Plot Outline:Book 2 of The Saga Of Darren Shan. Having abandoned his old way of life to unwillingly serve as Mr Crepsley's assistant, Darren must accustom himself to the habits of vampires. But the change is difficult and the loneliness is crushing.
In an attempt to give Darren a sense of stability, Mr Crepsley takes him to live at the Cirque Du Freak, where he is to share a tent with Evra Von -- the Snake Boy introduced in Book 1. Darren soon fits into his new position -- even if he doesn't exactly enjoy hunting food for the ominous Little People! -- and he and Evra befriend a curious young boy called Sam Grest, whose one great wish is to join the travelling freak show.
But all is not well with Darren. He refuses to drink human blood, even though he'll die without it. While Mr Crepsley argues with him, and tries forcing him to drink, Darren grows weaker and weaker. Will he resist the temptation of blood and sacrifice himself for the benefit of his humanity -- or will some awful turn of events lead to his becoming a true, blood-sucking creature of the night???
Author Notes:Nate (a fan, making a comment): “I always thought the bit where Darren breaks the boy’s legs was good, but as if anyone would pinch someone there - whack with a hocky stick I can understand, but pinch? that's not very sportsman like!”
Rocco97 (another fan): “I forgot that this is the first book that Evanna is mentioned in, when Mr. Crepsley shows Darren the collapsible pots.” Nate: “Ah yes - I don't think darren had that part of the saga planned at the time - so maybe he looked back for a name?”
Firstly, the "pinching" scene was based on a real and famous photo of Vinnie Jones "getting to grips with" a young Paul Gascoigne in a match!!! If you search on Google, putting in both their names, you'll probably find the photo somewhere.
Secondly ... the collapsible pots and Evanna. As I've always said, I didn't know this was going to be such a long series when I started. Although I knew that book 1 would end open-endedly, leaving me with the possibility of writing another few books, I didn’t have any clear series plans in mind. So there WERE things in the early drafts of the first few books that clashed with later books. BUT what Nate fails to take into account is the way I write (not that I can blame him, since it's not a common way of writing from what I know!).
In short, I spread the entire writing process out over at least 2 years per book. I'll write a first draft in 3 or 4 weeks, but then re-write and edit it over the course of the next 2 years or more -- whilst working on other books!!! So, while the first draft of Cirque Du Freak was written about 2 and a half years before it was published, I was still working on it as late as mid-1999 (or thereabouts). Similarly, I was still editing and fiddling with Book 2 up to late 1999, if not early 2000!! By which time I'd written the first draft of book 8 and was starting in on book 9!!!!! So, by the time books 1 and 2 came out, I knew everything that was going to happen up to book 9, because I'd written it!!
Which means, if something looks like it's setting up a scene in a later book -- it usually is!!!! Because I'd written so far ahead of myself, I was able to put in "pointers" in the early books, setting up character traits, creating "in-jokes" which would only be noticeable to readers if they re-read the series in later years, after they'd read books 7, 8, 9, etc.
There was no mention of Evanna in the first few drafts of Book 2. But when I came to book 7, and "invented" her, I was able to go back and put in a mention of her in book 2, to tie the books closer together. There's a lot of that in the series, little linking incidents and apparently throwaway lines which have been overlooked by readers -- until NOW!!!!! And there are events in the final book which will also shed new light on certain pieces of the Saga if you read through it again later in the year!!!!!
Now ... as for book 2 ... I have to admit, if I had to nominate my least favourite book in the series, it would be this one. I don't think it's especially bad -- I'm very proud of the last few chapters -- and I know quite a few readers prefer it to book 1 (some even say it's their fave of all the books), but for me it wasn't as pacy as I wanted it to be. There's a lot of explanations ... new characters (Sam and R.V.) are introduced quite roughly ... and ... I dunno ... I just felt it was a book that had a tough job to do (to establish the laws of vampires and the series), and while it did that job reasonably well, I didn't feel as excited about it as I did about book 1. Certainly not as excited as I was about Book 3, which was and still is one of my personal faves of all my books!