• Issue 258 - January 2022

    01 January 2022



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the first 2022 issue of the Shanville Monthly! I hope you all enjoyed the yuletide period. I had a nice, relaxed time -- there were even a couple of days where I didn't do a blog post, which is almost unheard of!! I'll be climbing back into the writing saddle this month, though I'm not 100% sure what I'm going to work on first -- one possibility is a new book for middle graders, an idea for which I had in the cinema in the run-up to Christmas! You can read more about that further down in this newsletter, which also contains info about a podcast interview with me, an ongoing eBook sale, the state of play of the third Volume of my Archibald Lox series, and a whole lot more. There's also a fabulous new drawing of me, which I'm sure you'll all be downloading to use as your screensaver -- you can view it... right... here...







    Bad Book Bash is a very amusing podcast by comedienne Betsy Speer. In each episode she takes aim at the "worst books in existence...YA paranormal romance novels." I was very nervous when Betsy got in touch to say that she was going to feature Cirque Du Freak on an upcoming episode, but then she explained that she'd decided it was time to feature the work of an author she actually LIKED, to prove that books could be GOOD as well as terrible -- and my heart settled in my chest again. :-)


    Betsy interviewed me for half an hour, and the recording went live last month. She teased me gently at times, but spared me the brutal kicking of her usual targets -- phew!! You can listen to the interview through a variety of podcast providers, but if you're a novice to podcasts (like me!) then the easiest way might be to listen to it on Google by CLICKING HERE


    As for the amazing accompanying portrait... that was created by an artist called Steve Kirkwood, a friend of the podcast who wanted to get in on the action when he heard that Betsy would be interviewing me! You can check out his Facebook page, for more of his incredible work, by CLICKING HERE







    I finished my final "solo" draft of the Volume 3 arc of my Archibald Lox series last month. So it's edging ever closer to its end -- this is the final storyline, and as with the others, I'll release it as three short books, then follow up with a collected edition that presents it as a single story, which is how I originally wrote it. Warning!! Books 7 and 8 will end with HUGE cliffhangers, but I promise you won't have to wait too long for their resolutions -- I plan to release the three short books fairly swiftly after each other, though I haven't yet settled on exactly how long I'm going to leave between them -- maybe one month, maybe two...


    I can't say for certain either when book 7 and the others will be released, except that it will be at some point in 2022. Now that I've finished my last "solo" draft, I've sent the book to my editor (hi, Zoe!), who will be spending most of January working on it. She'll get back to me with her thoughts, comments and corrections, and I'll then go through it very carefully one FINAL final time -- that might take a couple of weeks, or a couple of months, depending on whether or not I have to do much to it in response to my editor's feedback. Then, when I've crossed the final t and dotted the final i, I'll have to typeset all three books (plus the collected edition) for both their digital and physical editions. Oh, and I suppose it will help if I sort out covers for them a bit before that point too. :-)


    So, a lot of work still to do, but the bulk of it is now behind me, and I must say I think Volume 3 is looking to be in very good shape -- fingers crossed!! Hopefully we'll see book 7 in late spring or early summer, but keep an eye on my monthly online newsletter for updates.






    I ran a BookBub promotion last month for the first of my Archibald Lox eBooks -- if you're unfamiliar with BookBub, it's the undisputed king of book promotions -- and I heavily discounted the prices of the digital editions of Books 2, 3 and 4 to tie in with it. Archibald Lox and the Bridge Between Worlds rode high in the charts for a few days after the promotion -- at one point, as you can see in the attached screenshot, it was #2 on the overall Bestseller Kindle chart for free books in the UK (it might even have hit the #1 spot -- I didn't check very often!), which was amazing.


    Even though it's a few weeks later, I'm STILL getting a good number of new readers each day, on the back of the promo, so I've decided to keep the eBook sale going for a while longer. Book 1 is always FREE to download worldwide through all the main sellers of eBooks (Amazon, Apple, Barnes &Noble, Google Play, Kobo, etc), but during the sale Book 2 is half price in the USA and costs $0.99 instead of $1.99, Book 3 is also half price and costs $1.49 instead of $2.99, and Book 4 has been rediced to $1.99 instead of $2.99. The eBooks have been reduced to similar prices in all other online stores across the world, e.g. in the UK Book 2 costs £0.99, Book 3 costs £0.99, and Book 4 costs £1.49. Here are the links for the FREE Book 1 eBook -- you'll be able to order all the others from that page.


    eBook 1 on AmazonCLICK HERE

    eBook 1 on Google PlayCLICK HERE

    eBook 1 on Apple, Kobo, B&N, etcCLICK HERE







    You can buy my new Archibald Lox series as a collection of small books (see the above post!), or if you prefer, you can buy it as omnibus Volumes -- each Volume collects three books and presents them as a single novel, the way I originally wrote the storyline. Direct links below.


    1) HARDBACK edition of Volume 1: The Missing Princess.

    Amazon: CLICK HERE.

    Book DepositoryCLICK HERE.


    HARDBACK edition of Volume 2: The Kidnapped Prince.


    Book Depositoryhttps://www.bookdepository.com/Archibald-Lox-2-Darren-Shan/9781910009154


    2) PAPERBACK edition of Volume 1: The Missing Princess.

    Amazon: CLICK HERE

    Book Depository: CLICK HERE.


    PAPERBACK edition of Volume 2: The Kidnapped Prince.






    3) EBOOK edition of Volume 1: The Missing Princess..

    Amazon: CLICK HERE

    Google Play: CLICK HERE

    Apple, Kobo, B&N, etc: CLICK HERE


    EBOOK edition of Volume 2: The Kidnapped Prince.

    AmazonCLICK HERE

    Apple, Nook, KoboCLICK HERE

    Google PlayCLICK HERE






    Four Volumes of the Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus are now on sale. Each Volume features two books from the series. Volume 5 is scheduled to go on sale on January 18th. You can see all four Volumes in the photo above, which was shared with me by a fan on Twitter called Yeollie Hvirus -- they look pretty freaking cool together, don't they?!? :-) You should be able to find or order any of the manga omnibuses in your local manga stockist, but if you prefer to buy online, here are a few links for Volume 4 -- you'll be able to find the first three Volumes from these sellers as well.


    If you live in the USA, there are direct links to several stores on the Yen Press site: CLICK HERE


    If you live in the UK, this is the link for Volume 4 on AMAZON UK, and on WATERSTONES, and on WHSMITH.


    If you prefer to buy the manga as eBooks, they are also being republished digitally, but NOT as omnibus editions, but as individual books -- the first eight are currently on sale, with Books 9 and 10 going on sale on January 18th. You can buy them through COMIXOLOGY






    A book blogger called The Literary Connoisseur has been one of my most loyal reviewers over the years, reporting back on more of my books than I can count, sharing her reviews with fellow fans through her own website, plus on Amazon and Goodreads. As well as reviewing books 4, 5 and 6 of my Archibald Lox series earlier this year, she went and wrote up a brand new review for the collected Volume 2 edition (The Kidnapped Prince) when I released it. This one is shorter than her reviews for the individual books, and rather than go into plot specifics, it provides a concise overview of the Volume (AND Volume 1), and summarises her thoughts, making it the perfect review for anyone who hasn't yet read the books.


    At one point she notes, "If Darren Shan's talents of successfully hooking a reader are showcased in Volume 1, then Volume 2 is absolute proof of his ability to send said reader's world into a tailspin... There is something for everyone in this latest release from the masterful mind of Darren Shan."


    Isn't she just the sweetest?!? :-) You can read the full review by CLICKING HERE







    I did an online school event with some of the students of Outwood Shafton Academy last month, in which I chatted about my books, did a reading, and answered LOTS of questions. I've attached some photos that the school posted online, featuring a shot of the event, plus a couple in the library afterwards when my books were flying off the shelves like hot cakes!! I was especially pleased to see a copy of The Thin Executioner being checked out -- I mentioned in the event, when answering a question, that it was my favourite out of all the books I've written, so it was good to see that the students were paying attention!! :-)


    I used to be very reluctant to commit to online events. Living in the countryside, my internet connection was unreliable, so I was always concerned about things at my end. And schools faced technical difficulties and limitations too, and often they only had one small computer screen at their end, meaning they couldn't accommodate more than a small selection of students in a single, cramped room.


    That's all changed. My internet connection is much better than it used to be, while Zoom and the like have made it very easy to set up large-scale talks -- most of the events I've done recently have linked to several rooms in the hosting schools, meaning students from lots of different classes can get involved -- and they all have projectors, so the students can see as well as hear me! :-) Indeed, I'm doing an event in January in which several schools will be involved, all linking in at the same time, which should be a lot of fun.


    In short, my doors are now VERY much open on the virtual event front, and I'm doing far more online sessions than I've ever done before -- I already have a few booked in for January. If YOU are a teacher or librarian, anywhere in the world (or if you're a student who wants to show this to your teacher or librarian) and are interested in contacting me to enquire about the possibility of arranging your own online event, please feel free to reach out and drop me a line using this email address: [email protected]


    I don't charge, and I'm happy to talk about any of my books. I don't say YES to every request, but if you're well organised and can put together a sizeable group of students, then you've got a damn good chance of reeling me in!!!






    As many of you are no doubt already aware, I write books for adults under the name of Darren Dash (having published four under the Darren Shan name many years ago). I've been rather quiet on that front recently, as the massive Archibald Lox series has been consuming most of my time over the last couple of years -- there's just so much more you have to do when you're a self-publisher! I'm hoping to release a new Darren Dash book at some point this year, though there's a good chance it might be 2023 before it sees print.


    While we're waiting, here's a link to a lovely review from a few months ago, for my most recent release as Darren Dash -- a fast-paced thriller called Molls Like It Hot. The review appeared on a site called Al Wrote A Book, who replied to his own question of Is It Any Good? with a nice, resounding "Simple answer – yes." The review could have stopped there and I'd have been happy enough, but thankfully Al went on to chat about it in a bit more detail than that, and you can read his full review by CLICKING HERE


    If you want to find out more about my Darren Dash books, I have a separate website for them, though I haven't updated it since Molls went on sale a couple of years ago -- in fact, now that I think of it, I don't believe I've even added my notes for Molls yet (usually I write some author's notes for each book that I publish). Something else to add to my Must Do Soon list... :-) Anyway, here's the link for the Dash site: CLICK HERE






    There was a lovely review for Cirque Du Freak on the HORROR section of the Vocal Media site a few months back, by a reviewer called Ethan Sealey. Ethan was especially touching in his obeservance of the relationship between Darren and Mr Crepsley, noting:


    "Mr. Crepsley is a character who practically oozes coolness... He can be stuffy and irritable at times, but he is a seasoned vampire, and is deadly in a fight as well! Throughout the series, we see the relationship between Mr. Crepsley evolve from a mentor/mentee relationship to one full of respect, and love. Darren begins to view Mr. Crepsley as a surrogate father. Most people will tell you they enjoyed growing up with the characters in the Harry Potter series, and that sentiment is not lost on me either. However, to me, growing up alongside Darren was a much bigger treat."


    If you'd like to read the full review, CLICK HERE






    There was a very nice review for Archibald Lox And The Bridge Between Worlds on the Blind Dog Books site a while back. The author Rachael noted in her summation: "I’ve always said everyone should give Shan a try at some point and this book is definitely a good place to start if you like fantasy."


    But it wasn't ALL praise -- Rachael said at one point that she disliked "the story of Archie’s [foster] brother... It’s explained that the [foster] brother recently died in an accident where he drowned and that Archie was there at the time. While this is talked about a couple of times it always feels a little glazed over. It just feels like such a monumental thing that could probably use more time. It sounds like a massively traumatic event that’s forgotten about a little too quickly."


    It's a fair enough point, and one that would be VERY valid if this was only a three book series (the first three books form one big storyline) or if I wasn't such a deviously cunning author who loves to lay little traps for his readers to fall into! But there will be nine books in total in my Archibald Lox series, and while the loss of Archie's foster brother is indeed glossed over in book 1, and only occasionally referred to in the next seven books, it's a hugely important turning point in Archie's life, and a plot point that we'll be returning to in book 9, when we'll learn WHY more wasn't made of it by Archie back at the start of the series. I know it SEEMS like a bit of lazy writing (throw in a traumatic scene early on, for no real reason other than to stir up a few sympathetic pangs for your main character) but trust me when I say, with all my most devious honesty, it ISN'T. :-)


    To read the full review, CLICK HERE






    There was an article on the Culture Vulture site a few months back, entitled 10 Best Horror Books For Teens, which listed... well, I think you can work that out yourself without any long explanation from me! :-)


    It featured an interesting mix of novels, going back as far as Frankenstein and Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, and I was very pleased to see Cirque Du Freak nestled in the #3 spot. It did, however, set me wondering again -- it's something I've wondered about for more than 20 years now -- IS Cirque Du Freak actually a horror series?!? Oh, it's been sold in most countries as a horror series (though some marketed it as a fantasy series), and of course it's about vampires, and yes it can get quite grisly in parts, BUT...


    I dunno. Like all my series, it's a real mix of genres, with some strong elements drawn from the fantasy and sci-fi fields, but if I had to describe it briefly, I'd have to say that overall I consider it a very dark action/adventure series. It's full of twists and turns, and there are definitely plenty of horrific scenes laced throughout, but I don't think it hits the horror notes full-on, in the same way that The Demonata or Zom-B did. I'm not saying by any stretch that I think it's out of place on a list like this, and as a lifelong horror fan I'm delighted that it's become such a prominent part of the horror canon. I just... yeah... every time I ask myself the question, I have to scratch my head and wonder...


    But hey, what do I know? I'm just the author!!! :-)


    You can check out the full list, and see what they had to say about each book, by CLICKING HERE






    I went for a family walk last month along part of the Limerick Greenway, a 40km stretch of smooth walking and cycling path through the countryside. We drove to Rathkeale, which is the start of the trail, and did an hour's round trip out along it. When we got back to the start, I took my children, Dante and Gaia, into a nearby playground. They had a great time in the playground, and we were there another hour. While they were playing, I heard Dante using his imagination and making up scenarios to add spice to their play, and it reminded me of an article which I wrote for the Times Educational Supplement in the UK more than 20 years ago, about childhood memories. It's on my website, and you can check it out by CLICKING HERE






    A YouTuber called RAT has been creating satirical short films of my Saga Of Darren Shan/Cirque Du Freak series. Each episode comes in around the quarter of an hour mark. The humour and language can be a bit salty at times, so don't say you weren't forewarned!! But, if you're familiar with my work, and share Rat's sense of humour, these are wickedly funny!! Rat has created videos for the first five books -- I don't know if plans are afoot to record the next seven, I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Here are the links to the five videos on YouTube -- enjoy!!


    Book 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LDKfE_TT3c&t=213s


    Book 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjCWEgItl1I


    Book 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoWuTBufboE


    Book 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5fyKwbbGeo


    Book 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvvanK53ybA






    A couple of months ago, ScreenRant listed and ranked, from worst to best, "every" horror movie featuring the fabulous actress, Selma Hayek. I stuck quotation marks around "every" because she's only actually been in FOUR horror movies, so, y'know, the heading is a bit of an over-pitch in my opinion... :-)


    Cirque Du Freak doesn't get a favourable mention, coming in bottom of the very short pile, though the reporter does state that "Hayek is fun as the bearded lady Madame Truska," and I'd definitely agree with that. While opinions vary on a lot of the cast (and, once again for the record, I think John C Reilly was great as Mr Crepsley, so I disagree with the article's dismissal of him as being miscast) I can't recall anyone declaring any misgivings about the occasionally hirsute Ms Hayek -- she nailed it!!!


    To read the ScreenRant article, CLICK HERE






    The lucky winners of my Christmas competition, in the order drawn, were:


    Stephanie Nobs, England.

    Mina Palencia, Philippines.

    Brian Dunne, Ireland.

    Celina Vancoppenalle, Belgium.


    I love the geographical spread of the winners -- one lives in a town about a 20 minutes drive away from where I live (my GP is based there, so I visit it quite often), while another lives on the far side of the world!! Reminds me of that old song -- "Anywhere I wander, anywhere I roam, I'm sure to find a Shanster, whether near or far from home!!" Hmmm... maybe the lyrics didn't go QUITE that way... :-)


    There were 122 entries in total, so everyone who entered had just over a 30:1 chance of winning. Congrats to the winners, and better luck next to everyone else! I'll probably be running my next competition within the next few months, via my Shanville Monthly online newsletter. To ensure you're notified every time an issue goes live, and to get other occasional updates from me, click on the following link and SUBSCRIBE: https://darrenshan.com/news/subscribe



    NEW BOOK????


    I went to the cinema on the 11th of December with my little fella, Dante. We went to see Clifford The Big Red Dog. It was easy going fun - he loved it. There were two things of note, worth mentioning about the trip…


    1 - we had the cinema screen all to ourselves, which is always odd but nice. Last time that happened to us was a year before, when we went to see Home Alone on Christmas Eve. I guess it’s a tradition now, so if I see anyone coming anywhere near our screen next yuletide time, I’m going to act like a zombie and chase them off!!!


    2 - speaking of zombies… since the film didn’t require a lot of attention to follow, my mind started to wander, and I had an idea for what MIGHT be my next book… and yup, if it pans out, it’s going to be about zombies!!!! I know, I know - I wrote a long zombie series already!!! But this is different - it’s a lighter, more heartwarming story, for middle grade kids. It might very well come to nothing… but watch this space, so that you can boast that you were among the first to ever hear about it if it works out!!



    IT'S A WRAP!


    And that's it for January. I'll be easing back into my normal working routine once my son returns to school, and trying to shed a few of the extra pounds that I piled on over the Christmas period -- I didn't MEAN to eat so much, but it's so hard to resist at that time of the year!! I'll see you back here at the start of February, when no doubt I'll be trim and full of vim!!! :-) 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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