• Issue 116 - March 2010

    01 March 2010


    Hi everyone, and welcome to the March issue of the Shanville Monthly!! Spring is in the air. It's the season of birth and re-growth, not just in the great big outside world, but in the world of Darren Shan as well. I'm delighted to be able to introduce two new "babies" to the world, one a book, one a film -- see below for more details. As well as the new arrivals, there's plenty of other news to report about this month. There are final details for my tour to Dubai and Hong Kong... new supplementary material for my adult books... new fan art... even a wordsearch game for those of you who want to teast your word detecting skills!!! Read on!!!!!


    The first new arrival of the Spring is my third novel aimed at adults and older teenagers, City of the Snakes, which goes on sale on March 4th in the UK and Ireland. This is the third and final book of The City trilogy, bringing together the storylines of the first two books of the series (Procession of the Dead and Hell's Horizon), and adding loads of new characters, story arcs and plot twists to the mix. I honestly think it's the strongest of the three books, and don't think it will disappoint anyone who has been following the story so far!!! In fact, I'd go so far as to say that out of all the books which I have so far published, City of the Snakes is probably my favourite!! (But it won't be for long -- The Thin Executioner, which comes out in May, is my absolute personal fave out of all of my books to date, either for adults or children!!)

    The first two books of the series, Procession of the Dead and Hell's Horizon, were originally released under the name of D B Shan. The third is going to be released under my Darren Shan name, and the first two books are being repackaged and re-released at the same time (in paperback format), so if you missed them first time round, this if the perfect opportunity to catch up!! You can actually read each book independently of the others, so if you prefer to start with the third, you can, though my advice would be to try to read them in order if possible. The books will hopefully be on sale in book stores all across the UK and Ireland (but probably not in the same section as my books for children -- if you can't find them, please do ask a member of staff to help you). If you prefer to order online, you can get them from Amazon UK.

    To buy Procession of the Dead from Amazon, CLICK HERE.

    To buy Hell's Horizon from Amazon, CLICK HERE.

    To buy City of the Snakes from Amazon, CLICK HERE.

    If you live in the USA and are pulling your hair out because the books aren't currently on sale in the States, don't worry!!! The first book goes on sale in June 2010, with the second to follow six months later. There will be more news on those in a later issue of the Shanville Monthly...


    If you live in Ireland, the UK or the USA, the Cirque Du Freak movie is OUT NOW to buy or rent on DVD and Blu-Ray!!!! Oh, and yu can download it too, from sites like Amazon!!!

    The DVD and Blu-Ray include deleted scenes and two featurettes, a "guide to becoming a vampire" and "Tour Du Freak". There are extra deleted scenes available on the Blu-Ray edition (approximately 17 minutes' worth), and a U-Control function. The DVD and Blu-Ray are available in stores all over the land to buy or rent, but if you prefer to buy through Amazon UK, you can order the DVD by CLICKING HERE FOR DVD or the Blu-Ray by CLICKING HERE FOR BLU RAY.

    In the USA, if you would rather buy it online through Amazon, you can order by CLICKING HERE FOR THE DVD or by CLICKING HERE FOR BLU RAY.

    There have been lots of new reviews of the movie now that it has come out on DVD. When the first batch of reviews came in when the film was released in cinemas last year, critics were divided pretty clearly down the middle -- almost exactly half thought it was a quirky, interesting, entertaining film, while the other half didn't like it one little bit!!! That split has been the same with the DVD reviewers. I've found it fascinating that people can react to a movie so differently -- where one critic sees imagination, style and originality, another sees nothing at all. That's always been the case with horror, sci-fi and fantasy films. You either buy into the genres or you don't. Even films which have been huge mainstream successes, like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings or The Exorcist, have very vocal critics, people who dismiss them as escapist nonsense.

    The thing that annoyed me about the negative reviews is that many of them were clearly written by critics who WANTED to find fault with the film. I've no problem with anyone approaching a film with an open mind, not enjoying it, and saying so. You'll find responses like that from fans, on sites like IMDB, and I respect their views and opinions. But many of the negative press reviews of The Vampire's Assistant focused on two perceived flaws -- first that it was an attempt to cash-in on the Twilight success, second that it was a cynical attempt to start a franchise.

    Now, as even a small bit of research would have revealed, the CDF books were written long before the first Twilight book came out. And the movie had been optioned by Universal long before the Twlight phenomenon hit full swing. It was coincidence that the film came out in the middle of the Twilight craze, not design -- it had been in the planning and pre-production stages for ages.

    As for it being an attempt to start a franchise... um, didn't any of those reviewers realize that The Saga is a 12 book series?!? I think the makers of the film tried to make it as self-contained as they could, but it was always going to have an open end, because it was based on the first 3 books of a series with 9 more books in it. There was nothing cynical about trying to make this the first film of a series. I mean, you wouldn't expect the makers of Lord of the Rings to have said, "Hey, let's just focus on the first book and only film that, and ignore the other two," would you?!?!?

    If you take away the reviews which focused on one or both of the above "flaws", you'll actually find that the critical response was largely more positive than negative. There WERE reviewers who genuinely didn't like the film, and who make valid arguments to support their view. But most saw it the way that I see it too -- an interesting, strange, ambitious little movie which doesn't quite hit all of its targets, could have benefitted from being a bit darker, but ultimately has a lot more going for it than most movies of this type. Some fans have complained that the film isn't as good as the books (which I take as a compliment!!!). But a movie should never be judged by how it compares with a book -- it should be judged by how it compares with other movies. And, to be honest, I don't think there's ever been a film quite like The Vampire's Assistant before. It draws from all sorts of films and books, the same as my books did, but mixes the elements up in its own unique and refreshing way. Is it flawless? No. Could it have been better? Yes. But does it offer up something fresh, engaging and freaky? Hell yes!!!!

    Finally, the following review of the Blu-Ray edition of Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant is worth checking out, not only because of its review of the film (which is very positive) but because it also reviews the disc's picture and sound quality, which should be of interest to those among you who like to know about these things!! CLICK HERE. In fact, every single critic who has seen the film on Blu-Ray has praised the quality of the transfer, even if they haven't liked the film itself.


    When the overhaul of the Darren Shan site goes ahead later this month (see below for more info) I will be merging all of the material from my D B Shan site with this one. You will be able to then easily access the covers, book notes, extras and more for all of my adult books. In the meantime you can check out the D B Shan site if interested in my works for older readers. In addition to the material which was already on it, I have written up my plot notes for how I came to write City of the Snakes, the third and final book of The City trilogy. I think they give you a pretty good insight into how the book came together, and along with the notes for the first two books in the series, give probably the closest look possible into the creative process I go through on a series like this. You can check them out by CLICKING HERE.

    I've also added some extras in the form of two sheets of cast lists which I used while working on the book. This might not seem like a particularly exciting extra, I know, but again it provides you with a look into the world behind the scenes of the books, and the measures I use to pull everything together when writing a series. If you want to have a look, CLICK HERE.

    Finally, I've added some new covers for The City books to my D B Shan site, including the absolutely stunning American and Japanese covers for Hell's Horizon. The American cover is a first draft, so it might be changed further down the line, but it looks so strong that I'll be very surprised if any major alterations are made to it!! You can check them out by CLICKING HERE.


    The Sun newspaper in the UK is running a great competition for readers in the UK and Ireland, where you can win a home entertainment system which includes a 42" TV, a Blu-Ray player, 5.1 speaker system and, most impressive of all, a Blu-Ray edition of The Vampire's Assistant!!! You have to be over 18 to win -- if you are under 18, you can perhaps ask a parent or older brother or sister to enter on your behalf. The competition closes on Monday March 8th, so don't delay, enter today!!! For more details and to enter, CLICK HERE.

    2010 TOURS

    March is the month when I come on tour to Dubai and Hong Kong. You can find the info for both festivals below. I had hoped to add details for my May tour of the UK to support the release of The Thin Executioner, but we're waiting to try and find out when the British elections are going ahead, as they could interfere slightly with our plans!!! But don't worry -- I WILL be doing a big tour in May, covering quite a lot of the country (and there will probably be one or two Irish dates too). I'll publish a full schedule in the April issue of the Shanville Monthly.


    Wednesday 10 10.00a.m I will be attending the launch programme for the Festival .

    Thursday 11 10.45a.m. School event for 900+ students in the main auditorium in the Scientific & Cultural Association. For more information, or to apply for tickets, CLICK HERE.

    Friday 12 11.00a.m. Public event at Al Baraha 3, Intercontinental Hotel. For more information, and to book tickets, CLICK HERE.

    for more information about any of my events in Hong Kong, or to book tickets, CLICK HERE
    Monday 15 9.30a.m. Schools event, Central Library Lecture Theatre.
    Monday 15 11.00a.m. Schools event, Central Library Lecture Theatre.
    Monday 15 4.30p.m. Public event, Visual Arts Centre Lecture Theatre.

    Tuesday 16 9.30a.m. Schools event, Science Museum Lecture Theatre.
    Tuesday 16 11.00a.m. Schools event, Science Museum Lecture Theatre.


    Below you can find the planned global release dates for the movie of Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant. Please note, all dates are subject to change, and all dates are decided by Universal -- I have nothing to do with the release schedule.

    CZECH REPUBLIC 04-Mar-10
    AUSTRALIA 11-Mar-10
    ARGENTINA 18-Mar-10
    JAPAN (Toho Towa) 19-Mar-10
    ITALY 04-June-10


    I've added the last of my current batch of fan art to the site,of various characters from my vampire books. You can check them out by CLICKING HERE. When the new site goes live, it should be easier and quicker for me to add new art, so hopefully there won't be quite the long delays between posting that we've had to endure for the last few years... Assuming, of course, that you guys keep sending art in to me!!! Don't forget. if you fancy yourself as a a bit of an artist, and want to try to get some of your work on my site, check out the CONTACT page on my web site for details of how to submit it.

    GET WIKI!!!!

    It was recently brought to my attention that there's an interesting, well-maintained Cirque Du Freak Wiki site, created by fans to celebrate the movie and my books. Anyone can edit it, so it's a site you can not only surf through and enjoy, but add to or correct if you see fit. Please note, I have nothing to do with the site -- I'm just passing along the link for those of you who might be interested. To check it out, CLICK HERE.


    The good folk of HarperCollins held a competition a while back on their Darren Shan Bebo site, where fans were invited to create their own trailer for Hell's Heroes. You can check out the winning video by CLICKING HERE. Many congratulations to Maren for her winning entry. They're running another competition soon, where you have a chance to win a Darren Shan hoodie!! So make sure you keep checking out the site, or register with them to be informed once the new comp goes live.


    I often get asked if I've ever been to a real freak show. The answer is YES!!! There's a cool, 21st century travelling freak show in the UK called Circus of Horrors. It's a celebration of all things freaky, with performers as wondrous and mind-boggling as some of my fictional characters in the Cirque Du Freak!! I was very pleased to find out that they'd been hired to help promote the release of the DVD of The Vampire's Assistant in the UK at the start of March -- for more info about that, CLICK HERE. The link will also take you to a list of their upcoming tour dates across the UK -- I strongly recommend the show for anyone who would like to be taken into a surreal, bloodthirsty world of showbiz, rock 'n' roll, acrobats and... FREAKS!!!!!!


    I read an interesting piece in The Guardian recently, written by a trainee teacher, describing her first day at a new school. The reason it was of particular interest to me, and hopefully to you guys, will become apparent close to the bottom of the article. Young, would-be teachers, take note!!! http://www.guardian.co.uk/tda-teacher-training/jennifer-coles-tda-blog-four

    GAME ON!!!!

    The following wordsearch has been put together by fan, Alla Glow, originally from Poland but now living in Ireland. The words which need to be found appear beneath the box. Feel free to print it out and give it a go if you want to put your senses to the test!!!


    S U B A N A R E B H S A G H A K W
    R E T S A M W L C H B A R T T H R
    A P P E C O O L I O E N A S W H E
    E N B O A R D I G L C N D Y O U T
    S N A K E S A B A L O O Y E S E W
    E F V E R Y H T M M H R S I Y N A
    S L G N A H S N E R R A D Y O E L
    S O D E A T H D I S C I P L E U S
    E W J H U S E A T S T A R E O T A
    H E L L S H E R O E S G A N I S N
    C R Y O T I M T U S T A P R A E S
    R E T L A E V E D O O L B E L L N
    O W W V R E R R A S H A R K G A I
    I O N R V V S Y E F O M O R I I E
    H A A S B B U R G D L A G L O W V


    (C)G.L.O.W. Alla Glow '10
    Free for non-profit use

    Letters left should make password, but I'm not sure does it work =D


    Big changes are about to be made to the Darren Shan web site. The site has undergone some radical changes of direction over the years (to check it out in all its various incarnations, CLICK HERE). The last major upheval was way back in the middle of 2005, just ahead of the release of Lord Loss. That was when I created the Vampires and Demons sub-sites and re-structured the whole site. It was a huge undertaking, but one that has seen us safely through almost five years of action, so I think we can all agree that it was pretty darn successful!!!

    Well, now the time has come to re-structure again. I'm always looking to improve and upgrade the site, and a lot has happened to the internet over the last five years. I've actually wanted to tinker with the site for the last 2 or 3 years, but decided to wait until The Demonata had run its course. Initially I was looking to only fine-tune things, but my web designer has convinced me to go much further than I had planned, and to pretty much tear the whole thing down and rebuild it using new software. When it's complete, it will be easier for you guys to find your way around, and easier for me to maintain and add to it. I'll be doing away with the current subscription method, where you have to register directly with me, and instead you'll be able to use RSS and whatever the hell else is currently out there -- I don't really understand it all, but I'm assured that it means you'll be able to keep more closely in touch with the movements of the site than ever before. Don't worry -- I'll still be doing a Shanville Monthly round-up every month, and if you wish, you can register just to be kept informed when that part of the site is updated. I'm also going to be setting up a new messageboard, run directly through the site. There will be a calendar, a hugely improved shop, a new section aimed at gathering together all of the writing advice and tips which I have been blogging about for the last few years, video links, and more.

    The plan is to launch the new site before the end of March. We might not have had time to transfer over every last bit of info and every single image from the old sites (I will be merging the D B Shan and Darren Shan sites) by that time, but we should have most of it in place, and we'll then add the rest over the coming weeks. There should be no down time, and the new site is going to be bigger, better and more packed with cool features than ever before!! This is the 21st century, and the Darren Shan web site is going to reflect that fact BIG TIME!!!!!! Keep watching, folks -- there are exciting times ahead....


    And that's it for March!! I'm looking forward to my tours of Dubai and Hong Kong this month. It will be my first visit to Dubai. The last time I visited that part of the world was when I went to Jordan several years ago, where I found much of my inspiration for The Thin Executioner -- let's hope lightning stirkes twice and I come away from my trip with some more new ideas!!! And it will be great to return to Hong Kong -- I had a fab time there on my first visit a few years ago!! When I return from tour, I will be focusing on the updating of the new web site, and hopefully its launch, which I'm very excited about!! All in all, it should be an interesting, busy, productive little month -- bring it on!!!! I'll see you all back here at the start of April for the next issue of the Shanville Monthly and the beginning of a whole new chapter in the web world of Darren Shan!!! Until then, all my bloody best, Darren Shan x x x