• Issue 275 - June 2023

    01 June 2023



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the June issue of the Shanville Monthly. I only realised when I was putting this together that it's been NINE MONTHS since I last ran a competition!! The fire in my house last November was the culprit -- that drove me from my home, and I still haven't fully returned to normal. Luckily, in among all the chaos of the first couple of months, I thought to put aside some signed books that I'd lined up as competition prizes, and this month YOU have a chance to win one of them! I'm going to lead off with the competition, but make sure you read on, as I have plenty of other news to report, including the launch of Archibald Lox Volume 1 in Hungary... there's an update on when you can expect my next book to hit shops worldwide... and one of my books pops up on a bookshelf in an episode of TV show Ted Lasso!!!







    When I released the paperbacks of books 7, 8 and 9 of my Archibald Lox series, I produced an ultra-limited collector's edition of just 5 copies of each book, from proof copies (also known as ARCs) that I had ordered ahead of the books' release. I'm keeping the 1/5 copies for myself, and will be giving the others away as competiton prizes. The Book 7 copies went to four lucky fans last September, and now it's the turn of Book 8 -- Archibald Lox and the Pick of Loxes. Each is signed and numbered, dated 28/6/22 (28th June 2022, the day the book was released). I also scribbled in "publication day!!" for extra emphasis, and I even included the TIME, so each winner can pin down the very minute of the day that their copy was signed!! To be in with a chance of winning, all you have to do is answer a simple question and email it to me, along with your name and address. After that, keep your fingers crossed and hope YOUR name pops out of the electronic hat when I make the draw!!


    1) Answer this question: "What is the name of the eighth Archibald Lox book?"


    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, June 12th, 2023.


    (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, June 13th, 2023. 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 my social media channels too.


    (9) Information submitted by entrants WILL NOT be shared by me with any other individual or company.


    (10) My decision will be final.






    Volume 1 of my Archibald Lox series went on sale in Hungary last month, and you can now buy it as either a paperback or eBook.


    You can order the book from the publisher, by CLICKING HERE, and although it's a little more expensive than some other stores where the book is on sale, it comes with a bonus, SIGNED page!! The signed copies are ONLY available through the publisher's web site, and there aren't very many of them left, so if you're interested, I'd advise you to order a copy ASAP!!


    You can also buy the book from one of Hungary's biggest book distributors, Líra, by CLICKING HERE. They are stocking it in their 80 physical book stores across Hungary, and it is also being sold through the likes of libri.hubookline.hu, Tóthágas, Könyvtárellátó, etc. So hopefully it will be easy to pick up if you want to get your hands on a physical copy but would prefer to buy it from your local bookseller rather than online.








    I had a fab time at the launch party for the Hungarian edition of Archibald Lox Volume 1. Although I couldn't be there in person, I dialled in via Zoom, and spent an hour answering as many questions as I could. Those are a few photos above, showing the venue, a fan called MAGYARINE and her signed copy of the book, and a shot of me on the screen mid-event. There was a lovely review of the launch party on Yellowback Magazin. It's in Hungarian, but if you cut and copy it into Google Translate, you get an extremely clear translation. CLICK HERE


    As the article explains, the publishing house, Bookaholic, actually came into being primarily to release Archibald Lox. Carmen, its chief, wanted to see Archibald Lox on sale in Hungary, and when none of the traditional publishers came in for it, she decided to tackle the task herself. I remember when I first got an email from her, on Christmas Day(!!!) 2021, through my website's contact form. I often hear from fans with big, crazy ideas, and sadly they never come to anything. I assumed this would be another such instance, but Carmen was determined, and kept working with me to find a way to make this happen, and here we are, 18 months later, with the book beautifully packaged and on sale, and selling very nicely. It just goes to show, if you're truly determined to make something happen, and are prepared to put in the time and hard work, you CAN make it happen. Many congratulations to Carmen and her team, and I hope Bookaholic has a long, successful career ahead of it.





    May be an illustration of wrist watch and text


    I finished a couple of edits of my next Darren Dash book for adults last month. As I’ve said before, it’s a science fiction story, involving time travel. It falls on the quirkier side of my oeuvre - I was aiming for the style and relative simplicity of a 1950s sci-fi pulp novel, so it’s not aiming for a whole lot of in-depth profundity!! That said, it does tackles some of the big issues (like what role do humans have in a world where they are largely redundant) and feels quite timely for a novel that I first started more than a quarter of a century…


    I’ll go through it one more time by myself this month, then it will go to my editor (hi, Zoe!), so I should be wrapping up work on it by late July, which means if all goes well, we’re hopefully looking at an October release — though if things run over, that might push back to November or even December. Watch this space for future updates!!!






    SCREEN CRUSH ran an article a while back entitled The Worst Movie Titles in History. They didn't pay any attention to whether the movie itself was good or bad -- they merely focused on the titles, all of which, in their "expert opinion", had absolutely terrible titles. Guess what made the list at #23?!?


    To be honest, while there's plenty about the Cirque Du Freak movie that can be legitimately criticised, I never thought the title was one of its weak points. Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant. What's not to love about that?!? The series title (the books are known in the USA as The Cirque Du Freak series) and a descriptive subtitle to set it apart from later entries (if they'd made any more movies). I genuinely don't see the list-writer's gripe. That said, there's no denying that #2 on the list is a real stinker -- Can Heironymous Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? I don't know WHAT the makers were thinking with that one!!! If you'd like to check out the rest of the Filthy Fifty, click here: CLICK HERE






    I loved the Ted Lasso show on Apple TV, and watched the final episode on the last day of May, once it became available to stream.


    A Tweeter called Coach Beard’s Book Club has been analysing the books that we see briefly on a character called Nate’s shelves in one of the episodes. With the help of his followers he’s been trying to identify every book in Nate’s collection.


    One eagle eyed fan spotted one of MY books in the top left of the right hand shelf — Vampire Rites, one of the UK trilogies! How cool is it to see one of my books pop up in one of my favorite shows, you may ask?!? VERY cool, is my answer!!!! I can die a happy man now. :-) :-) :-)






    I love the title of YouTuber Michael's Movie Corner review for the Cirque Du Freak movie -- I'm Finally Allowing Myself To Love This Movie!!! Michael is a big fan of my books, and like many of my fans, he's struggled with the unfaithful movie adaptation that was made by Universal in 2009. But over the years he's managed to appreciate it for what it is, rather than mourn for what it wasn't -- though that doesn't mean he thinks it's perfect, as he highlights some gripes that he has with it too.


    To be honest, I could gripe about it too -- it definitely DOES have its flaws. But overall, putting my books to one side, I like much more than I loathe about it, and definitely agree with Michael that John C Reilly was perfectly cast as Mr Crepsley, even if the director and the script didn't allow him to be as faithful to the character as he wanted to be -- and he really did WANT to be more faithful to the books, having taken the time to read all 12 of them in preparation for the role. Having said all that, despite what Michael says in his review, I've never said I LOVE the movie -- that was what the good folk at Universal SAID I said, in Hollywood publicists' usual exaggerating manner!! But I've watched it a few times, and enjoyed it each time, so yes, I certainly do LIKE it -- honestly!! (While still hoping hard, of course, that we one day get a reboot that sticks more closely to what I wrote in my books!) You can watch the full review by CLICKING HERE






    If you're a fan of my Demonata series, you hopefully remember the poem about Lord Loss that appears at the very start of the first book of the series -- and which also makes a surprise reappearance close to the end of the final book. But were you aware that the poem actually saw the light of day several years BEFORE I wrote the book?!?


    I wrote the poem in the early or mid 1990s, and it was supposed to be published in a book called Quiet Moments, in January 1997, by International Society of Poets. There are certain money-making publishers (also known as "vanity publishers") who publish books with hundreds of poems in them, all by amateurs. They then sell the finished books to the people who contributed. I sent "Lord Loss" in out of curiosity, to see what the process would be like. I never bought a copy of the book, which I was a bit sad about in later years, until a very generous fan tracked down a copy of the book, to give to me as a present, only to discover that the Lord Loss poem hadn't been included!!! I guess they only bothered to print the poems of people who had agreed to buy a copy of the book. What a swizz!


    Anyway, I wrote a lot of poetry in my teens and into my early 20s, but I quickly forgot most of them. (They were usually morbid, cynical rants -- the sort of stuff moody teenagers excel at.) But "Lord Loss" stuck with me. I often thought about the ghoulish character I'd created, and wondered if there was more of a story to him than I'd first thought. One day I was playing around with ideas for a werewolf story, and trying to find an original way to write about wolven shapeshifters. I recalled my poem about Lord Loss and wondered what would happen if I introduced demons into the mix -- and I was off!


    Anyway, the reason I'm mentioning all of that is that a fan over on YouTube, with the user name of AsherTheBlack, recorded a very impressive version of the poem a while back, and uploaded it to their page. It's suitably menacing and put a big smile on my face when I listened to it, not having thought about the poem in quite a few years. I hope you enjoy it too, by CLICKING HERE






    I was so shocked and saddened last month to hear of the untimely death of the actor Ray Stevenson, who played Murlough in the Cirque Du Freak movie. It's a dream of mine, if the series ever gets rebooted, and if I'm involved in the adaptation in any serious kind of way (which I may well not be), to try and persuade some of the actors from the original movie to take on different roles. For instance, John C Reilly as Seba. Perhaps Morgan Saylor (originally Annie) as Arra Sails. And so on. I thought Ray Stevenson would have been a perfect Vampire Prince -- Arrow, maybe, or even Paris Skyle (especially if the series doesn't get rebooted until a bit further down the line!). But now, alas, that can never be, and we're robbed of his presence in all the other films/TV shows that he might have graced over the next decade or two. A grim, sad day indeed.


    There were lots of obituaries for the actor. One of them, on the LOOPER site, focused on his appearance as Murlough in the Cirque Du Freak movie, and reports on how he was closely involved in deciding the look for the character, which was inspired by... an IGUANA?!? It also talks about the clothes that the character wears, and how the actor's choices chimed perfectly with the look that the director, Paul Weitz, was after. It's a fascinating article (albeit prompted by a very sad event) and you can read it in full if you CLICK HERE


    Another article that I'd class as a must-read for fans of my books or the movie is an AV Club lengthy interview with him back in 2015, in which he discussed his career in depth, film by film, including playing Murlough in the Cirque Du Freak movie in 2009. CLICK HERE


    It's fascinating, hearing how he played a big part in coming up with the look of the character. Part of the look was based on iguanas that he'd seen in a documentary about the Galapagos Islands (that was mentioned in the previous article I linked to), but he also talks about the uniform he chose, and the way he asked for his hair to be styled. He clearly put an awful lot of thought into it, which genuinely touched me -- it's wonderful when actors take their work seriously and personally, and don't just go through the motions. Whatever one's thoughts about the movie, it's clear from interviews they've given over the years that at least some of the actors -- John C Reilly, Michael Cerveris (who played Mr Tiny) and Ray Stevenson -- really committed to the film and gave it their all, putting a lot of thought and hard work into it. The director, Paul Weitz, was equally thoughtful and committed, and although I wish he'd been more faithful to the story, I respect that he approached it with a lot of ideas and energy, and tried to craft something different to the norm.


    Interestingly, Ray Stevenson also made some good points when asked about the film's commercial failure. He put it down to the film being a hard sell and not having a "clear direction" which the marketing people could easily pitch to a mass audience. I'd certainly agree with this. The major changes that were made to the books meant the film lost the even tone that I had worked hard to develop -- for instance, the graveyard scene at the start, which Stevenson references, should have been a deeply upsetting, moving scene, but you had Darren the character playing on a Gameboy, which drew uncertain laughs instead of tears. I've always said I like the film, and I honestly do, but I think even its greatest fan would have to admit that the tone is uneven, and that ultimately made it a tricky one to present to the public.


    Ray Stevenson -- a top drawer actor, and an insightful critic too. Even in death may he be triumphant!!!






    Last year, responding to the news that Percy Jackson was getting a TV reboot, Screen Rant posted an article listing ten other book series that could benefit from a revamp -- and I was very pleased to see Cirque Du Freak in among the mix. You can check out the full article by CLICKING HERE


    The author, Ashvaria Rai, said that part of the film's failure was surely linked to the fact that it squeezed together the plots from three books, and noted that a TV series would give it more space to adapt what is an extremely large-scale story with lots and lots of characters. I've got to say, I agree with this 100%. When Cirque Du Freak was first optioned, back near the turn of the century, it was always intended to be a film series, as TV was still seen as a poor cousin -- if you wanted to see a fantasy story done well, it needed to be a big-screen production, so that the makers could afford to bring it to life with a large budget. Nowadays that scenario has flipped, and we're all aware of the power of TV to tell a complicated story across a number of seasons.


    As I said back around Christmas time, Cirque Du Freak has been optioned again, and a team in the USA are working on adapting it. I don't know if that will go ahead or not -- it's still very much in the pre-production stage -- but if it does, it will almost certainly be as a TV show, which I think will be the best way for it to hopefully more faithfully mirror the stories I wrote in my books. Fingers crossed!!!






    The experimental short film director Kenneth Anger died recently, which was a sad loss, although he lived to the age of 96, so he had a more than fair innings! His best work is truly stunning, and you should go out of your way to track it down and watch it. He also wrote one of the most infamous books about Hollywood -- called Hollywood Babylon.


    But the reason I'm mentioning him here is a song that he used (apparently without permission!) in a film called Rabbit's Moon. The song is It Came In The Night, by a band called A Raincoat. I saw the film MANY years ago, I think when I was in university (so, we're talking about 30 years), and the song has remained stuck in my brain ever since. I tried searching for it online over the years -- not knowing the name of the song, only some of the lyrics -- but could never find it. Then, when I heard that Anger had died, I tried again -- and finally tracked it down!!!


    It's an incredibly catchy song, and for me, in an alternate universe, it will always be Mr Crepsley's Cirque Du Freak song. I had, of course, nothing to do with the making of the CDF movie a while back, but if I HAD been closely involved, this is the song I would have suggested be played when we first see Mr Crepsley, and perhaps occasionally thereafter as well. "The king of the night... king of the night..." Perhaps, if it ever gets rebooted, we might hear it in a Cirque Du Freak adaptation yet!


    If you'd like to watch the Kenneth Anger film (there have been a few versions, but the song is in the 1979 version, which only runs for 6 and a half minutes) CLICK HERE


    Even in death may the king of the night be triumphant!!!







    I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 at the cinema last month. Very enjoyable, a nice way to round out the trilogy. But I must admit, I'm finding it hard to keep up with all the goings on in the Marvel Universe these days -- who all the characters are, who's died, who's come back to life... It doesn't impact on my enjoyment too much on a film by film basis -- I just go with the flow and don't worry too much about the finer details which are trickle-overs from earlier films -- but I do have the overall sense that things are getting a little too unwieldy for their own good...
    I sometimes get asked if there are any connections between my major series, especially between Cirque Du Freak and The Demonata. The answer is a firm NO -- each exists in its own self-contained universe. BUT, that being said, I did once toy with the idea of making The Demonata a spin-off of sorts to my vampire series. We saw demons near the end of Sons Of Destiny, and I would have loved to do more with Mr Tiny -- he seemed like he would be a good fit for the demonic universe that I was starting to piece together. But I didn't toy with the idea for very long -- ultimately I felt things would start to get very gimmicky very quickly if I allowed the carefully structured universe of my vampire series to bleed over into the new universe that I was building.
    Very occasionally, when fans ask about any possible connections between the two series -- and are inevitably disappointed when I have to answer in the negative -- I do momentarily wonder if I made the right call. But then I look at the ever-further-twisting Marvel Universe, and as much as I enjoy most of the MU movies that have been made to date, I nod happily to myself and am pleased that I left well enough alone and kept MY various universes separate. That's not to say they WON'T ever collide -- if movie or TV companies ever circle round to my Demonata books, maybe they'll look at mashing them up with my vampire stories -- but if they do, it won't be on MY watch or by MY hand!!!!
    WHO'S WHO?!?
    No photo description available.
    A Shanster called ANGELICA decided to create a few Cirque Du Freak characters out of magnetic blocks. An ingenious idea!!! When I shared the photo with my followers on Facebook, there were all sorts of guesses. Do you think YOU know what they all are?!? I reveal the answer below, but don't cheat!! Try to work it out by yourself...
    Have you got them yet???
    Last chance....
    OK, time's up!! From left to right they are...
    Evra (shorter because it's the child version of the character), Kurda, Seba, Larten, Mika.
    So, how well did YOU do?!?



    IT'S A WRAP!


    And that's it for June. I'm off on hols at the start of this month, taking the kids to EuroDisney. It will be my first time there, and hopefully I won't spend TOO much of it standing in lines waiting to get on rides!! I'll be doing my final solo edit of my next Darren Dash book when I get home, before sending it on to my editor for her thoughts and corrections. So, I've a busy little month ahead of me! I'll hopefully see you all back here at the start of July, for the annual birthday issue (of both my newsletter and myself!). 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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