• Issue 249 - April 2021

    01 April 2021



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the April issue of the Shanville Monthly. I have a freakily fabulous newsletter for you this month! The second volume of the Cirque Du Freak omnibus manga is going on sale this month. A horrorpunk band has recorded an incredibly catchy song called Cirque Du Freak.  And fans in the USA are going to be able to stream the Cirque Du Freak movie for FREE from April 16th! You can read all about these, and a whole lot more, just by scrolling down. OH!! I'm also running my first competition of the year -- that's near the end of the newsletter, so make sure you don't stop scrolling halfway down!






    The second Volume of the Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus goes on sale on Tuesday April 20th. The omnibus editions print two books at a time, so Volume Two includes Tunnels of Blood and Vampire Mountain. 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 -- Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and more. 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.





    If you prefer to read manga on your digital devices, the books are also being released as individual eBooks. Please note, although these (confusingly!) are also called Volumes, they are NOT the omnibus editions -- so, the Volume 1 ebook is just book 1, the Volume 2 ebook is just book 2, etc. The publisher, Yen Press, is issuing them through Comixology (which is the Amazon manga store -- the link below should direct you to your local branch), Kobo, B&N, and other stores too. If you buy the books digitally, they work out at about half the price as the omnibus paperback editions, so they're good value. I'm including some links for Tunnels Of Blood below -- there are links for the other digital volumes on that page.










    A horrorpunk band called Evelyn's Casket has recorded a song called Cirque Du Freak, inspired by my book called... well, I think that's fairly obvious! :-) This is a really catchy little number, a lot of rockin' fun. I've been banging my head along to it a lot since I first heard it, a big silly smile plastered across my face. You too can listen it, for FREE, on Bandcamp, by CLICKING HERE but if you wish to download it, so that you can listen to it on your device, as often as you like, any time that you like (and support the band in the process) it's also available to buy for $1. So CLICK HERE, turn the volume up loud (but not so loud that you burst your eardrums!) and take a trip to the Cirque Du Freak...






    The Cirque Du Freak movie is doing a bit of a hokey cokey in the USA in April. Basically, you will be able to watch it on Netflix up until April 12, at which point it is being dropped by Netflix... to pop up on IMDB TV from April 16th onwards.


    The good news for fans who don't have a Netflix account is that you will now be able to watch it on IMDB TV for FREE!!! There will be ads, I assume, but everyone in the States should now be able to stream it, as I said, for FREE!!


    You can read about it coming to IMDB by CLICKING HERE


    For the link to IMDB TV, CLICK HERE


    You can find out more about IMDB TV by CLICKING HERE


    And you can read about it leaving Netflix by CLICKING HERE


    At the moment, IMDB TV is only accessible to people living in the USA. If you live elsewhere, check our your smart TV or computer or phone to find out if you can get it in your country. It used to be available on Netflix in most regions, but now that it's been removed. I'm guessing you can probably buy or rent it through another provider, e.g. Google. Hell, you might even be able to find it for free -- but don't quote me on that!! Of course, whether you WANT to watch it or not is an entirely different matter!! But if you DO want to see it, to paraphrase the old X-Files catchphrase, "The Vampire's Assistant is out there..." :-)






    I was interviewed by Spin South West last month, for one of their Spin Ar Scoil (that's Gaelic for Spin At School) podcasts. The podcasts are recorded for and aimed primarily at secondary school students, with the aim of helping them with their studies and choices when they leave school. So as well as chatting about my career as an author, I talk a lot about my school days too in this interview, and offer some advice for those who might be thinking of following a creative path in life, i.e. those interested in writing or art or something along those lines. It was only meant to be a 10 minute interview, but time zipped by, and it ended up being about half an hour! You can listen to the podcast by CLICKING HERE






    A fan recently shared this lovely cover for Birth Of A Killer (the first book in the Mr Crepsley series) with me. It was the paperback cover, and it's a real eye-catcher... except... it was never actually published!!


    The Mr Crepsley books were first released in hardback editions in the USA. When they started to come out in paperback, my publishers used the same cover as the hardback for the first book. Then they had a change of mind and decided to give the paperbacks a completely different look, something of which I wholeheartedly approved. They came up with four really cool covers, and you can check out those for books 2 to 4 on my website by CLICKING HERE


    BUT!!! Although they designed a new book 1 cover for the paperback reprint, and even fed it out to some online booksellers, which is how they image resurfaced recently, they never actually got round to using it, and the only edition of book 1 that they printed was the one that you can find on my website page. A shame, as this would have been a lovely addition to any Shanster's collection (I'm certainly gutted that I wasn't able to add it to MINE!), but at least its unexpected reappearance online has allowed us all to appreciate it all these years later, even if only virtually...






    I'm planning to release the next three books in my Archibald Lox series (which together will form Volume 2) this summer -- they'll be released 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 the first half of 2022. I'll be confirming the release dates next month, 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






    Although I didn't actively do anything for World Book Day this year, I ended up posting quite a few posts linking in with it. First up, you can check out videos of me and 152 (that's right -- one hundred and fifty-two!!!) other authors wishing everyone a Happy World Book Day. It was put together by a team who emailed lots of writers and got back an incredible number of responses. You can watch them all, or jump to your favourites, by CLICKING HERE


    Secondly, a fan of my books, called Christopher, created some vampire vegetarian recipes, specifically for WBD this year -- yummy!!! You can check them out in the photo above.


    Thirdly, in Ireland, the arts and features staff of the Irish Examiner newspaper put together an article celebrating their love of books, and mentioning some of the authors and books that have left a lasting impression with them. There were three categories -- Childhood Classics, All-Time Faves, and What We're Reading Now. There was a nice mention for my books in the first category, though it does make me feel rather old these days when journalists talk about growing up with my books... :-) You can check out the article by CLICKING HERE


    Fourthly, I shared this story by a fan called Eytan because it tickled me. "Happy World Book Day!! Featuring my favorite series from my youth, The Demonata by Darren Shan. Story time: When I was in high school on a trip with my youth group, we had a hypnotist visit our group. I was one of the people hypnotized. At one point the hypnotist had us believe that a famous celebrity was in the room. Me being me considers authors to be famous celebrities, because let's face it, they are. I looked into the crowd and believed that the Master of Horror, Darren Shan himself was there. Then the hypnotist had me believe that I was Darren Shan, so I started talking about The Demonata. Needless to say, I might have scared a few people with my descriptions of his books." And here's a photo of Eytan with the books:



    Finally, although schools in many countries were closed this year for World Book Day, that didn't stop a lot of students from dressing as characters from their favourite books at home, and sharing some images online. Two grisly-minded fans of mine got in on the act, and I think you'll agree that they pulled off a couple of extreme, and extremely impressive, transformations!! First up, a girl called Kate decided to step into the shoes of everyone's favourite demon master, Lord Loss! (Hmm... of course, Lord Loss doesn't actually wear shoes, because he doesn't have feet, but you know what I mean!) Kate looks too young to be reading the books, never mind taking on the mantle of one of the scariest characters in all of children's literature, but I like her style!!



    And another young lady, with the Twitter user name of Kismet, pinned her sights on Mr Dowling, the world's creepiest clown, from my Zom-B books. This is a really tough challenge, not least because the character always has a human eyeball pinned to his nose -- easy to describe in a book, but far trickier to replicate in real life! Kismet did an amazing job, and it's probably for the best that schools were locked down, as she'd probably have sent kids and teachers racing for the fire exits if she'd turned up looking like this!!!







    World Book Day put me in mind of my World Book Day novella -- KOYASAN. I wrote it for World Book Day back in 2006, and it introduced a lot of new readers to my work. It's a ghost story, about a girl whose younger sister gets kidnapped by evil spirits, but it's not as horrific as most of my books, and is actually a rather sweet little concoction. It's been out of print for a long time, but you can buy it fairly cheaply as an eBook through Amazon stores worldwide -- just CLICK HERE on the following link to be directed to your local branch.


    I actually tried to turn Koyasan into a stage musical a few years ago. It was looking promising for a while -- we attracted the interest of a composer, who was keen to take things forward -- but we never quite managed to find the right writer for it, even though a couple came close to working on it. The project has slipped back under the radar for the time being, but it's still circling around inside my brain, and if the chance ever comes along to resurrect it, I'll be on it like a shot!!






    A fan called Evy sent me the lovely drawing that you can see above, which features Gavner Purl and the true love of his life... Liz Carr. Now, Liz was never mentioned in the books, but she appeared in a short story that I wrote to tie in with Book 5, Trials Of Death. It appears on my website, in the EXTRAS section, along with quite a few other short stories and articles that I wrote back when the Cirque Du Freak books were first released. Not all of them are intended to be taken as canon, but An Affair of the Night certainly is, and casts light on two things that might still be puzzling readers of the Vampire Mountain trilogy all these years later -- why was Gavner wearing yellow boxer shorts decorated with tiny pink elephants? And who exactly were his final words directed towards? CLICK HERE to read the story, but be warned -- you might want to keep a handkerchief close to hand, as it's a bit of a tearjerker...






    There was a nice German review a few months back for The Vampire Prince, book 6 of my Saga Of Darren Shan / Cirque Du Freak series. You can check it out by CLICKING HERE, and if, like me, German isn't your native tongue, you can copy the text and paste it into Google Translate or some such similar service for a very clear translation.



    There was an Italian review for Lord Loss, the first book in my Demonata series, a while back, and you can find out what the reviewer thought by CLICKING HERE -- again, if you don't speak Italian, you can copy the text and paste it into Google Translate for an accurate translation.



    A YouTuber with the user name of Shelos1Life has been posting reviews of the Cirque Du Freak manga over the last few months, taking it several chapters at a time. He posted his latest, for chapters 60 to 65, in the middle of March, and you can check it out by CLICKING HERE. The review is in Spanish, which meant I wasn't really able to make much sense of it, but Spanish-speaking Shansters let me know that it's more of a summary than a review -- he comes across as quite tired and grumpy in the video, so I guess he just wasn;' in the mood for a full-on revew this time! :-)



    Finally, there was an American review for Archibald Lox And The Vote Of Alignment, the third book of the first Volume of my latest series. It appeared on Goodreads, and is by a reader called Thomas Paxton. I think, if you're unfamiliar with my Archibald Lox books, it will give you a nice feel for the series, without including any spoilers. You can check it out by CLICKING HERE



    If you've enjoyed the covers from different countries that I've included above, and found yourself wishing there was a page where you could check out the covers for every Darren Shan book ever published, from all the different countries around the world where they have been printed... you can!!! Just CLICK HERE to be directed to the Covers page on my site, alphabetically arranged from Australia to Vietnam, and in some cases broken down into series, to make it a bit easier to scroll through them. Some countries used the British or American covers, but most came up with their own covers, and it's fascinating to see how widely they differ. The only covers I haven't included are the illegally published Iranian editions of my books. My work has been very successful in Iran, but almost of my books have been published there by publishers of low moral standing who neither sought my permission to publish my work, nor paid me a penny from the huge profits they have made selling them. The only exceptions to date are the first two Zom-B books, which WERE published legally in Iran, by a publisher who agreed a deal with my agents -- that's the eye-catching cover of book 2 in the photo above.






    My editor, Zoe, returned her notes for the Volume 2 Archibald Lox books to me towards the end of March, and I'll be getting stuck into those over the first few weeks of April, as I work my way through the very final draft of the three books, ahead of their release in the summer. (There will probably only be a month between book 1 and 2, and book 2 and 3, which is why I'm working on all three together.) But Zoe already pointed out one enormous gaffe in her covering email, which all by itself justifies every penny that I'm paying her!!


    Basically, there are royals in these books, each one of whom has a unique aura. It's not a big thing in the first Volume, as Archie can't see the auras, and they're only mentioned in passing. But they get mentioned a few times in Volume 2, and feature even more heavily in Volume 3. They're not a MAJOR plot thing, but they certainly ARE a plot thing, and readers are going to notice if I muck them up... which I did!!!


    Without giving too much away, one of the royals disguises himself in the Volume 2 books. (Characters can be remolded in the Merge, to look like different people.) He wanders around, with a completely different face, and nobody recognises him. Fine. No problem. It all makes perfect sense. EXCEPT I somehow completely forgot about his aura, which would still be visible, meaning everyone who saw him would know he was a royal, and anyone who'd seen him before would know his identity because, as I said, each aura is unique.


    It's the kind of mistake that would have blown a canon ball sized hole in my credibility if Zoe hadn't picked up on it. Hard to imagine an author can make such a huge mistake, but hey, we're only human, and these things happen. (My favourite all-time mistake, which was missed by its editor at the time and still exists in all printed versions, comes from Robinson Crusoe. Early in the book, he strips naked to swim out to the wreck of his ship, but Daniel Defoe then forgot that he was naked, and describes him filling his pockets with loot before swimming back to shore!)


    Anyway, now that Zoe has drawn it to my attention (she was very polite about it -- if the shoe had been on the other foot, I'd have howled with laughter and screamed, "You don't know what you're doing!!" Which is why I probably wouldn't make a very good editor...), I can go in and fix it before the books see print. It's actually easy enough to fix, because there's a scene in Volume 1 which hints that auras CAN be hidden. Indeed, if I hadn't made THIS mistake, eagle-eyed readers would have pointed me back towards Volume 1 after they'd read the later books, to ask what the hell was going on in THAT scene?!? As things have worked out, I'll be able to tie the aura aspects neatly together across all three Volumes now, and won't end up looking like the bumbling halfwit that in reality, at times, I must confess I am...


    The moral of all this, for any budding authors who are reading this, is to respect and rely on your editors. They're hugely important to the publishing process. Your agent can be massively important too -- Chris Little (my agent who died early this year) and his team always read carefully through my early drafts, before they went to my editor, and often picked up on boo-books like this. If you end up being taken on by a traditional publisher, you'll be assigned an editor, and it's something you'll just take for granted for the rest of your career in that world.


    BUT if you self-publish, as I'm doing with the Archibald Lox books, it's VITAL that you hire an editor to work on your books with you. Self-publishing is a lot easier and cheaper these days than it has ever been before, which is why more authors are doing it themselves. If you're prepared to do some research and put in a lot of hard work, you can do the vast majority of the self-publishing jobs yourself -- you almost certainly won't do them as well as the people in traditional publishing houses will do them, but they CAN be roughly handled.


    The two exceptions -- the two things you should ALWAYS pay someone to do -- are covers and editing. My advice, based on a LOT of experience, is to ALWAYS hire someone to design your cover (including the spine and back cover), and ALWAYS hire someone to edit your book before you put it on sale. If you search around, you'll find they're not massive costs -- if someone is charging you an arm and a leg, keep looking for someone who'll only charge a finger and a toe! We're talking a few hundred pounds for each service (and that's for a GOOD artist and editor), and while I know that might be a lot of money to an awful lot of writers, it's money you really do NEED to invest. If you want people to pay for the story you've created, there are certain standards that have to be met, and no author is an island. If the cover and the editing aren't up to scratch, you're going to get a lot of angry feedback, and you might even -- as I would have in this situation -- end up looking like a fool who can't remember the rules of their own books... :-)






    I'm running a Cirque Du Freak manga competition this month, to tie in with the release of Volume Two on April 20th. I only received my author copies of Volume One of the manga omnibus last month, and I've signed and dated them (31/3/2021) with a silver pen on a lovely interior colour page, making them the first ever copies of the omnibus edition that I've signed. I was sent ten copies by my publishers. I'll be keeping two for myself, holding back three for a future competition, and giving away five to the five winners of this competition. If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning one of these extremely rare first batch signed copies, read on...


    1) Answer this question: "On what date is Volume Two of the manga omnibus being released?"


    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, Tuesday, April 13th, 2021.


    (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 Wednesday, April 14th, 2021. 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 April. I'll be spending a lot of this month working my way through my final edit of the second Volume Archibald Lox books. Then I have to send them off to reviewers, and typeset them, and organise all the info for the covers, and decide on release dates, and schedule promotional ads, and, and and... I've a busy month or two ahead of me, but hopefully it will all go smoothly and we'll be celebrating a summer of Shan a couple of months down the line. I'll be back here at the start of May with a progress report, 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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