• Issue 259 - February 2022

    01 February 2022



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the February issue of the Shanville Monthly! This is the shortest month of the year, but there's nothing short about my monthly newsletter, which is packed with the usual mix of news, articles associated with my books, and other bits and pieces. The big news this month is that Volume 5 of the Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus is due for release... in my first major interview since last summer, I talk about the possibility of a Cirque Du Freak movie or TV reboot... you can find out the titles of my three favourite books that I read last year... there are price reductions on most of my Archibald Lox books... I'm running a VERY exciting manga competition... I report on how I made my editor cry when I sent her my most recent books to work on,,, and I tackle that question which has perplexed the finest minds of the last few generations -- just when exactly IS Mr Crepsley's birthday?!? Read on, where all this and much much more will be revealed...






    Four Volumes of the Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus are now on sale -- each Volume features two books from the series. Volume 5, which contains books 9 and 10, was due to be released last month, but the date has been pushed back to the 22nd of February. Volume 5 is available to pre-order through a variety of stores, so if you want to ensue you're among the first to receive it when it finally does go on sale, read on...


    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 5 on AMAZON UK: CLICK HERE



    (If you prefer to buy from a local independent store, they should be able to pre-order a copy for you too.)


    If you prefer to buy the manga as eBooks, they ARE being republished digitally, but NOT as omnibus editions -- the first eight are currently on sale, with Books 9 and 10 going on sale on Feburary 22nd at the same time as the physical omnibus edition. You can buy them through COMIXOLOGY: CLICK HERE






    I was interviewed over on the site Wottaread last month. This is the first interview I've given since last August, and it's quite a major one, in which I answer LOTS of questions. It's very wide-ranging -- I talk a lot about my writing process... I answer questions about several of my series/books... I chat quickly about the possibility of a Cirque Du Freak movie/TV reboot... and there are a few light-hearted questions as well, in which I briefly but definitively state my poisition on whether or not pineapple is a suitable pizza topping!!! :-)


    To read the full Wottaread interview, CLICK HERE







    I used to be a voracious reader in my teens, occasionally reading as many as 100 books a year. But in my twenties, when I began writing full time, I began reading less and less -- I was spending so many hours of the day focusing on my own words that reading began to feel like a bit of a chore. And then, when I became a published author, I started touring, and that ate into my free time a lot. I always HAD a book close to hand -- I just tended to spend quite a long time slowly going through each one.


    But I've got into the habit, over the last few years, of reading for an hour or two in bed each night, before going to sleep, and I'm pleased to report that those numbers of books read annually have started to creep up, for the first time in a couple of decades or more. 2021 saw me read a grand total of 59 new books, the most I've read in a year since 1992, and only the second time since then that I broke the 50 mark.


    I read a real mix of books. Mostly they're books intended for an adult audience, though I sprinkle in a nice few of books for mid graders and teenagers too. I read plenty of horror and sci-fi and fantasy, of course, but also a fair few thrillers, and other works that don't neatly fit categorisation. I have no master plan when it comes to choosing a book to read -- I just go with whatever catches my eye and looks interesting.


    I mark each book that I read on Goodreads, out of five stars. I like to think I'm a fairly generous reviewer -- I enjoy most books that I read, and even if a book doesn't really grab me, I usually find things in there to engage me and keep me happily turning the pages. I awarded three or four stars to the majority of the books that I read last year. But only THREE books earned a full five stars from me -- I'm very slow to dole out top marks, and only go to five for the books that REALLY strike a chord with me. And those three books, my top reads for 2021, were, in the order read...


    The Crow's Dinner, by Jonathan Carroll.


    When The Sky Falls, by Phil Earle.


    The Benefits Of Being An Octopus, by Ann Braden.


    If you'd like to check out the full list of what I read in 2021 -- and, indeed, every year before that, back to July 1987, which is when I started to jot down the titles of books as I read them -- you can access it on Goodreads by CLICKING HERE





    (The drawing is by a fan called Amity Lee, and features the two main characters, Archie and Inez.)


    I sent Volume 3 (the final volume) of my Archibald Lox series to my editor, Zoe, at the start of last month. Although I'll be breaking it down to release as three short books, I wrote the story arc as one long novel, and that's the way Zoe has edited the series, one complete Volume at a time. She got back to me later in January after reading through Volume 3 for the first time, and this was what she had to say about it:


    "Finished the first run of the last Archie today. 
    Cried like a baby. 
    Had to go out for a bit of fresh air to get my breath back. Then sat down at my desk and cried a bit more. 
    Absolutely bloody brilliant. Evil, in places, but brilliant. 
    And that ending...


    I've got to say, in more than a quarter of a century of sending books to editors, I've NEVER had a reaction like that before!! It had me grinning all day -- in truth, I'm still grinning even as I type this!!


    If you haven't yet started my Archibald Lox series, this would be a great time to begin, as you should be finishing with the first two Volumes as the third one is due to see print (I'm hoping to release book 7 in the late spring or early summer, and books 8 and 9 not too long after that). You can find some easy buying links in the posts below -- and it's worth noting that I recently decided to reduce the regular price of the eBooks of books 2, 3 and 4, as well as the two omnibus editions (there's also a post about that). The eBooks are going for a steal, folks -- for a STEAL!!! :-)






    I ran a price promo on some of the eBooks from my new Archibald Lox series in December, and it proved so popular that it convinced me that the time was right to lower the regular price of many of the ebooks -- it's been almost two years since the release of the Volume 1 eBooks, and even though they weren't very expensive to begin with, it feels like this is a good time to make them even MORE appealing from a price point, ahead of the release of the Volume 3 books later this year. Here are the new prices, which are now in place across all the online stores where the books are sold.


    Book 1 -- this is always FREE to download.   Book 2 -- now $0.99 instead of $1.99.   Book 3 -- now $1.99 instead of $2.99.   Book 4 -- now $1.99 instead of $2.99.   The prices of books 5 and 6 remain the same, at $2.99 each.


    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




    If you prefer to buy the eBooks in their omnibus format, the price of Volume 1 (The Missing Princess) has now been reduced to match the prices of the individual books, while the Volume 2 omnibus (The Kidnapped Prince) has also been reduced, and is actually cheaper to buy than the three inidividual titles.


    Volume 1: The Missing Princess -- now $2.99 instead of $4.99.

    Amazon: CLICK HERE   Google Play: CLICK HERE   Apple, Kobo, B&N, etc: CLICK HERE


    Volume 2: The Kidnapped Prince -- now $4.99 instead of $5.99.

    AmazonCLICK HERE   Apple, Nook, KoboCLICK HERE   Google PlayCLICK HERE







    I haven't been able to reduce the price of the hardback or paperback editions of my Archibald Lox books, since they're print-on-demand, but Amazon and Book Depository often sell the hardback omnibus editions of Volume 1 and Volume 2 at a big discount.


    At the moment, Book Depository are offering Volume 2 at a 30% discount worldwide -- they also ship for free. CLICK HERE


    Amazon UK are also offering Volume 2 at a big 24% discount -- £20.40 instead of £27. CLICK HERE


    And Amazon Canada are selling Volume 2 at a very nice 20% discount -- $35.25 instead of $43.93. https://www.amazon.ca/Archibald-Lox-2-Kidnapped-Prince/dp/1910009156/


    Sadly, there's only a 7% discount on Amazon USA, but hopefully that will drop further in the near future, so keep an eye on this link: CLICK HERE


    The Volume 1 hardback and paperback editions are currently on sale too at a big discount, so if you're new to the series, use the links above to help you search for Archibald Lox and the Missing Princess, and you can pick up a big bargain on that one too!






    I did my first online schools event of 2022 on Monday, with 300 students from Kilnhurst Primary School, Swinton Queen Primary School, Dinnington Community Primary School, Whiston Junior and Infant School, and Wickersley Northfield Primary School. There was a lovely write-up on the web site of the White Woods Primary Academy Trust (of which all the schools are members), describing what happened in the event. It's always nice for me to get feedback like this, so that I can know how an event went from the point of view of the teachers and students -- that can be tricky to judge with virtual events. It's also very useful for other teachers and librarians who might be considering hosting an online author event -- I'm sure many are dubious of them, but this is proof that they can be a lot of fun, and really beneficial for the children involved. You can read the full, short review of the event by CLICKING HERE


    While there's no denying that online events aren't quite the same as in-person author visits, they do have some advantages -- not least of which is the ability to pull together several schools at the same time for a single, shared event. They allow me to reach far more students than if I was out on the road and having to move around from school to school to school. And geographical location isn't a factor -- I can just as easily do an event with schools in the USA, Japan or Australia as I can with schools in the UK or Ireland.


    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 for online events, 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 large group of students (either in your own school, or by including others in your area) then you've got a good chance of getting a thumbs up!!!






    The thorny issue of Mr Crepsley's BIRTHDAY raised its head on Twitter last month, when a fan posted a screenshot from a Darren Shan fandom site, listing his birth date as being the 8th of January, 1820.


    Another fan replied with a screenshot of a post of mine from last year, where I stated (tongue firmly in cheek) that Mr Crepsley's birthday actually fell on April 1st every year -- i.e. April Fool's Day!!!


    Now, I'm guessing the date listed on the fandom site might have originated with the Cirque Du Freak movie -- I have a vague recollection of the date appearing at some point briefly during the film, though it's been a long time since I've watched it, so maybe I'm wrong about that, and the creator of the fandom page simply plucked a random date out of thin air. Either way, NOTHING in the movie should be considered canon -- as I've said often over the years, I did enjoy the movie, but ONLY ON ITS OWN TERMS -- it wasn't faithful to my books, and chopped and changed my rules and characters at whim. The best thing is to consider it an artefact from an alternate universe, and whether you love it or loathe it, don't mix it up with the books, because it exists completely separately to them.


    As for my own post -- as I said, it was tongue in cheek, and I never settled on an actual birth date for Mr Crepsley. I doubt he would even know what it was, given the time period that he was born into, and that people in his social classing probably wouldn't have paid too much attention to dates, and that he was orphaned so early in life. In truth, if we were to cast a spell and conjure up his spirit, to put the question to him now, I imagine he would roll his eyes, snort, and witheringly tell us that birthdays are only of any interest to humans, not vampires, and to stop bothering him with such nonsense!!! :-)


    In short, although I'll continue to good-naturedly claim that April 1st is his birthday (on those years when I remember it, or when a fan reminds me), it can be any day of the year that any reader wishes, so feel free to "celebrate" it any day you like!!







    I always like it when fans review my books via the medium of video, through a site like YouTube. Written reviews tend to more concisely and carefully represent the writer's thoughts, but there's a charming quality to a video review, where the reviewer is often gathering their thoughts and forming their sentences as they go along.


    I also like it when a video review is SHORT. Long reviews are lovely to lose myself in if I've got a free half hour or more to kill, but usually I've only got a few minutes to play with, and it's nice to be able to watch a whole review without having to devote a large chunk of my day to it. :-)


    So here are three very sweet, SHORT video reviews that crossed my radar over the last few months. The first two are reviews of Cirque Du Freak (book 1) and the third is of The Vampire's Assistant (book 2). These guys aren't professional reviewers, and they don't have loads of followers or likes, so I know they'll truly appreciate it if a few of you reading this swing on by to check out their review and leave them a big Thumbs Up if you enjoy them, which I think you will -- I certainly did. You can click on either the links just below, or on the photos above. Be nice now!!!! :-)


    Megan: CLICK HERE   Vijay: CLICK HERE   AtheiSocial: CLICK HERE






    There was a smashing review for Archibald Lox Volume 1: The Missing Princess by review site The US Review Of Books a while back. The reviewer said that it was "reminiscent of such works as The Chronicles of Narnia, Through the Looking Glass, and the more recent Netflix drama Stranger Things," that I had "created an alternative world that is extraordinary and imaginative with fantastical creatures that both delight and horrify," and that it was a "soon-to-be fantasy classic."


    Fingers crossed that they soon-prove-to-be right!!! :-) You can read the full review by CLICKING HERE







    How cool is this?!? A fan of my Zom-B series, called K, decided to create a doll based on that series' main character, B Smith!!


    I think K did an absolutely brilliant job, though I shudder to think at what K might unleash on us next -- is the world truly ready for a Mr Dowling or Dan-Dan doll?!? :-)






    A blogger called Lauren run a blog called Readers Enjoy Authors' Dreams, which is all about... books!! A while back, Lauren posted about her favourite vampire series, saying she was vampire obsessed in her teens -- a perfectly healthy obsession in my opinion!!! I was very pleased to see that The Saga Of Darren Shan (aka The Cirque Du Freak series) was listed among her faves -- and she included a lovely photo of the spines of the second edition versions of the books, which I haven't seen for a while.


    Lauren's only "complaint" was that because the books were so short, she used to read two and a half books a day -- but I know for many readers, the short length was one of the things they liked most about the books, so I regret nothing on that front!!! :-)


    You can check out Lauren's blog post, to see what other vampish delights made the list, by CLICKING HERE






    The Magic of Stephen King is a half-hour show put together by David McCracken, the host of The Stephen Kingdom, which aired on YouTube last Halloween. It's a fun piece about Stephen King, why his books are so popular, and... writer's block?!?


    David interviewed several Stephen King fans for the piece, one of whom was... ME! It's a VERY short clip (less than 20 seconds!), that starts just before the 8 minutes mark, but if you'd like to check it out, and maybe watch the rest of the show too if (like me) you're in awe of Stephen King, then CLICK HERE


    Heh -- this reminds me of the time I gave Mr King a helpful leg-up in Taiwan! Apparently, in the early noughties, his books weren't especially popular in Taiwan. (I don't know if that has changed since then.) Some of them had been published there, but they'd never really taken off. On the other hand, MY books had proven incredibly popular in Taiwan, and I went there a couple of times on tour. During my interviews, I mentioned Stephen King a few times, citing him as one of my biggest influences. This inspired my publisher to buy the rights to The Dark Tower, and they asked me if I would write a foreword to it, to help boost sales and hopefully persuade some of my fans to give it a go.


    I know it sounds like something that could only have happened in a parallel universe -- "Hmm... well, if DARREN SHAN likes this fella King's books, I suppose they might be worth a look..." -- but it really happened. One of my more surreal true-life stories, right up there with the day when I was having lunch with Daniel Radcliffe and watched him burp the alphabet and then desperately try (and fail) to make farting noises using his hand and his armpit -- but that's a story for another day!!! :-) :-) :-)






    Love it or loathe it, the Cirque Du Freak movie still generates a lot of debate, even all these years later. Since I had nothing to do with the making of the movie, I'm always happy to present both sides of the argument -- as I've often said, I like the movie for what it is (while obviously wishing it had been a lot more faithful to my books), but respect the views of those who are rather less enamoured with it. In that spirit, today I'm sharing a list that appeared on CBR (Comic Books Reviews) a while back, entitled...


    The 10 Worst Vampire Movies Of The 21st Century (So Far)


    I must admit, I haven't seen most of these films (I stopped watched "bad" horror movies a long time ago, and these days tend to focus only on those that sound like they might be worth the time), so I don't know how they shape up in comparison to Cirque Du Freak, which comes in at #7, and whether or not they deserve to appear on such a list. What I CAN say for certain is that while the list's creators are by all means entitled to include whatever films they choose, they aren't QUITE telling the truth when they say that the Cirque Du Freak movie was "panned for poor acting, an overstuffed plot, and poor special effects."


    I read every review of the film that I could find when it was released (more than 120 of them, if memory serves me correctly). Yes, about a third WERE negative (1 or 2 stars out of 5), and slammed the movie hard (although quite a few of them did so on the grounds that it was a Twilight cash-in, the reviewers apparently completely unaware that the books had preceded the Twilight books by several years, and that the film had been in pre-production long before the Twilight craze came along). But a third of the reviews were middling (3 stars) -- some bad bits to the film, they opined, but good bits too -- and a third were genuinely positive (4 or 5 stars -- admittedly not too many of the latter, but plenty of solid 4 star reviews).


    There's no denying the CDF movie flopped at the box office -- that's why there were no sequels -- but the apparent critical hammering that has been assigned to it in recent years (with more current reviewers assuming that because it failed at the box office, everyone at the time must have hated it) is somewhat misplaced -- FAKE NEWS, as a wise, tolerant, deeply thoughtful ex-president would no doubt phrase it... :-)


    Anyway, you can check out the full list -- and let's be honest, isn't it sometimes more fun to scan a list of "duds" than a list of "greats"?!? -- by CLICKING HERE






    There was a neat review for the Fear Street trilogy of films on the Film Stories site a few months back. It helped persuade me to give the three movies a try -- I didn't like them as much as the reviewer did, but they were certainly enjoyable, and I liked the way that the storylines came together and twisted quite cunningly in the third film. Hmmm... thinking back on them, perhaps I need to give them a second try...


    Anyway, the reason this review popped up on my radar is that there was a nice, albeit blink-and-you-miss-it, mention of ME in the review -- apparently I was one of the reviewer's early influences, and helped foster her love of the horror genre, which I guess makes this a case of "What goes around comes around!!!" :-) You can check out the full review by CLICKING HERE








    To celebrate the release of Volume 5 of the Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus this month, I'm running a competition with SIX signed, dated copies of VOLUME 2 of the manga up for grabs! I signed and dated these on the 20th April, 2021 -- the book's international release day. I only signed TEN of these in total on that date. I'm keeping two for myself. I'll give another two away at some point in the future (probably as part of a complete set). And the other six are the prizes in this competition.


    As you can see in the second photo above, there's a slight bit of smudging going on with the silver ink -- I have special, fast-drying pens, but in this instance they didn't dry QUITE fast enough!! There's smudging across all ten of the books, so if you turn out to be one of the winners, don't be disappointed if you open it to find it's not as pristine as you might have wished -- every other copy is the same.


    Anyway, even with the smudging, I think these are VERY cool prizes, so if you want a chance to be one of the lucky six winners, read on and cast your entry ASAP...


    1) Answer this question: "On what date was Volume 2 of the manga omnibus released?"


    2) Send your entry to: [email protected]


    3) Put your NAME in the SUBJECT BOX when you send your e-mail. Make sure you INCLUDE YOUR FULL POSTAL ADDRESS in the body of the e-mail, as well as the answer, so that I can easily send your prize to you if you win


    (4) Closing date is 11.59pm UK time, Monday, February 14th, 2022. (Valentine's Day!!!)


    (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 Tuesday, February 15th, 2022. 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 February. I'll be continuing my final edit of the last three Archibald Lox books, which should take up most, if not all of the month, so I'm going to be a busy boy over the next four weeks! I'll see you back here at the start of March, with a full report on how I've got on. 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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