumes of the manga were released in English in the USA and the UK, and in lots of other languages too, but it's been a long time since they came out and they were never reprinted, so they've become very hard and expensive to track down. As the tweet pointed out (and as I've posted above), they're finally being reprinted in English, in an omnibus edition, with two volumes per book, starting in January 2021. Hurrah!!!!





    When I posted on Facebook and Twitter about the Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus a few people queried whether there was any chance that the manga might be adpated into an anime. While you can never say never in this business, I'd have to say it seems fairly unlikely. There was some interest in an anime many years ago in Japan, when the series was still fresh and selling like hot cakes, but because of the Hollywood movie deal, the character rights were all tied up -- while Hollywood is sometimes happy to adapt an anime to turn into an American movie, as far as I'm aware they rarely (if ever??) allow anime to be made of books that they have bought for adaptation, as they would see it as a potential clash of interests. While the TV and movie rights reverted to myself a while back, as I've said before, we're in the middle of trying to get a Cirque Du Freak TV show up and running, so again the rights are tied up with that, meaning that even if there was interest in making an anime (and as far as I know there isn't) it's unlikely it would be given the green light right now.


    A few people also wanted to know if anything was happening with The Demonata or Zom-B or any of my other work, regarding possible adaptations. Sad to say, it remains quiet on the demon front -- I hope it will get adapted one day, but I think we're going to have to wait for a fan of the books, with a vision for how they could be adapted, to become an established movie or TV writer or director or producer -- I think the "suits" find the books either too confusing with three narrators and all the time jumps, or too gory, or both!!


    Better news on the Zom-B front, where things are progressing nicely with putting together a series plan for a TV show. We haven't yet started pitching to the big players, but we're extremely close to that point. I read the latest pilot script a few days ago, and like the Cirque Du Freak script all those years ago (which I hated -- as I've often said, I enjoyed the finished movie for what it was, but when I read the script and saw how different it was going to be, my heart sank), it brought tears to my eyes -- but this time they were HAPPY tears, as the writer has completely "got" the vibe of the books, stayed largely faithful, but made some very good changes and tweaks to suit the needs of the different medium. Keep your fingers crossed...






    A fan called Kendra is putting together an online Cirque Du Freak fanzine, and is inviting submissions from anyone who might be interested -- drawings, cosplay photos, written pieces, photos of sculptures or 3D pieces... You can read a bit more about it in the photos above, and if you'd like to submit, you have until September 27th, and can do so using an online form that Kendra has put together, which is accessible by CLICKING HERE.






    I haven't watched the Artemis Fowl movie yet, and although I will at some point, based on all the terrible reviews, it's not something I'm looking forward to, which is a real shame. I loved the books (still have to finish them -- I'm rather behind on quite a few major series, which is why I never have a dig at readers who fall behind on mine -- I know how hard it is to keep up with a multi-book storyline!) and Eoin Colfer in the flesh is one of the funniest, nicest guys I've ever met -- we became quite good friends, though our paths haven't crossed in a while. (Remind me some other time to tell the story of how the pair of us came face-to-face with Tony Blair in Number 10 Downing Street and I introduced us as "the Irish contingent.")


    I was really hoping for a great Artemis Fowl adaptation, one that would knock the ball out of the park (as our American cousins would say) and manage to get past the difficult-first-movie hurdle that's stopped so many books series adaptations dead in their tracks -- Cirque Du Freak included. My stomach dropped when the reviews started to come in, and I felt so bad for Eoin. Hopefully it will get resurrected one day and done proper justice second time round -- that seems to be what all us YA series writers are praying for these days!!!


    Anyway, one of the reviews caught my eye for a couple of reasons. It was on the Pajiba site, it was very amusingly written (I think Eoin will have admired its reviewer's wit, even though she savaged the movie), and it dropped a funny reference to the Cirque Du Freak film very close to the end. If you want to check it out, CLICK HERE






    Mystic Shan strikes again!! A fan called Charlotte spotted these paragraphs when re-reading the first Zom-B book and drew them to my attention. I'd actually forgotten this section. I knew the series had predicted the rise of the racist far-right and the ways that their rich paymasters, in league with bought politicians, would seek to manipulate us and drive us down paths of their choosing (I occasionally get criticised by a stray Trump supporter or two who accuse me to disrespecting him with this series, unaware that they were written years before he launched his bid for the White House), but the mention of lockdown had slipped my mind. Thanks, Charlotte, for a very good and timely spot! :-)





    A couple of months ago, back when J K Rowling was Public Enemy 1 in the eyes of some people, the CBR site put together a list that they called "Here Are 9 Fantasy Series to Read INSTEAD of Harry Potter." They listed some extremely cool series that I'm a fan of, as well as some that are unfamiliar to me, and I was tickled to see Cirque Du Freak named among them, and humbly pleased when they noted that "Though the saga doesn't specifically address queer themes, its promotion of tolerance and celebration of diversity... has earned the books a modest queer following -- at least from those unafraid of the dark." You can check out the full list by CLICKING HERE


    I don't wish to reopen old cans of worms (or cans of old worms!), so I'm not going to comment on the transphobia controversy that led to such a list being put together in the first place, except to state that while I respect J K Rowling's right to express her views, and actually found it very interesting to read what she had to say on the subject, personally I DO see trans women as women. What I will say is that despite our differing stances on this issue, I read and loved the Harry Potter books when they came out, and they have consciously and subconsciously influenced quite a bit of my work over the last couple of decades (especially my Archibald Lox books), and I still consider them must-reads for anyone who loves escapist, empowering fantasy.


    I always think an author's work needs to be separated from the author, as very few of us make for model citizens -- an interesting mind is very often a strongly flawed machine. Also, those "flaws" can be extremely subjective -- I've often spoken about the need for tighter gun control, and while many of my readers have applauded me for those views, others have derided me or even cast my work aside and vowed never to read another word that I write. Some of my favourite writers are people who I probably wouldn't like to spend much time around in the flesh, as we differ in many key ways on many key issues, but I've never let that bother me or turn me away from their work -- I'd rather read a great book by someone I despise, than a bad book by someone I was best friends with.


    In short, in my opinion, regardless of whether we stand with or against J K Rowling on the issue of trans people, any list like this should be titled "9 Fantasy Series to Read AS WELL AS Harry Potter," because those books are the cream of the crop, and if you deny yourself the pleasure of reading them, you're the one losing out.






    Brothers To The Death was reviewed over on the Book Lover blog a while back, and seems to have rather taken the reviewer's breath away, literally, judging by the opening line of the review:


    "Let's begin by saying I was left speechless for a few days but now, I think, I am ready to tell you about this amazing book and series finale."


    CLICK HERE for the full review.


    That's the sort of reaction you always hope for as a writer! For those unfamiliar with the book, it's the fourth and final book in my Saga Of Larten Crepsley series, which tells the story of Mr Crepsley's life across the two hundred years before he ran into Darren and Steve at the Cirque Du Freak. This one in particular holds a special spot in my heart, as it's the only one of my books that very nearly moved me to tears as I was writing it -- there's a scene near the end, where Larten faces the most devastating moment of his life, and I'd always start to well up when I was working on it! But I'd strongly recommend reading the first three books before you graduate onto this one, or it won't have quite the same impact...





    I shared the "Cirque Du Freak" song by Necronata with everyone last month, and there must be something in the air, because some other musically-inclined Shansters have been busy little bees in recent times...



    First, I was sent an email five months ago (yikes! I should have shared it long before this! Sorry!!) by an old Swedish translator of mine (by "old" I mean somone who translated my books into Swedish a long time ago -- not that he's an old guy) called Jan. He said that he and his wife had been working on some songs for quite a few years and were finally taking them public on their web site. If I liked them, would I mind sharing the link with my followers? Well, I did like them, so here, somewhere belatedly, is the link, and you can check out the songs in the Audio & Video section of the site. CLICK HERE



    Secondly, a fan of my vampire books, called King Mel, was reading Birth of a Killer, Book 1 of the Saga Of Larten Crepsley series, and decided to compose a cool little piece of music for the scene in which young, human Larten bumps into old, vampish Seba Nile in a crypt, and his life is changed forever... CLICK HERE


    I love that scene -- it was one of my favourites to read out loud at events. A year or so before the book came out, before I'd announced what my new project would be, I'd read it out while I was touring. I'd say very little about it, just tell audience members that this was a story about a boy who lived two hundred years ago, and then go ahead and read it. It was only right at the very end of the scene, in the crypt, when Seba proclaims his name and asks the boy for his, that I'd say, "I'm Larten... Larten Crepsley." At that point, fans would realise who the book was going to be about, jaws would drop, eyes would light up, and sometimes I got very audible gasps, and even the odd excited whoop or two. :-)


    Oh, and King Mel had forgotten this, so I figured I should point it out. When Larten first enters the crypt, Seba asks him, "Are cobwebs a treat where you come from?" The line is a little Easter Egg throwback to the original series. There are lots of little links (and sometimes very big links -- I was amazed by how many people missed the Daniel Abrams/Spits Abrams connection!) in the Mr Crepsley books, so if you're thinking of reading the two series again in the near future, I can pretty much guarantee that you'll spot something you missed the last time round -- if you pay attention, that is...



    fINALLY, a fan of my Demonata books, called Bob Bobin, put together an album of hip-hop tunes that was cheekily entitled... Lord Floss!!! I'm not sure if Bob took direct inspiration from the books, of just thought it would be fun to reference them, but it was a nice tip of the hat -- the "borrowed" cover was fun too, but let's not tell my American publishers about it, or they might get cranky and start moaning about copyright issues... :-) CLICK HERE






    I was intrigued to get an email from Taschen a few months ago with the header: Seba's Cabinet of Natural Curiosities. For those unfamiliar with Taschen, they're a publishing company, and they specialise in beautiful niche books, often very large and very expensive, often highlighting the work of artists or movie makers. (I recently picked up huge tomes about Charlie Chaplin and the first three Star Wars films, in a cut-price sale -- sweet!) I've bought from them before, which is why I'm on their mailing list, but this header threw me. Had the quartermaster of Vampire Mountain, Seba Nile penned a publishing deal with them without my knowledge?!? Was this to be an expose of the world of the creatures of the night?!? And if so, how would Vancha March take to being called a natural curiosity?!?


    As it turned out, the book was penned by a different Seba -- 18th century naturalist Albertus Seba, and the book was described thusly: "Albertus Seba’s catalog of natural specimens is not only one of the 18th century’s greatest natural history achievements but also one of the most prized natural history books of all time. Inspired from a rare hand-colored original, this collection gathers all his extraordinary illustrations of strange and exotic plants, snakes, corals, as well as “double-headed monsters”, dragons, and many more."


    So, nothing to do with Larten Crepsley's old mentor, but still I thought it might be of interest to Cirque Du Freak fans -- I suspect Mr Tall bought a copy of the original long ago, and who know, maybe he even helped Albertus out with a few of the entries -- so if you'd like to visit the Taschen site to find out more (and maybe even pick up a copy) CLICK HERE






    With Covid-19 on the resurgence in many countries, this drawing by a fan called Keroromo, shared with me early into lockdown, seems sadly more timely than ever. It depicts Darren, Mr Crepsley and Gavner Purl -- I'm not sure if it's the lockdown that has stressed out Mr Crepsley, or Gavner's snoring!! :-)


    My son Dante started back at school late in August, and like parents everywhere, Mrs Shan and I are worrying about how that's going to go. The government in Ireland has done a pretty good job overall of keeping down the Covid-19 cases, but there have been a few big outbreaks recently, which is troubling. The staff at his school are as on top of it as the staff at any school can be, so we've full confidence in them -- but no one can know for sure how this will play out until we're a few months in. I was reading through the new list of school guidelines a few days ago and for a few moments it just all seemed so overwhelming. I had to step back, take a deep breath, remind myself that we WILL get through this, then returned to it in a calmer mood.


    I think a lot of us have faced moments like that over the last several months, when the weight of the world seems to be pressing down on us. I've had quite a few people ask me if the pandemic has given me any good ideas for stories -- indeed, many seem to assume that this is a ripe old time for me on the creative front. But funny as it might seem, I've no interest at all in writing about a group of characters who are stuck indoors watching too much TV! :-) Besides, I've already DONE all my pandemic writing -- and I'm not just talking about Zom-B, when killer viruses are a key part of the plot. If you look back through all my work, the one overriding message that runs through pretty much my entire oeuvre is that no matter how bad things get, we can always overcome the odds stacked against us. As a species, we've survived far worse than Covid-19 in the past, and will survive probably far worse in the future. We're good at battling through and coming out the other side. So, if the times are getting you down and you're feeling kind of glum, think back to when Darren was being washed through the heart of Vampire Mountain are failing his trials... to when Grubbs was locked up in hospital after the brutal massacre of his parents... to when B Smith watched with horror as her heart was ripped from her chest.


    They bounced back from those major setbacks, and we'll all bounce back too. Trust me -- I'm a story teller -- I know about these things... :-)






    A fan called Amity Lee recently posted this picture of the Japanese paperback editions of The Saga Of Darren Shan. She'd taken off their glossy dust covers to find pictures on the covers of the books inside, and realised that if you put them all together, they formed a huge single picture, which you can see in the photo below. She was amazed by the beautiful work that had gone into this, and to be honest -- so was I!!!


    I genuinely can't recall whether or not I knew about this before I saw Amity Lee's photo. The books were published a long time ago, so it's perfectly possible that I was told about this at the time, and have simply forgotten over the years, but equally there's a fair chance that this was something that slipped my notice at the time. These came out during the peak years of my public success, when I was jetting all around the world on tour, and new editions of my work were coming out somewhere on the planet almost every month or two. It was a lovely, crazy time, and some big things did pass me by during all the hubbub -- years later, I'd find holes in my collection and notice that I hadn't been sent certain books by certain publishers -- hell, there were even some British editions that were never sent to me, and they were my closest publishers of all, the ones I was most in contact with!


    So, yeah, it's perfectly feasible that my Japanese publishers included this secret covers design without telling me, or that they did tell me but I then forgot it and never put the covers together once the paperbacks had all been sent to me. Or, yeah, maybe I've seen them all together like this before and simply forgot.


    Either way. they look absolutely stunning, so I'm delighted to be able to share them with you all. (Maybe "again," if I've shared them here in the past!)


    If you'd like to check out what the books look like with their dust covers on, CLICK HERE





    When I found out the news about the Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus, and that August 23rd was the 14th anniversary of the publication of the first issue of the manga in Japan, I thought it might be nice to offer up some manga prizes in a competition, so I went scouring my shelves to find out if I had anything I might be able to use, and to my pleasant surprise I found that I actually had quite a lot, so I'm offering up seven -- yes, SEVEN -- complete sets of the manga... but there's a catch!! They aren't in English. I don't have any more spare sets of the American or British manga editions, but I did find FOUR sets from FINLAND, and TWO sets from SOUTH KOREA, and ONE set from TAIWAN. So, if you don't speak any of those languages, you'll only be able to look at the pictures -- but, hey, they're very PRETTY pictures!! And even if you can't read them, I would imagine the chances of anyone outside of those countries owning any of these books is very slim indeed, so you'll probably end up with a set that virtually no other Shanster in your country owns. Well, unless you live in Finland, South Korea or Taiwan, of course!


    Anyway, when you enter, please state if you have a preference for any particular set (for instance, if you're from Finland or can read Finnish, then I imagine you'd prefer one of those sets to a Taiwanese set...). And before anyone asks, yes, I will sign all of them -- yes, all twelve volumes in all seven sets! So, if you'd like to be in with a chance of winning, read on...


    1) Answer this question: "On what date in 2006 was the first issue of the Cirque Du Freak manga published in Japan?"


    1a) Please state if you have a preference for any of the sets -- Finland, South Korea, or Taiwan. If you have no preference, that's fine too. I can't guarantee that I'll be able to supply every winner with their preferred set, but I'll do my best.


    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, Monday, September 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 Tuesday, September 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 September. By this time next month, I hope to be able to tell you all about the physical editions of the Archibald Lox books and where you can buy them, though there's a good chance they won't have hit every online store that swiftly, so we might have to exercise a bit of patience on that front. There might be some manga updates too, and who knows what else -- at the start of every month, I always worry if I'll have enough news to fill the next issue of the newsletter, but so far that's never been a problem, as plenty of items tend to come along over any thirty day period. I hope I haven't jinxed myself now by saying that!!! :-) Anyway, I'll be back here at the start of October with all the latest news and updates, however many or few they might be. 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.