• Issue 285 - April 2024

    01 April 2024



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the April issue of the Shanville Monthly! The optioning of my Demonata series continues to be big news this month, and merits no fewer than four different entries in this newsletter!! But that's not the only news I have to report -- for instance, if you're quick, you can pick up the eBook of the weirdest novel I've ever written for just $0.99...  you can listen to me chatting with one of Ireland's most poular radio DJ's... I pick up a rare and unexpected award... I share some news about the potential Cirque Du Freak reboot... there's a Darren Shan-inspired Wordle... some World Books Day photos... and lots more! Enjoy!!!






    I announced last month that The Demonata had been optioned, with an eye to turning the books into a TV series. Now I'm pleased to share the name of the production company - DREAMOLOGY - and their offical online announcement. Accompanying the poster, they said: "We are thrilled to announce development on the television series of 'THE DEMONATA' by Darren Shan. The show is in active development, the scripts are already being written by co-creators Max Aaron and Ijaz Iqbal."


    Max also posted the following personal message on the Dreamology page: "These stories mean not just a huge amount to ourselves, but to Darren Shan and his global community of readers. We couldn't be more honoured to have been handed the keys to develop The Demonata cinematically for television, and who knows, maybe also for cinema. The Demonata books carried both myself and Ijaz through our early to mid teenage years, falling in love with the characters, and envisaging grisly and cosmic scenes years before we finally stepped foot on a film set and made films of our own. So to Darren Shan, we say thank you for trusting us, we aim to go above and beyond. We all look forward to sharing more news with you all over the coming weeks and months."


    Max and Ijaz (pronounced Jazz) are young and still finding their way in the movie/TV world, but they were both big fans of the books when they were growing up, and as I've said many times over the years, I've always felt that if The Demonata was ever to be adapted, it would need to taken on by creators who had been fans when they were younger, as I think its intricacies would prove too daunting for established industry execs who were coming to it fresh. By which I mean that any would-be adapters will need to know the books inside-out in order to figure out a way of adapting them, to overcome the series' quite complex narrative structure. And Max and Ijaz certainly tick those two boxes!


    It's VERY early in the process, but the pair know the books, they're working on scripts, and they seem very keen to involve me in the process (see the next post!!), so I think everything is looking bright. The plan right now is to put together a script that they can then shop around, in the hope of catching the eye of a studio with the funds to take things forward from there. We're all going to need to keep our fingers crossed for luck -- but hey, let's not forget that we have Lord Loss on our side, and HE has LOTS of fingers!!!!






    I had a very positive meeting last month with Max and Ijaz, the two young film-makers hoping to adapt The Demonata into a TV show. We spent three and a half hours chatting and batting around ideas. They're keen to have me closely involved in the process moving forwards, and were encouraging when I came at them with some ideas they weren't expecting! That could well change as things develop, but for the time being we're going to work on this as a team -- the three Musketeers! Hmm... given the darkness of the books, maybe that should be the three Dusketeers!!!!! :-)


    We're going to try and move ahead now with structuring how a first season might be set up, and then write a pilot script. Max and Ijaz will be doing the bulk of the writing initially, but I might end up pitching in as well, depending on how closely our visions for it align. It's always been an unfulfilled dream of mine to have a go at writing for a movie or TV show, so perhaps this is where I unfurl my wings and sail beautifully... or sink like a stone and slink back to the book-writing ASAP!!!!


    As I keep stressing, we're still at a VERY early stage. The aim is to produce a solid first season plan and a pilot script which we can then start shopping around, in the hope of attracting a backer (for instance, one of the big streaming companies, or perhaps a more traditional TV production company) with the funds to help make the dream a reality, or at least take it further forward than we can on our own. Max and Ijaz are young and very enthusiastic, but they don't have a whole lot of experience -- as they themselves admitted, they imagined it would be several years down the road before they got a chance at tackling something as ambitious as The Demonata. That lack of experience (coupled with my own) could end up working against us.


    But on the flip side, I've never seen a lack of experience as a negative. For instance, Takahiro Arai was the most inexperienced of the handful of artists who pitched for the job of adapting Cirque Du Freak into a manga, but even though his sample chapters were a bit on the rough side, his story-telling skills shone through, and I chose him as my preferred artist. And, of course, I had absolutely no experience of writing children's books when I wrote Cirque Du Freak, but those books turned out alright, didn't they?!?


    For me, the most important thing when it comes to a project like this is the passion that the creators have for it. If you're approaching a complex, multi-layered work like The Demonata as a work-for-hire writer, I think you're going to struggle to do much with it, no matter how experienced you might be. But if you love the books and have a passion to see them work on the screen the way they did on the page... I think that's the key.


    Max, Ijaz and myself all have that passion, so we'll see how things go from here. The odds are very much against us, I think, but the odds were very much against Grubbs, Kernel and Bec as well, right?!? The best stories are always the ones where the biggest odds have to be overcome! As long as they ARE overcome, and you don't just get squished by the powers-that-be!!!!!!! GULP!!!!


    Anyway, we're off to the drawing board now. More updates to follow as and when things progress from here... but it could be a while!!






    There was a very nice article on the Laois Live website (and some others in Ireland -- I think it actually first appeared on the Limerick Leader site), with news of the TV option that I've agreed for my Demonata series. The information is spliced together from various posts that myself and the adpators have posted in recent weeks, but it edits them down succinctly, picking out the key details. So, if you want to get up to speed swiftly and efficiently, CLICK HERE






    Most of you are probably aware that I have released several books for adults under the name of Darren Dash. Until very recently, the eBooks have only been available on Kindle, but I have now broadened out their reach to include Apple, B&N, Google Play, Kobo, Smashwords and other sites -- in effect, you should now be able to buy them through the eBook store of your choice. (But the paperback editions can still only be bought through Amazon stores worldwide -- sorry.)


    I'm going to highlight them individually over the coming weeks, but I'm starting with An Other Place, a VERY weird dystopian sci-fi novel that I released towards the end of 2016. I really had no idea how this one was going to go down with readers, as it was SUCH a different novel to everything else I'd ever written -- hell, it's extremely different from anything that ANYONE has ever written!!! To my delighted shock, it went on to become one of my best reviewed books, and has built up a solid, unwavering cult fanbase over the years!


    The reason I'm highlighting An Other Place first is that it's currently on sale at a heavily reduced price, until April 9th, to tie in with a Kobo sale -- instead of the regular price of $2.99, you can buy it, for a very limited time only, for JUST $0.99 in the USA and Canada, £0.99 in the UK, €0.99 in Europe, and a similar low price everywhere else in the world!!! Some direct buying links below -- and I'd absolutely love it if you could help spread the word to anyone who you think might be interested in it...








    The Ray Foley Show on Today FM is one of the biggest radio shows in Ireland, and I was delighted to be invited on last month to chat about my books and the Demonata TV option news. I was only meant to be on it for 2 or 3 minutes, but Ray is really into books and got carried away, and we ended up chatting for ten minutes! Thankfully it's been podcasted, so you can listen to the interview in full by CLICKING HERE


    I must point out that although the image on the site says I've sold over 40 million copies of my books, the correct figure is actually closer to 30 million. Still a huge number, of course, but unlike certain ex-presidents, I never like to claim to be worth more than I actually am!! :-)



    SFW XV


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    I had great fun at SFW XV -- a sci-fi/fantasy/horror convention in Great Yarmouth -- last month. I took part in two top-notch events (one where I was interviewed by myself, the other as part of a panel) and signed lots of books for wonderful fans. There were entertainers later, and I spent a few hours enjoying the various acts — though I drank much more than I should and have vague memories of dancing the night away towards the end!! Hopefully nobody took any videos of THAT!!!!
    They also had an awards ceremony on the opening night, and guess who picked up the trophy for Best Author?!? I actually couldn’t make the ceremony, as I was on a late flight, and only found out when it was presented to me at the end of my event the next day. What a lovely surprise to finish up with!!
    To find out more about the SFW awards, and who else won, CLICK HERE.






    CBR ran an article a while back* called 10 Fantasy Movies That Deserve A Series Reboot. I was very pleased to see Cirque Du Freak listed among them -- it actually occupied the #2 slot. You can check out what they had to say about it, and what else made the list, by CLICKING HERE


    As I've mentioned a few times here over the last couple of years, Cirque Du Freak actually IS under option again, with an eye to rebooting it as a TV series. I'm still not at liberty to say much about it at the moment, as unlike with the news of the recent Demonata option, the team working on the adaptation want to keep things quiet for the time being. What I CAN say is that the guy working on the scripts is a writer/producer/director whose films have made close to ten billion dollars at the box office over the last 30 years, so, y'know... not too shabby!!! :-)


    *yikes! I've just checked and it was almost a year ago!!! I really must get through my bookmarked artIcles more swiftly!!!






    There was a review for my book SLAWTER on a blog called THE PHOENIX PROJECT recently, in which the reviewer states that Slawter is, quote, their "favourite book of all time." You can't ask for much more than that as an author!!!!! You can check out the full review by CLICKING HERE


    Many of my fans cite Slawter as one of their favourite books of mine, or at least one of their favourites from The Demonata. As I've always admitted, its response came as something of a surprise to me. While I was happy with the finished book, I didn't feel that I'd done the initial idea as much justice as I thought it merited. I'm not sure what else I wished to do with it -- I just came away from it thinking I could have done MORE with the concept. My agent loved it, and my editor loved it, but I wasn't sure that fans would embrace it, and I thought my message to my readers was going to have to be, "Look, I know it's not quite as strong as the first two books in the series, but it's an important bridging book -- much as Vampire Mountain was in my Cirque Du Freak series -- and lots better is to come." Instead, the message my readers had for ME was, "This is great, Shan, and we need more books from you just like this one!!!"


    Proof, if any was needed, that writers aren't ALWAYS the best judges of their own works!! I think we often overestimate the impact some of our books are going to have (every writer loves to think they've written a world-changing book!!) but occasionally we UNDERestimate their impact too!!!!






    The staff in Armfield Academy Library in the UK set up a WORDLE quiz last month, where the clue was... ME!!! I got it in two attempts. See if you can do better!!!!
    Our Library #Wordle number 2. Clue: @darrenshan
    Good luck!






    There was a very cool new review for Cirque Du Freak on EXPONENT, the website for the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. "Shan’s writing is masterful, immersing readers in a world filled with unforgettable characters that explores the mysterious and macabre."


    That's the kind of feedback I agree with wholeheartedly! :-) :-) :-) You can read the full review by CLICKING HERE






    A fan called KAYLA shared this with me recently -- a letter I'd sent to her back in 2007, in reply to a letter that she had sent to me. (I always reply to fan mail.) I love seeing old letters like this. I still use those size sheets when replying to letters (Basildon Bond, 178 x 137mm) and I always try to include a BIG signature like this one, whether I'm signing and letter or a book -- I hate it when people sign things with a tiny, indecipherable squiggle, so I always try to provide clarity and good value when signing MY name!!!! :-)


    If you're interested in checking out the Gavner Purl story that I mention in the letter, it's still on my website, in the EXTRAS section, and it's probably my favourite out of all the short stories that are on there.







    I hope you all had a brilliant World Book Day! I did a couple of online school events, to tie in with it, which were lots of fun. (If YOU are a teacher or librarian interested in trying to set up a Darren Shan event, it's easier than you might imagine -- just drop me a line at [email protected] to find out more!)


    I know lots of kids (and adults!) like to dress up as their favourite book characters on World Book Day, and this year we had a true world's first -- the first ever TERRIFIED TROLL costume!!! (That's the picture book which I'm hoping to release later this year.) That's POLLY in the first photo, looking fabulous in green -- she's the eldest daughter of The Terrified Troll's illustrator, EVA BYRNE. Eva has been testing out the material on her kids, and Polly was really taken with the idea of dressing up as the troll, and... well... Eva has proven that she's just as great at making costumes as she is at drawing!!!! Absolutely STUNNING!!!!


    That's Polly's younger sister, GOLDIE, in the second photo with her, dressed as the young owl from the Chris Haughton book, A BIT LOST, which is a household favourite in OUR house too -- both my kids have been huge Chris Haughton fans over the years, and I still often find myself dropping "Shh! We have a plan!" into conversation quite regularly!!!


    In the third, not to be outdone, there's my son, DANTE, dressed up as a character from the NARUTO manga, and absolutely delighted with himself that he gets to weapon up for the part!! He's definitely a bit on the bloodier side than Eva's girls, but hey, I blame bad parenting for that!!! Um...


    A couple of fans of my books also dressed up appropriately this year, as Mr Crepsley! In the fourth photo, we have RYAN, not just rocking the look, but playing a mean tin whistle tune too!!!


    Finally, in the fifth photo we have BELLAwho captured Mr C's look perfectly -- although, that said, Mr Crepsley was rarely as smiley as this, unless he'd just had a few mugs of ale before the photo was taken!!





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    A fan of mine called AARON spotted this cool Little Free Library in London recently, which features a pleasing selection of my books.


    If you're new to the phenomenon of Little Free Libraries, you can find out more about them here: https://littlefreelibrary.org/ I absolutely love them, and always stop for a good long browse whenever I spot one.






    One last post about the Demonata TV option...


    I spent a few days skim-reading Lord Loss, returning to it for the first time in 19 years or thereabouts. In an attempt to pin down the perfect structure for the adaptation, I'm going to read through books 1, 2 and 4 (Lord, Loss, Demon Thief, Bec) and jot down a brief summary of what happens in each chapter. Once I've finished that, I'm going to look at different ways we might put those various pieces together for TV, and Max and Ijaz will be doing the same thing at their end. Then we're going to have a good old chinwag to discuss our ideas and hopefully formulate a master plan that we can take to the big production companies -- who will, of course, be so blown away by our pitch, that they'll shower us with all the many millions of pounds/dollars we will need to take things forward from there and make the universe of The Demonata a TV reality!!! It should be a cinch, right?!? :-)


    This has been a real nostalgia trip for me. I'd forgotten so much about Lord Loss, all the little details I'd woven into it, such as naming lots of the characters after family members and friends. It's an incredibly fast-paced book, isn't it?!? As I'm sure I've said before, The Demonata owes its style to Killers Of The Dawn, book 9 of my Cirque Du Freak series. That was set within the space of 24 hours, and was thus much more swiftly paced than the other books in the series. I really enjoyed the speed at which it moved, and decided to apply that speed to The Demonata -- I wanted the books to be fast and deadly, and boy, they are!! I've moved away from that style in recent years, with my Archibald Lox books, but flicking through Lord Loss again has got me itching to get back into that high-speed vein of writing. All I need now is to find the right story to tempt me back into a universe of high-octane thrills and spills...



    IT'S A WRAP!


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    And that's it for April. The Shans went to the St Patrick’s Day parade in Limerick last month, where we were snapped by the photographer for the I Love Limerick website -- that's the lovely photo they took, above. (Dante didn’t want to be in the photo, so he laid low for this one!) I'm busy with my kids at the start of Spril, since it the Easter Holidays and we're going away for a few days. Once I'm back home, I plan to plough on with re-reading the first few Demonata books and trying to settle on the right adaptive approach with Max and Ijaz. Fingers crossed we crack it quickly!!! I'll hopefully see you back here at the start of May. 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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