• Issue 248 - March 2021

    01 March 2021



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the March issue of the Shanville Monthly. The Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus has been going down a treat with readers -- its oversized format means the pictures are more impressive than ever -- and in this newsletter I've listed some of the many places where you can buy it, either as a paperback or eBook. There's a wide variety of other posts this month, covering everything from a song about a road in Ireland... a packet of coffee... a pop quiz... and some missing spider legs. The one thing they all have in common? Me!! Read on to join the freaky dots...






    The first Volume of the Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus went on sale on Tuesday January 26th. The omnibus will print two books at a time, so Volume One includes Cirque Du Freak and The Vampire's Assistant. Volume Two is due to be released in April, and Volume Three in July. You should be able to order the omnibus from any shop that sells English language manga. CLICK HERE for the official Yen Press page for the book, which includes links to several American stores. Fans in other countries can either order through their local manga specialist, or through somewhere like their local Amazon store by CLICKING HERE or Book Depository by CLICKING HERE.


    Alternatively, if prefer to read manga on your digital devices, the first two books are now available to buy as eBooks. The publisher, Yen Press, issued them through Comixology (which is the Amazon manga store -- the link below should direct you to your local branch), Kobo, B&N, and probably other stores too. They work out about half the price as the collected paperback edition, so they're good value. I'm including some links for the first book below -- there are links for Volume 2 on the Volume 1 page.












    A young Irish singer called Tolu Makay made a big impression on New Year's Eve. She covered an old song called N17 by The Saw Doctors (a song which I love, incidentally, and often play, especially when I'm running on my treadmill). It was part of a New Year's Eve programme on RTE in Ireland, but quickly went viral globally, as it's an absolutely gorgeous, heart-stirring rendition. You can check it out by CLICKING HERE


    Last month there was a nice interview with Tolu in the Irish Independent, in which she answers questions about the amazing reaction to the song, and her life in general. One of the first questions she got asked (and it's a question that should feature in EVERY interview, in my opinion!) was what was the first book she ever fell in love with? You can find her answer, my freaky friends, by CLICKING HERE






    I was recently interviewed by Katie Flannery, part of the Limerick Voice team, for a podcast in their Limerick Treasures series. It's a long audio interview, just over thirty-seven minutes, in which I chat about writing, my career, and living in Limerick. You can listen to it on Spotify by CLICKING HERE It should also be available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Breaker and Castbox.


    If you don't have time to listen to the entire interview, Katie also wrote up an article, capturing some of the highlights, which you can read by CLICKING HERE


    There's also a short, two minute video clip of me on the Limerick Voice Facebook page, taken from the interview, if you want to put a ruggedly handsome face to that beguilingly melodious voice... :-) :-) :-) CLICK HERE






    There was a lovely review for the first Volume of the Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus, on AMP: Asian Movie Pulse. The headline was: "Takahiro Arai brings the world of Cirque Du Freak to life with a wonderfully macabre aesthetic that homages manga series of the past." If you're in two minds about whether or not to give the manga a try (perhaps you're still hurting from the unfaithful movie adaptation...) this will hopefully help convince you that it's both faithful to the books, while at the same time being a glorious work of art in its own right. CLICK HERE for the full review.






    As I revealed last year, Electric Shadow Company have been trying for a quite a while to develop a TV adaptation of my Zom-B series, in collaboration with another company called Fantastic Films. They hired a writer, Susan Connolly, who has produced a script for a pilot, and hopefully they'll be able to interest one of the big players (e.g. BBC, Netflix, HBO... the usual suspects!) into pumping in the money required to take things to the next stage and actually film it.


    I think the pandemic has thrown a big spanner in the works of the TV and movie industry, as it has to most industries, so there hasn't been much movement forward since I last spoke about this -- if things start to return to some kind of normal this year, it should free the team up to go out and start pitching again. But Susan recently spotted the holder page for the project on the Electric Shadow Company website. She thought it looked pretty cool, so she shared it with me. And I thought it looked pretty cool too, so I'm sharing it with... YOU!! :-) CLICK HERE for the holder page:






    I'm planning to release the next three books in my Archibald Lox series (which together will form Volume 2) later this year, possibly over the summer -- I plan to release them close together, because it's one big storyline and I don't want readers to have to wait too long between installments. They'll be available as eBooks and paperbacks, with a collected bind-up edition (hardback, paperback and eBook) to follow either later in the year or in 2022. I'll be confirming the release dates within the next month or two, but for now, if you haven't read read Volume 1, 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 books into a single edition) the best deal seems to be on Book DepositoryCLICK 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,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






    Maven of the Eventide is a reviewer of all things vampiric. She reviewed the first three books in my Saga Of Darren Shan series a while ago -- Cirque Du Freak, The Vampire's Assistant and Tunnels of Blood -- and now she's back with the next three, Vampire Mountain, Trials Of Death and The Vampire Prince, which form the Vampire Rites trilogy. This is a lengthy, very funny review, which neatly summarises the three books, reflects on the vampire world that I created, and occasionally wickedly and cleverly pokes fun at them and at me. Very highly recommended! CLICK HERE






    Last year a fan of my books called Kendra put together a Cirque Du Freak fanzine, which featured a lot of cool fan art, fan fiction and more, all inspired by my vampire novels. In December she was at it again, this time putting together a mini-zine with some of her friends and contacts, as part of a Secret Shanta. The mini-zine features a nice smattering of new fan art, and there's a new piece of fan fic too. Best of all, it's absolutely FREE! CLICK HERE for entry.









    The Mystery of the Missing Legs. That sounds like the title of some surreal Agatha Christie novel, doesn't it?!? But in actual fact this is far stranger than anything the famed mystery author ever came up with, and we're not talking about human legs here -- we're talking about... spider legs!!!


    Basically, a fan wrote to me recently to point out that some of Madam Octa's legs had gone missing from the UK editions of the Saga Of Larten Crepsley books. There were four books in that series, and as a nice little visual bonus, my publishers, HarperCollins, included an illustration of Madam Octa across the spines of the fours books, so when you put them all together on your book shelf, they stood out.


    BUT!! Somehow, over the years, the ends of her legs, which appeared on the book 4 (Brothers to the Death) spine VANISHED! You can see the set with the missing legs in Photo 1, and a close up of the book in Photo 3, while photos 2 and 4 capture the way it SHOULD look.


    An investigation was launched, and it turns out that something went awry with the file for that cover at some point when the books were reprinted. Nobody noticed at the time, so we're not sure how long this has been an issue. HarperCollins have corrected that now, and reinstated Madam Octa’s legs in the files for future printings -- they have some stock left of the latest reprint, but will make sure it’s fixed the next time the books are reprinted.


    Mystery solved! My apologies to anyone with some missing legs in their collection -- all I can offer by way of compensation is the knowledge that you have one of the more unusual sets of my books, and hopefully you'll smile knowingly in the future whenever your gaze sweeps across the four spines, and if anyone ever asks about why the book 4 spine looks different, you can sigh deeply and begin, "Now, THERE is a story..." :-)






    Limerick Library recently asked me if I'd film a short video, recommending one of my favourite books to their younger readers. I was more than happy to comply, and pumped for The Machine Gunners, by Robert Westall, one of my all time favourite books when I was a teenager. I also mention a couple of fun books that I read more recently. Plus they told me I could mention my own work too, so I sneak in a little plug for Archibald Lox as well. :-) It's only a few minutes long, so it won't take up too much of your day. CLICK HERE






    I mentioned the Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus edition earlier in this newsletter, so this seems like as good a time as any to drop some links for a YouTuber with the user name of Shelos1Life who has been posting reviews of the manga over the last few months, taking it several chapters at a time. The reviews are in Spanish, which means unfortunately I haven't really been able to make much sense of them, but if your Spanish is better than mine, here are the links for his reviews up to and including Volume 6, The Vampire Prince -- if anyone fancies summarising them swiftly for me and the other non-Spanish-speaking Shansters on here, your name will be sung loudly through the Halls of Vampire Mountain!! :-)


    Chapters 1-3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsDhM-ONQcs

    Chapters 4-11: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=381Hnh-NjDo&feature

    Chapters 12-20: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHV9dDzhM2s

    Chapters 21-27: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=picWPSBBQ8I

    Chapters 28-34: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4W-P4RoFvA

    Chapters 35-42: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EA0atJX-cSc

    Chapters 43-52: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tgg470XBQH8

    Chapters 53-59: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgfY7fp64Sc






    There was a short and sweet video review of Cirque Du Freak recently, by a young man called Noah over on a Facebook page called Our Wheely Big Journey, which is about about the ups and downs of having a child in the family who is differently abled -- Noah was born with a rare syndrome that has left him in need of a wheelchair and lots of operations. You can check it out by CLICKING HERE


    Noah raises the age-old question of what age group my books are suitable for, specifically Cirque Du Freak. Noah thinks about 8 or 9 years old upwards, and I wouldn't say he's too far off the mark, though I normally go with 10 upwards whenever I'm asked -- but always with the caveat that every reader is different, and there are confidently reading 6 and 7 year olds who might be absolutely fine with it, or 11 and 12 year olds who might find it a bit too dark just yet. (With The Demonata, as a rough rule of thumb, I say 11 or 12 upwards, and 12 or 13 upwards for Zom-B.) Ultimately, if a child isn't old enough to gravitate naturally towards a book, I think the people best situated to judge whether or not it's suitable are the child's parents, librarians or teachers, who have personal knowledge of the individual in question. Authors... what do WE know? We're just tall-tale-telling chancers!!!! :-)



    A little quiz, shared with me by an ex-student of Copley Academy in the UK, who spotted it on the school's web site. Very simple -- ten photos of well known authors... ten names... match the names to the photos. If you don't get G right, you're on the wrong page!! :-) But what about the other nine?


    I got a full 10/10, I'm relieved to report. Indeed, I would have definitely scored a solid 8 even without the list of names, and might even have been able to guess correctly at the other two, depending on which way the wind was blowing through the corridors of my brain on the day in question. So maybe try to put names to the faces BEFORE you look at the list of names, if you want to make it a bit trickier for yourself...


    Good luck!! Oh, and award yourself a bonus point if you can name the film that the "Pop quiz, hotshot!" quote comes from... :-)









    First Year students at Presentation College, Wexford, in Ireland, have been studying Cirque Du Freak this year, and some of them created storyboards inspired by the book, which you can view above. I think they did a great job, and was surprised by how much of the storyline they could capture with just a few carefully chosen images. It also shows how you can have fun with books in schools -- assignments don't have to be confined to the normal old Book Report format. I hope that teachers out there are taking note... :-) :-) :-)






    A fan of my books over on SoundCloud, with the user name of Moon Studio, decided to compare the first three books of my Saga of Darren Shan (Cirque Du Freak) series with the movie adaptation. It's a 17 minute autopsy, summarising the books and the movie, and showing how they contrasted. There are LOTS of spoilers, so I certainly wouldn't recommend listening if you haven't read all three of the books. But if you're familiar with them, as I imagine most of you are, and want to shake your head in wonder again at just how far the movie deviated from the novels (hey, as I've always said, I like the movie on its own terms, but there's no denying it's extremely unfaithful to the books), then CLICK HERE







    Look what I spotted in an Owlcrate goody box last year -- Cirque Du Freak coffee!!


    Owlcrate is a company in the USA that sends out a box to subscribers each month, containing a book and some book-releated or book-inspired goodies. The coffee was included in the June box, where the theme was All The World's A Stage, and you can see what else was in it in the second photo. Owlcrate didn't make the coffee -- they simply included it in their box. The company that made it never sought permission to use the "Cirque Du Freak" brand name, but it was only a temporary edition and is out of stock now, which is probably for the best -- I mean, as cool as it would be to have a pack of this on your shelf or nestling next to your Cirque Du Freak book collection, if it was still on sale, Mr Tall would have had to send in his legal team to negotiate with the manufacturers, and the lawyer he uses in situations such as this one is... the Wolf-Man!!! ArrrrrrooooOOOOOOO!!!!! :-) :-) -) CLICK HERE






    I've no idea why I was tagged when the above meme was shared on a Facebook post recently. No idea at all... :-) :-) :-)


    Heh heh. I know I sometimes seem cruel with my treatment of my central characters, but it all harks back to the prologue of Cirque Du Freak. In those few pages, I said that this was a true story, and in real life bad things sometimes happen. As fantastical as they are, I always treat my stories as if they're really happening, and I apply real-world logic and consequences. So if I weave a tale where the characters face overwhelming odds and risk their lives, it's only logical that some of those won't make it to the end. Indeed, I think it's cheating when none of the main characters dies in a book where danger lurks around every corner. I don't kill off characters cheaply or lightly, but with the kind of stories I tell, they do have to die every now and then. Otherwise the stories would be a sham.


    I did actually think that I might make it to the end of my Archibald Lox series without losing any of my main cast. Since it's not a horror series, I hope to be kinder to my main characters than usual. But, sadly, things start to darken over the course of Volumes 2 and 3, and... well... don't go getting too close to them, OK? :-(





    May be an image of 1 person and text that says 'THE SAGAO DARREN DARRENSHAN SHAN Vampire OFTHEDAMNED DANNED Mountain HOME'


    A fan called Rowan posted the following over on Facebook recently: "With World Book Day coming up, my mum asked for help recreating a book cover to use as an example for her students. Of course I chose Vampire Mountain, possibly my favourite book of all time. I’ve missed cosplaying Arra."


    Rowan sent me a few photos, showing her in her Arra Sails pose from the UK cover for Vampire Mountain, plus the cover of that book with Rowan grafted into it. I have to say, she looks an ideal fit, scoring a perfect 10/10 from the judges in Vampire Mountain!!! :-)



    IT'S A WRAP!


    And that's it for March. I've been busy editing since the turn of the year, and have just sent the Volume Two Archibald Lox books to my editor, so hopefully by this time next month I'll be well into my final edit of them, ahead of their summertime release. I'll be back here at the start of April to let you know how things are shaping up, and to share all the other 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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