• Issue 280 - November 2023

    01 November 2023



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the November issue of the Shanville Monthly!! We're slipping further and further into the winter season in my part of the world... months full of long, dark nights... or as I prefer to call it -- vampire season!!!! :-) My latest release, Father of the Future, is still hot off the presses -- if you haven't picked up a copy yet, you'll find out lots about it below, including info about where you can order a copy. You'll also find a link to a lovely interview with me on a podcast... some reviews... an update on the lack of the AI audio Archibald Lox books that I hinted at a few months ago... and a short report of an ultra rare school visit that I made last month. Oh, and there's also the small matter of the picture book that I'm hoping to release next year. "The WHAT, now?!?" Heh heh!!! Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I have the great pleasure of introducing you to...






    Are you ready for the first ever Darren Shan PICTURE BOOK?!? I hope so, because it's on its way!! And the even more exciting news is that YOU can be involved in its creation! It's going to be called...



    The artist is a friend of mind called EVA BYRNE. She's a well established prints artist, with almost a decade of experience under her belt, but this is going to be HER first picture book too.


    We hope to sell the rights to a traditional publisher down the line, but we're going to start by creating a LIMITED EDITION, SIGNED, HARDBACK version, which is only going to be available to people who pre-order a copy during our FUNDRAISER. Yes -- it's the first ever Darren Shan fundraiser too!!!!


    As well as the book (available as either a NUMBERED or LETTERED edition), we've put together a group of incredible PERKS...


    You can get STICKERS and limited edition PRINTS that Eva has created. Or you can have a small group or one-to-one ZOOM CHAT with me, or enjoy a dining experience with me, or even go on one of two VERY special TOURS with me to places central to two of my series -- and I'll be your own personal TOUR GUIDE!!!


    Maybe you'd prefer a hand-written TROLL POEM by Darren which also comes with an ORIGINAL SKETCH by Eva??? Or a beautifully collected PORTFOLIO of photocopies of all the different drafts that the book went through, again with an original Eva Byrne SKETCH???


    Whatever your desire, whatever your budget, we have something for YOU!!! The link for the fundraiser is below -- feel free to browse it at your leisure and purchase perks at your pleasure!! Oh, and if you could PLEASE share the link with everyone you know, not just fans of my books, but adults who like picture books, or parents with kids, or teachers or librarians or booksellers or... well, ANYONE!!!... we'd be SO delighted. Your backing is crucial to bringing this to life, and the more people we can reach with the fundraiser, the greater our chances of being able to deliver the book by the end of summer 2024, which is our goal.


    To find out more about THE TERRIFIED TROLL and associated PERKS, click here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-bring-our-troll-to-life






    FATHER OF THE FUTURE, my latest Darren Dash book for mature readers, went on sale in the middle of last month. It's a satirical, time-travelling tale that looks at the dangers of putting too much power into the hands of a super-computer, and what happens to humanity if we cede too much control over our lives to the artificially intelligent machines that we create. The book has been picking up great reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, and also from professional reviewers/bloggers too -- here are some snippets from the reviews to date, and there are links to other reviews in the next entry:


    "This wildly creative read weaves issues of religion, science, and politics into a masterful allegory of contemporary society. 4.5 stars out of 5." Self-Publishing Review.

    "This is a fascinating and imaginative science fiction tale that blends fact and fiction to weave an entertaining read." The US Review of Books.

    "An engaging sci-fi story with a healthy dose of satire, philosophical discourse, and dark humor. 5 stars out of 5." Readers' Favorite.

    "A fun-filled and provocative time travel adventure." The BookLife Prize.


    The eBook is available through Amazon, Apple, B&N, Google Play, Kobo, Smashwords and lots of other online stores, at a wallet-friendly price tag of just $2.99. It's on sale all around the world, at a similar low price in your local currency, e.g. £1.99 in the UK, €2.75 in Europe. You can also buy it as a hardback or paperback through Amazon stores worldwide. If you're going to buy a physical edition, I strongly recommend the hardback, which is a beautifully produced book -- and before you slap my wrist and accuse me of trying to upsell you, I actually make slightly less on the hardback than I do on the paperback!!! (I wanted to keep its cost down, to make it more attractive to buyers.)




    Apple, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords, etchttps://books2read.com/u/318gPw

    Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Darren_Dash_Father_of_the_Future?id=jKnYEAAAQBAJ



    Amazon USA hardback: https://www.amazon.com/Father-Future-Darren-Dash/dp/B0CKH7NMVV/

    Amazon USA paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Father-Future-Darren-Dash/dp/B0CKD3YCFW/

    Amazon UK hardback: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Father-Future-Darren-Dash/dp/B0CKH7NMVV/

    Amazon UK paperback: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Father-Future-Darren-Dash/dp/B0CKD3YCFW/





    KIRKUS -- Father Of The Future was reviewed by industry heavyweight KIRKUS, who declared it was a "riveting, thought-provoking page-turner... This timely, gripping tale deftly illustrates the dangers of putting an artificial intelligence in charge." You can read the full review by CLICKING HERE


    THE LITERARY CONNOISSEUR -- One of my favourite reviewers is a blogger called Rebecca, whose blog is titled The Literary Connoisseur. She's been reviewing my books for many years now, and her reviews are always in-depth, insightful and extremely well written. She doesn't review all that many books any longer, so I was delighted when she made an exception for this one! What marks out a really good reviewer is when they find new ways to describe their experience of a book, rather than just trot out the usual old cliches. For example, take this line from Rebecca's review: "Darren Dash has a particular talent for jotting down stories that will often occupy a reader’s mind when their eyes are no longer glued to the page, and Father of the Future is no exception. In fact, I myself cannot name a novel of his that has occupied more of my headspace than this." Isn't that a far eloquent way of saying, "This is a book that will really make you think?!?" If you want to check out the whole of Rebecca's review -- and I really hope you will -- CLICK HERE


    THIS DREAMS ALIVE -- The blogger THISDREAMSALIVE isn't a big fan of sci-fi in general, but thankfully connected rather nicely with Father Of The Future -- phew!!! The reviewer provided us with a neat, spoiler-free summary of the book, and a solid review, not too long, not too short, just perfect!!! In one section, the reviewer noted that "Father of the Future couldn’t be more relevant. It forces us to think about AI, free will, reproductive freedom, and whether increasing trends of minimalism and the convenience of modern-day life are worth it." Which pretty much sums up the entire book in a nutshell!!! To read the full review, CLICK HERE


    GOODREADS -- Father of the Future has also been picking up some very nice reviews on Goodreads. You can check out what people have to say about it by CLICKING HERE. Genuine reviews from readers are a really powerful tool in the publishing world. I know I often base my decision on whether or not to order a book based on checking out some of the reader reviews for it on a site like Goodreads or Amazon, and I know I'm not alone in that. So, if YOU read Father of the Future, and rate it digital plus! (you'll know what I'm talking about if you've read it!!) I would absolutely LOVE you to the Future and back if you took a few minutes to post your own review for it on Goodreads too. Pretty please?!?!?






    I've been fairly quiet on the promotional front since the final Archibald Lox went on sale last summer, but with a new book -- Father of the Future -- I'm breaking cover!! Last month I recorded a half hour interview with CHASE WILL, fellow author and head honcho of the fabulous Family Fright Night Horror Podcast. Chase is a long-time supporter of mine, who has reviewed a few of my Darren Dash books on the Dread Central site over the years, so it was lovely to catch up with him, and the interview flows like a casual chat between a couple of old friends. It's very relaxed and a lot of fun. We talk about Father of the Future, of course, but also about horror films that we love, my writing process, my previous books, and a whole lot more. The 30 minutes flew by in a flash for me, and I hope you'll be similarly entertained. You can listen to the podcast by CLICKING HERE






    After a few quiet years, I've updated my Darren Dash website, adding in the cover for the new book (Father of the Future, in case you hadn't heard!) and tidying things up a bit. I know a few of you are very patiently waiting for me to add author notes for the last couple of books, but we'll have to wait a bit longer for those -- all my diaries and notes for them are currently in storage after my house fire last year. I simplified the mobile site too, so it should look a lot tidier if you're viewing the site on your phone -- I removed pretty much all the text from the home and Books page. If you think I went TOO far with that and should restore some of it, let me know! Here's the link for the site: http://www.darrendashbooks.com/






    As I said already, I released hardback and paperback editions of Father of the Future that are on sale through Amazon stores worldwide. Shortly after it went on sale, I noticed an issue with the paperback in the UK store. I live in Ireland, and it was showing as being unavailable. I checked with Amazon, and basically they're not shipping the paperback to Ireland, which is a bummer for my Irish fans. However, it's not all bad news, and you have a couple of Shamrock-friendly options to choose from.


    First, you can order the paperback from a different Amazon site, like the German or French site. You can have the site text translated to English, and it's pretty much exactly the same ordering process as the UK site, so it's easy enough to navigate. I've provided links below, but I will point out that it seems as if they're charging €8 for shipping, which drives the price up to almost double its face value!!! So I'd suggest going with Option 2, which is...


    Secondly, you can instead order the hardback from the UK site, because Amazon WILL ship that to Ireland!! (Yes, I know it's crazy!) With free shipping, that means it's actually CHEAPER than buying the paperback from France or Germany!! The hardback is a lot sturdier, so, y'know, if it's cheaper to buy than the paperback, it's a no-brainer as far as I'm concerned!! Anyway, here are the links for the UK hardback and the German and French paperbacks, just in case for some reason any of you simply MUST have the paperback and don't mind paying extra for it.


    UK hardback: CLICK HERE   German paperback: CLICK HERE   French paperback: CLICK HERE






    The librarians in Armfield Academy in the UK clearly have excellent taste in books -- they made me their author of the month in October, as you can see from THIS TWITTER POST of theirs. Hurrah!!! Hopefully the students enjoyed my books as much as the librarians...






    I've read out lots of different scenes from mine at events over the years, but the two I've done WAY more than any other are the scene in Cirque Du Freak when the wolf man bites off a woman's hand (I usually get kids up to help me act it out) and chapter 2 of Lord Loss. The CDF scene is absolutely brilliant for the inclusivity factor -- it makes everyone else at the event feel like they're at a show -- but in terms of a straight-up reading, the Lord Loss chapter knocks everything else out of the park. It's extra juicy when I have a really good microphone -- I usually manage to make the crowd jump in their seats with shock at least once in the reading!


    I mention all of that because I was put in mind of it when reading a really cool review for Lord Loss on The Phoenix Project blog. It was written by an old blogging associate of mine, Matthew Bell -- I can recall his reviews of my books many years ago, when we were both a lot younger. It was interesting to get his take on Lord Loss when he returned to it as an adult, and to see that it can still sink its hooks into readers, no matter how much they might have aged. You can read the full review if you CLICK HERE






    As most of you are all too aware, I've done extremely few in-person events since the end of my Zom-B series. BUT good news is just around the corner for the those in the UK who would like to catch me live!! I've signed up for SFW XV next March, a sci-fi weekender in Great Yarmouth. Details of what I'll be doing there are yet to be confirmed, but I imagine I'll be appearing on a couple of days, doing a few panel events, maybe even a solo event or two, and of course signing lots of books!!


    I did SFW several years ago and really enjoyed it, so I'm delighted to have been invited back. It's a very relaxed, welcoming festival, with LOTS going on, loads of people from the sci-fi/fantasy/horror worlds of movies, TV, books, comics, etc. Most people (maybe everyone?!?) who attend the festival tend to camp over the weekend, and I chatted with some who went to it every year and treated it as a holiday, the same way that some people do with music festivals.


    If you're interested in coming, you can find all the info you need by CLICKING HERE. I can't guarantee good weather at that time of year, but I can guarantee more access to me than you'd get at a normal event, more time to ask questions and have your books signed. You might even spot me in a restaurant, at the bar or on the dance floor and get a chance to quiz me one-on-one -- but be warned, I take no responsibility for crushed toes if you get too close to me while I'm dancing!!!






    I mentioned a while back that I'd signed my Archibald Lox series up to be adapted into AI audio books over on Apple, and was waiting to make an official announcement until they had all been released in that format. It's fair to say views on the matter were decidedly mixed -- some of you were excited by the news and more than happy to listen to an AI narrator even though there's no doubt the voice programme couldn't bring the same skills to the table as a professional human narrator, while others were horrified that I could even consider such an option and were of the opinion that all "creative" AI is bad AI and that it should never be tolerated in the creative fields, i.e. it's fine if it's a medical programme that will help save lives, but a no-no if it's putting writers, artists or voice performers out of work.


    I'm in the middle. As a writer, I'm obviously concerned about the implications that AI could have on people in my field. At the same time I can see the positives that it brings to the table -- where audio books are concerned, they're very expensive and time-consuming to produce, and sadly sales of my self-published work don't allow me to adapt my Darren Dash or Archibald Lox books to audio. (I've always separated my self-published work from my traditionally published work, and been insistent that the books have to pay for themselves.) AI offers me the chance to get around what so far has been an impassable audio barrier, and make the books available to the small number of fans who have politely but insistently been asking me for many years to release my self-published books on audio. It takes some of the power from the hands of the traditional publishing companies and puts it into the hands of writers who don't enjoy their backing, and as a small self-publisher (albeit one who has also published traditionally) I'm all in favour of that. I'm by no means anti-traditional-publishing, but I think it's good for writing in general if there's an easy route to market for the little guys too, and if they can compete on a more even playing ground with the big players.


    Anyway, regardless of the arguments (which I was readying myself to heavily engage in), it's a moot point where the Archibald Lox books are concerned, becuase the AI programme for some inexplicable reason ran into difficulties with Book 3 of the series, Archibald Lox and the Vote of Alignment. Even though it features no different words or names than any of the other books, the AI adaptive programme decided it couldn't do the book justice, and so it refused to publish it as an audio book, even though it adapted and released the other eight books in the series!!! Obviously I can't pitch an incomplete audio series to you guys, so I've asked Apple to remove the books from its audio programme (although I think they're still currently on there, for anyone who is curious).


    Humans 1 -- AI 0!!!!!


    Even though the programme has failed me once, I AM pushing ahead with having Father of the Future, my latest Darren Dash book for adults, adapted into an Apple AI audio book, assuming the programme can handle it this time. Even if I ultimately decide that AI audio books are NOT the way forward (and I do remain very open on the matter), Father of the Future is a story all about the dangers of AI in the future and what happens if our computers are given too much control over us, and I'm just tickled pink at the delirious possibility of having such a book actually narrated by a real AI of the present!!! Yeah, I'm pretty twisted, but hey, you guys knew that about me already, didn't you?!?






    I went to Scoil Ide in Limerick for a school event with their 5th class students last month. This was my first in-the-flesh school event in a LONG time -- the last was some time well before the COVID lockdowns, I think. Maybe well before. I'd almost forgotten how much I enjoy that side of things. It definitely helped that they had a really good audio system in the hall where the event was held -- I read from Lord Loss, and there's a moment in the scene where I raise my voice suddenly. I think every single child (and teacher) leapt in their seats at that point!! A huge round of relief-laughter followed the gasps and screams, and it took about half a minute before everyone settled down and I was able to continue!!!! Fun times!!!!


    That's a photo of me with EMMA, one of the students, at the signing afterwards. Emma's mother actually set the ball rolling on this one -- she emailed me, asking if a visit might be at all possible, and put me in touch with the teacher who could set it up. I probably won't be doing too many events like this over the coming year (though I'm still doing online events, for any teachers or librarians who are interested -- just reach out and make contact with me to enquire), but 2025 will mark the 25th anniversary of the release of Cirque Du Freak, so I'm hoping to get out on the road again for my first full tour since 2016, when my Zom-B series finished. Blimey -- hard to believe it will have been 9 years of being off the road by that stage!! Touring used to be a massive part of my life. Now that my kids are a bit older, maybe I need to start thinking about doing a bit more of it again...



    IT'S A WRAP!


    And that's it for November. I posted some bookshelfies last months, photos of bookshelves that fans have sent to me, showing off their Darren Shan collections. That's NEIL's above, and it boasts everything from a first edition of Hell's Horizon (dating back to February 2000) to my most recent Archibald Lox books (dating back to last year), and a copy of the Japanese fan book that was produced many years ago, which he picked up when he lived for a year in Japan!! How does YOUR collection fare in comparison?!? If you send me a photo or two, I might feature it in a future booshelfie post...


    I'm gearing myself up for a busy month, keeping on top of everything to do with the fundraiser for The Terrified Troll. It's a new challenge for me, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least partly bricking myself at the thought of it all -- what if nobody buys any of the perks?!? If I survive with my senses intact, I'll hopefully see you all back here at the start of December, for the latest round of news and updates. 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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