• Issue 286 - May 2024

    01 May 2024



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the May issue of the Shanville Monthly! I revealed last month that the TV rights to my Demonata series had been optioned -- this month I outline the first steps that the adaptors and I are taking to try to bring it to fruition... There's an all-new video to an oldish Cirque Du Freak song... I highlight some amazing bargains on complete sets of my work in the USA and UK... I provide links to podcasts and reviews of my books... I explain how YOU could go on a personal, one-to-one tour with me, or meet up to chat for a couple of hours... and there's lots more. Let's being with the Demonata...






    I spoke at length in last month's issue about the optioning of the rights to my Demonata series, and how Max and Ijaz, the guys at Dreamology Pictures, are keen to involve me in the process of trying to adapt the books into a TV show. The first step of that is coming up with a structure for season one. They have an idea of how that might be best achieved, but I had an idea or two of my own as well, so we agreed to work independently on our plans, and then to pitch them against each other, to see which would win! Late last month, having read through Lord Loss, Demon Thief and Bec for the first time in many years, I finished typing up not one, but TWO plans for how a TV adaptation might be structured.


    Yep. When I started working things out, I saw that there were two different ways to do it - well, there are LOADS of ways to do it, but there are two ways of special interest to ME - so I typed up both plans and submitted it to the team. They may well not want to go in one of my suggested directions, which will be absolutely fine -- I'll happily support them in their preferred approach if that turns out to be the case. But at least I've pitched my plans to them and put my ideas out there, which is the first time I've got to do that with any of my works which have been optioned over the years.






    A band called EVELYN'S CASKET recorded a song with the very cool name of Cirque Du Freak a while back, in honour of my books which they enjoy. It's a great, incredibly catchy little number, and I've shared it here before, but now they've added a VIDEO which is a lot of fun, featuring snippets of them performing it live. But damn, I wish I could make it to one of their gigs to take my place in the mosh pit and sing along!!! In the meantime, I'll just have to settle for rewatching the video for the umpTeenth time, which YOU can do too, by CLICKING HERE






    For quite a while now, readers in the UK (and, to an extent, Europe) have been able to order complete sets of most of my series through Lowplex at extraordinarily low prices. The sets have occasionally popped up on Amazon in the USA, at prices that don't match Lowplex but come in at pretty good value -- but last month I saw a link for a site called JUST KIDS BOOKS, with VERY low prices for two of my series. You can get all 12 Cirque Du Freak books (in a very nice slipcase) for just $38.99, and all 12 Zom-B books for $39.99. Shipping is free if you spend over $40, or else it's $4.99. If you're interested, you can access the Darren Shan part of the store if you CLICK HERE


    If you live in the UK, Lowplex offer both of the above sets, at the jaw-dropping low price of just £15.98 for all 12 Saga Of Darren Shan books (in a beautiful slipcase), or £19.99 for all 12 Zom-B books. You can also buy all 12 Demonata books (again in a very cool slipcase) for just £18.49, or my 4 books Saga Of Larten Crepsley series for £9.99. They do ship to Europe as well, but you have to pay import taxes and shipping, which will drive up the price -- though they might still prove to be good value... If you're interested in having a look on the Lowplex site, CLICK HERE







    A Shanster called MORGAN was pleased to spot some of my books in their local library, and took a couple of photos to share with me. Coolio!!! I've been very lucky to enjoy great support from librarians all around the world over the years. When my agent was struggling to sell Cirque Du Freak back in 1997, one of the reasons given by some of the editors at the various publishing houses was that they feared librarians would rise up in arms against the book, since it was so much darker than any other books released for that age demographic. They thought there would be a media storm, with library staff speaking out loudly against the book, and they didn't want to get caught in the middle of such a messy situation. Of course, good librarians know much more about children's books than publishers or editors or, indeed, writers -- I've always been astonished by how knowledgable and well-read they are, and have learnt so much from them. They saw the merits in Cirque Du Freak straight away, and played a big part in its gradual rise into the public consciousness. I love that they're still out there, doing their best to connect my work with readers, even a quarter of a century down the road.






    I *might* have shared this one with you before, but I don't *think* I have!!! Basically it's a podcast from nearly 3 years ago, called YOU KNOW WHAT I LIKE...? They covered lots of books and movies, and spent one episode talking just about Cirque Du Freak, which both of the hosts -- Mark and Sophie -- were big fans of in their teens. They went back and refamiliarised themselves with the books ahead of the podcast, then chatted about their thoughts. They're not always gushing in their praise, especially Sophie, but it's interesting to hear how people absorb a book differently when they're adults compared with how they did when they were younger. The podcast runs about 45 minutes in total, and you can check it out if you CLICK HERE






    Now that the kids are back at school after the Easter holidays (hurrah!!!) I thought I'd mention again that I'm available to do online events with schools/libraries around the world, as I did with the students of ST VINCENTS PRIMARY SCHOOL a while back -- I've attached a photo above that the staff took during the event.


    Teachers and librarians set up these events in different ways. Sometimes they gather all the students in a large room or hall with a big screen projection, but in this case the students stayed in their classrooms and joined in through smaller screens. I'm always happy to work around whatever best suits any particular school's needs. All I need is to be able to see and hear the kids! :-)


    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!!






    A year ago, a vlogger called MORGAN reviewed all four books in my Saga Of Larten Crepsley series. I provided a link to his review of the first book at the time, but never got round to sharing links for the others. Whoops!!! Well, better late than never!! So here's the link for book 4, Brothers To The Death, with the other two just beneath it, along with the link for Book 1 in case you missed it first time round.


    Book 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VO11jv4iY3g


    Book 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZ-X6Z1OBiM


    Book 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BPEZPwMtKE


    Book 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfBlgtNMwb8&t=881s


    I'm very proud of the Mr Crepsley books. It was a big challenge for me, trying to tell a story that had to be paced out across the span of two centuries. I didn't want it to just be a "filling in" exercise, which was there only to serve the desires of hardcore fans who wanted to spend more time with Mr Crepsley. I wanted the books to tell a meaningful story, to be able to exist on their own terms, and work in their own dynamic way. And I think I achieved all that, and then some.


    That said, the books came out quite a long time after the end of Sons Of Destiny, and a lot of my fans never found out about them -- indeed, I'm willing to bet that I get a least a few people today, who are long-time fans of mine, who will be learning about the Mr Crepsley Saga for the first time ever as they read these words!! So I'm truly grateful to reviewers like Morgan who shared their views of the books with the world and helped (and are still helping) to get the word out there. Much vampish love to you, my man!!!






    When Father Of The Future - my latest novel for adult readers, released under the pseudonym of Darren Dash - was released late last year, it picked up lots of extremely positive reviews, including one from US Review Of Books, which noted in its closing line: "this is a fascinating and imaginative science fiction tale that blends fact and fiction to weave an entertaining read." The review also neatly summarised the book's main plot, something I often struggle with -- I'm not very good at giving the short version of my sometimes very long stories!!! :-)


    You can check out the full review by CLICKING HERE


    The eBook of Father Of The Future is on sale through all the major online retailers (Amazon, Apple, Google Play, Kobo, B&N, etc) or you can buy a hardback or paperback copy through Amazon stores worldwide.






    I read an interesting review of BEC by The Phoenix Project. The reviewer is as eloquent as ever, and praises the novel highly, but DOES call its placement in the series into question, arguing that it should be the third book, not the fourth. To which I reply...


    Nonsense!!! :-)


    Seriously, while I do see his point, I think it's placement is perfect, and I don't say that lightly. It certainly didn't need to be #4 in the series -- it was actually the second Demonata book that I wrote. After Lord Loss, the next five books were written in a different order to the way they were published. I spent quite a few years gnawing away at the structure, trying to figure out the best way to tell this huge, sprawling story that had more than one narrator. It wasn't actually until I wrote the sixth book, Demon Thief, that I cracked it.


    Three narrators. A storyline that moves backwards and forwards in time. The idea that time is circular and we keep coming back to key moments in our lives. I decided it need a PALINDROME-like structure, where the order of narrators would be the same backwards as forwards, and where the timeline flowed like the sea, moving backwards and forwards like the waves coming in and retreating from a shore.


    I know the structure is more challenging that way, and perhaps many readers would have enjoyed a cleaner presentation, but I wholly believe that this was the very best way to deal up the story, and of all my works' structures, it's the one I'd argue most vociferously for, as it's the one I'm proudest of. (That said, I may well help tear it to shreds and rebuild it in a very different way if it gets adapted for TV!!)


    Anyway, here's the link to the full review, which is VERY worth reading, even if the reviewer and I have agreed to disagree on the order of the books! CLICK HERE






    One of the perks I offered in my Terrified Troll fundraiser a while back was a handwritten copy of the poem that inspired the picture book. A grandfather called Stewart, who came to see me regularly with his son Matthew when I used to do the Ediburgh Book Festival every year, bought one of the poems for his grandson LUCCA. He asked if I could possibly personalise it with a short message to Lucca, but I told him there wasn't really space on the page to do that. However, I suggested that I could rename the poem and tweak it slightly so that it was written from the point of view of a little troll's grandparents... :-)


    There were ten copies of the poem up for grabs, and they all sold. I won't be doing any more, as it was a strictly limited edition, but there ARE other perks unofficially still up for grabs, even though the fundraiser ended back in January. If you fancy treating yourself (or a special Shanster in your life!) you can book...


    a one-to-one 40 minutes Zoom chat with me, for €150...


    meet with me for 2 hours either in Limerick (€200) or London (€275)...


    you could come on a Bec-inspired tour with me in Craggaunowen Park in Ireland for €250...


    or try and survive a 3 hour Zom-B tour with me in London for €275.


    If you're interested in any of the above, email me at [email protected] and I can talk you through the confirmation process.







    Speaking of The Terrified Troll... When I announced late last year that I was working on my first ever picture book, I said it had been inspired by my children and their love of chewing on stones when they were little! I'm sure lots of people thought that I was making that up, but Mrs Shan recently unearthed some old photos which verify what might have seemed like a wild, fanciful claim!!!


    Dante was especially fond of stones, and chewed on them for quite a long time. That was when I originally came up with the opening line of a poem: "My son is a troll, he loves eating stones." Years later, when I spotted Gaia also chewing on stones, I was drawn back to that line and finally got round to finishing the poem, which went on to become the basis for the book.





    May be an image of 3 people and text  May be an image of 2 people and beard


    One more Terrified Troll post... I did my second Zom-B tour in London near the end of April, with a fan-of-many-years called Daniel and his nine-year-old son Logan. We started in Liverpool Street in the East End and worked our way across the city, along the river Thames, pausing for a snack and to sign LOTS of books in a crypt just off Trafalgar Sqaure, then crossing the river on a foot bridge that features not only in Zom-B but in my Archibald Lox series, to finish up in County Hall, which is where much of the Zom-B series was set.
    The tour normally takes about 3 hours, but it actually went about three and a half hours this time, as Logan wasn't quite as quick as his Dad and me, and we felt it would be bad manners to leave him behind!!! :-) It ended splendidly, as any meeting with Darren Shan invariably does, with stranglings all around!!!!!
    I arranged these Zom-B tours to raise funds to help fund the production of my first ever picture book, The Terrified Troll. Although the fundraiser ended back in January, I'm still open to doing another few of these if anyone is interested. The cost is €300, but that does include a drink and a bite to eat in the crypt! I also do a Bec tour in Craggaunowen in Ireland (€250) or two hour meetings in a cafe or pub in Limerick (€200) or London (€275). If you'd like to find out more about any of the above, drop me a line in reply to this post, and I'll tell you how to get in touch to discuss the finer details.





    May be an image of 1 person and text that says 'KING ADIL'  May be an image of 1 person and text that says 'PRINCESS OMOLARA.'


    May be pop art of 1 person, blonde hair and text  May be an image of 1 person and text that says 'PRINCE K JICKEY'


    May be an image of 1 person and text that says 'KING PAKU'  May be an image of 2 people, eyewear and text that says 'QUEEN QUEENPIFINA PIFINA'


    Fascinating images of the Royals from my Archibald Lox series, generated by my Hungarian publishers. The character of Prince Jickey is named after my friend John (his nickname is Jickey). I met him last month and showed him the image of his namesake, and he was tickled pink!! Oh, by the way, these AI image were only generated to be used for a Facebook post, to stir up some conversation about the books -- they're not artwork intended for publication in the books.






    I caught a lot of people out with my April Fool's Day post on April 1st!! I pretended that Ed Sheeran had come to meet me when I was in Great Yarmouth for SFW XV (a sci-fi/fantasy/horror convention). I said he had a holiday home nearby, and had spotted that I was going to be at the convention, and was a big fan of my books. At this imaginary meeting, I said that I'd told him about the possible TV adaptation of Cirque Du Freak, and he went into overdrive! He said it had always been his dream to play Mr Crepsley, and he'd taken a few small acting parts (including in Game Of Thrones) primarily in the hope of working his way up to one day being able to tackle the role. He asked if I thought the team in the States might be interested in chatting with him about it. I said of course they would!


    My next leg-pull was that not only had they decided to cast Ed as Mr Crepsley after one quick phone call, but had also asked him to do a few songs for the show. Rather than limit himself to that, he asked if he could write the entire score, and set all the dialogue to music, so that every episode would be sung. That's when the penny started to drop for a lot of readers, and I confirmed a few lines later that it had all been one big prank.


    I don't do an April Fool's post EVERY year, but I like to drop one every now and then, so be careful when April 1st 2025 rolls round, or I might get you again!!! In the meantime, if you'd like to read the entire post, you can do so by CLICKING HERE.



    IT'S A WRAP!


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    And that's it for May. Last month, Mrs Shan and I abseiled from the roof of Thomond Park Stadium, along with 21 other parents and staff of our children's school, to help raise funds for renovation works there. Lots of fun, though one woman did get stuck midway for nearly 15 minutes, when her rope got knotted in a 1-in-10,000-abseils incident!! After she'd been hooked up to another safety rope (she was already attached to another safety rope) she had to cut through the knotted rope to free herself!!! Sounds like something out of a Darren Shan novel, I know, but it really happened -- honest!! As long as *I* don't get stuck half way down the side of a stadium, I'll see you back here at the start of June for the next issue of my monthly newsletter! Until then, all my bloody best, Darren Shan. x x x



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