• Issue 264 - July 2022

    01 July 2022



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the July BIRTHDAY issue of the Shanville Monthly!! July always sees me enjoying 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 newsletter is celebrating its 22nd birthday, while on the personal front  I've clocked up half a century and am hitting the landmark age of 50!!!! I'd hoped to release the final book in my Archibald Lox series on the day of my birthday, as a present to myself -- I didn't quite manage that, but book 8 came out shortly before it, and book 9 will go on sale just a few weeks after it, so I dind't do too badly in the end!  You can read all about books 8 and 9 below. There's also news about an upcoming Reddit AMA with me... there are not one, not two, but THREE articles about the Cirque Du Freak movie... there are links to new reviews, a Demonata quiz, and lots, lots more. Read on, MacDuff!!!






    Book 8 in my Archibald Lox series, ARCHIBALD LOX AND THE PICK OF LOXES, went on sale just before the end of June. The eBook is on sale through a variety of stores -- there are direct buying links below, as well as the Goodreads link, in case you want to check out other readers' reviews, or even leave a review of your own once you've read it. There's also a paperback edition, exclusive to Amazon stores worldwide -- please note, if you plan to buy a physical edition, I feel compelled to point out that the omnibus edition, collcting books 7, 8 and 9, will go on sale in late October or early November, and will provide much better value for money...



    Apple, B&N, Kobo, etchttps://books2read.com/u/mqEg29

    Google Playhttps://play.google.com/store/books/details/Darren_Shan_Archibald_Lox_and_the_Pick_of_Loxes?id=cDZuEAAAQBAJ







    Here's the stunning cover for book 9, the final book of the series -- Archibald Lox and the Legion of the Lost!!! When my cover designer Liam emailed this to me, he said it was by far his favourite of the nine covers he had come up with for the series. I was worried that he was jinxing himself, so I was a bit nervous when I opened the file, but I needn't have been concerned -- it's an incredible piece of work, and it's my favourite too!!


    If you're wondering who the cover star is... you'll have to wonder a little longer, because I don't want to spoil the surprise! But I will say that the weird sculpture in the middle (next to Big Ben) sits in the courtyard of St Thomas' Hospital in London (where I was born, and which also featured in my Zom-B series). The hospital is the setting for a very important scene in the book, a scene that will hopefully set jaws dropping all around the world...


    The book goes on sale on July 26th. You'll be able to buy the eBook through a variety of stores (you can pre-order now, if you wish), or the paperback through your local Amazon shop -- there are direct buying links below.



    Apple, B&N, Kobo, etchttps://books2read.com/u/bPgxMr

    Google Playhttps://play.google.com/store/books/details/Darren_Shan_Archibald_Lox_and_the_Legion_of_the_Lo?id=EDduEAAAQBAJ

    Amazon paperbackhttp://mybook.to/Archie9paperback







    On Tuesday, July 26th, at 2pm Eastern Time (7pm UK time) I'm going to be doing a Reddit AMA session to celebrate the launch of the final book in my Archibald Lox series. AMA stands for Ask Me Anything, and I'll basically be spending a couple of hours answering whatever questions you guys choose to ask me. Here's the link for the AMA schedule: https://www.reddit.com/r/books/wiki/amafullschedule


    My advice, if you don't already have a Reddit account, is to create one ahead of the start of the AMA, so that you're ready to go from the beginning -- I've done a few of these in the past, and they tend to be extremely busy, so you'll get an answer more quickly if you can get your question in nice and early on the day. The AMA is taking part on the day that Archibald Lox and the Legion of the Lost goes on sale, but while I've set it up to tie in with that, I'm happy to answer questions about any of my books -- or, indeed, anything else! These are normally a lot of fun, so I hope you'll all join me, and we can bid farewell to Archie in style!!






    There's some cinematic good news -- or is it?!? -- for fans of the Cirque Du Freak in the UK...


    Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant is back on Netflix UK!!! It even popped up in their Top 10 Most Watched chart for a few days in June!! You can read all about its return here: https://uk.newonnetflix.info/info/70114022


    If you never even knew that there WAS a Cirque Du Freak movie... well, that might be seen as something of a mixed blessing!! Personally I enjoyed the movie on its own terms. If you've never read my books, it's a quirky, odd little film, packed with a brilliantly bonkers cast -- John C Reilly as Mr Crepsley! Salma Hayek as Truska! Willem Dafoe - Willem freaking Dafoe!! - as Gavner!!!! The sets are stunning, the score is sumptuous, and there's much fun to be had for those who are happy to go along with the ride and overlook its flaws.


    BUT there's no denying it's far from a faithful adaptation. I had nothing to do with the writing of the script, and it shows. I didn't mind that it shoe-horned in elements from the first three books -- that was always going to happen -- but I was less impressed with the changes it made to the vampire lore I had carefully constructed... the dropping of key characters like Sam Grest, R.V. and Debbie... the reveals of certain secrets from later books in the series.


    Still, all in all, I enjoyed it, as I've always (honestly) said over the last decade and a bit. And plenty of my fans enjoy it too, especially those who saw it before they'd read the books (for quite a lot of people, it served as their introduction to my world -- they'd never heard of me before seeing the film). But, equally, there are lots of my fans who loathe it, and I certainly understand their feelings on the matter.


    Anyway, if you live in the UK, and have a Netflix account, you can check it out for yourself, whether it's to try it for the first time... to re-visit an old fave if you dug it first time round... or to watch it again to confirm that it really was as bad as you thought when it was originally released!!!






    We Got This Covered ran an article lwhen the Cirque Du Freak movie broke into the Netflix UK Top 10. The general gist of the article was that in the age of streaming, certain movies are clicking with new audiences and finding fresh success, even a film that, in the view of the reporter, Scott Campbell, was "a relentlessly mediocre and middle-of-the-road monster mash." You can read the full review by CLICKING HERE


    Now, as I've said many times before, I don't share the reporter's view -- I liked the film on its own terms, and while thematically it's rather all over the place, I think it's an interesting, oddball little movie. But I know that plenty of fans of my books DO share that view (though a surprising number like it too), so I never raise any objections when someone gives it a kicking online. Everyone's entitled to their opinion, and Scott is by no means in a minority with his.


    However, in all fairness to the film, I do feel obliged to point out that Scott's opening line isn't actually the case, even though I can see why Scott (like quite a few critics at the time) saw it that way. Scott said: "The elephant graveyard of 21st Century Hollywood history is littered with the bones of YA literary adaptations, when the rights to virtually any property were being hoovered up and spat out onto the screen as fast as possible to try and cash in on what was a highly lucrative bandwagon when it worked."


    And he's absolutely correct, broadly speaking -- I well remember the time when that WAS the case, and without naming any names, I sat through a fair number of swiftly-to-screen adaptations that might have benefitted from a few more years of development. But Cirque Du Freak WASN'T one of those. An adaptation had been in the works from almost before the first book was published, when Warner Brothers got hold of a proof copy and optioned it. They never managed to take it forward, and the rights reverted to me, and stayed with me for a while, before Universal came on board and took up a fresh option, and ended up taking it all the way to screen.


    But it wasn't a case of executives at Universal jumping on board the band wagon -- the adaptation all began with Brian Helgeland, who wrote the original script (which was completely rewritten when Paul Weitz got involved -- although Brian's script differed massively from my books as well). Brian's son was a fan of Cirque Du Freak, and Brian read them with him and felt moved to try and turn the story into a movie, and he's the person who got the Donner Company interested, who then took it to Universal. So, while it may look from the outside like just another cynical attempt to generate a cinematic cash cow, in truth it developed organically and creatively -- it was just coincidence that it happened to come out in the middle of all those YA adaptations, and unfortunately it got tarnished with the same brush, and quite a few critics were instantly dismissive of it, purely on the incorrect assumption that it was a heartless cash-in, which -- regardless of what one might think of the finished product -- it honestly never was.






    A few Shansters were chatting about the Cirque Du Freak movie after I'd mentioned how the Universal film had started with the screenwriter Brian Helgeland, who read the books with his son, and decided to adapt it. He got the Donner Company involved, who brought Universal on board, who hired Paul Weitz to direct, who... completely rewrote the script!!!


    Although Brian Helgeland's name remains in the movie as co-scriptwriter, I think he stepped back from the project once Paul Weitz went to work on writing his own script, and although Paul used plenty of elements from Brian's initial script (e.g. Mr Tiny's car), it became very much his baby -- something that often happens in the movie world, and one of the reasons why I've never felt overly inclined to have a go at writing scripts myself, since in that universe, the director is king!!


    One of the fans who was talking about this happened to mention that he'd found the original Brian Helgeland script online, and provided a link to it. I read this many years ago (although only well after the film had come out -- I never saw it in advance), and from what I remember, it wasn't especially more faithful to the books than the Paul Weitz adaptation, but it did include more scenes and characters from them, and captured more of the darker spirit of the books as well.


    If you're interested in having a look at the script, to see what COULD have been and to compare it in your mind's eye with the film that was actually made, CLICK HERE







    A last reminder for manga fans that Volume 6 of the Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus, which contains books 11 and 12, was released on the 24th of May. This is the final Volume in the series, collecting the last two books in the storyline. You should be able to buy a copy (or order a copy) from your local manga stockist, but if you prefer to buy online, here are some direct buying links:


    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 6 on AMAZON UKCLICK HERE


    BOOK DEPOSITORY also stock it, and shIp worldwide for free: CLICK HERE



    If you prefer to buy the manga as eBooks, they ARE being republished digitally, but singly, NOT as omnibus editions. Here are some links:


    Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Cirque-Du-Freak-Manga-Shadows-ebook/dp/B09MZLWH3W/


    Barnes & Noblehttps://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cirque-du-freak-darren-shan/1100599175?ean=9781975333799







    With Book 8 of my Archibald Lox going on sale last month, and Book 9 going on sale later in July, this seems like a good time to link to a couple of wonderfully written reviews for the 7th book, Archibald Lox and the Sinkhole to Hell. 


    1) The first appeared on The Bookbag recently, and was written by Jill Murphy. Jill has reviewed most of the books in the series, and as I've mentioned before, I made the mistake early on of assuming she was the author Jill Murphy (The Worst Witch), who sadly died last year. If you bought any of the first Volume books around the time of their initial release, you'll probably find a quote on the back, incorrectly attributed to Jill Murphy, author of The Worst Witch!! I was VERY embarrassed when I realised my error, and corrected the quote ASAP. The only upside of the entire debacle is that if you're the owner of one of those editions, they've become a bit of a collector's item!! Jill is one of my faourite reviewers (and I'm not just saying that because of the mix-up!!), and to read the full review on The Bookbag, CLICK HERE


    2) Another of my favourite reviewers is The Literary Connoisseur. It's not just because she keeps giving my books glowing reviews (although of course that doesn't hurt!!), rather it's the quality of the those reviews. There's a real knack to writing a properly GOOD review -- if it's too short, it tells you very little about a book, but if it's too long, it starts to get boring. The Literary Connoisseur, like Jill Murphy, gets it just right, as in her review for Archibald Lox and the Sinkhole to Hell. Rather than just say, "Yeah, this was a good book, I enjoyed it!" she explains WHY she enjoyed it, and why she's recommending it. She ends with a lovely, quotable line (which I've used on the back cover of the paperback), which is "Archibald Lox and the Sinkhole to Hell is an emotional, thrilling, and wonderous tale of friendship, adventure, self-discovery, and loyalty prevailing over corruption." But there's a whole lot more to the review before that, that gives us a perfect understanding of why the book worked for her, and is an example to us all of how to get it RIGHT if we set out to review a book ourselves. You can read the full review -- and you SHOULD read the full review -- by clicking here: CLICKING HERE






    Book 7 of my Archibald Lox series has been selling nicely since it went on sale near the end of last month -- as you can see from this screenshot, it's #1 on the Amazon UK Children's Paranormal & Urban Fantasy eBooks chart -- nice!! (Actually, it wasn't!!! See my next post!!!!)


    The screenshot was actually shared with me by Tessa Hastjarjanto, the author of the book in the #4 position on the chart. She had read my books years ago and been inspired by them, and was very excited to see one of her books on a chart in such close proximity to one of mine -- awwwww!!! If you'd like to check out Devil's Deal (great title!!) here's the Amazon link: CLICK HERE



    BOO-BOO #1




    I had to hold my hands up and admit to a couple of massive mistakes last month!! Here they are, in order, as related in my blog posts for the respective days...


    15-June-2022: Whoops!!! Well, there's no denying it -- I made a bit of a boo-boo in yesterday's blog post!! (This relates to the post that I've copied in the entry above this one!!) In fact, I'd go so far as to say that I made myself look like a complete know-nothing jackass!!!!


    In case you missed it, I included a screen shot of a recent Amazon UK kindle bestsellers chart, and happily noted that book 7 of my Archibald Lox series (Archibald Lox and the Sinkhole to Hell) had been selling quite nicely and was at the top of the chart.


    The "small error" on my part was that it wasn't actually book 7 at the top of that chart -- it was book 8, Archibald Lox and the Pick of Loxes, which is available to pre-order!!!!


    In my defence, only one person spotted the mistake and politely brought it to my attention (kudos to eagle-eyed Ju Boller!), but on the other hand, I AM the author, so, y'know, it's the sort of "minor difference" I should have spotted a mile off!!! All I can say is that I'm just back from holiday, and my scalp got sunburnt out there, so my brain obviously got a little scrambled and must still be returning to normal... That's my story, anyway, and I'm sticking to it!!!! :-) :-) :-)



    BOO-BOO #2




    20-June-2022: Ay carumba!!!! After my major boo-boo last week (when I mistook the cover for the 8th Archibald Lox book for the 7th book!), I thought I wouldn't have to worry about such gaffes for a while, as surely I couldn't drop a clanger as big as that one for a long, long time to come, right?!?




    At the weekend, my cover designer, Liam, sent me the cover for the paperback edition of Book 8, which is called Archibald Lox and the Pick of Loxes. I instantly spotted an amazing error when I opened the file -- Liam had got the name of the book wrong!!! He'd called it Archibald Lox and the Pick of THE Loxes!!!


    I was chuckling away to myself, getting ready to give Liam a good ribbing about it (we're old friends, going back to secondary school, so I can tease him all I want!), when a horrible thought suddenly struck me. It seemed odd that Liam had got the title wrong with the paperback cover, when he'd got it right with the cover for the eBook, which I'd happily shared with everyone at the end of last month. Unless... it couldn't be, could it?!? I rushed online to check, and yup -- the title was wrong on the eBook cover too... AND I'D NEVER NOTICED!!!!


    All my teasing rights vanished in an instant, and instead of emailing Liam to tell him he was the world's biggest buffoon for getting the name of the book wrong (to my credit, I DID actually email him the correct title in the first place -- I got THAT MUCH right, at least!!), I had to rather sheepishly email him and tell him that he was in fact only second in the line...


    Anyway, here are the two covers, the correct one first, followed by the swiftly-withdrawn-from-every-store-online incorrect one, which I hope never to lay eyes on again, though I'm sure I'll see it often in my nightmares!! Or... is it the other way round???? To be honest, at this stage of the game, my brain has turned to much and if I was in your place, I wouldn't trust anything I was telling you!!!!






    A blogger called T.S. Hathaway recently reviewed all 12 books in my Saga Of Darren Shan / Cirque Du Freak series. I provided links for the first nine a while back, and here are the reviews for books 10 to 12, the final three books in the series.


    Book 10: https://tshathaway.com/2022/03/the-lake-of-soul-by-darren-shan/

    Book 11: https://tshathaway.com/2022/03/lord-of-the-shadows-by-darren-shan/

    Book 12: https://tshathaway.com/2022/03/sons-of-destiny-by-darren-shan/


    I was delighted when T.S. raved about book 12 -- "An incredible ending to an epic story." It's hard to sustain a reader's interest across a series of 12 books, and the final books of lengthy series often prove to be something of a disappointment to many who have followed them since the start, since their expectations are so high and there's usually so much they want to see resolved. As an author, I think you always worry about how the final chapters of a monumental series are going to go down with people, so it's always a relief to get a positive response!





    What Can You Tell US About The Demonata Series? - Quiz


    A fan of my Demonata series, called Quizbrain7 (I'm guessing that isn't their given name!!), created an online quiz about them. Ten questions, many of which are fairly easy, but there's a few in there that might cause you to scratch your head and think hard about the answer. Are you ready to give it a try?!? Good!! Then CLICK HERE







    These two photos came my way last month, and both relate to movements in the Shan world a decade or so ago...


    The first is a photo of a 9 year old girl in the Netherlands, reading Cirque Du Freak (in Dutch) for the first time. Her mother was a big fan of my books back in the day, which goes a long way to explaining why the girl's name is... EVANNA!!!! I feel very honoured that Evanna was named after a character in my books, but worried at the same time -- as I said to her mother, what is she HATES my stories?!? 


    The second photo was shared with me by fellow author Phil Earle when he visited the Norfolk Children's Book Centre on tour. Some vandal seemingly broke in there back in 2011 and scrawled a disgraceful bit of graffiti on one of the walls, and something set him wondering if by any chance *I* might know something about it...


    Heh heh!! I never shy away from leaving a BIG signature behind if I'm ever asked to sign a wall in a bookshop -- like I said to Phil, and the store's wonderful owner, Marilyn, I fall firmly into the "go big or go home" camp!!!!



    IT'S A WRAP!



    And that's it for July. It was my daughter's third birthday back in March, but I only uploaded some photos from it last month. (I post family photos on most of my Sunday blog posts.) They included the shot above, which puts a wide, warm smile on my face every time I look at it. I hope you all enjoy the final Archibald Lox book if you're following the series -- and if you haven't yet started, this is the perfect time, as now you won't have to wait for any new books to come out!!! I'll see you all back here at the start of August. 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.