• Issue 283 - February 2024

    01 February 2024



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the February issue of the Shanville Monthly! I know a lot of people will be eyeing up Valentine's Day around the middle of the month, but let's be honest -- OUR true love is the monthly Darren Shan newsletter, right?!? :-) Lots of news to report, as usual, including how you can still snag a few Terrified Troll perks even though the fundraising campaign has officially ended... the potential Zom-B TV adaptation has sadly been staked through the brain (like most zombies!) for now... my anti-AI sci-fi book Father of the Future now has an audio book adaptation, read BY an AI... I'm one of the most followed Irish people on Goodreads... and I'm running my first competition of 2024, with my most unusually dated copies of a book ever!!! For the lowdown on all of that, and lots, lot more, read on...






    My fundraising campaign for The Terrified Troll (my first ever picture book) finished last month. The artist, Eva Byrne, and I far exceeded our financial goal, which is going to make it a lot easier for Eva to devote time to the project, so hopefully we're going to get it to publication stage before the end of the year -- though there's a LOT of work still to be done on it, so I may well be back here in the summer or autumn time begging for a bit more patience from those who pre-ordered a copy of the book!!! :-)


    Those who definitely won't have to wait too long are those who bought one of the fundraising perks, such as the handwritten poem, the limited edition art prints, the drafts portfolio, or a meeting with me. We've now posted out all of the prints, poems and portfolios -- the above picture was taken when we signed the last of the orders. I've also met or chatted with most of the fans who signed up for those perks, although I can't start doing the Bec tours until Craggaunowen Park reopens in the spring!!


    Although the campaign is over, some of the perks are still up for grabs if any of you wish to get in touch with me by email over the coming months. The poems and portfolios are SOLD OUT, but prints still remain, and it's still possible to pre-order the book, arrange Zoom chats, in-the-flesh-meetings, or one of the two book tours that I am offering. You can find more info and prices on the following page: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-bring-our-troll-to-life/x/35435619#/


    If you wish to make an enquiry about any of the perks, you can drop me a line at [email protected] -- but please note, the prices will be the same as they are on the fundraising page. I can't offer any discounts, as it wouldn't be fair to those who have paid full price.






    I'm afraid I have sad news for those of you hungering for a Zom-B TV show. As some of you may recall, the series was optioned by Electric Shadow Company several years ago. They hired sceenwriter Susan Connolly to write a pilot script, which they then pitched to a variety of TV producers in the UK/USA/Canada.


    As I've previously reported -- no joy on those fronts. But as I also previously reported, they then set their sights elsewhere and tried to get it off the ground in a very different country. I couldn't say where that was in my previous updates, but can now reveal that it was in fact... FINLAND!!! ESC teamed up with a Finnish production team, and managed to attach a promising director to the project, but again, when they pitched it to various Finnish TV studios, the answer was... no.


    So, alas, we have now come to the end of the road. The team gave it their very best shot, thought outside the box, and did everything they could to get it going, but at the moment the big TV production companies just aren't biting. So, the rights have reverted to me, and Zom-B is no longer under option. Hopefully another team will come back in for it at some point in the future, perhaps when the world is more ready for my seemingly ever-more-prophetic tale of how far-right extremists and power-hungry billionaires could act as harbingers for a zombie apocalpyse...


    In the meantime, let's not shed TOO many tears, for as the old cliche goes, whenever one door closes in life, another opens, and as fate would have it, there are stirrings on the optioning front of ANOTHER of my series, so perhaps I'll have a balancing-out positive bit of news to report on the optioned-for-a-potential-TV-show front in the not-too-distant future...






    Good news for audio book fans -- Father Of The Future, my most recent Darren Dash novel for adult readers, is now on sale as an AI-narrated audio book through GOOGLE PLAY stores worldwide. If you'd like to buy a copy, or just listen to a sample for free, CLICK HERE


    Now, I know opinions vary greatly on the moral standing of AI audio books. I've written about my views on the subject previously, so I won't rehash them again, except to say that in this specific instance, even if I was in a position to pay for a real narrator, I'd probably stick with the AI option. Why?!? Well, the book's plot revolves around the dangers of living in a world where an AI has too much control over humanity. It basically serves as a warning that we shouldn't be trusting our computers TOO much, and that we may well come to regret the amount of autonomy that we're granting them.


    The notion of having an anti-AI story narrated by an AI programme is just too deliciously twisted a prospect for the schoolboy prankster in me to resist!! So, yeah, as I've said before, if the Darren Dash books ever start selling in greater numbers and generate more of an income, I'll be happy to hire narrators to produce proper, human AI versions of my self-published books -- but NOT for this little audio book outlier, which will remain an AI-generated product that Father himself would be proud of!!!






    Although I'm busy doing Zoom calls and in-the-flesh meetings with people who bought those perks in my Terrified Troll fundraising campaign a while back, I'm still squeezing in the occasional virtual SCHOOL EVENT or two. I didn't do many in the run-up to Christmas, but I have a few set up for the coming weeks, and I'm open to scheduling in more if any teachers or librarians out there wish to reach out to me with a request.


    This photo was taken a while back, when I did an event with the students of Trinity Academy Grammar school, in West Yorkshire in the UK. In this instance the students were seated in a hall, and I spoke to them from a big screen projection, but in other schools they stay in their classrooms and join in through a computer or whiteboard -- I'm always happy to work around whatever best suits any particular school's needs.


    If YOU are a teacher or librarian, anywhere in the world, and are interested in setting up an online Darren Shan event, feel free to drop me an enquiry. You can contact me by email: [email protected]


    My online events run for 30-35 minutes. I do a reading, chat about myself a bit, then take questions from the students. They're always fun, and always free -- I don't charge anything for them. And the more students you can involve, the better -- it's always more exciting playing to a larger crowd!!



    MY 2024 READS



    Time for my annual Best Books I Read Over The Last 12 Months report! I read 40 books in total in 2023, down quite a bit from my 2022 numbers, but there were a few very big books in among the mix, which goes some way to explaining the dip! Still, my message to myself going forward must be to read more during the reading time I set aside most nights before going to bed, rather than spending a large chunk of it playing Scrabble on my phone!!! Anyway, while it wasn't a vintage year for quantity, 2022 was a very good year for quality reads, and I gave no fewer than 5 books the full 5 star treatment in my ratings on Goodreads! In the order read, they were...


    THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, by Walter Tevis.

    THE HUSTLER, by Walter Tevis.

    THE ANOMALY, by Herve Le Tellier.

    THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT, by Walter Tevis.

    SHADOWPLAY, by Joseph O'Connor.


    It's pretty unheard of for me to give 5 stars to three books by the same author! But even though I'd seen films based on Walter Tevis' books, and of course the TV show of The Queen's Gambit, I'd somehow managed not to read any of his work before this year. A mistake I won't be repeating -- I absolutely love his writing!! I already have the rest of his books lined up on my Kindle, to space out over the next year or two. To see the ratings I gave to ALL the books I read in 2022, and indeed in every year back to when I first started marking books as a teenager, CLICK HERE






    Back around Halloween, NATIONAL TODAY featured an article in which it listed 130 "vampire names," sourced from a variety of places. It's interesting reading for those with a passion for the creatures of the night, and I do sneak in there, at listing #73, but only with my pseudonymous surname! To check out the full list, CLICK HERE


    No Larten Crepsley?!? No Arra Sails?!? No Mika Ver Leth?!? These guys need to do a bit more homework, I think, or a pit of stakes awaits!!!! :-)






    What's it like re-reading my Cirque Du Freak books as an adult?!? A fan called Luke Henderson found out last year when he decided to re-read the series more than a decade after he read them as a child. He posted reviews for the first six books, capturing his thoughts and how hie reading of them differed now that he was a grown-up. Here's the link for book 6, and there are links on that page for the other reviews that he wrote: CLICK HERE


    I must say I love it when the books work for adults as well as they work for the children and teenagers who make up the bulk of my audience. While I never target any specific market (which is one of the reasons I've struggled with publishers and booksellers over the years), when I wrote Cirque Du Freak I was trying to write a book that would appeal to adults as much as it did to children. As a child and teenager of the 1980s, there were very few horror/fantasy books written for people my age, so I made the leap to adult horror (Stephen King, Anne Rice) at far too young an age. The books I was reading when I was 12, 13, 14 years of age weren't always appropriate for me -- but damn, they stoked my fires!!!


    With Cirque Du Freak, I wanted to write something that WAS age-appropriate for 10, 11 and 12 year olds, but which also had all the darkness and depth of those vampire books for adults - Salem's Lot, Interview With The Vampire - which I read when I should really have been sticking to the likes of Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl!! So when the books weave their wonders for readers like Luke who have long left childhood behind them, it gives me a nice little buzz of satisfaction -- more proof that all the publishers who rejected Cirque Du Freak were wrong, and *I* was right!!!! :-) :-) :-)






    My most recognized quote is "Even in death may you be triumphant" which features in my Cirque Du Freak series. Over the years, many fans have had this tattooed on themselves, and in many different ways. I thought it would be nice to collect some of those tattoos into a video clip on Facebook, so I did, and you can check it out by CLICKING HERE.






    I was surprised (and pleased!) to see this posted on Goodreads recently -- apparently I was the 10th most Followed person in Ireland on the Goodreads site in 2023!! I use Goodreads to log a score for every book that I read, and the list goes back to when I first started rating books when I was a teenager, so it covers pretty much all my reading life, except for the first several years! Although I mention it occasionally in my social media posts, I never make a big thing of it, or promote it as much as I should, so it's nice that people seem to be finding it by themselves and following me of their own volition!


    If you'd like to see what marks I give, and which books I've read over the decades, CLICK HERE


    And hey, if you'd like to Follow me while you're there, that would be doubly sweet, and might help me move up a few places on the list next year!!! :-)






    I've always loved getting fan mail, and try to respond to most of it, even if it's a just a quick email to say thanks. Most of the letters, emails or posts I get from fans are on the short and sweet side, quick to read and quick to reply to, but occasionally a longer one comes through that takes more time to mull over. The one I'm copying in below, from fellow author JJ KIMMORIST, was one of those. It's such a beautiful email, that pleases me in so many ways, from her talking about reading my books after lights out, to convincing her huband to give them a try, and now passing her love for the books on to her children. (There's even a cool little mention of An Other Place -- I still can't believe or fathom how popular that book has become!!) Anyway, that's enough from me -- it's over to JJ -- and if you'd like to check out her work after reading the email, her website address is: https://www.kimmorist.com/


    Dear Mr. Shan,

    This letter has been knocking around in my head for a while now. I find it's important to stop and give appreciation where appreciation is due. So finally, I'm sitting down to express what your work has meant to me and many others.

    I began reading The Saga of Darren Shan when I was just a kid. I remember my older sister plucking Cirque du Freak off the shelf at Target, saying she had heard about it at school. She would read it to me at night when we were supposed to be sleeping. We fell in love with the dark, secret world of vampires. Darren constantly made us laugh and the father-son relationship with Mr. Crepsley kept us reading long past our bedtimes.

    I'll never forget the excitement when our mom finally gave in to our gentle requests (i.e. begging) to drive us to Barnes and Noble to pick up the next book in the series. These bookstore trips were our favorite. After the newest release of the Saga was safely tucked under our arms, we'd spend hours browsing the shelves, exploring back covers and first pages. By the time we left, we'd have a hefty stack of books each. Although there are many books that helped spark my interest in reading at a young age, I believe The Saga of Darren Shan is where I first discovered the power of words on the page. What a wonderful and miraculous thing it is to read and be swept away into another world!

    There were plenty of times, hours after our bedtime, when my sister and I would hear the floorboards creak outside our room. We'd shove the book under the pillow and feign sleep. This never fooled our dad. After a gentle warning about how tired we'd be for school in the morning, he'd tell us to go to sleep and threaten to take our book away if we didn't. (On one occasion he actually did take it!) Once his footsteps had faded down the hall, we'd count to 100 and turn the pen light back on, crack the book back open, and my sister would keep reading. (She had the best voice for Harkat.)

    By the time we reached the end of the series, I could read the books on my own. During my adolescence I re-read the Saga once or maybe even twice (it's difficult to remember now). Over the years, I've gone on to read The Demonata series and many of your other books. (I read The Thin Executioner just last year.) I'm always excited to see what type of monsters you'll dream up next.

    After I got married, I tried to get my husband into reading. One of the first books I put in his hands with zealous urgency was Cirque du Freak. He easily devoured it and went on to read the whole Saga! Although I have yet to convert him into a reader (still working on it), he now has a new appreciation for storytelling, and he consumes plenty of audiobooks on his dives to work. I'm sure you've heard this before but in case it's been a while, The Saga of Darren Shan is not just for youngsters; adults love it too!

    A few years ago, my husband and I adopted his 8-year-old nephew. His least favorite subject in school was english, and he hated reading. I eventually made him read the Saga. You can imagine my excitement at hearing him say the words, "I can't wait to see what happens next in my book!" He is now 12 and is currently working his way through The Demonata series. He likes to update me on what part he's at and his theories on what will take place next. It's been a fantastic bonding experience for us. He claims to only like books from a boy's POV. I can't wait for him to read Zom-B ;)

    I apologize for the long letter. I'll end by saying I'm typing this with one hand while my 2-month-old daughter sleeps in my other. I cannot wait to introduce her to Darren and the gang! I hope she grows up to love monsters and fantastical worlds as much as I do. For I was once a girl who loved fantasy and horror novels, now I’m an author who writes her own. I want to thank you, Mr. Shan, for your books. I can identify with just how much work it takes to bring a story to life. So, thank you again for your hours and hours of labor—for the days, weeks, months, and years of work crafting words into art.

    Your art continues to inspire generations of readers.



    P.S. An Other Place continues to be the most unsettling book I've ever read. I no longer feel at ease falling asleep on an airplane. :)






    A fan of my books on Twitter, called LaraJean, spotted this recently when playing a crossword on CodyCross. I wonder how many people on the day got it right on the day without having to check online?!? Cirque Du Freak would have been a more recognisable clue, but I imagine The Demonata wouldn't have proved much help to those not in the know!!! :-) :-)






    Back in November 2022, when we had to move out of our home following a house fire, I'd been working on a new Darren Shan YA book. That's lain idle since then -- with all the trauma of the fire, moving into a new house, and the logistics involved in dealing with insurers and slowly edging towards being able to move back into our home, I just wasn't feeling the vibe to sit down and work on anything new. I did go back and edit Father Of The Future into shape, and put together the crowdfunder for The Terrified Troll and did more work on it, so 2023 was by no means a complete write-off, but... yeah... I'd be lying if I said I hadn't been operating on go-slow for the past 13 or so months.


    But I've started to feel the writing bug itching away at me again since the start of the new year. I've had a few different projects bubbling around in the back (and sometimes front!) of my brain. One is a stand-alone book for adults, and another is the first book of a series, again intended for adults. I may well launch into one or even both of those later this year, but ultimately I felt that I should conclude my business with the Shan YA book before venturing any further. So today I sat down, pulled it up, and began going through what I'd written to date, with an eye to continuing work on it and completing the book over the next few months.


    Elvis has left the building... but Darren Shan is back in residence, and will hopefully soon be writing up a storm -- fingers crossed!!!






    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 in 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!!!






    When I released Father of the Future last October (my latest book for adults, released under the author name of Darren Dash), I produced an ultra-limited collector's edition of just 5 copies of the book, from proof copies (also known as ARCs) that I had ordered ahead of its release. I'm keeping the 1/5 copy for myself, and am giving the others away as competiton prizes this month. Each is signed and numbered, and dated 18/October/2853, which was done on the 830th anniversary of the book's date of release -- I nipped into the future to do it!!!! :-) To be in with a chance of winning one of these incredibly scarce copies, 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 author name did I use when I released Father of the Future?"


    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, Tuesday, February 13th, 2024.


    (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 Wednesday, February 14th, 2024. 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.



    IT'S A WRAP!


    And that's it for February. Good luck if you enter the competition -- I normally don't get LOADS of entries, so the odds aren't actually stacked that highly against you, so it's certainly worth entering! I'll be working hard on the new book this month (promise!!) and fingers crossed I'll have made good progress by the time next newsletter airs. I'll hopefully see you back here at the start of March for all the latest 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.





    If you received an email with a link to this issue of the Shanville Monthly 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 Sendfox, and you can read about their privacy policy by CLICKING HERE. 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.