• Issue 265 - August 2022

    01 August 2022



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the August issue of the Shanville Monthly!! Well, I reached the end of the road with Archibald Lox last month -- the final book in the series was published on July 26th. It took about nine years from start to finish to write, so it's strange to be out of that world (those worlds) now... But hey, life moves on, and I've already started work on a new book -- yay!!! You can find out more about that near the end of this newsletter. There's also plenty about Archibald Lox, including a first glimpse of the Hungarian cover for Volume One of the series, and the title of the Volume 3 omnibus edition... I report on an extraordinary Reddit Ask Me Anything session... find out why I trended on Twitter in Japan... there are links to new reviews... a photo of a B-mused scary faerie(!!!)... and lots, lots more!! But let's kick things off with that final farewell to everyone's favourite junior locksmith...






    Archibald Lox and the Legion of the Lost -- which is the 9th and FINAL book of the series -- went on sale towards the end of July. You can buy the eBook through a variety of stores, or the paperback through your local Amazon shop -- there are direct buying links below, plus a link to Goodreads in case you want to check out readers' review for the book or leave one of your own.



    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







    There was a very cool REVIEW for the final three Archibald Lox books over on the British Fantasy Society, by fellow author and reviewer, Dave Jeffery. Dave had a lot of flattering things to say about the third Volume, and you can read the full review by CLICKING HERE


    Since the BFS is such a long-standing, hugely important cornerstone of the modern fantasy world, I decided to repay the honour of being reviewed by granting them an EXCLUSIVE REVEAL of the title of the third Archibald Lox Volume, which is...




    I can also now confirm that the release date for the final omnibus book will be Tuesday, October 25th. There'll be a hardback, paperback and digital edition. Cover and more info coming soon!!






    I announced last month that Volume 1 of my Archibald Lox series is being translated into Hungarian, and will be released in spring 2023. Following up on that, I can now confirm that there will be both a paperback and ebook edition of the book -- there's also a limited, signed edition of 100 copies, but that sold out almost instantly!!


    You can pre-order either the paperback or ebook NOW, and it's worth doing that early if you plan to buy the book, as there's an early bird offer if you order before August 15th, with a hefty discount on both editions. To visit the store and place your order, CLICK HERE


    I've attached a scan of the cover above. The publishers thought about using the English language cover, but came up with some covers of their own as well -- they asked fans on their Facebook page to vote, and this was the winner, so it's the cover they're going with. I'm also including the link for the publishers' Facebook page, so you can have a look at those other covers, and Follow it if you want to stay in the loop -- they'll be updating their followers over the coming months, as the translation progresses, and will confirm a release date once they know. To visit the Facebook page, CLICK HERE






    Ay carumba!!! I did a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) live event to tie in with the release of the final Archibald Lox book, and it went CRAZY!!! I'd agreed to spend two hours answering questions, and was worried that I might be fiddling my thumbs for much of that time, as I wasn't sure how many people would get involved.


    I sat at my PC, typing away madly for four hours, from 7pm to 11pm Irish time. And guess what? Loads more questions came in after I'd finished, so I was back at my PC again the next day, ploughing through those that came in after the official end time. (I could have been all officious and said that those who missed the deadline couldn't expect an answer, but you guys know that just isn't my style!)

    Thanks so much to everyone who took part. The response from fans really blew me away, and made me feel... well... relevant again!! The last few years have been a very quiet time for me -- as a self-published series, Archibald Lox hasn't enjoyed anywhere near as much exposure as my other books, so neither have I. This took me back to the days when I was bestriding the world like a gory literary colossus, and it was fun to play that part again, even if only for a short while.

    If you want to have a look through the hundreds of questions and answers from the event, CLICK HERE






    As I revealed above, I'll be releasing the Volume 3 omnibus edition of my Archibald Lox series in late October. If you haven't yet bought Volume 2: The Kidnapped Prince which collects books 4, 5 and 6, please let me bring it to your attention that at the time of writing this, the HARDBACK is currently on offer on Amazon USA for just over $13 -- a massive 64% discount!!!! It's even cheaper than the paperback edition!!!! If you're interested in snapping it up before the sale ends, CLICK HERE.
    Sadly, there isn't currently any sizeable discount on it in the UK store, BUT you can buy it through Book Depository at a nice 21% discount (they're also selling Volume 1 at the same discount), and they ship anywhere in the world. CLICK HERE.




    When I looked on my Twitter feed on the morning of July 14th, there were quite a few emails from Japanese fans, telling me my name was trending on Twitter in Japan -- a nice way to start the day!!


    Basically, Tweeters were responding to a popular thread called "the 5 books for children that have made me who I am," and loads of people were mentioning my books, specifically The Saga Of Darren Shan / Cirque Du Freak.


    My books were wildly popular in Japan in the early noughties (and Japan is one of the biggest book markets in the world). Some of them hit the #1 spot on the overall bestsellers chart, and I went there on tour a few times, where I was literally mobbed by huge crowds -- it's one of the very few occasions I've ever got to experience a little of what it must be like to be a movie or music star! My book sales in Japan (on a series that's 20 years old) are still pretty good even today, but it was lovely to be reminded of a time when they were stratospheric, and to know that they left such a lasting positive impression among the hundreds of thousands of readers who, as children or teenagers or much younger adults (back in the day, many of my fans in Japan were 18 to 30 years old women!!) journeyed with me into the dark, vampiric night of my imagination.


    Thanks to everyone in Japan who mentioned my books and helped me trend. Hopefully our paths will cross again one day, and I'll get to return to your beautiful, enchanting country for at least one more senses-expanding trip.






    Archibald Lox and the Pick of Loxes (book 8 of the series) picked up (no pun intended!!) a glowing review from The Literary Connoisseur. The Connoisseur has been a long-time reviewer of my work, and it's always a pleasure (and a relief!) when I read one of her reviews and find that the book hasn't disappointed. I especially liked this line:


    "I'd go as far as to say that this chunk of Archie's story is now my favorite of the series, as it further convinces me that before this fantastical tale comes to an end, it's only going to get better."


    I know, every time I start a long series, that a lot of readers will drift away before it finishes. It's just the way of the world -- kids grow up... adults get distracted... there are always new books by other authors to catch your eye. I'm as guilty of series-jumping as anyone else -- I STILL haven't read all the Artemis Fowl or Alex Rider books, even though I'm a big fan of both series. I didn't deliberately stop reading them, and hopefully I'll get back to them at some point in the not too distant future. I just... drifted.


    It's a pity we do this, because a really good series DOES get better and better as it goes along, as the Connoisseur notes. I always try to build with my series, to save the best for the latter stages, to hit readers with some of the biggest twists and turns as they're drawing near to the end. Long-time fans of mine who followed me to the ends of my Sagas, and Demonata, and Zom-B, will know what I mean. Those who jumped ship early... well, you really don't know what you're missing!! Anyway, you can read the full review by CLICKING HERE






    Back in the run-up to last Halloween, a vlogger called Wandering Through Worlds set out to re-read the Saga Of Darren Shan (aka the Cirque Du Freak series) in a week and post her thoughts about them. It was one of her two favourite series when she was younger, and she wanted to see how the books held up years later. She recorded a series of reviews over the course of the week, then posted them in one long 42 minutes video in early November. To find out how she got on, and what she made of the series as an adult, CLICK HERE






    Now here's something you don't see everyday -- B Smith as a Scary Faerie!!! A gentleman called Gary, who runs a crafts and hobby shop in Clifden, in Western Ireland, got in touch with me to ask me if he could make a Scary Faerie based on the character of B Smith in my Zom-B series -- specifically on the book in which she gets married in maybe the craziest wedding ceremony of all time!!!


    I gave Gary the go-ahead, and here's a photo of the finished result. I think you'll all agree that it's rather stunning, in a dark, dangerous, demented kind of way!!! Gary, unfortunately, can't make more of these to sell in his shop, as the rights are connected to the publishing deal for the books (I think he's either going to put this one up on display, or give it to his daughter). BUT I'm sure that if any of you wished to get in touch with him, to request a bespoke B Smith Scary Faerie of your own, that he'd be open to discussing it with you. Just don't let me or my publishers hear about it if you do!!!!!


    Here's the link for Gary's shop: https://quinnscraftandhobby.com/ And B's not the only Scary Faerie that Gary has come up with -- he's produced a whole range of them!! If you'd like to check them out on Facebook, CLICK HERE






    As most of you probably already know, I also write books for adults, which I release under the name of Darren Dash. I checked my Darren Dash Facebook page for the first time in ages last month, and came across this lovely post from a fan/reviewer/author called Chase Will from a couple of months ago -- here's the link for his site: https://chasewill.com/


    Chase's post contains a very nice recommendation for my Archibald Lox series, but also a sweet recollection of when he wrote to me, as a kid, fifteen years ago, and a scan of the letter I wrote back to him. Here's what Chase had to say in the post -- and my apologies for taking so long to spot and share this!!!


    "Ever since I was a little kid, I've been a fan of Darren Shan. Cirque du Freak, The Demonata, The Saga of Larten Crepsley, The City Trilogy, Zom-B... everything he's ever written has been a real treat, and I've even had to purchase second copies of a few of his books because the spines wore out from re-reading then so often.


    "I wrote to Darren when I was in high school, asking various questions about his writing and editing habits and using his advice to make progress as a fiction writer. Although he lives way over in The U.K., Shan always took the time to not only reply to my questions but also mail physical letters. I struggle to think of another number-one bestselling author who'd go that extra mile for fans.


    "If you'd told me way back then that someday I'd have the privilege of reading his latest works MONTHS before they hit bookstores, I probably would've burned you alive and salted the earth (y'know...as you're supposed to do with fibbers). But, in addition to his last few adult novels, he's also let me read his latest YA series, "Archibald Lox," as each book is released. This still blows my mind. Turns out, meeting your heroes is pretty rad sometimes!


    "This new series is AMAZING, and it has all the magic and intrigue that's kept me a fan of his for almost twenty years. I tore through the series pretty quickly, finishing all nine books in three days because they're so damn good! I definitely recommend this series to fantasy-horror fans who want a fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat story that doesn't demand weeks of precious reading time. If you're the parent of a reluctant reader, "Archibald Lox" is a great gateway series for children ages 10 and up."






    I saw the final episode of the current series of Stranger Things last month. Very satisfying wrap up. As many fans of my Demonata series have noted, Stranger Things does in a way prove that a TV show of the Demonata could work very well. Back when it first came out, it was hard to see how it could be adapted as a cinematic series, but TV just wasn’t as advanced as it is now. Stranger Things shows that long, complex, scary, multi-character, effects-heavy stories for kids/teenagers CAN work perfectly on TV. The time would seem to be ripe for Lord Loss and his pals to be unleashed on the world. All we need now is a visionary production firm to take up the Demonata mantle and go to bat for it. Which, of course, is where we’re all in the lap of the gods!!! Nobody has come sniffing after it yet. Hopefully one day. Keep those fingers - and tentacles - crossed!!!






    I'm sure plenty of you have played Where's Wally? (or Where's Waldo? as it's known in the USA) plenty of times -- but now it's time to play WHERE'S DARREN?!?


    I had a brilliant time watching one of my favourite bands, Pixies, on July 15th and 16th. I caught the train up to Galway with a couple of my cousins (Ronan and Kealan) and best friend Kenny (some of you might remember him as Pablo from the old Message Board on my web site) on Friday, and saw them in action in a big tent. Then, on Saturday, as the other three recovered (Pixies concerts can be pretty rowdy if you're up near the front!), I caught another train, this time to Dublin, where I met with another cousin of mine (Tiernan) and saw them play outdoors in the beautiful Iveagh Gardens.


    They were immense on both nights, tearing through more than thirty songs on Friday, and close to 40 on Saturday! I probably preferred the Saturday gig overall, because although it started quite calmly, a huge mosh pit soon developed, and even though I'm a fifty year old man who should know better, I couldn't resist throwing myself into the heart of it, and spent most of the night moshing as if I was in my early thirties and seeing them for the first time!


    I limped away from the concert (literally -- I sprained a muscle in my right calf quite early on, but didn't let that deter me!), beaten, bruised and exhausted, but ecstatically happy. While Mr Crepsley will always be my favourite out of all the characters I've created, Dervish Grady (from my Demonata series) is the one I've always wanted to most emulate. He maintained his punkish spirit all the way to the end of his life, even as he grew older and greyer, and I hope that I do too. Based on this week's evidence, I'm doing OK so far -- there's life in the old dog yet!! :-)


    Here's a photo that was posted by the Pixies team. If you look to the right hand side of the bottom of the microphone in front of the lead singer (the bald guy in the middle of the stage), and follow it upwards, I'm the second face in the crowd, with Tiernan just behind me. This was snapped before we moved more centrally, cried Havoc! and let slip the dogs of war!!! Oh, and if the attached photo proves too small for you to spot me, here's the link for the original Twitter post, in which the snap is a LOT bigger: https://twitter.com/PIXIES/status/1548660371313119235






    I started a new book on July 13th.


    Apart from some picture books that I've been working on over the last couple of years, it's the first bit of new writing I've done since I finished the first draft of the final Archibald Lox book back in November 2020. It's also, apart from the Archibald Lox books, the first new novel that I've started since Sunburn (one of my Darren Dash books for adults), which I began more than ten years ago.


    There's no denying it -- by my standards, I've been a bit lazy over the last several years!! But I'm back in the saddle, and hopefully it's full steam ahead from here!!!! I can't say anything about the book right now, except it's going to be a sweet, low-key, gently uplifting, buddy/buddy, middle grade/YA story... set in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse!!! Stay tuned over the coming months (and years) for updates...



    WHAT'S NEXT?!?



    As soon as the final book of my Archibald Lox series was released last month (indeed, the queries began coming in a bit before then!), I had fans asking the question that I get whenever I draw near the end of a lengthy series...


    WHAT'S NEXT?!?


    I used to always have a ready answer to that, because of the way I work -- I normally start a book at least a couple of years before it sees print, so I'm usually well into a new book or series by the time the last entry in a series is published. But... not this time.


    As I mentioned in a lengthy post in late 2020, when I finished the first complete draft of the Volume 3 Archibald Lox books, I haven't been doing a lot of writing over the last several years. I wrote the nine Archibald Lox books since finishing Zom-B, and I've done lots of editing to bring them to publication level, and I edited and released a few of my Darren Dash books for adults too, and I tried hard to get a Koyasan musical off the ground, which included writing a few different drafts, which took quite a bit of time. A fine return for the vast majority of authors -- but back in the day I'd have done all that AND written first drafts of at least another 8 or 10 books!!


    I don't know if I'll ever get back to writing as much as I used to. I've taken things much more easily of late, and I've quite liked the change of pace. BUT I'm not quite ready to down tools and retire just yet! I've had ideas for a few books in recent years, and I'm hoping to start work on two of those in the near future -- I've already started one for children (see above), and I'm hoping to segue from that into one for adults. I'm trying to get a picture book off the ground too -- if that works out, I might do more of those as well, and juggle them with the other stuff. And there are still several first drafts of books I wrote for adults many years ago, which I want to return to and rewrite and edit into shape, to release under my Darren Dash pen name.


    But I don't, at this moment, have a definite answer as to what will be next out of the gate, or when you guys might get to read it. I suspect that first up will be another of my Darren Dash novels, either later this year or in the first half of 2023, but after that... your guess is almost as good as mine!! Don't worry -- there WILL be more books, and hopefully LOTS more books. You'll just have to stay tuned a while longer than normal to find out what they are and when they're coming out...



    IT'S A WRAP!




    And that's it for August. It was my 50th birthday last month (July 2nd), and I celebrated by having a small birthday party -- that's me above, holding balloons to remind me how old I was... hugging my daughter Gaia... and pulling on some vintage Versace shirts with a few of my cousins and friends!! It was a fun, livley night -- I must make a reminder to do it again on my 100th!!!! Happily, lots of YOU sent me a Happy Birthday message, mostly through Facebook. I was rather overwhelmed with them - WAY more than I’ve ever had before!! In fact, there were so many, that after a long while Facebook stopped me being able to Like them!!! So if I didn’t hit Like or Love or Laugh on your post, please rest assured, I DID read it, but Facebook stopped me from saying thanks!!! Anyway, I'll see you all back here at the start of September, hopefully. 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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