Happy New Year!!
Goodbye 2001 ... hello 2002!!! I always like beginnings. The future's open, anything can happen, you can look ahead with optimism and dream about where you're going to wind up. I've never been much of a fan of year's end -- New Year's Eve leaves me cold! -- but I love starting all over again on January 1st! 2002 is shaping up to be my busiest year yet. 3 new books in The Saga Of Darren Shan will be released in the UK, and many more translated versions will be appearing in shops around the world. I've already got a few book tours lined up, and more will doubtless follow as the year progresses. I'm currently halfway through the first draft of Book 11 of The Saga -- I'll be finishing that within the next couple of weeks, then getting to work on Book 12 shortly afterwards. (Obviously, I can't give much away at this stage, but I will say that Books 11 and 12 are when Darren returns home after many years away ...) I'll also turn 30 this year. 30!!!!! I'm getting old!!!! Anyway, the year has to start somewhere, so let's kick it off here with the January edition of your favourite news bulletin and mine -- the Shanville Monthly ...
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New year -- and a new-look Shanville! The old format of having two separate main sites wasn't working -- it was especially confusing for readers who don't live in the UK or America -- so I've gone back to having one main home page at www.darrenshan.com. I'm still keeping my UK and USA sites, on which you'll be able to find reviews, interviews and letters specific to those zones, as well as the Shanville Shop and Extras section. But most of the site is now accessible from the original home page. It's easier for everyone this way.
As well as reorganising the site, I'll also be re-designing it later in the month. I've hired a professional web designer to give the site a makeover, to make it look sharper and more exciting. I'll be working closely with him to create a spooky, cool new image. The plan is to have the new Shanville in place by the start of February (in time for the launch of The Vampire Prince). If you experience any problems with the site during January -- such as links not working, or images appearing or disappearing without warning -- don't worry, it's all part of the recreative process. Everything should have settled down by the end of the month. Oh, and I've decided to hold on to "Shanville" as the site name. I was thinking about changing it to "Darrenshan.com" but on second thoughts I quite like the sound of "Shanville" ...
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From January 1st, the American Message Board will cease to function, and all readers are in future invited to post on the main Darren Shan Message Board. The USA board never really caught fire, and I found that many Americans were actually posting on the UK board, since it was much more interesting than their own one! Also, it was confusing for readers in other countries, who weren't sure where they should be posting. So I've decided to have just one board, for everyone. I've created a forum on the board especially for global Shansters who want to talk about the books without having plot twists from later books spoilt for them by UK readers.
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firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
A new competition, open to all readers!!! To enter, just send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org including your full name in the subject box, and your full name and address in the message text. The competition closes at midnight, GMT, on Sunday January 13th. I'll draw names out of a hat the next day or so. The first 5 winners drawn will each receive a bottle of Darren Shan fake blood and a signed booklet with a chapter from each of the first 5 Darren Shan books -- both items are being used to promote sales of my books in the UK, and aren't available to buy in shops, so they're pretty exclusive! The next 10 winners will each receive a signed booklet. [NB I won't keep anyone's personal details once the draw has been made, nor will I divulge them to anybody else. This competition is open to readers everywhere. Only one entry per person -- if you make multiple entries, you'll be excluded from the draw.] [**Due to a problem with my web host, some users are currently unable to send e-mails to my darrenshan.com account. If you try to send an e-mail, and your message is returned, send it to email@example.com -- a back-up e-mail address I keep handy in case of emergencies like this!]
The "write a review" competition has now concluded, although I won't be drawing the winners until after January 5th. Don't forget, if you wrote a review on Amazon or Barnes&Noble for this competition, you MUST e-mail me to let me know (a) which site your review is on, and (b) which books or books you reviewed. [If you haven't done so already, do so before January 5th, at firstname.lastname@example.org] And remember, I can only enter you into the draw IF your review is actually published. If you wrote one and Amazon or B&N chose not to print it, I'm afraid there's nothing I can do about it.
To be honest, with the benefit of hindsight I now think the competition was far too complicated. In future, I'll keep the competitions simpler (like this month's!) so that more people can enter, and enter directly. But those who DID enter this competition will have some great prizes to look forward to if they win! I'll be contacting the winners some time after the 5th of January, and publishing the results here next month.
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The UK cover for Book 6 -- The Vampire Prince -- has finally been made public! You can check out the new look by going to the Shanville UK site -- you can also vote on whether or not you like it! I also received the new-look covers for Books 1, 2, 3 and 4 recently. They've been redesigned to look like the new Book 6 cover, with fresh, vibrant, larger images. They'll be hitting shops during 2002, as the books are reprinted. I'll be adding the covers to Shanville before they're released in the shops -- so watch out for them!
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My Hungarian editor was in touch recently, and told me that Cirque Du Freak was #1 in Hungary!! But -- wait for it ... it was #1 on the young adult NON-fiction list!!!!! The news is brilliant, but slightly bizarre -- I know the books are written as a true story, but I never expected them to be listed as non-fiction!!! On the overall young adult list in Hungary, CDF was at #5, behind the 4 Harry Potter books, and Books 2 and 3 were both in the top 15. So Shan is hot in Hungary!!
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I''m going to be touring the UK to promote the release of The Vampire Prince in February. For the most part I'll be doing events in Waterstones stores. I'll be travelling to the following places: Edinburgh on Monday February 4; Nottingham on Tuesday Feb 5; London Picadilly on Wednesday Feb 6; Kingston on Thursday Feb 7; Cambridge on Friday Feb 8; and Sutton Library on Monday Feb 11. I'll probably be doing school events at the stores -- so if you'd like to be in on the act, ask your teacher to contact the store in your area and enquire about the possibility of bringing a class in. [NB I hope to fit in a public event in Limerick on Saturday, February 3rd, but this hasn't been confirmed yet. I'll send out a general e-mail when and if I hear more about it.]
I'm also doing a public evening event in Edinburgh while I'm there, arranged by Ottakar's, in the Edinburgh Dungeons! It sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun. You'll need to book through Ottakar's if you're interested. The full details are:
*The event will take place at the Edinburgh Dungeons on Monday February 4th, between 6.00pm and 8.00pm.
* Tickets cost £5 -- really good value, as on top of your meeting with me, you get a guided tour of the Dungeons too!
*There are only 100 tickets available, on a first-come, first-served basis. (Don't leave it too late if you want to book -- on my last trip to Edinburgh, for the Book Festival, I did 2 public events, both of which were sold out!!)
*The event is being organised by Ottakar's, Cameron Toll. They're the people you need to contact about tickets.
*The number to call, for tickets or to make general enquiries, is 0131 666 1866.
*The general format of the event is -- I'll be talking to the entire group between 6.00pm and 7.00pm, and answering questions. Half the group will then be taken on a tour of the Dungeons, while I sign books for the other half. Then the groups swap, and I sign books for the first 50, while the second 50 are taken on the tour.
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There's going to be a big publicity push surrounding the release of The Vampire Prince in February, as we try to make it the best-selling of the series so far. Here's some of the latest news, hot from the HarperCollins publicity desk:
* Coffin-shaped dumpbins (a dumpbin is the industry name for those fancy book display stands you see in shops) have been produced, and each one holds 48 copies of Darren Shan books. These are being sent to a LOT of shops. They should be eye-catching!
* A 99p version of Cirque Du Freak is being released in January, a few weeks before the release of Book 6. Yup, that's right -- CDF for less than a quid!!!!! So if you want to hook your friends on the series, tell them this is the best time ever to get started. For 99p, they can't go far wrong!
* Book 6 has been chosen as Book Of The Month by Waterstones, WHSmith and Hammicks in the UK, and by Easons in Ireland!!!! Borders are also going to be heavily promoting it, and Ottakar's in Edinburgh are arranging a Darren Shan fright night (see above). Basically what this means is that there should be heap-loads of Darren Shan books in the shops in February -- so there should be no problems finding a copy!
* A short Darren Shan video advert is due to be screened on the big plasma screen in Victoria station throughout February (although I haven't had this confirmed for definite yet).
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The voting's over, and the counts are in! A few months ago I asked you to vote for your favourite Book 1 cover from a selection of global covers, and you voted in your droves! More than a thousand people voted on the UK poll, and over six hundred voted on the American poll. The winner on each poll was the Japanese cover. On the UK site, the UK cover was next favourite, and on the American site, the American cover was runner-up. For a full list of how the voting went, click on this link: http://www.darrenshan.com/voteresults1.htm
I'm going to run more polls in 2002, on a variety of subjects. First up -- what do UK readers think about the new cover? You can vote on this issue by going to Shanville UK. I'll keep the poll open until the end of February. You might want to put off voting until you actually see the finished cover in the shops -- it's much more impressive in reality than it looks on the web!
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And that's it for the first Monthly of 2002! I'm off now to finish writing the first draft of Book 11, and maybe make a start on Book 12 (though I probably won't begin that one until February). Next month, the wait for the concluding part of the Vampire Mountain trilogy comes to an end, and I'll be back here to launch The Vampire Prince upon the world. Until then, all the bloody best, and have a great New Year, Darren Shan x x x
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