Issue 191 - June 201601 June 2016
Hi everyone, and welcome to the June issue of the Shanville Monthly! After all my tours around the release of the final Zom-B book, I got to spend most of May at home, and got some actual writing done! I finished the first draft of a new book -- you can read more about that near the bottom of this issue of the Shanville Monthly -- and enjoyed a couple of weeks R&R in London later in the month. I'm hoping to get started on editing my next Darren Dash book this month, which will be released later this year if everything goes according to plan, or else in the first half of 2017. There will be more about that as and when, but in the meantime let's catch up with all the latest Darren Shan news and updates, starting with...
The audio book for Zom-B Fugitive, read by Emma Galvin, is now on sale in the USA. If you live in the USA, you can buy the CD or download it through Audible by CLICKING HERE. Alternatively, if you live elsewhere in the world, or if you live in the USA and prefer to buy through Amazon, you can buy it as an audio CD through Amazon by CLICKING HERE. Shipping costs will be quite high if you live outside the USA, but I'm afraid there are currently no plans for audio versions for the Zom-B books to be produced in any other countries.
And, following on from the above post... the audio book for Zom-B Goddess, read by Emma Galvin, goes on sale in the USA on June 7th. If you live in the USA, you will be able to buy the CD or download it through Audible. Alternatively, if you live elsewhere in the world, or if you live in the USA and prefer to buy through Amazon, you can buy it as an audio CD through Amazon by CLICKING HERE. Shipping costs will be quite high if you live outside the USA, but I'm afraid there are currently no plans for audio versions for the Zom-B books to be produced in any other countries -- however, if you wish to buy both CDs together (or, indeed, any of the other CDs in the series) it might work out cheaper than buying them and having them shipped individually.
I had a lovely time on tour in Ireland and the UK last month (as well as in Utah, of course!). Thanks to everyone who turned out to see me on the tour, as well as to all the booksellers who hosted me, and Catherine and the gang at Simon & Schuster who set it all up. While the Zom-B Goddess tour is now over, I'm doing a few additional events over the summer. You can find the details below, with at least one more to be added over the coming months. Don't forget, if you're coming to any of my events, I'm always happy to sign as many of my books as you wish to have signed.
Friday 22nd July
3.00pm -- public event, West Cork Literary Festival, Bantry, Co. Cork. For more info and to book tickeets CLICK HERE.
Saturday 30th July
3.00pm -- panel event at YALC, at the London Film & Comic Con. I will be signing afterwards, from 4pm to 6pm. For more info and to book tickets CLICK HERE.
Edinburgh Book Festival -- date and time to be confirmed on June 9th. CLICK HERE.
You guys know how much I love it when you come out to see me when I'm on tour, so I was very touched by THIS SWEET REPORT by a fan called Rachel, who's come to see me a few times over the years. She perfectly captures the excitement that you feel when you're about to meet someone whose words have had such an impact on your imagination. It's a feeling I know well, from meeting my own idols over the years, and it's the reason why I can never do too much for my fans at signings and events -- because I'm one of you!! I also love the way we see Rachel age in the photos over the years -- time touches us all... I strongly, Strongly, STRONGLY recommend you read this piece and share it with your friends -- it's only incidental that it happens to be about me -- what's it's really about is our love of writers and their books, and our relationship to them.
CAREFULLY PLOTTED MISTAKES
Reviewers of Cirque Du Freak occasionally complain about some of its stylistic quirks, such as the overuse of exclamation marks, and the way Darren sometimes incorrectly says "and me" instead of "and I." But there was method in my madness, as THIS REVIEW by a lady called Amanda notes. Basically, since Darren left school at such an early age, I figured his grammar would be a bit shaky, and I wanted to reflect that in the books, until he returned to the educational system later in the series and was set right by his new teacher. It can be a bit risky, playing with an idea or conceit on such a lengthy scale, as some readers won't stick around for the pay-off, but that's one of the challenges that I relish when I work on an epic series, and I think fans who buy into it and read all the books enjoy those extra touches too. As for those who give up after a few books and fail to see the story through? Well, I appreciate it when a reader joins me for ANY part of a journey, so I'm not going to criticise them -- I'd be a hypocrite if I did, because I've done the same thing myself with a number of series that I'm reading, where I've fallen behind and ended up jumping boat mid-stream -- but I write for the full-on fans, not the dip-in-and-out readers. As a writer, it's the only way I know how to work, because I figure if a writer doesn't care about a story as much as their most avid reader will, they shouldn't be in this business in the first place.
After a few years of neglect, I've finally updated my Amazon Author Page on both the UK and USA versions of the site. I've refreshed my biography and added some photos and videos, mostly trailers for various books of mine put together by my publishers. Have a look and let me know if there's anything you'd like me to tweak or add. Here's the link for the Amazon UK page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Darren-Shan/e/B001IGODB2/ And here's the one for Amazon USA: http://www.amazon.com/Darren-Shan/e/B001IGODB2/
A DANGEROUS DUO
I love, Love, LOVE this drawing that splices together Darren and Steve, when they were in contention to become the Lord of the Shadows. It was drawn by EveLen Kellermann-McLean, and it sends a shiver right down my spine!! I hope it gets yours tingling too!!!!
LORD LOSS REVIEW
I enjoyed THIS lengthy video review for Lord Loss, by a fan called Emily -- if you've some spare time on your hands, you might want to check it out. There are also some links on the page to other reviews for the book, so if you're really in the mood, you could make a whole afternoon of it... and then spend all night reading the book! Emily has also reviewed Demon Thief HERE, so if you like her first review, there's more to look forward to.
A fan called Joshua and his sister are big fans of my books, so both of them decided to get a tattoo of their favourite quote of mine. (It's my favourite too.) While quite a lot of my fans have chosen to tattoo themselves in honour of my work, this is the first time I've come across siblings who have gone in for one together. What next -- two parents and their five kids with one word each from the quote tattooed across their foreheads, so that it only makes sense and can be read when they line up in a row?!?
OI! ZOMBIES! NO!
A teacher in America called Ann wrote to me recently, saying she was reading a few chapters from my Zom-B book to her class, when one student seemed concerned and said that “Zombies are banned at my house.” Ann wrote to the girl's mother, to check that it would be OK to continue reading some of the book, expecting, as I would have, that her objections were to do with religious beliefs. But the mom's serious and open-minded response was brilliant and took Ann (and me) completely by surprise and delight! I think it will surprise and delight YOU too!!!!
It has nothing to do with beliefs sort of. I think zombie movies are the stupidest thing on TV. I think creating a monster that walks with a limp and moans while dragging their feet, looking like a stroke patient with the sole purpose of eating or biting other people is just film writers being lazy. I have not come across one plot line jet that is not *the dead come out of their graves and get their heads chopped off while making someone’s buddy a zombie along the way*. Therefore acting like a zombie is obnoxious at best. Not to mention Dead is dead, there should be no expectation of them coming back. So therefore no zombies. I however would assume there would be some value in reading these chapters. I do not know the plot of the book or the message it outlines but I assume it’s not just a moaning eating death story.
A DANG FINE BLOG!
Now this is the sort of blog I like, where a book lover posts pics of signing sessions that they've been to! And Suey, the blogger, is right -- I AM a "dang good" reader!!! CLICK HERE.
NEW OLD INTERVIEW
This is A LINK to an old interview with me in Inis Magazine, dating back to 2010 when I was releasing the Mr Crepsley books, but I don't think I ever included a link to it before, because I only recently found out that it was online. It covers a huge amount of ground, and although there's not much about Zom-B (I hadn't even revealed that my next series was going to be about zombies), I talk about most of my other books, as well as discussing some of my influences, touring, and a whole lot more. Highly recommended.
A fan called April decided to make herself up to look like the magical priestess, Bec, from the book of the same name. I'm guessing this is from that phase of her life shortly after young Bec struck an unholy alliance with everyone's favourite eight-armed demon master... I don't know about you guys, but she looks absolutely terrifying to me!! Halloween isn't that far away, so if anyone fancies REALLY freaking out the neighbours this year, I hope that April's photo gives you food for thought!
Blue Peter is the longest running TV show for children in the world. I appeared on it many years ago, when The Demonata books were being released, and some fans were brought in to the studio to be on it with me. One of them, a girl (now woman) called Elisha wrote to me recently to ask if the show was online, as she couldn't watch her old VHS copy any more. I replied that I didn't think it was, and remarked on what good fun it had been. This is her response, which added a nice warm buzz to my day!
It WAS a fun day, it will definitely be a memory that sticks with me for life. It's an anecdote I still bring up at every opportunity almost ten years later. I remember the studio saying "Okay guys, we just want to get some shots of you all looking and listening to Darren really intently," and they asked you to tell us a story. You said "There was a group of children who were invited along to the BBC studios. They were told they were there to be on a show called Blue Peter, but as they settled in little did they know it was all a lie and they were really there to be sacrificed to demons!" The presenters looked a bit worried because some of the kids were quite young, but we were all your fans so obviously we were delighted! You're always so great with your fans. You even talked to my mum and I for ages after the filming (even though I was a bit overwhelmed and star struck by you! ) and I went to three of your book signings after that and you always took the time to talk and seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. You were such a huge part of my life growing up, you inspired me to write and I just graduated from a creative writing degree last summer, which has opened so many doors for me. So anyway, thank you - from 13 year old me and from 24 year old me for being you and for working so hard.
WORLD HORROR CON
I went to the Wrld Horror Convention in Provo, Utah, at the end of April/start of May. It was the first horror convention I'd ever been to and I really enjoyed it. I got to meet lots of interesting people and sit in on some very lively panels. Here's a pic of me and my fellow panelists after one of my events from left, they're Thomas M Sipos, Linda Addison, Sanford Allen and Jeff Strand. We had a great time talking about horror films, and could have easily gone on for two hours without pausing for breath. It wasn't the best attended horror con ever, because of a breakaway con that was scheduled for a couple of weeks later, but that made it more intimate, and I got to spend some real quality time with those who came to my talks, espcially with a handful of fans who had come to the con primarily to see me -- your presence was MUCH appreciated, ladies!
What book am I currently reading? Are there any books I've read recently that I'd recommend? I get asked those questions every so often, and the good news is that you can see EVERY book that I've ever read, going back to my early teens, over on the fabulous Goodreads site, where I've catalogued them all, along with my rating out of five stars for each. There's over a thousand of them, and if you want to know what books (and some comics too) have influenced me over the years and fed through into my writing, here they are! https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/4643841?shelf=read
I don't write crossover books for my various series, but that doesn't mean that crossovers can't happen in the real world -- which is how we find Grubbs Grady and Darren Shan hanging out together in the photo above!! Of course some cynics will say it's just two fans called Eva and Anita, who live in Hungary and like cosplaying, merely dressed up as Grubbs and Darren -- but you and I know better don't we?!?
On May 3rd, after I'd taken Dante swimming, while I was drying off and getting dressed in the changing room, I got a text to say that Davey had died, and I immediately sat down, buried my head in my hands and wept, because I had just lost one of my favourite people in the world.
Davey McKay was married to my great-aunt Nora. He was one of the world's wonderful characters, a grumpy but loveable Scotsman who always found a way to make me laugh whenever we met -- and we met a LOT over the years. He read more books than anyone else I know, and always had something interesting to add to a conversation, regardless of what the topic might be. Davey was like a third grandfather to me, and I named a character after him in one of my books -- he often complained because I killed him off! He'd been ill for quite some time, and he never looked after himself particularly well (he loved going to the pub -- for him it was almost a religious experience) so it didn't come as a huge shock, but at the same time he'd been cheating the grim reaper for so long (he'd been in and out of hospitals for years, and undergone some major operations, and doctors and nurses were always astonished to find him not only still walking around but actively enjoying life) that we'd all started to assume he was immortal. But, alas, even a cat has to surrender when it's used up its ninth life, and Davey had got through about NINETY-nine lives!!!
I love this picture of him with Dante, taken on the wee fella's first visit to London. I'm just sad that Dante won't get to know Davey the way I did. I'll tell him about the beautiful, mad old Scot, of course, in the years to come, but as good a storyteller as I might be, no story could do true justice to Davey McKay -- he was a force of nature, too big to be captured in words. Some of Davey came through when I was creating the character of Vancha March -- there are quite a few similarities between the two -- but Vancha would look like a quiet, level-headed geezer next to Davey!!! I'm going to miss you, Mr McKay. Keep a mug of ale warm for me in Vampire Paradise.
WHAT DARREN DID NEXT
After nine months of hard labour I've finally "given birth" and completed work on the first draft of the second book in my new series. I started it in early August last year, and it's been a monstrous undertaking in every sense of the word -- nearly 191,000 words long, which is the length of about six of my Zom-B books! I'm sure I'll trim that down quite substantially over coming rewrites and edit (I've already shaved 25,000 words off of the first book), but it'll still be a biggie! It's actually the second longest first draft I've ever completed -- the longest is one of my unpublished books, a sci-fi epic that I might or might not return to one day in the future.
"So," I hear you all mutter, "if you've finished the first draft book 2, when can we expect to see book 1 on the shelves?!?"
I'm afraid I still don't have an answer for that, because I don't work in the normal way. Unlike most writers, I like to get far ahead in a series before I set the publishing ball rolling. With The Saga Of Darren Shan, for instance, I'd written eight books before Cirque Du Freak saw print. With The Demonata, I'd completed six books before Lord Loss came out. With Zom-B, I'd written first drafts of all twelve books before the first saw print. It's a very unusual way of working, but I like it because it allows me more control over the process, and means I get lots of time to work on each book and tie the plots together more neatly.
With the new series, I'm still unsure how many books there will be, or where exactly the main storyline is going to lead me. I know a lot of it, but there are key segments that are still a blank to me, and I don't want to kick things off until I've figured them out, so that I can guarantee the books coming out regularly when they start to see print. I think the third book could be the one that unlocks everything for me, and that when I start plotting that one, I'll see where I'm going from there, which will free me up to start moving the first one forwards, i.e. present it to my publishers and start telling people what it's going to be about. But, at the same time, I could be wrong about that -- I won't know for sure until I approach book 3, which probably won't be until later this year, once I've had a break and then edited the first and second books.
What I CAN say is that I'm actually making fast progress with it. As a comparison, I've written almost as many words over the first two books as I wrote over all twelve books of my Zom-B series, but while it took me three and a half years to get to that stage with Zom-B, I've done it in two and a half with the new series, and that includes a nine month break that I took when Dante was born! I'm beavering away more industriously than I have done in quite some years, but this series is HUGE, so it's going to take a substantial chunk of time to steer home.
Your patience is appreciated, and as soon as I CAN tell you more about it, I WILL. Promise!!
IT'S A WRAP
And that's it for June. Last month I hinted at a big competition that I was going to run in June, but I've decided to push it back until the July issue, in order to tie in with my 44th birthday and make it even MORE special!! I won't say what exactly it's going to involve, but expect clothing, books and maybe more! I'll be back here at the start of July with all the latest news and updates, plus all the details for that VERY special birthday competition. Until then, all my bloody best, Darren Shan. x x x