• Issue 243 - October 2020

    01 October 2020



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the October issue of the Shanville Monthly. I'm usually very excited when October rolls around, because it means Halloween!! But this year will no doubt be very different to every other, because of the Covid-19 restrictions, so I doubt I'll be getting dressed up and going out for a night of spooky frivolity, or that our kids will be able to go trick or treating, or that any other trick or treating kids will be calling to our house... Oh well, I guess we'll just have to look forward to next year and hope we can indulge in a big double celebration then!!! In the meantime, here's a quick roundup of everything that's been going on in the world of Shan over the last thirty days, starting with a more in-detail update about those Archibald Lox physical editions...






    Following up on last month's post, I have an update for those of you patiently (or IMpatiently!) waiting for the Archibald Lox physical editions. First of all, as I suspected, it hasn't been possible to release them at the start of October. My cover designer has been extremely busy with other work, so I'm still waiting for him to get back to me with the new bindup design for the Volume 1 book, plus the re-jigged covers for the paperbacks of Books 1, 2 and 3. And then I need to have proof copies sent to me, so that I can check that everything is OK before making them available for sale. I'm now aiming for a late-October release -- the "official" date is, of course, October 31st, but if I can release them a bit sooner than that, I will. There's also a small chance I might have to push the date back a bit further, if it takes longer than normal for the proofs to ship to me, but hopefully that's not going to be an issue.


    Anyway, here's some other info to keep you ticking over while the wait continues. First, as I said last month, I'm going to be releasing the three books of Volume 1 as individual paperbacks, for those of you who want to collect them in that format. I don't recommend it -- for a start, it's more expensive -- but if you REALLY want to, then they will be on sale, but only on Amazon. The price will be around the $21 mark for all three books, or the local equivalent in other countries, e.g. £16 in the UK, €18 in the Eurozone, etc


    I'm going to be releasing the Volume 1 bindup edition both through Amazon and Ingrams. It will be called Archibald Lox Volume One - The Missing Princess. Ingrams are a distributor who supply loads of book stores and libraries, so if you want to buy the book through Barnes & Noble or Waterstones or wherever, you should be able to go into your local store and ask them to order it in for you. (I don't think stores will be ordering copies to stack on their shelves -- I suspect it will be demand and supply only.) The cheapest way to buy it is going to be through Amazon, where it will be priced about $16 (£13, €14) or the equivalent in other countries. If you buy the Ingrams edition through a different store, it will cost about $21. (The editions will be pretty much exactly the same -- the only reason I'm using Ingrams for other stores is that it allows me to sell through Amazon at a much lower price.) The paperback bindup will also be available to libraries through Ingrams, so if you want to get it through your local library, they should be able to order in a copy for you, if they're so inclined -- the more of you that ask, the more likely they are to order...


    Finally, there will also be a hardback edition of the bindup, on sale exclusively through Ingrams to stores other than Amazon, plus libraries. To keep costs down, it won't have a dustcover -- the Volume 1 paperback cover will be printed on the hardback cover. I've mainly produced this for the library and school market, as I know many librarians and teachers prefer hardbacks to paperbacks, as they're more durable. But, if you really want to treat yourself (or have someone else buy it FOR you as a treat!) you will be able to order it through any book store that deals with Ingrams. The hardback will cost an eye-watering $30 (£23, €25) -- sorry, but that was as cheap as I could bring it in at.


    For anyone who's curious, I make pretty much the same royalties from any of the various editions, so it makes no difference to me which one you plump for. My advice, if you're happy reading ebooks, is to buy it that way (oh, I'll also be releasing the Volume 1 bindup as an ebook -- it will be the same price as if you buy/bought the three individual titles), as it can be yours for $5. If you prefer a book you can hold and smell and lob at burglers, then the paperback bindup through Amazon would be my call. Buy hey ,YOU'RE the boss!!! :-)


    (And look, I imagine a few of you will want to buy ALL the various editions. You're more than welcome to, and my bank balance will thank you if you do, but honestly, I'm not trying to nudge you that way. As a rule, I don't like it when companies release multiple editions of a work -- comics are notorious for it -- so I feel very uneasy going down that route. I didn't really want to do it, but at the end of the day, I wanted to give everyone the option of buying the book in the format that most suits them. But buying it in ONE format is really the most I want to ask of anyone, so, y'know, if you want to buy them all for YOUR sake, fine, I won't try to stop you, but please don't feel like you have to do it for MY sake...)


    For anyone planning to buy the individual eBooks, you don't have to wait -- they've been on sale for months. 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





    I decided to do a quick check on sales of the first three Archibald Lox books at the end of August -- I'd run a big BookBub promotion, marking the end of my active marketing of the eBooks, so it seemed like a good time to see where we were at. And when I tallied up the numbers across all the different stores where the books are being sold, the total was just slightly north of...


    50,000 copies!!!!


    Now, granted, the vast majority of those "sales" were downloads of the first book, which is FREE, so, y'know, it's not the same as 50,000 "actual" sales! But, still, it's very hard in this day and age to even give away a book for free -- there are so many new books released every day that it's hard to make people aware of a book's existence, especially if you've self-published it. So I'm absolutely delighted with those figures -- now I just hope that enough people who downloaded the first book for free actually read and enjoy it and come back for more, so that I can cover the costs of putting together the paperbacks and then Volumes 2 and 3 over the next couple of years! :-)


    Even though it's fantasy, and less bloody and more carefully paced than my other series (which is the main reason why publishers gave it the cold shoulder), Archibald Lox has been getting a very strong response from readers, with high scores across the various Amazon stores, Goodreads, Kobo, Apple, Google, etc. It's also garnered lots of very strong reviews from bloggers and literary reviewers -- this snippet from The Bookbag nicely summed up the general response for me:


    "I read quite a lot during the seemingly endless lockdown but nothing made me smile quite as much as these first three instalments in the Archibald Lox series. It's always a pleasure to read anything by Darren Shan but here, he's given us something new. We still have plenty of action, loads of wisecracks and jeopardy aplenty, but this series is slightly less nihilistic and takes its time developing the working of its world."



    15 OF THE BEST



    There was an article on the Binge Post site back in July, entitled: 15 Best Fantasy Movies on Netflix [Sci-Fi, Action, Romance, Horror and Supernatural]. You can see the full list by CLICKING HERE. Guess what freaky, vampish little movie from 2009 snuck in at Number 15?!? The news even disturbed Mr Crepsley, who bolted awake and sprung up out of his coffin gasping "WHAT -- SERIOUSLY?!?" :-)


    Heh heh -- I know a lot of my fans absolutely despise the Cirque Du Freak movie, and I have a lot of sympathy for that point of view, as it was only VERY lightly based on the storyline of my books, mixed up a whole load of the characters and themes, failed to capture the darkness of the books, and introduced spoilers from later in the series that should never have seen the light of day this early.


    And yet... as I've been saying even since before the movie was released, on its own terms it's a fairly cool little vampire flick, very different to everything else out there, which ticks along nicely and creates its own rules and feel. Of course I would have preferred a far more faithful adaptation, and hopefully we'll get that one day, but a lot of people genuinely enjoyed the film (sadly, not enough to make it a box office hit, which is why there was never a sequel), and even today, eleven years later, it has its followers and champions, like the reviewers over at Binge Post.





    I recently stumbled across a web page called Cirque Du Freak Books in Order: How to read Darren Shan’s series? It seemed like an odd one to me -- I would have thought it quite straightforward a task. But then I realised that they were including ALL of my vampire stories, not just the Saga Of Larten Crepsley books, but also the short stories that I have written and which are hosted on my web site.


    That turned this into a much more meaningful guide, and as a bonus it also contains the links for the short stories on my site. It's chronological, so it starts with the first Mr Crepsley book and slots the stories in around the relevant books. It all looks pretty accurate to me, except I'd probably place the Shanta Claus short story after Book 3: Tunnels of Blood, rather than at the end. I can understand why they've placed it there -- since I update it annually, it's the most recent piece of work in my vampire canon -- but the vampire scenes are all set just after the conclusion of Tunnels of Blood, so I think it would sit better at that point. But, really, it's a minor quibble. :-) To access the article, CLICK HERE







    Isn't this just the cutest thing ever?!? A little Harkat Mulds plushy, made by a fan called Frances. She's replaced Harkat's normal mask with a Covid-combating mask, and look!! It's detachable, so he can take it off when people are properly socially distanced from him!!! We need these in the shops, IMMEDIATELY!!!!!! :-) :-) :-)






    A fan called Luke wrote to me recently to see if I could possibly help him out with a most unique problem...


    "I'm 26 and have been a massive fan of your works from as far back as I can remember. I'm not certain you'll remember this, but before Demon Apocalypse came out, you ran a competition called 'What the Hell's coming next?" where fans could design cover art for the next book in the series. The winners would be included on the back inside cover in I believe the second edition of that book. I was somehow chosen as a winner (thanks MS Paint) but here's the rub; I already owned a copy of Demon Apocalypse from when it was first released, one that didn't include the winning designs.


    "I've been on the hunt for a copy of Demon Apocalypse with those winning designs in them for over 10 years now and have been unable to find them as subsequent editions didn't include them. This is a loooong shot but would you happen to know where I could find a copy? Someone suggested I contact you directly as authors might have multiple copies from different printings still. I mostly want to see it so I can confirm that it was, in fact, a fairly crap design when compared to the other winner (which even then I could see was miles better). Let me know if this is something you can help out with or if it's complete gibberish to you."


    I'll be honest -- at first it WAS gibberish to me! I had absolutely no recollection of that competition, but I looked back through the Shanville Monthly newsletters from around that time (every issue is archived on my site), and found the info about it OVER HERE


    Then I went looking on my bookshelves and found a first edition UK paperback copy (which is where the winning photos were meant to appear). I fully expected them not to be there (publishers often fail to follow through on things like that)... but they were -- hurrah!!! I've taken a photo of the inside back cover, and attached it to the top of this post, so you can all see Luke's entry (it's the top one). One winner was chosen by the public, the other be ME -- Luke was MY choice and I still stand by it!!!






    In the wake of the Artemis Fowl film flop, plenty of journos were quick to flag up other YA book-series -to-movie adaptations that had fallen at the first or second hurdle, and naturally the Cirque Du Freak film got a mention here and there, as in this article that appeared on Cinema Blend --CLICK HERE


    While the arguments about the CDF movie's qualities (or lack thereof) will no doubt rumble on and on (much like vampires), one thing that can't be denied is that the movie lost a LOT of money. The figure of just under $40 million of a budget that's quoted in the article is the figure that Universal prefer to broadcast, since it spares their blushes, but in truth it was WAY north of that point, and the film would have had to have struck box office gold to merit the cameras rolling on a second installment. That's one of the great advantages that books have over films -- no matter how expansive your vision for a story might be, it costs no more to write a multi-world fantasy story than it does to write a story set in a couple of rooms. :-)






    A blogger called Loz posted a lengthy review of my Saga of Darren Shan / Cirque Du Freak series a while back. It was a bit of a mixed review -- there were things she liked, and things she didn't like -- but well-thought-through and written, and it ends with a nice:


    "I would however deeply recommend these books to people who want a new perspective on Vampires and the like as well as children who are supernaturally inclined."


    You can check out the full review by CLICKING HERE






    Molls Like It Hot, my most recent release for adults under the name of Darren Dash, was recently reviewed over on the World Of Interests blog. The review was in Italian, but Google Translate provides a very accurate translation into English. Some of the excerpts include:


    "Having only read children's books by this author before Molls like it hot, I wasn't sure what to expect... Darren Dash managed to get me to read a genre that I would never have read otherwise... It's definitely not for the faint of heart... There are a lot of plot twists that keep you attached to the book, telling you "one more page..." The ending is pretty bloody and I loved it."


    If that's whetted your appetite, there's plenty more to the review if you want to check it out, and you can do so by CLICKING HERE






    Buzzfeed throws up a real mixed bag of articles, and they aren't always the most in-depth or thought-provoking. But this one from a few months back -- light as it is on details for each entry -- is pretty interesting: Here Are 25 Book Series That Actually Got Better As They Progressed. CLICK HERE to read the article.


    The first book of a series tends to be the one that draws the most readers, as it's the natural starting point for newcomers, and not everyone will progress beyond it. But a really good series improves as it progresses and we get to learn more about the characters and see them in different situations. Indeed, I'd go so far as to say that the success or failure of a series depends more on the last book or two than the first book or two.


    I was pleased to see Cirque Du Freak get a mention, though I scratched my head at the comment: "They lost it around Books 7 through 9." REALLY?!? Personally I thought that's when things kicked up a gear! I guess there's no accounting for taste... :-)






    For anyone who lives in Limerick, or who has spent time there over the last few decades, there was a lovely article on the I Love Limerick site last month, called Top 10 Favourite Old Limerick Haunts Revisited -- to read it, CLICK HERE. It lists 10 iconic nightlife venues in the city -- restaurants, pubs and more. Some are long gone and open only in our memories now, but others are still going strong.


    As someone who has lived in Limerick pretty much my entire life (bar the first six years when I was in London), this list brings back so many happy memories. I saw Billy Connolly in the Savoy Theatre when I was a teenager, and I still haven't laughed as much at any comedy gig since. Friar Tucks was my favourite place to eat in my late teens and early twenties -- chips and a chicken kebab were my favourite, though they did a good burger too. I threw a few shaky moves in the Icon on many a night, though their choice of music isn't really my thing. And you can STILL find me up on the dance floor in Costello's every so often, bopping along to some choice 1980s tunes.


    But the main reason this list popped up on my timeline is that I'm mentioned in it -- venue #10, the inimicable Donkey Fords, an old-style fish-and-chips shop. My parents would take my brother and me there to get a takeaway (it only does takeaway) as a treat when we were kids, and it's been a constant over the four decades since -- I was there most recently just a couple of weeks ago for my standard of whiting, chips and two battered sausages. My fondest memories of the place date back to when I was working for a TV cable company for a couple of years after university, before I embarked on my writing career full time. I had long hair and a bushy beard, and very little money. For much of my time there (until I went on a much-needed diet!) I'd go to Donkeys once a week or so and carry my food down to a tiny park overlooking the river Shannon, where I'd sit on a bench and tuck in, throwing the odd bit of chip to the seagulls who could spot a soft touch and used to gather in their multitudes on the railings ahead of me. I used to draw some very odd looks from people passing by, who no doubt thought me a very odd character -- and hey, they weren't far wrong, were they?!? :-)






    I spotted a couple of articles recently about a young, first-time novelist in Wigan called Taylor Walker, who has cited a meeting with me as a turning point in her path to publication, which was very flattering. The novel is called Dark Blood: The Beginning, and you can read more about the book and Taylor (and me!) by clicking on either of the following links:






    Just to quickly point out -- one of the articles states that I published my first book when I was 21, but that's inaccurate -- I was actually 26. Still very young for a first time author -- I always tell would-be writers in their teens or early twenties that they have LOADS of time to develop, and that they shouldn't feel too disheartened if things don't happen quickly for them. Good writing only comes with time and lots of hard work. I pushed myself harder than most people do when they're starting out (at the expense of anything even approaching a social life for several years), which is why I "blossomed" so swiftly, but if you want to have some fun and life-experiences in your late teens and twenties and even thirties - which I think you SHOULD -- then don't worry too much if you find yourself pushing 30 or even 40 without having made a breakthrough. Time is still very much on your side. Well, unless, y'know, the grim reaper has other ideas for you... :-)





    This is an odd one! A lengthy summary of my novel Lord Loss, by a fan called Saeed, set to music, with a slow zoom in on the book's cover. It goes on for more than a quarter of an hour, so you'll need to set aside a good bit of time for it if you plan to watch it all the way through, but if you're looking for something that merges the demonic with the zen, this might be right up your alley... :-) CLICK HERE





    According to Wikipedia, the number 254 is an even number... a composite number with four divisors... a semi-prime number... a square-free integer... a number nontotient... the maximum number of regions in which a plane can be divided by 22 lines... and a congruent number.


    It's also the number of entries that I received for the September Shanville Monthly competition!!! :-)


    With 7 complete sets of the Cirque Du Freak manga up for grabs (in various languages), that meant each entrant had just over a 1 in 36 chance of winning -- not terrible odds at all, but it did mean that for every jubilant, elated Shanster, there would be another glum, disheartened creatures of the night who would have to trudge away muttering to themselves, "Maybe next time..." Anyway, in the order drawn, here are the names of the lucky 7 who will be tucking into 12 of these beauties in the not too distant future.


    Lisa Bell, UK.
    Becca Bang, USA.
    Jacob Woodfield, UK.
    Bianca Thom, Germany.
    Maria Rehm, Pakistan.
    Cooper, Australia.
    Chloe Proulx, Canada.


    Thanks to everyone who entered. Congratulations to the winners, commiserations to the losers -- but hey, I hope to run another competition before the end of the year, so stay tuned to the Shanville Monthly, and next time it might be YOU... 



    IT'S A WRAP!




    And that's it for October. Like every citizen of sound mind and good conscience, I'm masking up whenever I'm out and about these days, to do my little bit to help slow down the spread of Covid-19 -- but recently I thought, "Why not have a bit of fun with the masks?!?" And look what I found after a quick search online! I might not be able to go dressed up this All Hallows Eve, but hey, with masks like these, every day can be Halloween!!! I'll be back here at the start of November with all the latest news and updates, and maybe one final competition before the year's end. 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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