• Issue 269 - December 2022

    01 December 2022



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the Christmas issue of the Shanville Monthly! This one is genuinely bursting at the seams with news and updates -- I must admit there are some months when I struggle to pull together enough items to pad out my newsletter, but this isn't one of those times!! In fact it's so crammed with articles, I didn't even get a chance to mention the upcoming return of my annual Shanta Claus story, which you'll be able to access at this link when it goes live about a week or so before Christmas: https://darrenshan.com/extras Make sure you don't miss it, as I'll be sneaking in a couple of interesting might-turn-out-to-be-big-news-but-too-early-to-actually-class-as-big-news nuggets that will hopefully have you all tingling with delight at the adaptive possibilities of what might lie in store for us Shansters a bit further down the road... Back to the business of this newsletter, there are articles linking to interviews with film directors... articles linking to interviews with me... articles about fanzines and podcasts and medieval books... but let's kick things off with an article about a rather grim fire...






    I was watching a creepy episode of Inside Number 9 on Sunday, November 20th -- it was a Halloween special episode called Dead Line. Strange things were happening in the show, when suddenly there was a power cut in my house. My first, awed reaction - “How the hell did they do THAT?!?”


    When I realized the two events were unconnected, I chuckled at my gullibility and went to the kitchen to light some candles. Mrs Shan joined me, while our daughter Gaia was asleep upstairs. (Our son Dante was staying with his grandparents.)


    As we were lighting the candles, the lights began flashing on and off, and there was a strange crackling noise. My first thought was - Inside Number 9!!! But then I realized I was in fact facing a far more horrific situation.


    My fuse board had gone on fire.


    I screamed at Mrs Shan to go grab Gaia, get her out, and ring our electrician and 999, while I grabbed a fire extinguisher and went to spray the flames and hopefully snuff them out. And yes, I know that was dumb and I should have just got the hell out of there, but my brain had gone a bit haywire.


    Anyway, I sprayed the flames from afar, as carefully as I could, and they went out. Phew!!!


    Then they flared up again, like those candles on birthday cakes that keep relighting.


    Funny on a cake. Absolutely terrifying on a fuse board.


    I went through three fire extinguishers, doing my best to control the spread of the fire while we waited for the fire brigade to arrive. (And yes, no argument, I should have just got the hell out.) Then I was out of ammo and had no choice but to retreat.


    My electrician and the fire brigade arrived much quicker than I’d feared, and they managed to cut the power to the house and properly extinguish the flames. In the end they were able to confine the worst of the damage to a few downstairs rooms, though there’s smoke damage throughout, and we probably won’t be able to live there again for several months while the mess gets sorted. But, hey, on the bright side, I have a good story to tell, and maybe I'll even write about it one day!!!






    There was a major interview on SYFY WIRE recently, with Paul Weitz, the writer/director of the Cirque Du Freak movie. You can read the full interview by CLICKING HERE


    This is the first time, to the best of my knowledge, that he has talked in depth about the movie, and it's fascinating to get his thoughts on it at this remove from the project (which hit cinemas 13 years ago). He talks about how his love of pre-World War II German Expressionist art influenced the look of the movie, and the themes that drew him to the story in the first place.


    I love that he gives special mention to John C Reilly, who played Mr Crepsley, and talks about how much work he put into bringing the character to life. I've often noted over the years that John read all the books, and was a real champion for them when the movie was being made, and it's nice to have that seconded.


    I was also surprised and gratified to see him talk about his desire to see someone else reboot the series. He says, "I wish someone else would make a totally different series... There is a different, and no doubt, extremely cool version of this movie that could have been made, which was much darker. But at the time, that was not what people were going for. I'd be interested to see that if someone was to make that."


    I wish that too!!! :-) I've always said that I enjoy the Cirque Du Freak film on its own terms, but there's no doubt it was a very loose adaptation that veered away from the darker elements of the books. Hopefully, if it ever does get remade, they'll stick more closely to the story and mood of the novels, and it might fare better with a wider audience.


    Anyway, whatever your view on the movie, this is a fabulous and fascinating interview, and I can't recommend it highly enough.






    Issue 3 of the annual Cirque Du Freak FANZINE went live last month. This is a completely fan-driven venture, put together by a super-fan called KENDRA, who invites other Shansters every year to submit works to feature in the online Fanzine, which is always absolutely FREE to download.


    You can download it by clicking on the link, entering a price of $0 in the purchase box, and then clicking the PURCHASE NOW button: https://kokoroklongly.gumroad.com/l/cdffanzine2022


    As well as lots of great fan art, this year's issue features a story, a poem, and a cosplayer. It's fantastic -- SHANtastic -- stuff, and it would mean so much to Kendra and the gang if you took a few minutes out of your busy day to download a copy and check it out. Who knows -- you might even end up contributing to next year's issue!!!






    The latest edition of The Reading Cafe podcast - @ReadingCafePod - went live on Halloween, featuring 46 minutes of an interview with... ME!!! You can listen to it on Podcast on Apple or Audible, or online by CLICKING HERE

    As well as answering LOADS of questions from the young but relentlessly inquisitive interviewers, I read out one of my favourite scenes from the first Zom-B book, a terrifying little dream scene set on a plane. If you've read the book, I'm sure you'll recall exactly what I'm talking about -- if you haven't, it works very nicely as a standalone segment, and it should give you some sweet post-Halloween shivers!!






    There was a lovely mention a few days ago for my latest release, Archibald Lox Volume 3: The Exiled King, in my local newspaper The Limerick Leader: CLICK HERE


    The reason I describe it as "lovely" is that this wasn't solicited -- usually, with book reviews and announcements, you have to reach out and try hard to secure a mention -- and if you're self-publishing your work, as I am with Archibald Lox, you usually fail. But the staff at the Limerick Leader spotted mention of this book online, and gave it a shout-out purely out of the good of their hearts. Many thanks, my good Leaders!! In the Merge, the finest mushrooms that we can gather together will be yours for the asking!!






    Since we're on the subject of Archibald Lox... If you haven't yet read the Volume 3 omnibus, it collects the final three books of the series (books 7, 8 and 9) in a lovely, thick, single edition, and presents them as one long, unbroken novel, the way I originally wrote the story arc. Dare I say, it would make a wonderful Christmas present for the special Shanster in your life (or for YOU if you don't already own it!!). The cheapest way to buy the book is as an eBook, through Amazon, Apple, Google Play, Kobo, Nook, etc. There is also a nicely priced paperback edition, on sale exclusively through Amazon. And there's a gorgeous, hefty hardback edition, which is quite a lot more expensive, available through a variety of sellers. Here are some direct buying links to the major book chains -- it's worth noting that if you'd prefer to buy the hardback through your local independent bookshop, they should be able to order in a copy for you if you ask. Oh, and if you haven't yet read Volume 1 or Volume 2, you should find links for them on the store of your choice after you've clicked on a link below.




    Apple, Kobo, Nook, etchttps://books2read.com/u/49veyM

    Google Playhttps://play.google.com/store/books/details/Darren_Shan_Archibald_Lox_Volume_3?id=A3F-EAAAQBAJ




    Book Depositoryhttps://www.bookdepository.com/Archibald-Lox-3-Darren-Shan/9781910009161

    Barnes & Noble (USA)https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/archibald-lox-volume-3-darren-shan/1141915660?ean=9781910009161

    Waterstones (UK)https://www.waterstones.com/book/archibald-lox-volume-3/darren-shan/9781910009161

    WHSmith (UK)https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/archibald-lox-volume-3-the-exiled-king/darren-shan/hardback/9781910009161.html









    I've never written a book set in Medieval times, so at first I was rather confused when I was sent a link informing me that one of my books had been picked in an article on the TOR NIGHTFIRE site, entitled 7 Medieval Horror Books For When You Need A Break From Elden RingCLICK HERE


    When I saw that the book they'd picked was THE THIN EXECUTIONER, it began to make sense. While set in a fantasy world that I created for the story, its landscapes were largely inspired by the country of Jordan, in the Middle East, and the ruins of cities and fortresses dating back many hundreds of years, which I'd explored on a wonderful holiday there. And while not set in our actual Medieval times, I was certainly harking back to that period in time and replicating it to an extent in my fantastical world, much as George R R Martin was doing around the same time with his A Song Of Fire And Ice series. (Not that I was aware of them at the time -- the Game Of Thrones TV show was a long way down the line, and I'd stopped reading a lot of high fantasy in the 1990s.)


    As I've always answered (since the book in question saw print in 2010) whenever I get asked the question of whether I have a favourite out of all the books that I've published... yes, I do, and that book is... The Thin Executioner.


    For that reason, while I'm always delighted to see any book of mine featured in a list like this, I'm especially delighted whenever that book happens to be The Thin Executioner! So I really, REALLY hope you'll check out the article -- if you're unfamiliar with The Thin Executioner, it will give you a nice little taste of what it's like, and if you HAVE read it, and enjoyed it as much as I did, you might pick up some tips for other, similar books to add to your Must Read Next list...






    Books That Burn is a podcast about books (mais oui!) which also posts reviews in a section of their site helpfully entitled REVIEWS THAT BURN. It's a really good site, averaging between 15 and 20 book reviews every month. They've been reviewing my Saga Of Darren Shan / Cirque Du Freak series since the spring of this year -- 9 down, 3 to go!! Here are direct links to their spoiler-free reviews of the first 3 books.


    Book 1: CLICK HERE

    Book 2: CLICK HERE

    Book 3: CLICK HERE


    Oh, and although I've mentioned this before, it's worth stating again, for the record -- you might notice that the reviewer refers to Book 1 as being called "A Living Nightmare." In the USA my publishers decided (against my wishes at the time, though in retrospect I feel that they were probably right to do so) to call the series the Cirque Du Freak series. To avoid confusion among readers, they further decided to give the first book another title, and used the tagline which we'd used for it in the UK -- "a living nightmare."


    While I'm absolutely fine with people calling the series the Cirque Du Freak series -- indeed, I sometimes refer to it as that myself -- the correct and ONLY acceptable title for book 1, in my opinion, is, always has been, and always will be... Cirque Du Freak.


    The Great And Powerful Shan has spoken!!!!! :-) :-) :-)






    A couple of fans spotted THIS on a Twilight fan page recently, and swiftly brought it to my attention -- I must admit, once I'd executed a startled double-take, I laughed out loud!!!! For those who might be a bit baffled... this is the poster for the Cirque Du Freak movie, but with the heads of Twilight actors cut-and-pasted into it! I've no idea if this was done mischievously by a fan of my books, or just by a Twilighter who liked the look of the poster, but hey, if it helps Miss Meyer sell a few more books, I'm all in favour of it. Us vampire authors have to look after one another, right?!? :-)






    I was talking about my favourite movies on my blog a while back, and decided it would be nice to share my list of Top Ten Films. For many years I used to write short reviews for every film that I saw, and mark them out of 100 based on a variety of factors. I stopped doing that more than twenty years ago, but here's the list of my top 10 from that point in time -- to be honest, I don't think it would be much different if I was to compile it today. (By-the-by... when I was looking for a poster image to include with this post, I chanced upon the Turkish poster for One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, which was a real what-the-hell-film-were-THEY-watching?!? moment! It looks like they're trying to promote a lurid horror flick! It's utterly out of sync with the entire tone of that classic movie, but damn, I love it regardless!!!!)


    DESTINY - 1921
    SUNRISE - 1927
    CASABLANCA - 1942
    SEVEN SAMURAI - 1954
    RAGING BULL - 1980
    PULP FICTION - 1994






    Have you heard of SHANTOBER?!? Yeah, it's a thing!!! In a nutshell, a few talented, ambitious ("Crazy?!? Don't call me crazy, hmm?!?") Shansters set themselves the task of drawing characters from my book EVERY day of October!!


    I only know of one who actually completed the challenge -- step forward Steph Bral Ross and take a well-deserved bow!!!!


    I've inclued one of Steph's drawings below, and attached all 31 of them to a post on Facebook, which you can access by CLICKING HERE


    I'd strongly advise having a look at all of them. One might think, given the size of the challenge, that they would be little more than rough scribbles, hasty sketches designed to get Steph over the finishing line without overly exhausting her in the process. One would be wrong!!!! These are fabulous, each and every one of them. PLEASE look at them all, and if you enjoy them as much as I have, PLEASE share some love with Steph, as that's the only reward she's going to get -- nobody ever said that doing Shantober would pay any bills!!!






    Should I be worried that I just read a story that I wrote but can't remember writing?!?


    Somebody recently linked to a short story of mine in reply to a Facebook post. It's called A Change Of Heart and you can find it on my web site by CLICKING HERE


    I've got to be honest -- when I saw the title, I scratched my head and thought to myself, "What the hell is THAT?!?" I had no memory of ever writing a short story by that name!!


    When I clicked through, I saw that I'd written it ten years ago, for The Times newspaper in the UK. But as I read it, I STILL couldn't remember writing it, and though a few things about it began to resurface in my memory banks as I read on, it was almost as much of a new experience for me as it would have been for its readers back in 2012!!! It's a strange experience, reading a story that you can't remember writing!! Thankfully (IMHO) it's quite a good little number, and I enjoyed it a lot -- imagine if I'd read it and thought it was rubbish!!!!!


    Oh, by the way, the drawing, by LIV, is of the character Darren Shan when he's dreaming of becoming the Lord Of The Shadows, but it seems to fit this story very neatly too, which is why I tagged it on.






    The winners of my November competition, who each won a signed, dated, limited numbered edition copy of Archibald Lox Volume 3, were, in the order drawn...





    Congratulations to the winners, and better luck to the rest of you next time round!! There will be another competition coming soon, in my online monthly newsletter. To subscribe to it and insure you don't miss out, click on the following link -- I don't share your info with any other organisations, and only send very occasional emails, when I have something of note to share: https://darrenshan.com/news/subscribe



    IT'S A WRAP!


    And that's it for December. It's not going to be the Christmas Mrs Shan and I had been anticipating -- instead of having it in our home of almost 20 years, we'll be having it in the home I lived in for the 30 years before that, with my Mum and Dad. (Though to be honest, I think that will be even more exciting for our kids!!) Then we'll be moving into our temporary home, where we'll be staying until our own place is ready to move back into. We're very lucky to be able to move into a nice, fairly new house, not too far from our own (thanks, aunty Karen!!), so we won't be looking for any sympathy, but as Dorothy so wisely noted all those centuries ago... there's no place like home!!! Anyway, I'll try not to let the disturbances upset my writing plans for the next year TOO much, although I doubt I'll get to spend any time at the keyboard this side of the New Year. I hope you all have a wonderful time over the festive period (and one free of any fires!!), and I'll see you all back here at the start of 2023. 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.