• Issue 251 - June 2021

    01 June 2021



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the June issue of the Shanville Monthly. The countdown to the release of the fourth Archibald Lox book begins in earnest -- just one month to go!! The eBook is already available to pre-order through Amazon, Google, Apple, Kobo, B&N, etc, and the paperback edition is shaping up nicely. I'm keeping prices as low as I can, but the paperback will cost about three times the price of the eBook. If you really want a physical copy, it will look lovely on your shelf, but if you're happy to go digital, you can get all three eBooks in Volume Two for the same price as one of the paperbacks. Just saying. (There will be an omnibus edition next year, which will be a lot cheaper way of buying Volume 2 in a paperback format) This month in the newsletter you have the chance to be part of a special Darren Shan Q&A which will tie in with the release of Archibald Lox and the Forgotten Crypt... there's a radio interview with me... reviews of my books... an am-dram recording of maybe my most un-Darren Shan publication ever... and lots more. Enjoy!







    The Summer Of Shan kicks off next month with the release of Book 4 of my new Archibald Lox series -- with books 5 and 6 soon to follow!! Each will be simultaneously released as an eBook and paperback -- you'll be able to buy the eBooks through all the major online stores, but the paperbacks will only be available through Amazon stores worldwide. You can pre-order the eBooks NOW, using the links below, but I won't be able to list the paperbacks until much closer to the release dates. Oh, and there WILL be an omnibus bind-up edition, in hardback and paperback, to match the Volume 1 omnibus. The bad news is, it probably won't go on sale until the spring of 2022. The good news is, if you're happy to wait, the paperback price will be substantally less than the cost of the three paperback books...


    Book 4, Archibald Lox and the Forgotten Crypt, goes on sale on 1st July 2021.


    Apple - B&N - Kobo + othershttps://books2read.com/u/mKRAxL

    Google PlayCLICK HERE


    Book 5, Archibald Lox and the Slides of Bon Repell, goes on sale on 3rd August 2021.


    Apple - B&N - Kobo + othershttps://books2read.com/u/m0KaB0

    Google Play: CLICK HERE


    Book 6, Archibald Lox and the Rubicon Dictate, goes on sale on 1st September 2021.

    Amazon: http://mybook.to/archie6ebook

    Apple - B&N - Kobo + others: https://books2read.com/u/3LR5we

    Google Play: CLICK HERE



    QUIZ ME!



    As part of the launch celebrations for Archibald Lox and the Forgotten Crypt (Book 4 of my new series) on July 1st, a book blogger called The Pewter Wolf is going to be running a Q&A post with me, which will go live on that date. BUT unlike with most Q&A's, we're not going to be running with questions that the blogger might want to ask -- instead we're giving YOU the chance to ask the questions!


    Basically, we're opening the floor up to you guys. 1) Submit your burning Darren Shan questions to me using the CONTACT FORM on my website: https://darrenshan.com/contact


    2) I'll gather them up, whittle them down if there's an excess, and do my best to answer them as thoroughly and truthfully as possible. The results will be posted by The Pewter Wolf on launch day, and I'll link to the post through my various social media channels.


    You can ask any questions you like, about any of my books, my writing process, etc., but since this is linked in with the Archibald Lox launch, I'm hoping that at least *some* of the questions are related to the new series. So, y'know, if you're read any of the first three books and want to quiz me about them -- or even if you haven't read them yet, but have questions about them anyway -- then I'll be giving your question preference, which will mean it's more likely to feature in the finished article.


    Right -- that's enough from me (for now anyway). I'm turning the microphone over to you. Focus on your question. Get it clear in your head. Take a deep breath. Now -- what would you like to ask me???






    I was interviewed recently on my local radio station, Live 95FM, by a DJ called Joe Nash. It was a really nice interview, about 16 minutes long. Some of it was about local matters and will probably only be of interest to people in the Limerick region, but we covered plenty of other topics too, including the possibility of a Cirque Du Freak movie or TV reboot. CLICK HERE to check it out.


    I've got to be honest -- I didn't know Joe was going to play a quote from a bookseller at the start of the interview. I hadn't heard it before, and as I listened to it over my phone (I would normally have gone into the studio, but COVID means that most interviews like this are recorded at home these days, over phone lines, which is why the audio quality isn't so great), I started to well up a bit!! Luckily I managed to blink away the tears before they fully formed, but yeah, for a few seconds there, I thought this was going to be the first interview in 21 years that I was going to blub my way through!!!! :-) :-) :-)






    Many moons ago, I wrote a very atypical piece called GUYifesto for a book called Guys Read, which was a fun collection of stories about what it means to be a GUY. My piece was VERY tongue in cheek, a chance for me to flash my funny bone, which is usually hidden under layers of blood and guts in my books!!! I enjoyed writing it, and if I recall correctly I read it out at least once at a live event, for a Guys Read launch party. But I haven't thought about it in a long, long time.


    A few months back, a librarian got in touch with me to ask if a couple of students could record a dramatised reading of GUYIFESTO, in a collaborative project between a small town community theatre group, Tree County Players, and the local library, Greensburg Decatur County Library. I said that would be fine, and they went ahead and video recorded an extremely funny sketch, which you can check out on YouTube -- and I highly recommend that you DO check it out -- by CLICKING HERE


    If you also want to check out the original written article, you can find it on my web site, which also includes links to where you can buy the book on Amazon, if you're so inclined: CLICK HERE






    If you haven't yet got on board the Archibald Lox train, this is the perfect time to start, ahead of the release of Book 4 next month! Read on for where you can get the best deals -- but please note, I plan to REDUCE the costs of the eBooks of books 2 and 3 in July, when the Volume 2 books start going on sale, so if you want to buy those, I suggest you wait until then...


    1) If you're looking to buy a hardback edition of The Missing Princess, (which collects the first three books into a single edition) the best deal over the last month has been on Amazon, where it's been selling at a very large discount: CLICK HERE. There are also always good deals 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 PrincessBUT if you would prefer to buy it as three 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) 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) or as one big omnibus bind-up called The Missing Princess. In either case, the price is the same, just under $5 or your local equivalent -- BUT THIS WILL BE CHEAPER IN JULY! Click on any of the links below to find out more about the books and to buy -- BUT AGAIN, I SUGGEST WAITING UNTIL JULY!!!


    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






    There was a nice review for Volume Two of the Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus over on the Asian Movie Pulse site recently. If you've never read any of the manga, and are wondering if Takahiro Arai, the artist who adapted it, did a good job, I think this extract from the review answers that question fairly definitively:


    "The art of Takahiro Arai acts harmoniously with the narrative, continuing to be a major draw into the work. Every persona seems fully conceptualized, with even minor characters given deserved attention to detail. The second volume indulges often in action heavy sequences, showing that Arai is able to convey motion with relative ease. Undeniably, the art is a perfect compliment to the story and its retro styling of more elongated and round figures is bound to hit that nostalgic spot."


    You can check out the full review by CLICKING HERE


    And you can find out more about the manga omnibus editions, including where you can buy them, in the May issue of my monthly newsletter, by clicking here: CLICKING HERE






    A YouTube vlogger with the handle of Shinical posted a review of my Cirque Du Freak series a few months back, which you can watch by CLICKING HERE. She provides a nice, quick overview of the entire series, in a video that runs just under 14 minutes. Shinical is Dutch, but the video is in English.


    Heh -- that reminds me. I did an event in the Netherlands once and read out an extract in Dutch, which my publishers had phoenetically translated for me. I imagined I mangled the language horrifically, but nevertheless, I think a fun time was had by all. :-)






    A blogger called Rachael, whose blog is called Blind Dog Books, posted a short overall review of my Zom-B series a while back, summing up her thoughts on the 12 book gorefest. You can check it out by CLICKING HERE


    I smiled BIG when I read the following part of the review: "This was definitely my favorite ending of Shan’s books, normally the series endings are just wild and way too much but this was interesting while also being easy to understand."


    It's always tricky to end a long series in a way that will satisfy EVERY fan. I think just about every lengthy series ever written has left a good proportion of its readers grumbling when they get to the final line. It can be hard, when you've invested a huge amount of your time in a story -- sometimes years -- to settle for the author's ending, when in your head you've probably built up an army of your own endings while working your way towards that last full stop.


    I think most of my fans DID enjoy the endings of The Saga Of Darren Shan and The Demonata, but I've heard a fair few grumbles about them over the years too. But Zom-B's finale seemed to hit pretty much everyone's sweet spot. Some readers occasionally get in touch saying they wish I could have shown them a bit more at the end (I'm being careful here not to give anything away), but even then they normally note that it was probably the right decision to stop where I did. Hopefully the ending of my Archibald Lox series next year will enjoy a similar warm response, but hey, if it doesn't, there's not much I can do about it, because it's the only ending I've got!!! :-)






    A fan of my books, with the user name of WanderingWriter, was reading the Inuyashiki manga series recently, and spotted something that made them pause, take a photo and share it with me. Can YOU spy what caught their eye?!? :-) :-) :-)






    On my website there's a section called Writing Tips, in which I talk at length about the writing process and all the different stages of the journey to being a published author. One section early on is entitled AGE, and deals with the issue of if you're ever too young to be an author (my answer is, generally speaking, and with a few caveats, No you're not). But a lady called Sabine wrote to me recently, politely asking me to point out that just as you're never really too young to be a writer, you're also definitely never too old. As Sabine eloquently put it:


    "Tell people it's not the end of hope when they feel like their life is a hellhole without a ladder and they do not have the freedom to pursue their dream. "Keep at it as often as you can manage and let writing itself give you what strength it can. There is still time to be read in ten, thirty, even fifty years. You don't know how your life will look like by then, even if it seems like you do. Survive. Nourish your talent if you can.""


    I could hardly put it better myself! Sabine is right -- you can be a writer at any stage of your life. Some very famous writers didn't even publish their first book until their 50s, 60s, even older. Never relinquish the dream. Unlike some of the other creative fields, time is your friend if you want to be an author. The more life experiences you accumulate, the more you can bring to your craft. It's natural to want to hit your stride swiftly, but don't worry if you're a slow burner. You can start at any stage. If life gets in the way -- if you have to get a "proper" job to support yourself, or if you start a family, or if you have to cope with a debilitating illness... you can always return to the world of words further down the line. Life's a journey down an unknowable path. Sometimes it runs straight and smooth, but most of the time it packs in lots of bends and twists. If writing is your dream, never abandon that dream, and at some point your path WILL bring you back to it.


    Unless, y'know, the Grim Reaper catches up with you first... :-)


    You can check out my Writing Tips by clicking here: https://darrenshan.com/writing-tips






    While having a look at the sales figures for my books on Amazon one day last month, I noticed that the first Archibald Lox ebook -- which is FREE to download -- had sold several hundred more copies than usual, and shot back to the #1 position on the UK Amazon chart for Free Children's Fantasy Books. Intrigued, I did a quick online search, and the surge in sales appeared to be linked to a listing on hotukdealsCLICK HERE


    Many thanks to the user called "orciM" who posted this listing. Sites like this can really make a difference in raising a book's profile -- a fan in Australia posted an Archie link to a similar site there last year, which resulted in loads of additional downloads and hopefully introduced my new series to a lot of people who hadn't yet heard about it. So, again, thanks to "orciM" for the unexpected boost!


    Right -- that's Australia and the UK covered. Who's gonna take charge of the rest of the countries in the world?!? :-) :-) :-)






    A keen-eyed Shanster (hi, Cheryl!) spotted this question on UK quiz show The Chase earlier in the week, and immediately shared it with me. I've got a feeling this isn't the first time we've seen this, that the show may have been a repeat, and that I've shared this image before. But I'm not 100% certain, so I figured, what the hell, it's a cool little snap, so let's put it out there again -- if indeed it IS "again"... :-) :-) :-)






    A fan called Will sent me the following email recently, with the headline: FLITTING.


    "Holy s**t man... Cirque du Freak was my favorite series when I was younger. I’m 27 now, reading Dracula for the first time after picking it up in a secondhand store. I was enthralled and starting to speed read until that word jumped out at me.


    "“A little way off, beyond a line of scattered juniper-trees, which marked the pathway to the church, a white, dim figure FLITTED in the direction of the tomb.”


    "Rolled over and grabbed my phone immediately so I could share this brief moment of excitement to the only other person who would presumably share some elation. Cheers, Darren. Thanks for the years of fun."


    Now, hands up, I must admit I didn't invent the word "flitting" -- it's been around a long, long time, and I merely appropriated it and gave it a bit of a re-polish, so the chances are that this is merely a case of another author using a word that was fairly common even in the late 19th century.


    BUT!! as I pointed out to Will, if you've read the Mr Crepsley books, you'll know that Bram Stoker met with Paris Skyle when researching Dracula, so maybe it WAS a knowing nod to the ways of the REAL creatures of the night... :-) :-) :-)






    A fan of my books PLUS Ben Aaronovitch's books wrote to me recently on Twitter to say that I'd been mentioned in one of his works. The fan's name is Scott, and the book in question is called Tales From The Folly. It's a collection of short stories, and one of them, The Cockpit, is set in a bookstore. According to Scott, in the story, one of the characters mentions that her niece preferred Darren Shan over Harry Potter. That niece has good taste -- and so does Mr Aaronovitch! :-) I haven't yet read any of the Rivers of London books, but I've downloaded the first three and plan to start soon... If any of you are interested in checking out Tales From The Folly, you can buy it on Amazon by CLICKING HERE






    A long time ago... in a galaxy far, far away... there used to be a feature on my blog called... TATTOO TUESDAY!!!


    I haven't been sent many new photos of Shansters with tattoos inspired by my books in recent months (no doubt because of lockdown!), but when this one was shared with me recently, it made up for the lull by breaking new ground -- the first ever (as far as I can recall, anyway) TWIN FAN TATTOOS!!


    Best pals Malissa and Brittany decided to get matching tattoos of my "Even in death may you be triumphant" quote, on their calves. Now that's what I call a true and beautiful friendship! I only hope, when their souls move on to Vampire Paradise (many years from now, after they've lived long, interesting live), that they arrange to be buried above ground, side by side, and ON their sides, with a glass panel in each coffin around the leg area, so that future generations of Shansters can come and admire the twin tattoos.


    Make it so, ladies! Make it so! 








    A fan called Matthew wrote to me recently, to ask a question about the deaths of three characters in my Cirque Du Freak and Demonata books. If you haven't read all the books in those series, you should probably STOP READING THIS POST RIGHT HERE as the question contains major spoilers from the later books in each series...


    "I'm curious, for you, which death was most upsetting, Mr. Crepsley, Bill-E or Dervish? I found all three extremely sad, though Larten's definitely shocked me the most as I was pretty young when I first read that. I really didn't see Bill-E's coming either, though, and it was that death that made it clear to me that no character was safe. I kind of knew Dervish's was coming, but I re-read the first chapter of Hell's Heroes recently and I was really moved, I think that was the saddest death of all for me."


    It's a rare week that passes, even all these years later, when I don't get a sad or angry post from a reader referring to Mr Crepsley's fiery end -- there's no doubt that's the death that has affected my readers the most! But as for ME...


    To be honest, the deaths of my characters usually don't hit me as hard as they hit my readers, because I normally know about them far in advance, and I'm too focused on the mechanics of drawing the emotional response that I require from my readers to actually FEEL those emotions. I often refer to it as being a bit like a puppet show -- the audience gets to see everything from the front, all the puppet and costumes, the colours and movements -- but if you're the puppet master, you're looking at it from overhead, and all you see are strings going down.


    Having said that, the death that DID succeed in tugging at this wizened author's heartstrings comes in the final book of my Mr Crepsley series, Brothers To The Death. There's a scene near the end, where a major character dies, that had me blinking away tears when I wrote it, and every time that I came to edit it. I won't say whose it was, as I know not everyone reading this will have read the prequel series, but anyone who's read the book will know the scene I'm referring to, and hopefully it had the same impact on YOU that it did on ME.






    A fan called Samantha shared the above post on the Darren Shan Discussions fan page on Facebook a while back, and noted:


    "I kiiiind of felt like this everytime the Demonata series was from Kernel's POV lol. It's not that I didn't like him or his parts of the stories, but I just liked Grubbs and Bec's stories/books so much more. Anyone feel like that for any characters?"


    I can certainly see where Samantha is coming from, because I've had this reaction as a reader with other books or series in the past, where the focus has shifted between narrators or main characters, and where I've felt some were more interesthing than others. But at the same time I've read books and series where the variety has been a joy, and a key to the stories working as well as they did.


    As a writer, I usually like to keep my focus tight, normally on one main character, and usually from that character's perspective in a first person narrative -- the Cirque Du Freak books, Zom-B, The Thin Executioner, Archibald Lox... But in my books for adults I HAVE played with multiple narrators or main characters as well, in The City Trilogy, and in a couple of my Darren Dash books -- The Evil And The Pure, and Midsummer's Bottom.


    The Demonata is the only time I've gone with multiple narrators on the YA front. It wasn't intentional -- I wrote Lord Loss as a one-off, then had the idea for Bec and wrote that next, again as a stand-alone story, with only the character of Lord Loss linking it to the first book -- I had no plans to link the actual stories. But then I had ideas for a few more Grubbs stories, and I saw that there WAS a way to weave Bec's book into the tapestry of the overall story, but it needed a third narrator to really make it work, which led me to come up with Kernel and Demon Thief -- the second book published, but actually the sixth that I wrote.


    As I said, I didn't plan to write a series with three narrators, but I think that's a large part of what ultimately made The Demonata work so well. If it had just been Grubbs Grady -- as I thought at one stage it would have to be -- I don't think it would have had the same kind of impact. The Demonata is a WILD ride, and the bouncing around between narrators plays a vital part in keeping readers off-balance and unsure of exactly where they are in the main storyline, and with little idea of what's coming next.


    In short, while I'm sure there are plenty of fans like Samantha who have a favourite out of the three Demonata narrators, or one who they didn't really click with, in my opinion it would have been a lesser series without all three -- and, hey, when it comes to MY books, MY opinion rules, right?!? :-) :-) :-)



    IT'S A WRAP!



    And that's it for June. A fan called Kat recently shared the above skeletal masterpiece over on Twitter. It's a drawing of a hell jackal, fearsome, kill-crazy creatures who appear in my Archibald Lox books. I moved away from horror with the new series -- it's a fantasy tale -- but I guess you can't rid yourself entirely of the dark side when you've spent so much of your life cavorting in the shadows! The hell jackals don't appear in the Volume Two books coming out this summer (I didn't want to overuse them), but you can certainly expect them to pop up in the Volume Three books next year, when Archie quite literally finds himself thrown in at the deep end... But well before that potentially life-ending point, I'll see you all back here at the start of July, to celebrate both the launch of Archibald Lox and the Forgotten Crypt plus a couple of birthdays! 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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