• Issue 246 - January 2021

    01 January 2021



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the first 2021 issue of the Shanville Monthly! I had a little bit of a scare on Christmas Eve -- after going to the cinema with my son, I got the shivers on the way home, and ran a touch of a temperature later in the day. I was pretty sure it was nothing serious, but because of the high temperature, I had to play it safe, so the Shan clan went into isolation for a few days over the Christmas period, until I'd been tested for Covid and got my results... which, thankfully, turned out to be negative -- phew!! It meant it was our quietest Chirstmas ever, and I'm sure plenty of you guys had an enforced quiet one too, but hey, that means we'll just have to party twice as hard at the end of 2021, right?!? Anyway, we're at the start of a brand new year, and while it's sure to be rocky for the first few months (or more), hopefully by summer time we'll start to return to something like normal, and things will get better and better from that point on. One thing you can rely on is that I'll be here at the start of every month with the latest Darren Shan news and updates. Speaking of which, let's kick off 20201 with...






    There was a major interview with me in The Jumble Magazine last month, which is a Belfast-based publication that focuses on Irish-based writers, artists, musicians, etc. -- that's the interviewer, Colin, in the photo above. This is the biggest, most in-depth interview I've given since I was busy promoting my new Archibald Lox books back in the spring, and I cover an awful lot of ground -- I chat about the differences between traditional publishing and self-publishing, why the Archie books struggled to attract a publisher, some of my inspirations for An Other Place (one of my Darren Dash novels for adults), and lots more. Definitely worth a look, and you can check it out by CLICKING HERE






    There was a short but sweet review for the first three Archibald Lox books over on the CBI (Children's Books Ireland) site recently, in which the reviewer stated "the writing is fluid and the action is fast... Book 1’s hell jackals are brilliantly terrifying... The world-building is extremely creative... A modern, Alice in Wonderland-type fantasy." You can read the full review by CLICKING HERE


    For those of you who might be scratching your heads, wondering who on Earth this Archibald Lox is... Well, in 2020 I released the first Volume of my new Archibald Lox series, firstly as three short eBooks, then later in one big collected edition. The cheapest way to buy them will always be as eBooks, but I also released paperback editions of the three small books, plus a hardback and paperback version of the bind-up. Read on for where you can get the best deals... 


    1) If you're looking to buy a hardback edition of The Missing Princess, (which collects the three shorter books into a single edition) the best deal seems to be on Book Depository, which (at the time I'm writing this at the start of the month) is selling it at a 17% discount (about $26.23 instead of its regular price of $32), with free shipping worldwideCLICK HERE to be directed to your country's branch, where you'll be shown the cost in your local currency.


    2) You can get the paperback of The Missing Princess on Amazon or Book Depository at the same price ($16),and they seem to be the stores offering the best price -- CLICK HERE to be sent to your local Amazon store, or CLICK HERE to be directed to your local Book Depository branch.


    3) The cheapest way to buy Volume One in a physical edtion is to buy The Missing Princess, which collects the three shorter books into a single Volume, and is significantly cheaper than buying them individually. BUT if you would prefer to buy the three shorter books as individual books, I've produced paperback editions, but only through Amazon stores worldwide. CLICK HERE to buy Book 1... CLICK HERE to buy Book 2... and CLICK HERE to buy Book 3.


    4) As I said above, the very cheapest way to buy the books is in digital format. You can buy Volume One as three separate books (book 1 is always FREE if you want to try before you buy) or as one big bind-up called The Missing Princess. In either case, the price is the same, just under $5 or your local equivalent. Click on any of the links below to find out more about the books and to buy:


    Book 1 on AmazonCLICK HERE   Book 1 on Google PlayCLICK HERE   Book 1 on Apple, Kobo, B&N, etcCLICK HERE


    The Missing Princess on Amazon: CLICK HERE   The Missing Princess on Google Play: CLICK HERE   The Missing Princess on Apple, Kobo, B&N, etc: CLICK HERE






    I uploaded a video in Christmas Day, in which I wished everyone a Merry Christmas, and read out my own updated version of Twas The Night Before Christmas. If you'd like to check it out (7 and a half minutes in total) CLICK HERE and enjoy! :-)






    Well, THIS was a nice surprise!! I was checking my sales figures for the Archibald Lox books just before Christmas, and noticed there had been an unexpected extra thousand or so downloads of the FREE eBook of Archibald Lox and the Bridge Between Worlds, book 1 in the series. Curious, I looked into it, and found out that most of the purchases had been in Australia, where I'd got to #6 on the overall Free Kindle Books chart, and #1 on several others, including the Free Fantasy And Sci-Fi chart. Sweet!!!


    As far as I can determine, the bounce in sales seems to link back to a post on a site called OzBargain - https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/592579 - which was posted by a fan of my books who saw that the book was free. If correct, that just shows how powerful word of mouth can be. Many thanks, "winnytp" -- you've made my day -- good on ya, mate!!! :-) :-) :-)






    I've shared plenty of memes (usually Cirque Du Freak memes) here in the past, but I only recently became aware that there are Cirque Du Freak vines out there too. If you don't know what vines are, don't worry, you're in good company -- I didn't know either!! (Well, there are lots of vines in my Archibald Lox books, but they're a different type of vine!) Turns out they're short video clips of random stuff that get "assigned" to characters from books, as the clips remind viewers of those characters. Still confused? Watch the few that I've collected below and you'll quickly get the general idea... :-)














    I'm always amazed by how far across the world's consciousness I've managed to stretch with my books. When I wrote the first draft of Cirque Du Freak back in 1997, I was living with my parents, drawing unemployment benefits, and apart from a trip to Spain when I was an infant, and a school trip to France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany when I was a teenager, I'd never travelled outside of Ireland and the UK. The idea that my name might one day be recognisable in countries on the far side of the world... well, I'd have said it was fantasy.


    But to my surprise and delight, that's what happened, and even though my most recent Archibald Lox books haven't enjoyed the same kind of globally conquering success as my vampire books, they set antenna twitching far beyond the confines of my home country when they were released back in late March. In fact I even got a mention in The Times of India, in an article about how the pandemic had affected the release of new books. You can check it out by CLICKING HERE







    If any Shansters are planning on celebrating the New Year by buying any of my Darren Dash books for adults, I thought I'd point out that they're also available from Book Depository as well as Amazon. I'm mentioning this for two reasons -- 1) because I know not everyone likes buying from Amazon, and 2) I think Book Depository might deliver to some countries that don't have their own Amazon store. The prices are much the same as on Amazon, maybe slightly higher, but not a huge amount in it. So... y'know... you have options... :-) CLICK HERE and search for Darren Dash in the Author box.


    This is also a good time to mention that I dropped the eBook price of my most recent Darren Dash novel, Molls Like It Hot, so it's now just $2.99 or your local equivalent, like all the other Darren Dash books. The Dash eBooks are currently only on sale through Amazon stores worldwide, but I'm going to look into changing that next year, to make them more widely accessible. CLICK HERE


    And if you're unfamiliar with my Darren Dash books, and want to find out more about them, CLICK HERE. They cover all sorts of genres -- one is horror, of course, but another is sci-fi, a couple are thrillers, and one's even a Shakespearean-inspired Comedy! -- and have enjoyed great reviews from critics and readers. 



    We all know that the Cirque Du Freak movie has been streaming on Netflix in most parts of the world for the last few years. (We DO all know that, don't we?!? Well, if some of you didn't know it before, consider yourselves just brought up to date! Although, having said that, it recently seems to have concluded its current run in many countries -- hopefully it will pop back up again in the not too distant future.) But if any of you have been having any difficulties finding in on Netflix, maybe you've been looking in the wrong category, because as you can see from the attached screenshot, a fan called Ash recently spotted it listed among the... DOCUMENTARIES!!! I was a bit gobsmacked when I first saw that, but then I recalled that I did say in Book 1 that it was all a true story, so I guess there's a case to be made that it COULD actually slot into that category... :-) :-) :-)






    There was an article on BuzzFeed a while back entitled 29 Book-To-Movie Adaptations That People Really Want A Redo Of. I've no idea why they chose 29 as opposed to a nice round number like 10, 20 or 30, but then again, why do lists like these always have to conform to a standard number of entries?!? Dagnab it, I like their style, and from now on I want EVERY list to include weird, random numbers -- no more Top 10s, I want Top 17s!!!!! :-)




    Anyway, the Cirque Du Freak movie got a mention. I've posted a lot of positive articles about the film over the last several months, but as I've always said, I don't do that because I feel under any obligation to big it up -- I simply include links like this as and when I stumble across them online, and in recent times most views of the movie have been rosy-tinged. But plenty of reviewers and fans didn't like it to, so this one's for you guys -- feel free to get your boxing gloves out and give it a right good pounding!!!! :-)




    Oh, one last thing. The reviewer doesn't think a TV reboot is ever going to happen, but the word on the streets (well, in the tunnels) of Vampire Mountain is that the reviewer might well be proved wrong. Mr Crepsley and co want to strut their freaky stuff again one day, and they're picking away at the powers that be in TV land, trying to make it happen, so hopefully we WILL see a (hopefully more faithful) small screen adaptation one day in the not too distant future...






    If you could only keep one book by your favourite author... which one would you keep?!?


    That's the question that a vlogger called Caz asked herself a while back over on YouTube. She went through several of her fave authors, picking one book from each, and wouldn't you know it, I was one of those authors. Caz hummed and hawed over her final choice, and came close to choosing Cirque Du Freak (which I guess would be the one that most of my fans would choose -- though I might be wrong!), but in the end she plumped for the book that just happens to be the one books of mine that *I* would also keep if I was forced to choose... The Thin Executioner. Thwack!!!




    For years, whenever asked, I said I didn't have a favourite out of my books, which was true, but then The Thin Executioner came along, and something about it just resonated more deeply with me than the other books I'd written. I'm not saying it's my "best" book -- it's certainly not my bestselling book, and my publishers were very lukewarm about it -- but yeah, if all of my books were about to be pulped and erased from the world's archives, and I could only grab one to keep, it would be this one.


    How about you guys? As Highlander once said, "There can be only one... Darren Shan book!!" Which one would YOU keep?!?









    Last month I wrapped up my (current) run of photos of cosplaying Shanster by sharing some snaps of two fans called Jake and Kevin, cosplaying as Mr Crepsley and his mad nemesis, Murlough. (Correctly pronounced Mer-Lock, by the way, not Mer-Low.) It's a fight to the death, and while Murlough looks to have the upper hand in the early part of the battle, we all know who's going to come out tops in the end, right?!? :-)


    You can check out Jake's Instagram page for loads more photos by CLICKING HERE


    And you can check out Kevin's Instagram page by CLICKING HERE





    On December 31st, for my final blog post of 2020, I turned -- as I had so many times last year -- to the artwork of Amity Lee, who'd drawn a couple of lovely pictures of various characters from my new Archibald Lox series. In the books, a boy from our world finds his way into another universe, known as the Merge, which is split into several realms, each one ruled over by a number of royals. In the first drawing Amity Lee depicted the four royals of one of those realms -- from left to right they're King Farkas, Queen Pitina, King Hugo, and Princess Ghita.



    The second drawing featured Cal, a loveable big bear of a man (Hagrid was certainly a literary ancestor of his!), and Baba Jen, a grumpy 600 year old actress trapped (willingly) in a young girl's body. She was a heavy drinker in early drafts of the books, but I ended up removing those references, so now she mostly drinks milk -- though I always grin to myself when I spot a milk reference, because I know that in reality she'd rather be hitting the hard stuff, and she's probably cursing me out for all she's worth!! :-)



    I very purposefully chose these drawings for my end of the year post, because although it had been a long hard year, what with Covid and lockdowns, it was also the year that I returned to the market with a new Darren Shan book (well, three of them!), and when I look back on 2020, of course I'm going to recall it as being something of a horror show, but I'm also going to look back on it with fondness as the year that saw the launch of Archibald Lox. When I look at these drawings, as well as admiring them for their artistry, they remind me that there are always -- ALWAYS -- bright sparks to be cherished, no matter how dark the times in which we live. And I think that's a good thought to take with us into the new year. Things will get better. They WILL. 2021 will bring new vaccines, new relief, recovered freedoms... and three more Archibald Lox books! :-) 2020 is done and behind us. It's time to look forward with hope.



    IT'S A WRAP!


    And that's it for January. As I said at the start of this newsletter, hopefully the latter half of this year will see the world return to a more normal track. From a personal point of view, I'm looking forward to the year -- I plan to release the next three Archibald Lox books, probably somewhere around the middle of the year. (I'm currently mulling over whether to release them all at the same time, or one a month, or one every two months, or...) I think the lockdowns halted the march of the potential Zom-B TV adaptation -- although a script for a pilot was completed earlier this year, I imagine the team behind it haven't been able to pitch as they would have any other year, but hopefully they'll be able to start setting up meetings and laying plans as things get back on track, and with luck it will get picked up by a production compeny. And we might see some stirrings of a Cirque Du Freak adaptation too... So, if the luck of the vampires is with us, 2021 could turn out to be a very exciting, productive year on the Shan front -- unless we get whacked with another dan pandemic!!! Anyway, I'll be back here at the start of February 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.





    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.