• Issue 270 - January 2023

    01 January 2023



    Hi everyone, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Sorry this is a bit late going live. That's partly because of the holidays season -- I always like to take things easy around year's end -- but also because of the house fire I had to deal with back in November. I'm still out of my house, and will be for quite a few months to come, and although I've moved into a lovely temporary home with my family, we're still in the process of settling in, PLUS we don't have any internet connection at the moment, so I'm having to pop up to my parents' house to fit in the odd bit of work, such as writing a monthly newsletter!! :-) Anyway, that's enough about me. Let's crqack on and read the stuff that we reall came here for -- news about... um... oh yeah... ME!!!






    Every year, in the run-up to Christmas, I post my Shanta Claus short story online, for a week or two only. It brings together characters from all my major series, and some of my stand-alone books, in a wild, fun, non-canon mashup. In recent years I've also included a section where Shanta meets ME in my home office and I discuss what I've been working on -- it's a quirky way of touching base with you guys and highlighting some juicy news items without going through the normal, expected channels (such as this newsletter!).


    This year I casually dropped a double bombshell when I revealed that production teams are working on trying to get TV shows made of not one, but TWO of my series! Here's how I slipped the news in...


    SANTA: "Tell me, is there anything happening on the TV or movie front? I know there was a team working on adapting Zom-B into a TV show, but it didn't lead to anything..."

    DARREN: "Well, [I THOUGHT it had fallen through.] They produced a script for a pilot but didn't get any takers in the UK. I'd written it off, until they emailed me late in the year to say they'd found an interested party in a different part of the world, and there might be hope for it yet. It may well end in disappointment again, but there IS hope, things ARE back on the table, and perhaps it WILL get adapted, just not in a country or language that any of us anticipated when the books first saw print."

    S: "I suppose foreign language adaptations are no barrier to global success these days. Just look at how popular Money Heist and Squid Games proved to be."

    D: "Precisely. [Oh, by the way,] Cirque Du Freak was also optioned early this year. [A team is] working on scripts right now, the plan being to adapt the books for television, though they haven't completed ruled out doing them as movies either."

    S: "You didn't think to share that news with us before now?"

    D: "I don't like making too big a deal of options. Loads of books get optioned by producers every year, and only a small number ever actually get adapted. Don't go getting TOO excited, OK? We're only talking about an OPTION, which is a very different thing to having a show actually lined up to begin filming."


    And, now that I've officially revealed that news, I'd like to double-stress that these are both only OPTIONS. An option is a vital first step on the path to any work getting adapted, but it's ONLY a first step, and many projects never get any further than that. Keep your fingers crossed, keep your eye on this page for any updates, but don't go pinning ALL of your hopes on the shows going ahead any time in the near future, because the law of averages dictates that either or both of them are far more likely to fall by the wayside, as so many optioned books do...






    There was an article on LISTVERSE a while back called "10 Popular Book Series That Didn’t Make It Past The First Film," which focused on... oh, I think you can guess!!! CLICK HERE


    As one might expect, the Cirque Du Freak movie was one of the movies highlighted (at #7). I always have mixed feelings when I see the CDF film pop up on a list like this. On the one hand I'm of course disappointed that the film didn't do better and result in the rest of the book being adapted. On the other hand, it's nice to be reminded that the books ARE really popular, and that's the reason there was an adaptation in the first place!!


    Katie Chilton, who penned the article, makes a very good point which I think goes a good way to explaining why the the movie didn't win over audiences as well as the books did: "A key problem with making the first film of a franchise is the balance between the ability for it to work as a standalone film and setting it up for a sequel... Where Cirque de Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant fails is the introduction of several characters that have no purpose in the film except to set it up for a sequel."


    The film had other issues as well (the lighter tone than the novels, the dropping of some key characters, the squashing-up of plots from different books), but I think "sequelitis" was a problem for quite a few viewers who weren't familiar with the books -- it was certainly mentioned in a lot of reviews of the film at the time. You can read the first three Cirque Du Freak books as a self-contained story. (Indeed, you can read book 1 by itself and still feel it told a complete tale.) There's hardly any setting up of future plot lines, or if there is, it's barely noticeable, something you only really spot if you re-read the books having read the following nine in the series.


    The film, on the other hand, tried very hard to let viewers know that sequels were planned, and worked equally hard to set them up. I think that was a mistake, and turned a lot of watchers off. As Katie says, it's a key problem finding that balance when the plan is to make a movie series, and in this instance I think it's a balance the adapters failed to find.


    Better luck to those who (hopefully) come next time!!!






    I was absolutely delighted to see Archibald Lox and the Legion of the Lost get a wonderful mention from fellow author Dave Jeffery on Facebook, as one of his favourite books of 2022: CLICK HERE


    As someone unskilled in the arts of marketing, I've found it hard work making people aware of the existence of the Archie books, and word of mouth has played a large part in them reaching as wide an audience as they have. Best Of lists are normally dominated by books that have been given a healthy, helpful push by a traditional publisher, so it's brilliant when you get reviewers like Dave who read beyond the mainstream circles and give a shout-out to any book that tickles their fancy, regardless of any other factors.


    And as I'm firmly in the one-good-deed-deserves-another camp, I think it's only fitting that I point out that Dave has published a lot of books which are available through Amazon and plenty of other stores. While most of them are for adults, he's also written the Beatrice Beecham YA series, which I highly recommend.






    SMASHWORDS is a familiar site for any self-published author. An indie eBooks alternative to Amazon for almost 15 years, it offers attractive terms to those who sell through its store, and is much beloved by readers who don't wish to take their business to the major online behemoths.


    I'm delighted to be able to announce that all of my ARCHIBALD LOX eBooks are now on sale through Smashwords. You get the best deals on the three omnibus Volumes, each of which collects three of the nine books in the series -- but if you'd prefer to pay a bit more and buy them as nine individual books, you can do that too. The first book, Archibald Lox and the Bridge Between Worlds is always FREE, so if you're unsure about committing to the series, you can download it and try before you buy!!


    CLICK HERE to see all of the books on sale, and you can either buy immediately or find out more about them, i.e. read synopses and snippets of reviews:


    Of course, if for whatever reason you'd prefer to buy through a different store, the books are on sale through a wide variety of sellers -- Amazon, Apple, B&N, Google Play, Kobo, etc. It makes no real difference to me financially where you source them, so please feel free to buy wherever works best for YOU.






    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 New Year's 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









    Tattoo Tuesday is an occasional feature on my blog, where I share photos of tattoos that fans of my books have adorned on their bodies. Last month I shared THIS little beauty, which is a dream or a nightmare depending on your love/loathing of spiders!!! The incredible tattoo of Madam Octa, lately of Vampire Mountain, but more better known from her stint at the Cirque Du Freak, adorns the limb of SIMON, who lives in Columbia. It's a truly stunning piece of work -- I think even most arachnophobes will be enchanted by this one, albeit having to express their admiration for the work while squinting through their fingers at it and whimpering softly to themselves!!! :-) :-) :-)






    This review for Cirque Du Freak, on the Books Let Us Escape blog, appeared earlier this year. It contains quite a long summation of the book, which will be handy for those of you who might now have read it in a while... :-) CLICK HERE


    The reviewer first read the book when they were younger, and it's interesting to get their thoughts upon returning to it as an adult reader. I've read quite a few reviews and posts recently from people who've returned to the book many years after first encountering it, and they've all been extremely positive. When I was writing Cirque Du Freak, I was trying to appeal to both the child and adult within me, and write a book which could work as well for older readers as it could for its core, younger audience. I've always loved reading books for children and teenagers, and the very best ones can be equally enjoyed by adults. I hoped to hit that sweet spot and create a story which, first and foremost, would work for children, but which could also be savoured by parents and teachers, and even those children when they grew up and maybe returned to it to see how it held up. Retrospective reviews like this one make me feel very relieved that I wasn't wasting all that time and effort 25 years ago!!!! :-) :-) :-)






    I still get occasional shocked messages from fans of Cirque Du Freak who weren’t aware that I wrote 4 books about Mr Crepsley and his life over the course of the two centuries before he met Darren. The Saga of Larten Crepsley. So every so often I like to share a post like this one, just in case YOU are one of those Shansters living in ignorant bliss!!!


    You should be able to order the books through your local bookstore, or get them online from Amazon or a similar store, or second hand through a site like Abebooks or Alibris. I think they’re on sale as ebooks too. While very differently paced and structured to the original Saga, they’ve tickled the fancy of the vast majority of my fans who’ve read them. They answer a lot of big questions from the first series - such as how Mr Crepsley became a vampire, how he rose through the ranks, and why he walked away from the clan when he did - and also, as an added treat, show who would win in a fight between Mr Crepsley and Vancha March!






    The blogger Reviews That Burn has been working their way through my Saga Of Darren Shan / Cirque Du Freak series, posting a nice, chunky, well-written, interesting review for each book in the series. I provided links to the first three ilast month, and here are the next three, for the Vampire Mountain trilogy, which I know many readers rank as the best story arc of the series.


    Book 4: CLICK HERE

    Book 5: CLICK HERE

    Book 6: CLICK HERE


    I must admit that the cover the reviewer chose for Vampire Mountain made me wince. It's the American hardback/trade paperback cover, and it's not one of my favourites. In the book, when Darren arrives at Vampire Mountain, he squints up and asks where the castle is -- he expected a huge, gothic castle befitting of the finest of movie vampires. Mr Crepsley and Gavner have a good, long chuckle at his expense, before explaining that all the vampire living areas are housed within the mountain, as otherwise they'd draw attention to themselves. So what does the artist go and depict, for reasons that still baffle me? A damn CASTLE!!!!! :-) :-) :-)






    As we drew near the end of last year, that of course meant we were lso nearing the time of our Great Reckoning -- i.e. how many books did each of us read over the last 12 months?!? I came in just under 50 (final tally to be announced on my blog shortly), which was slightly down on my total for 2021, but that's only because I read some thicker books in 2022, so even though I came in around the same page count, it was be via a few less titles.

    One reader who definitely trumped me on the number front is a tweeter called CHAOSPIXIE THE BOOKWORM, who had already read 84 books when they posted about this matter in mid-December. The reason why it caught my eye was that ChaosPixie went on to mention that HALF of those books had been written by ME!!!!

    I reckon there can't be too many readers out there who read 42 books by the same author in 2022. Indeed, there probably aren't too many authors with 42 books still in print that readers CAN read in a single year even if they wanted to. So, kudos to both Chaos Pixie and myself for jobs well done!! :-)

    The other reason ChaosPixie's post caught my eye is because 42, of course, was Douglas Adams' answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, in his Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy series. I'm not quite sure HOW we tie in, but I've a sneaky feeling that ChaosPixie and I might be an integral part of humanity's quest for ultimate enlightenment... :-) :-) :-)






    Manga fans among you might be familiar with the series, The Dawn Of The Witch. I must admit I haven't read it yet, but it's definitely on my radar, especially since I read an interview with its writer, Kakeru Kobashiri, on the MIPON site, and saw her answer to the following question:

    M: When you’re writing, are you inspired by any overseas media like books or films?

    K: Oh, absolutely. I’ve been influenced by a lot of overseas works. I really liked this series called The Saga of Darren Shan. [And] Lord of the Rings was also a major influence. I loved reading the translated version for younger readers as well. A lot of fantasy novels will be translated for younger audiences here in Japan.

    She certainly has great taste in books, so I have high hopes for the series!!! :-) You can read the full interview by CLICKING HERE






    Last month on Twitter, Frank Cottrell-Boyce asked: "Children's authors, what's the wildest question a child has asked you on an author visit? Mine: Have you ever... ever... Ate a Nettle?"


    I didn't have to think long before I came up with MY answer, which I got asked by a young woman at an event many years ago. "Do female vampires have periods???"


    I had to think quick on my feet on the day, but after careful (albeit swift) consideration, my answer was... no. I figured, with their ultra slow metabolisms -- vampires are a lot like their literary cousins, zombies, in many ways -- and the fact that they can't have children, that they'd have no need of this particular bodily function. I'll never forget the gawping eyes of the shocked boys in the audience!!!


    That reminds me of my first draft of Lord Loss. In the first chapter, Grubbs Grady plays a nasty trick on his sister, and leaves rat guts in one of her towels. But in my original opening chapter he drew vampire faces on her sanitary towels!!! (I thought it would provide an amusing little in-joke link to my previous series!) It didn't get past my agent, who said he loved the book when he read it, but THAT scene would have to go!!!! He was probably right, and the rat guts probably DO work better, but I'd be lying if I said a small part of me still didn't regret making the change, just to find out what the reaction from my male pre-teen and teen readers would have been...



    IT'S A WRAP!




    And that's it for January. I hope you all had a lovely festive break. I created a little Christmas card for all my followers which I shared on my blog over the Yuletide, scans of which you can find above. The brilliant drawing of the Shan clan was made by Irish artist EVA BYRNE -- her Insta handle, if you'd like to check out more of her work, is @ofwordsandcreatures I had a most unusual Christmas -- because of the house fire, we spent Christmas Day with my parents, then moved into our new, temporary home the next day. Mrs Shan and I have been busy setting up the new home, while also popping down to our full-time home most days to sort through the debris and get everything ready for the movers, who will be back in any day now after their Christmas break. It's been a hectic, fairly stressful period, so I must say I'm glad to see the back of 2022, and though the first half of 2023 is going to be a tricky one for me, fingers crossed it will end up being a year that I can remember for all the right reasons, rather than one which will always be associated in my memory with the flickering flames of a fire that just wouldn't go out!!!! I'll see you all back here at the start of February. 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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