• Issue 252- July 2021

    01 July 2021



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the July BIRTHDAY issue of the Shanville Monthly!! As always for the last 21 years, July has marked a double birthday celebration, because it's both the month of MY birthday as well as being the month when the first issue of the Shanville Monthly went live. This year the latter is joyously and vibrantly celebrating its youthful 21st birthday, while I'm rather more gingerly celebrating my 49th birthday and taking grim note that this time next year I'll be hitting the big 5-0 -- what's happened to my youth?!?!? Oh well, I might be growing greyer and slower by the day in my advancing middle age, but at least I'm still nice and active on the writing front, and I'm delighted to be marking this year's birthday with the release of a brand new book, with two more to follow over the next two months. You'll be able to read all about it just below, and I hope, instead of giving me a birthday present or toasting the passing of another year for Old Man Shan, that you'll all dash off and buy a copy (or quickly download a copy of the ebook, which is the swiftest and cheapest way of reading it!) or alternatively download a copy of the FREE ebook of Book 1 if you haven't yet started the series! But, hey, if you're happy with the old stuff, and aren't too interested in giving the new books a try, that's fine too. I love you all equally. Just don't anyone mention the impending big 5-0, or you'll be banned from my site forever!!!!!! :-)






    The Summer Of Shan kicks off this month with the release on July 1st of Book 4 of my new Archibald Lox series -- Archibald Lox and the Forgotten Crypt. (Books 5 and 6 will soon follow -- see below.) it is on sale NOW as both an eBook and paperback -- you can buy the eBook through all the major online stores, but the paperback is only available through Amazon stores worldwide. (If you prefer a physical book to a digital one, you might want to note that there will be a hardback and paperback omnibus edition of books 4, 5 and 6, due next spring if not sooner, which will be much cheaper than buying the three books separately.) You can buy the eBook using any of the links below, or the paperback through the Amazon link.


    Book 4, Archibald Lox and the Forgotten Crypt, on sale NOW.

    Amazon: http://mybook.to/archie4ebook

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

    Google Play: CLICK HERE


    Without giving too much away to those who haven't read Volume 1... The first three books told the story of a boy called Archibald Lox, living in London with foster parents who are struggling to cope with the loss of their son. His world changedf abruptly and forever when he spotted a girl being chased across a bridge by a couple of killers. Before they could catch her, she opened a doorway to another universe and escaped -- and when Archie discovered he was a natural locksmith, he opened the door once the killers had departed, and followed her into the universe (the sphere) of the Merge...


    Archie ended up joining the girl (whose name was Inez) on a quest to try and save a realm from falling under the control of the villainous SubMerged. After a series of hair-raising adventures, they parted company and he returned to London, which is where we pick up his story again, a year later. He hasn't been back to the Merge in all that time, because he's trying to lead a normal life. But he's found a lock and it's cast a spell on him, and he returns to it every day, trying his hardest to open it... which is where, one sunny day, the killers from the bridge find him, and Archie is forced to flee the way that Inez fles a year earlier... back to the Merge...


    Book 4 is the first of the three book storyline (Volume 2 of the series), and there's a lot more action this time round, plenty of twists, and a whole lot of lock-picking! It's been going down a treat with early reviewers (see the Goodreads entry below) and I hope, if you take a chance on it, that it goes down a treat with you too.






    As part of the launch celebrations for Archibald Lox and the Forgotten Crypt on July 1st, a book blogger called The Pewter Wolf ran a Q&A post with me. BUT unlike with most Q&A's, the blogger didn't ask the questions -- instead they all came from fans, in response to a request for questions that I put out last month. You guys came back with lots of cool queries, some related to my new Archibald Lox series, others to my older books and writing habits. I answered them as fully and honestly as possible, and you can check it out by CLICKING HERE.






    Alos to tie in with the launch of Book 4, a blogger who runs a page called Luna's Little Library kindly gave the book a shout-out, and asked me if I'd write a little something about the new book. I decided to chat about some of the settings in the book, because while most of it is set in the fantastical universe of the Merge, it starts off in our world, first in London, then in Moscow. I explain in the article why I chose those locations, and also mention the role that a statue of the famed Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin nearly played in the novel... :-) CLICK HERE to find out more.







    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






    If you haven't yet got on board the Archibald Lox train, this is the perfect time to start, as I've REDUCED THE PRICE OF THE VOLUME 1 eBOOKS to tie in with the release of Book 4 this month!!! There are two ways to buy Volume 1. The easiest way is to buy the omnibus edition, called The Missing Princess, which collects the first three books and presents them as one big single story, the way I originally wrote it. That will cost you $2.99 in the USA, £2.49 in the UK, and the local equivalent in other countries. Alternatively you can buy it as three individual books, the way it was originally released. The eBook of Book 1 is always FREE, Book 2 costs $0.99, and Book 3 costs $1.99 -- so it works out the same as if you buy the collected edition. You can buy the eBooks through any of the major online stores -- Amazon, Apple, B&N, Google Play, Kobo, etc. Here are direct links for The Missing Princess and Book 1 -- you'll find links for Books 2 and 3 on the Book 1 page of your store of choice, if that's the way you would rather read the story.


    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


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






    Because the Archibald Lox books are print on demand, there's no way for me to release them cheaply. You CAN sometimes get them at big discounts on Amazon or Book Depository, but thoe deals are set by the companies, not me personally -- I don't even get told when they're heavily discounted! If you would prefer to buy Volume 1 in a physical format, I strongy recommend buying the omnibus The Missing Princess edition, as the paperback is substantially cheaper than buying the three books separately -- indeed, the hardback sometimes costs less than buying the three small paperbacks! You can buy The Missing Princess through a variety of stores worldwide (you probably won't find it on the shelves of stores like Waterstones or Barnes & Noble, but the staff there should be able to order it in for you, if you want to shop local) but you're probably going to get it at its best price through Amazon or Book Depository. More info and direct links below...


    1) If you're looking to buy a hardback edition of The Missing Princess, the best deal can usually be found on Amazon, where it often sells at a very large discount: CLICK HERE. There are also usually 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 -- CLICK HERE to be sent to your local Amazon store, or CLICK HERE to be directed to your local Book Depository branch.


    3) As I've said above, 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.






    Books 4, 5 and 6 of my Archibald Lox series will go on sale over the course of the summer, starting with Archibald Lox and the Forgotten Crypt this month. For those of you who like to post reviews, the three books have now been added to Goodreads (thanks, Adeeb!), where readers can post their ratings and reviews. There are several reviews already up there, courtesy of reviewers who were sent advance copies of the books. Of course, you're free to leave a review anywhere --and I do always truly appreciate it when someone takes the time to write a post a review for one of my books -- so you might prefer to post it on Amazon, Apple, Google Play or whereever, but Goodreads is a very useful, much-visited book reviews hub, and there's no reason you can't copy your review in there as well... :-) To find out what the early reviewers thought of Book 4, CLICK HERE, where you'll also find links for books 5 and 6.


    If YOU contribute to a book review blog or magazine -- or even if you're just someone who regularly posts reviews to Goodreads or Amazon -- and would like a sneak peak of the next three Archie books next year, drop me a line using the CONTACT PAGE on my web site, and I'll see if I can hook you up when the time is right.






    Ever since I launched my website, about 21 years ago, I've provided an option for fans to subscribe for news updates, so that they can be kept abreast of breaking Darren Shan news. For the last several years, that was done through Feedburner, which wasn't ideal, as it was quite an impersonal, limited system. I've been meaning to change it for ages, and finally got around to it last month.


    The new subscription form adds users to a list on Sendfox, and I'll be sending out a personal email at the start of each month to let users know when the latest issue of the Shanville Monthly has gone live. This way I can also send occasional additional emails, if there's something important or time-sensitive that I want to tell Shansters about, but I don't see myself doing that too often -- I'm conscious of not cluttering up people's inboxes with loads of excess emails!


    If you had subscribed to my site before (i.e. if you got an email from me at the start of this month telling you about the July issue of the Shanville Monthly) then you don't need to do anything -- I've copied your email address over to the new list, so it will be business as normal moving forwards. But if you haven't subscribed in the past, or if you did it using an old email address which you no longer check, then this would be a good time to join. Subscribing to my newsletter is the best and surest way of staying in the Darren Shan news loop, and you can easily and swiftly unsubscribe at any point if you ever decide you're sick of hearing from me!


    If you'd like to join the club, CLICK HERE






    "Shonen Sunday" is a blog that focuses on Shougakukan's Shounen manga magazine "Weekly Shounen Sunday," featuring reviews of some of the titles that they publish. Recently the first Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus was reviewed. It's interesting to see manga reviewed by a manga specialist. A lot of reviews I've read of the CDF manga over the years have been written by people who've read it because they liked the books, and the reviewers wouldn't necessarily be all that familiar with manga. This reviewer, on the other hand, knows manga inside-out, so they're able to talk about it with more of an insider's insight, and compare it with other manga titles. Highly recommended. CLICK HERE


    If you're unfamiliar with the Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus editions, you can find out more about them, including where you can buy them, in the May issue of my monthly newsletter: CLICK HERE






    Ed Sheeran released his latest single, Bad Habits, last month, and ever since he posted the above picture for it some weeks back, Shansters have been commenting on his similarity to Mr Crepsley in my Cirque Du Freak books! I can certainly see where they're coming from, although of course in the books (as, indeed, in the real world, because, hey, my vampires ARE real and the story all really happened, right?!?), vampires don't have fangs. But the hair and clothes? Yeah, definitely.


    Could Ed have been a fan of my books back in his younger years? He's certainly in the right kind of age bracket -- born in early 1991, he'd have been 9 years old when Cirque Du Freak first came out, and 10, 11, 12 when the series was starting to get really popular in the UK. Maybe he read some of them as a kid and the memory of Mr Crepsley stuck and this is his way of paying homage to the 200 year old vampire. I actually heard, when I posted this originally on Facebook, from someone who went to the same school as Ed Sheeran, and around the same time, who said the school library did have lots of my books, and that they'd been regularly checked out around that time, so... y'know... while it might well just be coincidence (the look could have been the work of other people, and Ed might have had no input into it at all), it's also possible that one of the world's best-selling singers is (or used to be) a Shanster, and that this was a deliberate nod of the hat to ol' scar-face. Wouldn't it be wild if it was?!? I guess we'll never know for sure... and maybe it's more fun that way!!!!


    CLICK HERE to watch the song on YouTube, and make sure to give it a Like if you enjoy it -- us (possibly!! maybe!! unlikely-but-you-never-know!!!) Shansters have to look out for one another, right?!?






    There was an article on BuzzFeed last month titled: 20 Book-To-Movie Castings That People Actually Kind Of Hated. It's a fun but throwaway piece in which various people talk about actors in movies who, in their opinion, were miscast. In my opinion, 19 of them are up for debate, but there's one that I'll brook no argument over -- John C Reilly as Mr Crepsley in the Cirque Du Freak movie!!!


    Look, I know not everyone approved of John C Reilly when he was cast, or when they saw the movie, but I think that was really only an issue for people who'd seen him in his comedies and who thus had a preconceived opinion of him as someone who only does farce. Whereas I was familiar with him from movies like Boogie Nights, The Perfect Storm, and Gangs of New York, so I knew he was a versatile, talented actor who could handle all sorts of differing roles.


    I was excited by John C Reilly's casting, and when I saw the finished movie, he was my favourite thing in it. I felt he put in a damn good turn, and the movie really came to life whenever he was on screen. Also, as I've said many times before, while I did enjoy the movie on its own terms, it's not MY movie -- the writer/director only very loosely based the script on my books, and brought a load of his own ideas and style to the film. If John C Reilly had had his way, that wouldn't have happened. He read all 12 of the books and pushed to have the film be more faithful to them. Sure, his Mr Crepsley was rather lighter and more flippant than the Mr C in the novels, but that was down to the script -- if the script had been darker, I've no doubt John C would have turned in a much darker performance to match, and maybe it would have fared better at the box office as a result.


    Anyway, in short, while everyone's entitled to their own opinion, in MY opinion, if you don't approve of John C Reilly as Mr Crepsley, you're as barking mad as Murlough in The Tunnels Of Blood!!!! :-) I'd love, if the series ever gets rebooted, if he gets cast again, but as one of the other characters this time (as he's too old now, I would think, to play the orange-haired one). In my mind's eye I can see him playing a certain grizzled old quartermaster in Vampire Mountain, whom the new Mr Crepsley introduces this way -- "Darren, meet my old mentor, Seba Nile..."


    (And surely, if that ever happens, they'll find a way to include a part where Seba looks at Larten, raises an eyebrow, and murmurs, "Is it my imagination, or were you a more handsome looking fellow a few years back?)






    As a child and teenager, in the Long Ago Time before the internet, I'd often struggle to find good new reading material. There weren't many places where you could read reviews of books and find out about exciting new releases or older classics that you were unaware of. Often you were reliant on word of mouth recommendations from your friends, but like you, they too had a hard time finding out about worthwhile reading material that was Out There but as of yet unknown to our group. A good librarian or bookseller could introduce you to new authors, based on what they knew you liked, but it was tricky if you wanted to find them by yourself.


    The internet has made it easier than ever to find out about books that are worth reading, through sites like Goodreads and online stores, but it can still be difficult to reliably broaden your reading base. "I like Darren Shan books -- what other books are out there than might give me a similar buzz?" It seems like an easy questions, but as we all know, the answers can often prove elusive.


    One guy aiming to make our reading lives a whole lot easier is The Reader Teacher. His site is packed with reviews and recommendations, as well as a section called #BookMatch, which specifically addresses that very question -- he lists lots of popular books, then provides lots more similar books by other authors. It's a wonderful little tool, perfect for any reader, teacher or librarian, and you can check it out by CLICKING HERE





    Tattoo Tuesday (where I feature photos of tattoos that have been inspired by my books) might not be as regular a feature on my blog posts as it once was, but when the stray one comes along, it tends to be a stunner -- and last month I was delighted to feature two of the most stunning I've yet to come across!


    The first tattoo, featuring Mr Crepsley and Madam Octa, was taken from the pages of the Cirque Du Freak manga adaptation, and graces the flesh of a Shanster called Mordecai. It was their first tattoo, and I have to say, Mordecai set the bar high -- I find it hard to see any future tattoos topping THIS little baby!!!! Unless maybe Mordecai gets an entire volume of the manga printed down their back in miniature... :-) :-) :-)



    The second tattoo was also taken from the pages of the Cirque Du Freak manga, and this barbaric beauty was shared with me by a fan called Ty, and features Steve Leopard. I think it's a hugely impressive piece all in its own right, but for Ty it's just stage one -- he plans to have am image of Darren tattooed on the other leg, with possibly even more CDF manga tats to come!! So, quite literally, watch this space... :-) :-) :-)







    A fan called Samantha has been cosplaying as B Smith from my Zom-B series. In Samantha's words:


    "I decided to try my hand at some Zom-B makeup! I have been a huge fan of Darren Shans since I was in middle school, and a cosplayer for 8 years so its about time I combined the two. The makeup took around 2 hours, I used liquid latex, tissues and some creepy contacts to get the look down! I made the finger bones/heart out of foam clay, and it was such a challenge to sculpt them by hand! I had the photos edited and I think they look sick! Though I included the original because I am a fan of before and after's! The artist did an amazing job on the wounds I am so happy with it!"


    I think she did an amazing job! Samantha posted a few more photos, and also recorded a few Tik Tok videos in B mode, which are well worth having a look at - there are four of them, and the last one in particular is really strong. You can check them out on the Darren Shan Discussions Facebook page, along with the photos, by CLICKING HERE






    A fan called Ash posted this very lovely post about my short book Koyasan on Facebook last month:

    "Your yearly reminder that Koyasan is wildly underrated and deserves a place in everyone's Shan collection as much as the more grandiose books and series. Although, maybe I'm biased. I found my copy in an old abandoned stone bus stop that had been turned into a free book swap. I was eleven, I'd just moved house, and I was feeling overwhelmed and lonely. To try and alleviate that, I was exploring the country roads and fields surrounding the village. I was homeshooled, which meant life was isolated at the best of times, and we moved house so frequently i was starting to feel like lonely was just...normal. But that didn't make it suck any less.


    "Imagine how deliriously happy finding a book by my favourite author for free made me feel! A book I didn't even know existed! I had to rub my eyes twice before i even let myself touch it, just in case I was imagining things. Sure, it was dog eared and damp, but to me that made it all the more perfect. I read the whole thing right there, in the pouring rain, in that tiny, dark stone shack filled with mildewy books. Then I read it again. I would have read it a third time, but it was almost dark by then. I ran home with it in my coat pocket, holding onto it with one hand the whole way like it might vanish if I let go. I read it two more times before i fell asleep with it still in my hand. We only lived there a couple of months, but I will never, ever forget that day. I still have that same tattered copy, I will cherish it always."


    That really is one of the sweetest posts I've read in a long while. I'm very fond of Koyasan -- in fact, I spent a few years trying to get it off the ground as a stage musical, and although that's currently fallen between the cracks, it's something I'll try to revive one day if the opportunity ever arises -- so it's nice to see I'm not alone in my love for it. There have been some foreign language translations published in various countries, but the only English language physical edition was published for World Book Day in the UK back in 2006. For some strange reason my publishers have never looked to republish it, but it IS available worldwide through Amazon stores as a low-priced eBook, for those who can't track down a second-hand copy of the paperback.


    Ash's post originally appeared on the Darren Shan Discussions fan page on Facebook, which is well worth a visit -- you can access it by CLICKING HERE






    A fan called Steven was doing some organising recently and came across some old books of mine which I signed and personalised for him twenty years ago, in 2001, when Vampire Mountain was first released. He got them signed at Waterstones in Newcastle (UK). He was 11 years old, and had been made to read part of Cirque Du Freak after it was discovered that he'd been replying to his school on posts on the old message board on my site, and impersonating ME! That explains my message in The Vampire's Assistant!!!


    It was lovely to see books that I signed so long ago. I was also interested to note that I hadn't dated them. These days I almost always date a book when I include a personal message. (I usually don't date it if I'm only signing the book.) I thought I'd done that since the very beginning, but evidently not. I also used fairly cheap pens back in those days. I experimented with pens for many years, before settling on Sharpies for a long time, although now I have a nice Mont Blanc pen which I use when signing. I also have special, quick-drying silver pens for when I sign on black pages (some of my books have black interior pages at the start of them), although I mostly used those during my Demonata tours.


    Steven's post first appeared on the Darren Shan Discussions fan page on Facebook, which is well worth checking out if you want to join a thriving community of Shan fans who post regularly about my books and other odds and sods. CLICK HERE.



    DARREN DASH -- M.I.A.?!?



    A few of my older fans have been asking recently if I had any more Darren Dash novels in the pipeline -- that's the pseudonym I use when I release books for adults. While I certainly plan to release plenty more Darren Dash books going forward, sadly I don't have a new one lined up in the immediate future, and I figured this would be good time to explain the reason why things have been quiet on that front since I released Molls Like It Hot a year and a half ago.


    In short, it's all Archibald Lox's fault! I started a new Darren Shan series last year, but like my Darren Dash novels, it's self-published, which means I have to spend far longer on the process than I normally would. With a traditional publisher, I write the books, edit them, tour with them, and that's pretty much it from my end. As a self-publisher I have to do everything, from typesetting to organising covers to uploading them across the various sales platforms to promoting and publicising to...


    Basically, it's a lot more work, and that's meant I haven't really been able to focus on anything except Archie for the last couple of years. Under normal circumstances there would have been another Darren Dash book in 2021 (I'd been averaging a new one every 18 months or so), but instead we're going to have to "settle" for three new Archibald Lox books, which are being released over the course of the summer.


    The good news is that there's only one more volume of Archie to go after this one -- I expect to release the last three books in the series next spring or summer -- and as I work well ahead of my publication schedules, it means I should be able to start looking at other projects a little later this year. If all goes well, I'll release a new Dash book for adults at some point in 2022, though I can't guarantee that. What I can say is that I'm as eager to get another one out there as soon as I can, so I'll do my best. Fingers crossed!!! In the meantime, if you'd like to learn more about the five Darren Dash books that have so far been published, CLICK HERE.







    As I said at the start of this newsletter, July marks two birthdays -- the Shanville Monthly turns 21, while I turn 49. To celebrate, I'm running a competition with a specially dedicated and signed copy of Archibald Lox: The Missing Princess (the Volume 1 omnibus, which collects the first three books of the series). It features a Happy Birthday message to myself, and the date (I signed it on July 2nd, which is the day of my 49th birthday). Many of your Shan friends might have signed and dedicated books by me in their collection, but none of them will have a dedication quite the same as this one!!To be in with a chance of winning, read on...


    1) Answer this question: "What age will I turn this month?"


    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, Thursday, July 15th, 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 Friday, July 16th, 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 July. I hope those of you who pick up a copy of Archibald Lox and the Forgotten Crypt enjoy it as much as I did, and if you do, please do spread the word -- this series, more than any other of mine, really is reliant on word of mouth -- it would be amazing if you could post a review online, but it would be equally amazing if you chatted about it in any book groups that you might be in (virtual or otherwise), or even just recommend it to a few of your friends. I'll see you all back here at the start of August, for the launch of yet another new book -- this time it's the fifth in the series, Archibald Lox and the Slides of Bon Repell. 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.