Issue 173 - December 201401 December 2014
Hi everyone, and welcome to the December issue of the Shanville Monthly. Isn't that just the cutest picture of Dante above?!? This is going to be his first Christmas with us, and he looks worried about it -- in the stories I tell him, Santa Claus is a baby-munching monster who travels the globe on December 24th, snatching babies from their cots, left, right and centre!! (I'm joking! But, actually, now that I consider it a bit more...) There's lots of news to report this month... photos to share... a reminder of an annual visitor... and a Christmas competition! Let's crack straight on with things, shall we, by beginning with the end...
I'm done. Done-diddly done done-done. Done, I tell ya, DONE!!! "With what?" I hear you ask. "With Zom-B," you hear me answer. Yes, folks, on November 5th (Guy Fawkes in the UK, which was oddly fitting, methinks!), at approximately 10 to 3 in the afternoon Irish time, I finished my final edit of the final Zom-B book. My six and a half year journey through a world of the living dead is... DONE!
It was way back on the 7th of April, 2008 that I began work on the first Zom-B book, and now here I am, all the way at the end, having successfully come through (and lived through!) my fifth major series. (The others being, of course, The Saga Of Darren Shan, The Demonata, The Saga Of Larten Crepsley, and The City Trilogy for my older readers.) Of course it's going to be a while until the last 3 books are published -- the world of publishing grinds along at its own sedate pace, and there's no rushing it when it doesn't want to be rushed -- but my work on the series (except for touring and posting updates) is pretty much over. No more first drafts. No more editing. No more tweaking. As of today, the story is fully and properly complete. Or, to put it another way, it's... you guessed it... DONE!
To celebrate, I'm sharing with you the first cover rough for book 10, Zom-B Bride, by series regular Cliff Nielsen. (I shared the finished UK and USA covers last month.) It's a far sweeter, more nostalgic image than the one we ultimately went with. We all knew, back when Cliff first presented it to us, that it wasn't quite wild enough to work as a Zom-B cover, but I absolutely loved the image, and have been waiting for an appropriate moment to share it with you all. This seems like that perfect moment, because even though it's not what is actually being depicted in the image, it looks to me like B is breaking away from me (from all of us) and heading off for pastures new, saying a reluctant farewell, and hoping to see us again one day in the future if we choose to re-read the books further down the line.
I know the rest of you still have a ways to go with the series, and I hope you're as thrilled by the last 3 books as I was, but for me, personally, I've reached the end of the line, the journey is over, and all I have to say right now is a very soft and heartfelt:
THE LONGER GOODBYE
Speaking of the last 3 books... I have some news about their release dates which might not go down too well with my more impatient fans!! As I'm sure you all know, we've been releasing the Zom-B books at a rate of one every three months. It was an experiment of my choosing -- I wanted to create a sense of anticipation and tension among readers, like what you get if you follow a comic series from month to month. The experiment has succeeded in some ways, but failed in others. On the plus side, fans HAVE appreciated the short wait between books, and I think regular readers have been enjoying the ride. BUT book stores have struggled to support the series. With a new book out every three months, they've found it hard to promote the new books too heavily -- I think they're reluctant to give too much prominence to a single author, and I can understand that -- customers CAN have too much of a good thing.
With that in mind, we've taken the decision to slow down the release schedule of the last 3 books. We had already pushed back the wait between books 9 and 10, and now we're going to do the same with books 11 and 12. The new release dates in the UK and USA will run something like this when confirmed:
Book 10, Zom-B Bride -- February 2015.
Book 11 -- September 2015.
Book 12 -- March 2016.
I know this will disappoint some of you, but on the plus side, this means you have longer to go on enjoying the series!! It also means that bookshops will hopefully really get behind the series over the last quarter of its storyline, and that more readers will get interested and start to invest in the books. Plus, I can now tour more with Zom-B, which is another bonus!
Good news for my UK eBook-loving fans. HarperCollins are releasing bundles of The Demonata and The Saga Of Larten Crepsley on December 18th -- the perfect Christmas treats for yourself, if you don't already have them! This will be a quick, easy, economical way to buy the series -- rather than purchasing all ten Demonata books separately, you can just make two purchases, and a single purchase for the Larten Crepsley books. (The Saga Of Darren Shan books are already available in four bundles.) Collecting my books has never been so straightforward!!
20/12/14 -- UPDATE. I've just checked on Amazon, and at the moment the bundles actually cost MORE than if you buy the books individually through Kindle!! (Though apparently they're currently cheaper on Google Play.) So my advice would be to ignore the bundles for the time being and get the books at the best possible price on Kindle, by adding them to your cart one-by-one. Of course, the price of the bundles could change -- Amazon can discount them if they choose -- so keep checking back if interested.
DARK AND FASCINATING REVIEWS
There's been another great review for Zom-B Family, the 9th and latest book to be released, this time over on the Dark Readers site. As I've said before, Zom-B Family has been drawing probably the best reviews for any of the books in the series so far, both from critics and fans. If you haven't checked it out yet, what are you waiting for?!? Zom-B Family, along with the rest of the books, are on sale in the UK & Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, though all good local and online booksellers.
I'm always nervous of a review that starts off: "I cracked open Zom-B Family with the highest of expectations..." because the next line is usually about how those expectations were wretchedly dashed!!! But Zom-B Family hasn't flopped yet with a reviewer, and to my relief the next couple of lines of its latest review, this time from the wonderful Fiction Fascination site, were: "... and I was not disappointed! Mr Shan never lets me down – this was yet again another kick-ass instalment that gripped me from beginning to end!" PHEW!!! You can read the full review HERE.
HALLOWEEN COMPETITION WINNERS
These are the winners from an impromptu competition I ran on my Twitter and Facebook pages on Halloween, where I asked fans to send me a photo of themselves in a Halloween costume inspired by a character from one of my books. I received loads of really cool photos. I had only meant to give out a few prizes, but I found it impossible to narrow them down that much, so in the end I went for a suitable Halloween number -- unlucky13!!! Those are a few of the winning entries above (along with one of my cousin Conall). In order, they're Chloe, Conall, Harriet, Ellen and Pabbie. You can see all of the winners over on my Twitter and Facebook pages.
I don't get nominated for too many literary awards - horror is never a popular choice with most of the people who dole out awards - so I'm delighted to be up for two different awards at the moment, with two different books. In the UK Zom-B Gladiator has been longlisted for the Doncaster Book Awards. And in the USA the first Zom-B book has been shortlisted for the Wyoming Soaring Eagle Award. The line-ups are very strong in both cases, so I doubt if I'll triumph, but it's still very nice to be nominated!!
Three globally disparate interviews with me went live over the last month, one from a school only several kilometres away from where I live in Limerick, one from France, the third from Mexico!
The Mexican interview features mostly short, straightforward answers to such questions as my favourite horror book, my Halloween habits, and where my son Dante's middle name comes from!! Very usefully, the questions and answers are presented both in Spanish and English. To read it, CLICK HERE.
The Limerick interview is actually more of a report of a field trip, and offers an intriguing insight into what my home is like, for those of you who are interested in how the Master Of Children's Horror decorates his dwelling. I donated some of my books to Patrickswell National School, and they sent a delegation to my house to collect them. The sharp-eyed Shansters took notes of what they saw, so if you want to find out about some of my home's more unusual features, such as a headstone out front, transparent eggs featuring foetal superheroes, and a skull you can sit into, CLICK HERE.
The lengthy interview French interview with me appears over on My Zombie Culture web site. The downside for most of my fans is that it's in French (and before you ask, no, I don't speak French, even though I studied it at school for 5 years -- I answered in English and they translated). The upside is that Google Translate offers a fairly accurate translation for the most part, so copy the text, stick it in, and read away for some (un)dead cool insites into the world and mind of Darren Shan!!! To access the original interview, CLICK HERE.
Here are some nice, fun photos from my recent tours, featuring me with some of the many Shansters who turned up to listen to me warble on and get their books signed. In the first pic, I'm with the Waterstones staff at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol -- they practically came to blows deciding which one would have the "honour" of being strangled by me!! I'm strangling fellow author, Beth Reekles (The Kissing Booth) in the second. The third captures me in rock star mode with Shaunie Stevens. And the fourth, from my Halloween event in Limerick, offers even more proof of my versatlie talents, as I set about trying to rip through fan Aoife's skull to bite into the soft, juicy brain within!!! I'll be back on the road in 2015 -- I'll post updates in future issues of the Shanville Monthly as and when they're confirmed, so keep an eye out!"
OH NO THEY DIDN'T!
I LIKE this article on Oh No They Didn't! about the possibility of one day taking books that got adapted into under-performing films, resurrecting them for the TV medium, and doing them more faithfully. The more I've thought about it over the years, the more I think that for my vampire and demon books to REALLY work in an adaptation, they'd probably need to be done for TV as opposed to cinema. At the moment it's a moot point, as there is nothing in the works, but if I can nudge them in that direction one day, I'll give it my best shot... Not saying I'm ruling out letting them be filmed for cinema... I just think TV might be the medium best suited to my larger-scale stories...
SKYPE ME, BABY!
Here's a photo from a Skype event I did with Connally School in Waco, Texas. I don't do a lot of Skype events -- I find them an odd experience -- but I've enjoyed the last few that I've tried, so I'm certainly open to the idea of trying some more, especially in countries outside the UK and Ireland. If you're a teacher or librarian interested in arranging a Skype session, you can email me using the form on the Contact page on www.darrenshan.com I prefer a large crowd, ideally 100 or upwards. I think the Connally crew got it just right, in using a big screen so that the students could easily see me, so that's a useful bargaining chip if you can throw it into the mix...
SHANTA IS COMING!!
It's that time of year again, when I dust off my old SHANTA CLAUS story for the week that's in it!! For those new to the game, I should explain... I've written several tie-in stories to my books over the years, which can be found in the EXTRAS part of my web site. But one of those stories -- my personal favourite -- only appears online for a week or so every year, around Christmas time. It's a quirky, not-to-be-taken-too-seriously story set around the time of Tunnels Of Blood, but which includes crossover elements to all of my other books -- this will be the only place in the world of Darren Shan where you can find vampires, demons, zombies and more, all appearing in the same story together! I usually tweak and update it slightly, so it changes (to a small extent) every time round. I'll be posting a direct link to the story when it goes online at some point in the week leading up to Christmas, on Twitter and Facebook, or else just keep checking on the EXTRAS page.
PITCH FOR ME!
British/Irish librarians and teachers, take note! We're starting to work on my next book tour in 2015, to tie in with the launch of Zom-B Bride, and it looks like I'm probably going to be doing school events the week starting February 9th. I might also be doing a few around World Book Day on March 5th. If you're interested in trying to arrange or be involved with a Darren Shan school event around those dates, email your request through to Lorraine Keating: email@example.com
You can also enquire about my availability on other dates next year -- I'm usually quite flexible when a GOOD event is in the offing!! To REALLY increase your chances of snagging me, look to team up with some fellow schools or libraries in your area, so that you can offer a large, multi-group event. I like to work with big crowds, so the more students you can offer, the better!!
I've known about the Darren Shan Wikipedia page for many years now, and it's usually fairly accurate, bar the occasional piece of tomfoolery which is endemic to Wikipedia and the reason why, as handy a tool as it is, you should always double-check your facts if gleaned from that particular source! But a new one on me is an audio version of it, ideal for people with visual problems. If you'd like to have a listen, CLICK HERE.
PERFECT AUDIO BOOK
This is a fun and enlightening article that recommends lots of audio books for different flights -- including Zom-B for if you're flying from Atlanta to Las Vegas!! To see what else they recommend, CLICK HERE.
I know my publishers bill me as The Master Of Horror, and it's a title I'm more than happy with. But I like to think of myself as a bit of a modern-day matchmaker too, bringing young lovers together via a romantic backdrop of crimson gore. To understand what I mean, check out this email from a fan called Gretchen, who met the love of her life through the works of Darren Shan. WARNING -- this might make your heart melt!!!!!
Hello, Mr. Shan. My name is Gretchen and I wanted to tell you a story about the importance of meeting you in Jan. 2013!
I hope you wont find this creepy, but you were an inspiration in my childhood, and I LOVED reading your books on airplanes since I traveled often with family. As that was said, I met a boy online who also enjoyed reading as much as I did. This boy had a book of yours too! Only, he lived in the UK, and had the UK version. I had the US version as I lived in Michigan. I took a chance in January of 2013, and went to visit him for the first time, EVER, in PERSON. (Not as scary as you'd think!)
And for one of our very very first dates, we met you in Dundee. You brightened my entire TRIP and I was SO happy to meet you. I don't think you come where I live, (Kalamazoo Michigan), so with you there, it was a wonderful surprise; we stood in line, but then we got our books signed by you. It was amazing to me, you were seriously my favorite author. After the trip and before I went back to the USA, I gave my boyfriend my US version of Zom-B, and he traded me the UK version - both signed of course!
James, my now fiance, and I have been back and forth to the US and UK a few times since then, filled passports full of stamps and after important talk are getting married in thirteen months on the Isle of Skye.
I wanted to thank you so much, because when I met you and got a photo, I can now use this story in the UK marriage visa application process towards proof that I have been to the UK/met my fiance. I have included three photos! You are one of the reasons that we can get married, and I'm so happy my childhood author is now even more than that!
Thank you for doing what you do, and visiting your fans; you always inspire people to move forward, please know that love knows no bounds, and NOR DOES YOUR READING!
WHAT'S MY NAME?!?
I love this name plate that a fan called Jessica made for me -- it will come in helpful if I ever lose my memory and need something to remind me who I am! In all seriousness, it's a truly beautiful piece of work that the pictures can't really do credit to -- the cut is immaculate and the quality and texture of the grain is simply sumptuous. I keep all the little gifts and trinkets that fans have given me over the years, and this will take pride of place among them. Nice one, Jessica -- take a well deserved pat on the back!!!
Forget about The 12 Days Of Christmas -- this year, your focus should be on The 12 Zombies Of Christmas!!! The reason for that is that I'm running a competition to tie in with the festive season, and I've decided to offer up 12 seasonal prizes. They're all nice, Zom-B themed packages. The first five names out of the hat will each win signed, UK paperback editions of Zom-B Baby, Zom-B Gladiator, Zom-B Mission and Zom-B Family. The next seven winners will each win a signed copy of the UK paperback edition of Zom-B Chronicles II (which contain books 3 and 4) and a UK hardback edition of Zom-B Family. I'll ship out the prizes as swiftly as I can once the competition ends, but I can't guarantee that the winners will receive them before Christmas -- you'll just have to keep your fingers crossed!!
1) Answer this question: "What holiday is celebrated on December 25th?"
2) Send your entry to: firstname.lastname@example.org
3) Put your NAME in the SUBJECT BOX when you send your e-mail -- I will not accept your entry if you don't. And make sure you INCLUDE YOUR FULL POSTAL ADDRESS in the body of the e-mail, as well as the answer. This is so that I can easily send your prize to you if you win. Please also include your age, although this is not mandatory.
(4) Closing date is midnight, UK Time, Friday, December 12th, 2014.
(5) This competition is open to everybody, everywhere in the world, unless you work for one of my publishers or are one of my relations.
(6) You can only enter the competition ONCE. If you try to enter more than once, ALL of your entries will be disqualified.
(7) Only one entry per household -- if you send in more than one entry, ALL of your entries will be rejected. If more than one person in a house wants to enter, you'll need to make a joint entry.
(8) The draw for the winners will be made on or after Saturday, December 13th, 2014. It will be a completely random draw, made by Darren Shan personally (I use an online number generator to pick the winners). I will try to notify the winners by e-mail, and will post their names on the Shanville Message Board, in the Shanville Monthly, and possibly on Twitter and Facebook too.
(9) Information submitted by entrants WILL NOT be shared by me with any other individual or company.
(10) My decision will be final.
IT'S A WRAP
And that's it for December -- and 2014. I hope you all have a lovely, relaxing yuletide -- and if you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope you just have a nice, enjoyable end of the year. I'm looking forward to my first Christmas as a Dad, although obviously Dante won't have a clue what's going on!! I'll be back here at the start of January with all the latest news, including some sneak peeks at the interior art of Zom-B Bride -- and the book's collection of images are probably my favourite of the entire series, so you don't want to miss these little beauties!! Until then, here's a final snap of the Family Shan to close out the year here on Shanville. All my bloody best, Darren Shan. x x x