Issue 178 - May 201501 May 2015
Hi everyone, and welcome to the May issue of the Shanville Monthly. May was going to be a quiet month for me, but then I decided, quite late in the day, to release a new book. As you do!! I had intended to publish it on June 1st, but I finished work on it a bit sooner than anticipated and thought, what the hell -- let's put it out there early!! But before you get TOO excited, please note that it's not a YA Darren Shan book -- it's my next book for adult readers, released under the Darren Dash moniker. Still, for my older fans, I hope that's fairly exciting news! The bad news is that the book won't be on sale through book shops -- it's an Amazon exclusive, I'm afraid. But the good news is that it is on sale all across the world, as either a paperback or low-cost eBook download. You can find out more about the new book below (as well as an adult book FREE offer that is running at the start of this month), along with all the latest Darren Shan news and updates, including tour updates. Read on to keep in the loop...
LET DARREN DASH TAKE YOU ON HOLIDAY WHERE THE TOUR GUIDES FEAR TO TREAD!
My latest book for adults, published under the Darren Dash adult pseudonym that I first used last year, goes on sale worldwide on May 1st, exclusively through Amazon, and is called Sunburn -- that's the cover above. I think it's a perfect summer holiday book, telling as it does the story of three friends who go on holiday to Bulgaria, where they run into a beast unlike any they've ever imagined, and their vacation becomes a savage fight for survival. It's a fast-paced, grisly, tongue-in-cheek retelling of a legend as old as time, and it's been picking up some early rave reviews. Chase That Horizon called it: "A violent culmination of love, friendships, hilarity, thrill, horror and sex… Isn't that what we all want from a good book?! Sunburn literally had me up awake too scared to go to sleep, sickened in the best way possible and with the constant undertone of being completely HOOKED. A brilliant and thrilling read." While Thoughts Of An Overactive Imagination noted: "Sunburn is the kind of story that makes you want to read on well into the night. I had no idea how tense I had become until my phone pinged and I jumped out of my skin. The elements of classic horror are very much present here. Sunburn held me firmly in the moment, demanding my full attention right to the very last page. Then, just when you begin to think you're safe, unholy bloody mayhem ensues." And fellow author Safie Macken Finlay had this to say: "Darren Dash builds up the suspense with skillful pacing and a healthy dose of literary restraint, wisely refraining from indulging in the most horrific and grotesque elements of the plot until the reader has become invested in the characters. The result is a horror novel that is suspenseful, fun to read, and at times, very gruesome indeed. It also contains some very good reasons for never forgetting to wear sunscreen."
If you are interested in checking out the new book, you can buy it as a paperback, or download it as an eBook, through any of Amazon's worldwide stores, such as Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia (only as an eBook), Amazon Germany, etc. If you live in a country that doesn't have an Amazon store, then you probably won't be able to download the eBook, but you can order the paperback and have it shipped to you -- just check around to see which store offers you the best price. If you're interested in downloading the eBook, please bear in mind that YOU DO NOT NEED A KINDLE. You can download a FREE KINDLE APP to whatever device you prefer, e.g. Mac, iPad, smartphone, tablet, etc. You can then use that App to buy books from the Kindle store and download them to your device. I've kept the cover price as low as I can with the paperback, and the eBook is on sale for approximately a third the cost of that, so it's pretty good value, even if I say so myself!! :-)
Sunburn is also part of KDP Select, which means it is available for FREE to those who subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, or who borrow the book from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
To coincide with the release of Sunburn, the first book that I released for adults last year under the Darren Dash name will be availabe for FREE as an eBook download through Amazon stores worldwide from May 1st to May 5th inclusive. So if you're one of my older readers, and haven't yet dipped your toes into my Dash work, this is the perfect time to start -- and also the perfect time to let your friends know about it, in case they want to download it for FREE too! To find out more about that book, as well as Sunburn and future books that I write for older readers, visit the Darren Dash web site by CLICKING HERE. Please note, although I'm loathe to place age recommendations of any of my books (since each reader is different), if they were movies, I think the first book would rate an 18 certificate, while Sunburn would be a 15, which is why I'm happy to openly promote Sunburn through my Darren Shan channels, but prefer not to give TOO much of a push to the first, much darker and morally disturbing Darren Dash book.
The tenth Zom-B book, Zom-B Bride, is now available as an audio book in the USA, read by the always-on-the-ball Emma Galvin, who has been the voice of B Smith since the series started. I recommend a site called Ambling Books, as they offer good discounts -- for Zom-B Bride, CLICK HERE. Alternatively you can buy the CD set through Amazon by CLICKING HERE or download it via Audible by CLICKING HERE.
In the UK the company making the British audio books went bust, but all is not lost! You can buy the CD set of the American edition through Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bride-Zom-B-Darren-Shan/dp/1478958979/
You should also be able to buy the American CD set anywhere else in the world, through either of the Amazon links above -- just check before buying, to make sure you get the best deal. Happy listening!!
ZOM-B CHRONICLES III
The third Zom-B collection went on sale in the UK and Ireland last month. That's the nifty cover above! It's called Zom-B Chronicles III, and it collects books 4 and 5 of the series, bringing the first half of the storyline to a close. There will be a sizeable gap until the fourth volume goes on sale (it's scheduled for October 2016!!) but to compensate collectors of the Chronicles for the long wait, we're hoping to include Zom-B Circus as part of the package for free, to sweeten the deal. You should be able to buy or order Zom-B Chronicles III from your local bookseller, along with the first two volumes and almost any of my other books -- you can even use a site called HIVE to order in advance and have copies delivered to your local independent bookseller. But if you prefer to buy online, I recommend WHSmith, which is currently offering the best price -- to take advantage of it, CLICK HERE.
American fans, please note that although the Zom-B Chronicles are also being produced in the USA, their editions actually collect three books at a time! The second American volume, collecting books 4, 5 and 6 is due to go on sale on October 5th, and I imagine the third volume will go on sale next year, probably around the same time as volume four in the UK.
If YOU would like to come meet Darren Shan like the teens in the photos above, then please note that I'm doing a single PUBLIC EVENT in May, in Wicklow in Ireland -- do please come if you can, to hear me read from my books, answer questions and sign your copies of my books. I'm also doing some school and public events in the UK over the next few months. Here are the details as they currently stand. School events are only for invited school groups (although individuals can sometimes get in too, if they contact the school/library in advance). Public events are open to anyone who wants to come along, though you usually have to acquire tickets in advance to be certain of a place. If you plan to come to any of my events, please note that I never impose any limits on the number of my books that I will sign, so feel free to bring your whole collection from home or buy loads of them on the day!
Saturday 23rd May
3.00pm -- public event, Wicklow Arts Festival, Wicklow, Ireland. http://www.wicklowartsfestival.ie/
Wednesday 15th July
2.30pm -- schools event, Norwich FLY Festival, Norwich, UK. If you are a teacher, librarian or student in the Norwich area, and wish to book tickets, CLICK HERE.
Friday, Saturday, Sunday 17th, 18th, 19th July
Date(s) and Time(s) TBC -- public signing(s)/event(s), YALC, the Young Adult Literary Convention, part of the London Film And Comic Con. I will be appearing at this festival, but it has yet to be confirmed if I will be there on just one day or more, or what that day (or those days) will be. Updates to follow when confirmed. http://www.childrenslaureate.org.uk/yalc/
1.30pm -- schools event, Edinburgh Book Festival, Scotland. This is an event in the main Book Festival tent, for school groups. If you are a teacher or school librarian interested in booking for it, CLICK HERE. (If you are a student, show this to your teacher or librarian, and try to sweet-talk them into bringing you with a group!)
August - dates TBC
In addition to the event listed above, I will also be doing some school outreach events, plus a public event, at the Edinburgh Book Festival, Scotland. More info to follow shortly.
WICKED IN WICKLOW
I had a great time at the Lismore Towers And Tales festival last month -- those are a couple of photos from it above. My next public event will be in WICKLOW in IRELAND on Saturday, May 23rd, at 3.00pm. This is part of the Wicklow Arts Festival, and will be a FREE event -- hurrah!! You can find out more info on a dedicated Facebook page for my event by CLICKING HERE, and the full programme will be appearing online shortly on the Festival website OVER HERE. Now that I've passed my driving test (see the last post in this issue of the newsletter) I might drive to the Wicklow festival myself, but let's wait and see...
FLY WITH ME IN NORWICH
If you're a student or teacher or school librarian living in the Norwich area in the UK, and you would like to FLY with Darren Shan, then you should look into getting tickets to come see me when I visit the city in July. I'll be doing a SCHOOLS event for the FLY festival, talking about my books, answering questions, signing books, and strangling (see above)!! Booking is now open. Click on THIS LINK to find out more about when I'm performing and how to book to come see me: You can also read a bit more about the festival in this Eastern Daily Press article.
I LOVE A GOOD REVIEW!
"I love it when a plan comes together!" is probably my favourite line from 1980s TV "classic" The A-Team. (Although "Pity the fool!" ranks pretty highly as well.) As a writer, I spend all my work time making or working out plans. A book is like a giant jigsaw puzzle, and I want my stories to work in a certain way, so that readers get pretty much the same impact. Of course no two readers ever get EXACTLY the same experience reading a book -- we all construct the world of a story in our own unique way -- but if you do your job right on the writing front, there should be common touchstones that all of your readers can share in the same way. It's lovely when you spend a lot of time planning something and it works. For instance, there's a big reveal in the first Zom-B book that pulled the rug out from under the feet of almost every reader, and every time someone tells me they were sucker-punched by it, a big grin shoots across my face!
One of the trickiest things when writing a long series is making the later books accessible to newcomers. I know from experience that new readers will jump onboard every step of the way -- there are even people who, for one reason or another, will read the very last book of a series before any of the others. Some writers might be snooty about that, and take the view that those readers don't know what they're doing, and should start at the beginning, and so they're not going to make any concessions for them. Me, I take the view that the customer is always right, and I love picking up new readers at any stage of the game. So one of the things I try to do when working on a multi-book series is fill in enough background detail in every book to allow newbies to follow what's going on -- which is difficult -- but also to do it in a way that doesn't slow the story down or harm the flow of it -- and that's sometimes dang near impossible!!
Which is all a very long way of saying that when I read THIS REVIEW on The Horror Fiction Review site, I smiled happily, jammed an imaginary cigar between my lips, and murmured, "I love it when..."
And while we're on the subject of reviews, CLICK HERE for another fab review for Zom-B Bride, by the always loquacious Matthew R Bell.
A fan tweeted me last month to ask if Gavner Purl (from my Saga Of Darren Shan books) was into cuddles. I directed them towards a short story on my web site, which I think provides all the answers necessary. But the story also answers the question of why Gavner wears yellow boxer shorts with little pink elephants stitched into them!! It's a sweet little tale, so if you haven't yet read it, you can check it out (for FREE) by CLICKING HERE. I've written quite a few other short stories over the years, which you can find on my web site in the EXTRAS section, along with lots of other exclusive treats, such as articles I've written, a list of the awards I've been up for, deleted scenes, and more. If you're interested, you can find them all OVER HERE.
"Let's YALC again, like we did last summer..." Exciting news for anyone planning to go to the London Film And Comic Con in July -- YALC (Young Adult Lit Con) is back after its success last year -- and so am I!!! I don't normally do a festival two years in a row (apart from Edinburgh, where I'm aiming for a 16th appearance in a row later this year if all goes well), but I had so much fun last year that I agreed in a flash when they asked. The dates of the festival are July 17th, 18th and 19th (Friday. Saturday and Sunday). It hasn't been confirmed exactly when I'm going to be there, but I'm certainly going to be in attendance on at least one of the days. Stay turned for more info as it becomes available... http://www.childrenslaureate.org.uk/yalc/
PASSING ON THE BATON
I enjoyed THIS INTERVIEW with debut author, Taran Matharu, on the Dark Readers site. It's always nice to be mentioned as an inspiration for a fellow scribe, especially given the quality of the other writers he mentions in his Top 5 list at the end of the interview. Check it out, and if it snags your interest, maybe give the book a go too while you're waiting for the next Zom-B book to come along...
I think one of the highest compliments for any writer is to be cited as an influence by someone else in your profession. So I was also very pleased to read THIS ARTICLE about a young, budding author in Florida, called Rikki Wills-Markgraf, who mentions me as one of her writing gurus. Rikki is still very new to the game, with a long, long way to go, but she's realised that good writing only comes with hard work, and that's a vital step forward in a developing author's growth, so hopefully she's going to take her talent all the way. I'll be looking out for her books on the shelves in years to come...
If any young -- or, indeed, not so young -- writers out there would like to pick up some tips from me, and read all the advice that I have to give on the subject, then check out the WRITING TIPS part of my site, where I bare my soul for all to benefit from.
THIS is an odd one! A fan contacted me recently to say that I was one of the subjects of a Physiochronology study. If you don't know what that is, there's some info about it below, but in a nutshell, it's a belief that people have a certain shared look depending on the date and time of their birth. Personally, I think it's a load of hogwash, but CLICK HERE to have a read and a look at the photos (I'm number 60 in their list) and see what you think.
FROM THE SITE: "Physical forms are a chronology. They carry specific imprints that they receive the moment they are born. The study of these imprints is the science of physiochronology. At the moment, there are six imprints that have been discovered. The year a living being comes into existence leaves a physiochronological stamp. There are twelve of these and they repeat in a regular pattern every twelve years. The month a living being comes into existence leaves a physiochronological stamp. There are also twelve of these that repeat in a regular pattern every twelve months. The third is composed of twelve physiochronological stamps that leave their imprint for a period of forty-eight to sixty hours, and that repeat in a regular pattern every twenty eight days. The day a living being comes into existence also has its stamp. Nine of these repeat in a somewhat regular pattern (the first four occurring more often than the rest). For twenty seven days, each stamp follows the other in a regular pattern. After the twenty seventh day, there are irregularities for one to four days. Every two hours that pass also leave a physiochronological stamp. Twelve of these repeat in a regular pattern every twenty four hours. The last stamp to be discovered leaves its imprint approximately every two hours. Twelve of these follow one another in a pattern which is sometimes regular and sometimes not. Sometimes one of these stamps will leave its imprint for less than two hours, sometimes for longer."
HOROWITZ VS WALLIAMS!
There was a bit of a stir in the media last month, regarding comments Anthony Horowitz made about David Walliams in the Times Educational Supplement. I haven't read the original piece, just articles about it, such as THIS ONE in The Mail. The reason I clocked the piece was that Anthony rather flatteringly mentioned me in it, among with some other authors who have been setting the bar high for children's literature over the last 15 or so years. While I can certainly see what he is getting at, and definitely agree that it's good for YA books to challenge readers and not just sit in the comfort zone, at the same time I have nothing against writers like David Walliams who create less substantial books for younger readers.
It's always a fight to a) reach new young readers, and b) hold onto them as they grow up. I love that the fact that there's a market for bold YA writers like Philip Pullman and Patrick Ness (and, indeed, myself and Anthony). But if there aren't writers like David Walliams providing decent reading fare for 8, 9, 10 and 11 year olds, then they probably aren't going to fall in love with reading at a young age and graduate on to the likes of us when they hit their teens, and then even more advanced writers like Vonnegut or King or Joyce or whoever when they're adults. (I'm assuming the Walliams books ARE decent, but maybe they're not -- as with YA books, there are good books for younger children, and bad books for younger children. But from what I've read, Anthony wasn't saying that he didn't actually like the Walliams books, just that he didn't think they were very adventurous or ground-breaking.)
I haven't read any Walliams books yet, but I read Phil Earle's latest, Demolition Dad, recently, and I think it falls into the same sort of bracket. While it's not going to set heads spinning and stomachs churning the way I hope my books do, it's a warm, clever, funny, moving book that I really enjoyed and I hope to share it with Dante when he's the right age for it. When he's a bit older, I then hope he goes on to find Tolkien and Robert Cormier and Eoin Colfer and lots more. But there's a time for everything in life, and I don't think we should be pushing young readers to run before they walk. I know that lots of adult authors look down their noses at YA authors as much as they do at younger children's authors, and I've always seen that as a shortcoming in them. Me, I'm not for looking down my nose at anyone. If you're telling a good story and entertaining your audience, you're doing a good job in my view, and more power to you!
SAGA OF A BARGAIN
In life there are bargains, and then there are BARGAINS. In the UK, a company called The Book People had an Easter Sale last month, and as part of that they offered the entire Saga Of Darren Shan collection, all twelve books, for the jaw-dropping low price of £10. Yes -- TEN POUNDS!!! That worked out at 84p per book!!!! I've never seen the books offered at that high a discount before, and I'll be surprised if it gets repeated too often in the years and decades to come. The sale is now over, alas, BUT they are still offering the books at the incredibly low price of just £15 -- yes, FIFTEEN POUNDS!!!! Which works out at just £1.25 per book!!! The Book People ship worldwide, and their rates seem very reasonable, so you can take advantage of this no matter where in the world you live. Just CLICK HERE. By the way, I have nothing to do on a personal level with The Book People -- I'm just pointing out a great Darren Shan bargain, the way I always do whenever I spot one.
I'M THE TOPS!
I was chuffed to make THIS LIST of Top Ten favourite authors over on the Books Of Amber site. I know it's hard to come up with a shortlist of favourites -- well, I certainly find it hard in any case -- so kudos to Amber for narrowing it down so well, and double kudos for having the good sense to include me in it!! :-)
UNDEAD FRENCH CITY
Good news for my French fans. Zom-B City, the third book in the series, goes on sale in France on May 6th. That's the frightfully cool cover above, and you can read a bit more about the release by CLICKING HERE.
FOR LOVE, NOT MONEY
When I'm doing an event, I sometimes get asked how much money I make. Occasionally it's just someone being nosy, but usually it comes from a young, budding author who wants to know what sort of money they might realistically expect to make if their books get published. While my answer varies, depending on the manner of the person asking the question, onE thing that I always stress is that most writers don't make very much money. Even a lot of published authors don't make minimum wage, and must support themselves financially by doing other jobs at the same time. If anyone thinks I'm scaremongering when I say that, READ THIS recently published report, which is worrying evidence that it's harder than ever to make a decent living wage as a writer.
I'm not trying to scare off people -- I just think it's important to be honest, to let those coming through the ranks know that it's a tough road ahead. The reward has to be the quality of the work, as that's something each of us has the power to control -- if you work hard, and dedicate yourself to your craft, you WILL create the highest quality stories that you are capable of creating, and that's the most any of us can ask of ourselves. But when it comes to sales, it's a whole different ball game. Sometimes bad books sell in huge quantities (if anyone says that's the case with ME, I'll send The Thin Executioner round to chop off their head!), and lots of times very good books will only sell in tiny amounts. It's a lottery, where quality doesn't always equal financial success. You MIGHT get lucky, as I did, but be prepared for what happens if you don't. Writing, ultimately, is a privilege, not a given right. Most authors have to fight to earn the time in which to work on their story-telling. If you're serious about getting into the game, be ready to roll up your sleeves and take a battering, because that's the way it is for most of us. And if, at the end of the day, you don't have what it takes to become a champion, at least you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that you stepped into the ring and gave it all you could.
IT'S A WRAP
And that's it for May. I passed a personal milestone last month when, at the age of 42 (almost 43!) I passed my driving test at the first attempt -- that's a photo of me above, posing in front of my car shortly afterwards, with Dante impateintly waiting for a lift! I've been spending a lot of time behind the wheel over the last several months, in preparation for the test. Now that I've passed, I can ease up a bit, and hopefully get a bit more writing done!! I hope you all enjoy Sunburn (well, those of you of an appropriate age, anyway!), and the waiting for Zom-B Fugitive can now well and truly begin!! I'll be back here at the start of June with all the latest news and updates. Until then, all my bloody best, Darren Shan. x x x