• Issue 253 - August 2021

    01 August 2021



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the August issue of the Shanville Monthly. It's another jam-packed issue, with lots of news about my new book, Archibald Lox and the Slides of Bon Repell, and the third volume of the Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus. There's info about a blog tour that I'm undertaking, and the return of a special story to my website. There are links to recent interviews I've given, plus reviews of Archibald Lox and the Forgotten Crypt. And more -- so much more!!! But let's kick off with that new book, since I'm hoping that's what most of you reading this are most excited about this month... :-)






    The Summer Of Shan continues this month with the release on August 3rd of Book 5 of my Archibald Lox series -- Archibald Lox and the Slides of Bon Repell. It will go on sale 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 have your heart set on a physical book, you might want to note that there will be a hardback and paperback omnibus edition of books 4, 5 and 6 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.


    Amazon: http://mybook.to/archie5ebook

    Apple, B&N, Kobo + others: https://books2read.com/u/m0KaB0

    Google Play: CLICK HERE


    Book 5 has been going down a treat with advance reviewers, most of whom have claimed it as their favourite of the series so far. Here are a few snippets from the reviews:


    "Some trademark Darren Shan jeopardy in this instalment. We were on the edge of our seats!" The Bookbag.

    "While I love this whole series, so far this book is my favorite." Kelly Smith Reviews.

    "The Slides of Bon Repell is the best instalment to the series yet." Rachel Hobbs, author of Shadow-Stained.

    "Shan is on a winning streak with this one." The Word Cubby.






    In the midst of the summer of ShanVolume 3 of the Cirque Du Freak manga OMNIBUS, which includes Books 5 and 6 of the series (Trials of Death and The Vampire Prince), went on sale on July 27th.The omnibus editions are majestic, monstrous beasts, each about 400 pages long, beautifully bound and presented, and they're larger than the original manga editions which were published many years ago. I'm absolutely delighted with the new editions, and fans have been going wild for them too -- I've yet to hear from anyone with a bad word to say about them!


    You should be able to find Volume 3 of the manga omnibus in your local manga stockist (if you don't see it on the shelves, ask a member of staff to order in a copy for you), but if you prefer to buy online, here are a few handy links.


    YEN PRESS -- these are the publishers, and their page includes direct buying links to Amazon, Barnes &Noble, and some other stores in the USA. https://yenpress.com/9781975321550/cirque-du-freak-the-manga-vol-3/


    AMAZON UK -- there's currently a 20% discount as I write this! https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cirque-Du-Freak-Manga-Omnibus/dp/1975321553/


    COMIXOLOGY -- if you prefer to buy the manga as eBooks, the volumes are also being republished digitally, NOT as omnibus editions, but as individual books, with Books 5 and 6 going on sale at the same time as the physical omnibus edition of Volume 3. They work out a lot cheaper if you buy them as eBooks... https://www.comixology.com/Cirque-Du-Freak-The-Manga/comics-series/153309


    And for those of you who can't get enough of these vampish volumes, the added good news is that Volume 4 is due to go on sale on October 18th -- just in time for Halloween!!!








    I won't be going on any physical tours this year, but thanks to the good folk at Rock Star Book tour, I will be going on a virtual blog tour this month. Spread across two weeks (August 2nd to 6th, then 9th to 13th), it will see me visit a wide variety of blogs, and will include excerpts from my Archibald Lox books, reviews by bloggers, guest posts by me, Instagram posts by some of the bloggers, and more. I'll be providing more information and links through my blog, Twitter and Facebook pages each day over the course of the tour, but you can find the general line-up of the tour below. It should be lots of fun -- I hope you can join me for at least some of it...


    02/08/2021  Two Chicks on Books
    02/08/2021  Jaimerockstarbooktours
    03/08/2021  The Momma Spot
    04/08/2021  BookHounds YA 
    05/08/2021  #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog
    06/08/2021  Rajiv's Reviews
    06/08/2021  Kelly Smith Reviews
    09/08/2021  @pagesofyellow 
    09/08/2021  More Books Please blog
    10/08/2021  Mocha Girls Read
    11/08/2021  Addicted to Media
    11/08/2021  Reveal + Review
    12/08/2021  TLC Book Nook
    12/08/2021  Jaime's World
    13/08/2021  popthebutterfly




    I wrote a short story called "Hagurosan" many years ago for the War Child anthology, "Kids' Night In". It used to be on my site, to read for free, but several years later, the publishers Barrington Stoke, who produce books for children with dyslexia or other reading problems, asked me if I would work with them to tweak it, so that they could publish it as a short book. When that was released, I removed the story from my site, in order not to take away sales from the print edition.


    Last month, a fan called Niki was looking for the story online and asked me if it was available on Kindle. I didn't think it was, but checked to be certain, and while I was checking I saw that as well as not being on sale as an eBook, the physical book was now out of print, and although you could get a copy second-hand through Amazon, it wasn't listed on the Barrington Stoke site any longer. So it seemed like the perfect time to restore it to my site!


    When I tweaked the story for Barrington Stoke, I broke it down into chapters and added some new material. That version is now available on my site, for the first time ever, and you can read it by CLICKING HERE


    If you would rather read the original version, that's on my site as well, and you can check it out if you CLICK HERE


    There's not a huge difference between the two versions, but I think I probably prefer the revised Barrington Stoke version, so if pushed, I'd recommend that over the other -- but hey, if you have the time, you can maybe read both versions and decide for yourself! :-)


    I'll just quickly add that if you enjoy "Hagurosan," which was inspired by something that happened to me on a trip to Japan, you might also like a longer story I wrote called "Koyasan," which was also dreamt up on another visit to Japan. It's on sale as a low-cost eBook through Amazon stores worldwide: CLICK HERE






    There was a lovely article about me in the Limerick Leader last month, in which I chat about how lockdown has affected my work and my family, and talk about the new Archibald Lox book that I released at the start of this month. It also has maybe my favourite headline ever -- "OLDER AND WISER!" Although, when I looked at the photo they'd chosen (which was taken several years ago, when I was releasing my Zom-B series) the editor in me did want to reach out and tweak it to the rather more accurate "OLDER AND WISER AND A HELL OF A LOT GREYER!!!" :-)


    It's difficult to get any kind of media coverage when you're a children's author, and about a dozen times more difficult if you self-publish your work (as I'm doing with the Archie books), but the good folk at the Limerick Leader have always been incredibly supportive of my work since I first started publishing books more than 20 years ago. I honestly do appreciate it, and now more than ever -- because of COVID, the paper is much shorter than it used to be, which means space is at a premium. So you'd be doing me a favour if you'd CLICK HERE and give the article a quick look -- it's important to support our press, especially when they're supporting children's authors!! :-)





    The summer of Shan concludes next month with the release of Archibald Lox and the Rubicon Dictate, book 6 of the series, which goes on sale on 1st September 2021. If you'd like to pre-order, here are the links:


    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! 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.






    Agead of my blog tour in August, I was lucky to be interviewed on the Teen Librarian blog. It was a wide-ranging interview, in which I talked quite a lot about my Archibald Lox series (in particular Book 4, which went on sale at the start of last month), why I "serialised" the stories of my Zom-B and Archibald Lox series, why the views about libraries of some politicians astonish and disgust me, and how my next career step could see me taking on the challenge of writing... PICTURE BOOKS?!?


    I've got to be joking, right?!? Heh heh!!! CLICK HERE to find out! 



    YALC 2021



    YALC -- the UK's official YA Lit Con -- has been held in London since 2014, as part of the Film & Comic Con. I was a guest each of its first three years, but haven't been back since then, as I haven't been touring for a while. Last year, because of COVID, they couldn't run the event in person, so they did online events. They've had to do that this year too, and while that's for the most part a crying shame, it DOES have at least one small upside -- I was invited back to take part in this year's virtual event, and because it's online, it means it can be viewed by an unlimited number of people, anywhere in the world... and it's FREE!!!


    I recorded a video panel interview recently, with fellow authors Garth Nix, C. L. Clark and Hafsah Faizal. It was a nice, relaxed chat, in which we talked about the fantasy genre and the worlds that we create. I had fun participating, and hopefully you guys will enjoy it too.


    The video will be posted to the YALC YouTube channel during the weekend of August 6th, and as far as I'm aware you'll be able to watch it any time after that, at least for a while. I'll post a link to the video once it's up, but in the meantime you can check out the YALC site to see who else they've got lined up for the weekend, by CLICKING HERE






    There was an article in The Nation (a Sri Lankan weekly newspaper) recently entitled: 10 Popular Book Series That Didn’t Make It Past The First Film. It includes the usual rogue's gallery of popular book series that didn't quite translate into celluloid success stories, such as His Dark Materials (before it was resurrected by the BBC), Eragon... and, of course, Cirque Du FreakCLICK HERE to read it.


    Often with articles like this, the compilers do little more than list some financial flops, provide a brief summary, and leave it at that. But in this one they tried to quickly explain why each adaptation failed, and they made a pretty good point when discussing the Cirque Du Freak film:


    "A key problem with making the first film of a franchise is the balance between the ability for it to work as a standalone film and setting it up for a sequel. If you look at Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone or Twilight, if for some reason the production of their follow up films were discontinued, they would still work (and make sense) on their own. Where Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant fails is the introduction of several characters that have no purpose in the film except to set it up for a sequel."


    Now, as I've said many times before (and will no doubt say many times again), I enjoyed the Cirque Du Freak film on its own terms. I was able to separate it from the books and treat it as its own entity, and it was a weird, quirky little film that did some interesting, amusing things. But there's no denying it had its problems (hence its underwhelming box office return and the lack of any sequels). It wasn't sure how dark it should go, and introduced far too much comedy. It cut out or made unwise changes to some key heart-wrenching moments from the books (e.g. having Darren play on a Gameboy while his family was grieving during his burial, and cutting out the character of Sam Grest and what happened to him). And it was definitely, as the article states, overly focused on being the first of a franchise and setting up its intended sequels.


    I never had one eye on the Big Picture when I wrote the first three books of the series, because I didn't know there WAS a big picture. I wrote Cirque Du Freak as a standalone novel. I knew, given the way it ended, that there would be room to take the story further if I wished, and ended up doing that with The Vampire's Assistant and Tunnels of Blood. But even then, I was carefully feeling my way into the story, not trying to set up big pay-offs further down the line. I think that's part of the reason the story worked so well -- if you only read the first two or three books, you could walk away without feeling that you'd been left with a load of loose ends.


    The film, on the other hand, coming along several years after I'd finished the series, was all too aware of that bigger picture. Its makers knew about Vampire Mountain, and how the mythology developed and deepened from book 4 onwards. They knew about the War of the Scars, and how central a character Mr Tiny would become. And I think that knowledge steered them astray. It didn't help that the writer/director decided to change a lot of that mythology and supplement it with his own ideas, but even if he'd stayed more faithful to the atmosphere of the books, I think the story would have struggled with its basic structure, because it was asking viewers to buy into the concept of a Big Picture when it should really, like the books, have only been concerned with how Darren's life had been turned upside down and how he slowly began to piece together a new life for himself -- i.e. it should have focused on the micro, not the macro. The bigger, wilder, more exciting stuff should really have been left to the later movies.


    Hopefully, if the books ever get rebooted, the makers will learn from the mistakes of the series' first adapters, and take a more gradual approach to the later storylines, and as with His Dark Materials and A Series of Unfortunate Events, the story will be allowed to flow and build in a similar way that it did in the novels, and this time we WILL get to the "good stuff" and see the journey all the way to its end. But, hey, I wouldn't bet on it!!!!! :-) :-) :-)






    The Word Cubby reviewed Archibald Lox and the Forgotten Crypt (book 4 of the series) and noted in their summation: "Two days after reading this installment, I am still smiling and eager for more."


    I think that's how every writer loves to leave their readers -- grinning and wanting more!! :-)


    The reviewer also noted the following during the course of the review: "There are so many questions swirling in my head after reading this installment that I can’t wait to read the next books to see if they get answered. Things happen in this book that only Family can do, yet Archie is not Family. An apprentice locksmith once again outpicks the greatest Lox in Sapphire. Oh, so many questions swirling, and all I can say without giving anything away is to ask if Archibald is really who he thinks he is?"


    Heh heh heh!!! Fans of my previous series are well aware that I like to weave convoluted plots, and come up with convoluted characters, where nothing is quite as simple as it might at first appear. There can be a throwaway line in book 1 of a series, which comes to have huge significance in book 5 or 7 or 9. Sometimes what looks like a mildly amusing side-story can buckle and twist and become a key, driving part of the overall plot. A character who doesn't seem to be that relevant when first introduced can out of the blue transform into one of the most important cast members.


    Archie probably seemed a bit overly straightforward in the Volume 1 books, a nice guy, with a talent for picking locks, but not the brightest spark in the fireworks box. Well-meaning, and brave of heart, but nothing more than a rather one-dimensional hero. It's not unusual for main characters to be a bit on the likeable but dull side, and for other characters in the stories to be the complicated, challenging ones. Since you're asking your readers to identify with your main guy or gal, it's not a bad idea to make him or her an easy character to get on with, to in essence cast tham as an avatar that the readers don't have to think too much about, a skin that they can slip into, eyes that they can see out of, their bit of normal in a world of weirdness and wonders.


    Not a bad idea at all... but it's an idea that I set out to subvert with these books, as I've done in some of my other main series. The thing is, with those series, the subversion was often quite up front and open -- we could tell that B Smith had issues right from the get-go. There was nothing "everyday" about Grubbs Grady when we first met him. But Archibald Lox... he seemed like a quiet, modest, uncomplicated kind of guy, right? And he is... but also he isn't. As The Word Cubby and other reviewers have noted after reading book 4, there seems to be more to Archie than at first met the eye, and this series is as much about Archie working himself out as it is about Archie going on adventures and picking locks and trying to stop the villains from winning.


    There were some subtle hints in the first Volume books that things are going on with Archie that even he isn't aware of, but it's in this Volume that he really starts to realise that there's something seriously different about himself, and to wonder at what that might be, and why. There won't be any immediate breakthroughs -- we're not going to get to see the full picture until book 9 next year -- but I'm going to be dropping little hints and clues and pieces of the puzzle all the way along the line, basically challenging the more eagle-eyed readers among you to see how much of the picture YOU can put together before I lay out my stall completely in the final book. I doubt anyone will hit the nail square on the head -- I've been even more devious than usual with my construtcion of Archie! -- but it will be interesting to see how close some can come with their theories...


    To read the full Word Cubby review, CLICK HERE





    Archibald Lox and the Forgotten Crypt was also recently reviewed by The Literary Connoissuer, who had a lot to say about it, including the following snippets:


    "As someone who's been a fan of his stories for the better half of twenty-five years, I will say with full disclosure that Archibald Lox does not disappoint... Darren Shan spins a chilling tale of wonder, enchantment, and intrigue, and leaves us bewildered and breathlessly reaching for the next book... While reuniting us with beloved characters, and setting us on a new, treacherous mission, Archibald Lox and the Forgotten Crypt is sure to ensnare, mesmerize, and astound readers of all ages."


    I couldn't have asked for much more of a positive recommendation than that!!! It's great when a reader reacts to one of your books that way, especially if that reader is someone who's been a fan for many years and is familiar with your work. Pleasing readers who are new to your worlds is tricky enough, but finding ways to keep your writing fresh and exciting for people who've read 30... 40... or more than 50 of your books... well, I don't want to brag, but I think reviews like this prove that there's life in the old Shan dog yet!!!! :-) :-) :-)


    You can check out the full review by CLICKING HERE





    AND Archibald Lox and the Forgotten Crypt was reviewed by The Bookbag, and here's what the reviewer had to say in her summary:


    "Archie begins his second journey into the Merge. There's a smooth re-entry and it only takes a few pages before you're right back in the swing of the topsy turvy alternative world and Archie's strange lockpicking abilities. Easy, fun read with lots of surprises, as ever with Darren Shan."


    The reviewer had plenty else to say about the book, and you can read the full review by CLICKING HERE






    Look what hit #1 on the Children's Paranormal, Occult & Supernatural Books Hot New Releases chart on Amazon when it went on sale last month! I was just as pleased to see Books 5 and 6 in there as well -- the eBooks of both are currently available as pre-orders. OK, it's a fairly niche chart, but it's great exposure to hit #1 anywhere on Amazon, and hopefully this won't be the last we see of the Archibald Lox books on the charts over the course of the summer.






    A Tweeter with the user handle of Vampire Council posted this list of Zodiac signs recently, where each sign was linked with one of the twelve books in my Saga of Darren Shan / Cirque Du Freak series. Now, I've got to admit, I've bever paid any real attention to the Zodiac signs, and always struggle to provide an answer if they pop up in a quiz! So I've no way of knowing why they were assigned to these specific books, or how those books in some way refelct the attributes of the signs. But lots of fans liked and replied to this when I re-tweeted it, so I figured if it struck a sweet spot for those guys, there are probably plenty of my followers over here who will be equally fascinated to either (or both) run an expert eye over the entire list, or to quickly check to see which book THEIR sign aligns with! As a Cancer, I noted that I'm listed as a Vampire Prince, so it's at least one-twelfth spot-on-the-money!!!! :-) :-) :-)





    260 of you entered my July Shanville Monthly competition, to be in with a chance of winning a specially dedicated copy of Archibald Lox Volume 1: The Missing Princess. Using an online random number generator, I drew the winner, and the lucky Shanster was...


    NYKITA DINSMORE, who lives in Arizona in the good ol' U.S. of A.!!!


    Thanks to everyone who entered, congratulations to Nykita, and better luck next time to the other 259 of you! :-)


    If you want to ensure you don't miss any future competitions that I run, the safest way is to subscribe to my newsletter list. I send out an email at the start of every month, when a new issue of my Shanville Monthly newsletter goes live, but other than that I don't bother people very much -- the only other times I might email are to let you know about any big breaking news items, or to remind you when a competition like this one is drawing to its close. I post those items on my blog, Facebook and Twitter too, but they can be easily missed in among the daily hullabaloo that is 21st century social media! If you want to subscribe, here's the link where you can submit your details, which I never share with anyone else: https://darrenshan.com/news/subscribe






    This incredible drawing is the work of a fan called Mine Akatsuki, who drew it to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of the first Cirque Du Freak book in Japan on the 10th of July 2001. It features characters from lots of different books that I've published in Japan (and other countries) over the years since. From left to right, those books.series, are -- The City trilogy, Hagurosan, Cirque Du Freak, The Demonata, Koyasan.


    I must admit, I hadn't clocked the anniversary myself, but I'm so pleased that it was brought to my attention -- and in such an amazing way! I had no idea, when the first book was published in Japan, that the series would become a runaway success there. The first book had a very modest first print run, but the reaction from readers far exceeded expectations, and subsequent books were printed in huge numbers, and topped overall bestseller charts -- no mean feat in a country where book sales are among the highest in all the world!


    Over the last 20 years, Cirque Du Freak has grown and grown in the USA and UK, to the point where sales are right up there with the Japanese numbers, and the books performed spectaularly in lots of other countries too, such as Hungary and Taiwan, but Japan was where they first went stellar, and where a very young and innocent Darren Shan was first treated like a genuine star -- I'll always remember arriving early to my first ever event there, to find a few hundred fans who had turned up in addition to the three hundred with tickets, not to meet me, just to watch the event from afar! Since I was early, I asked if it would be possible to mingle with the 300 who had tickets, so that they could have their photo taken with me (there wasn't going to be time for that later). After a hushed, serious conversation, a security guard was summoned to tell me it would be too dangerous -- there might be a crush and people could die!!! I'd never run into THAT problem at any of my events in any other country, where sometimes the members of staff outnumbered the fans in attendance! (In the end, we managed to safely arrange for the fans to come have their photos taken, and no lives were lost!)


    Happy, special times. I'll always have an extra soft spot in my heart for the Shansters of Japan, so this is an anniversary -- and an anniversary drawing -- that means an awful lot to me. Thanks again, Mine Akatsuki, for reminding me about it, and treating us all to this wonderful memorial drawing.



    IT'S A WRAP!


    And that's it for August. I hope those of you who pick up a copy of Archibald Lox and the Slides of Bon Repell enjoy it as much as the advance reviwers who've been raving about it, 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 on a site like Amazon or Goodreads, 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 September, for the launch of yet another new book -- this time it's the sixth in the series, Archibald Lox and the Rubicon Dictate. 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.