Issue 193 - August 201601 August 2016
Hi everyone, and welcome to the August issue of the Shanville Monthly. I'm doing what will probably be my final event of the year this month -- for the first time in as long as I can recall, I won't be touring in the autumn, as I don't have a new book out -- you'll be pleased to know that I'm going to spend the time writing instead!! You can find info about that event below, along with all the latest news, updates and interesting bits of fan art that I thought you'd like to see. Oh, and there are the brand new covers for the UK Zom-B paperback editions too -- but be warned -- looking at all twelve of them at the same time might very well blow your little mind!!!!!!
Never mind Willy Wonka's golden ticket -- this is what a REAL ticket to dreamland looks like!!! It's a ticket to my upcoming event at the Edinburgh Book Festival, on Monday, August 15th, starting at 5.00pm. They've put me back in the big tent this year, which is a massive venue, so I suspect there are going to be plenty of empty seats, so if you CAN come, please DO come -- and bring lots of friends and family members too!! And sit close to the front!!!! This is my last event of the summer -- indeed, my last scheduled event for the rest of the year and beyond! If you miss me, it might be a while before you get a chance to catch me in action again! 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.
Monday 15th August -- 5.00pm -- public event, Edinburgh Book Festival. For more info and to book tickets CLICK HERE.
I gave an interview to Cultured Vultures last month, a site created especially for writers. They came up with a nice mix of funny and serious questions. You can read it all by CLICKING HERE.
My UK publishers, Simon & Schuster, revealed the new UK paperback covers for the Zom-B books through a Twitter site called Maximum Pop! Books on Friday, July 29th. I was absolutely blown away when Simon & Schuster revealed the new look to me, and I hope you guys are every bit as excited by them. They've completely redesigned the visual concept of what the books are, and done loads of cool, clever things with the new images. They've also worked in a wicked back-cover master-image that will only take shape when all twelve books are lined up in the correct way. You can see all twelve of the covers in the poster image above -- for larger images, see my Facebook or Twitter posts from the last Friday in July, or else you can find them all on the Maximum pop page by CLICKING HERE. I'll also be adding them to my web site very shortly.
There was a lengthy interview with me in The Limerick Magazine last month, which you can find by CLICKING HERE. The article starts on page 13. It's actually mostly an old interview from another Limerick publication called Fusion, with a small new bit at the end, where I talk about Limerick's bid to become the European City Of Culture in 2020. (We ultimately lost out to Galway.) But, even if most of the interview is recycled, it's still a cool, long, in-depth piece, so it's definitely worth checking out, especially if you haven't read the original version!
CAN I TEMPT YOU?!?
A fan who goes by the name of Vampire Council over on Twitter came up with this list of emojis for characters in my vampire books. I think she got them pretty spot on, though I wouldn't want to be in her shoes if Mr Tiny catches sight of this and decides to mete out punishment for the insult, DesTiny-style!!!
This fan review is ostensibly for Zom-B Goddess, but is actually a short review for the entire Zom-B series. I think it neatly sums up a lot of what made the books special for me and others like Adeeb. This was never an ordinary zombie series, and while that turned off some fans who just wanted to see humans squaring off with the living dead, other shared my fascination with the journey and the characters. Holy Moly -- a genderless, murderous baby -- ended up being one of my favourite characters too, which wasn't something I expected when I started writing the first book! If you haven't yet wound your way into my undead world, check out Adeeb's review (it doesn't contain any real spoilers) and hopefully it will encourage you to give the stories a go... CLICK HERE
If you haven't yet given my Zom-B books a try, maybe this concise, overall review of the series will tempt you to dip your toes into its undead waters. It doesn't contain any real major spoilers, and captures a lot of what has made the books so appealing to those who've read them -- while the first book certainly divided readers (the hard-hitting exploration of racism was too much for some to bear), those who pushed on past it had a wild and wonderful time, and the later books in the series have probably earned the most rave reviews of any of my work. CLICK HERE
Many brave Shansters have pricked and painted their flesh with tattoos based on quotes or characters from my books, but few have taken things as far as this fan, Audrey, who recently plumped for an elbow tattoo based on an image from the UK hardback cover of Lord Loss. That HAD to hurt!! But, in my humble opinion, every morsel of pain was worth it -- that's got to be the most stunningly painted elbow in the world!!!
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!
Money. It's a magical word to some, a dirty word to others. Some spend their lives in pursuit of more, others spend their lives being crushed because they haven't enough. I don't talk about money issues too often (except to warn budding writers that most of us don't make very much of it, so you should write because you love it, and realising your potential should be your primary goal) but a new interview with me, published last month in the Irish Independent, was done for the Business section of the paper, in a column called Money Talks -- so in this instance there was no avoiding it!!! I threw in some non-money-related titbits too, so hopefully it will make for enjoyable reading even for those of you who, like me, aren't that fascinated by monetary matters... so get out your credit cards and CLICK HERE.
What do you get if you cross Madam Octa with a human? The photos above provide the answer to that question!! They were posted by a couple of fans on Twitter, and I think they used a Snapchat App to achieve the arachnid transformation -- if YOU want to Octa-fy yourself, seek out the App and make sure you share the results with me! Given his love of spiders, if Mr Crepsley had spotted either of these ladies in that guise back in the day, Arra Sails probably wouldn't have had a look in!!!
WHAT TO DO, WHAT TO DO?!?
And while we're on the subject of Madam Octa... How cool would it be to find this Madam Octa plushie in the middle of your web of birthday, Christmas or wedding presents?!? It was made by Imogen Edwards, who makes and sells all manner of cool, fun, innovative plushies. I think even a full-on arachnophobe would be hard-pushed not to fall in love with this little guy!! To see more from Imogen and get in touch with her, CLICK HERE.
I recently did a quickfire Twitter Q&A for Reading Addicts. They asked mostly lighthearted questions which required short, snappy answers. I'm sometimes guilty of waffling on a bit during interviews (hey! I have a lot to say!!) so this was a great, fun way to rein me in. If you'd like to check it out (it won't take very long to read!) Reading Addicts have very conveniently compiled the whole interview in one easily accessible spot, so CLICK HERE
A DANGEROUS MEDDLER... AND MR TINY!
A fan called Ifan Price wanted to know if Michael Gove (failed candidate for leader of the Conservative party in the UK last month) might be Mr Tiny in disguise -- as you can see from the pictures above, they could well have been separated at birth! But when I put this to Mr Tiny, he blanched at the comparison and asked me to make clear to you all that, as meddling and malicious as he might be, even HE wouldn't have been twisted enough to engineer the Brexit!!!! When a politician makes Mr Tiny look like the moderate option, you know you have to be wary!!!!
A LIFE IN BOOKS
My books get a very nice mention in this YouTube video by a young woman talking about the books that made a big impression on her when she was a child, that drew her into the world of literature. Click on THIS LINK to find out what she had to say, and also which other books impacted on her.
If you're looking for a fun, unusual way to display your Darren Shan collection, maybe you can take inspiration from this picture by Odette Knappers, in the Netherlands. If you want to know why Odette arranged the books this way (apart from the fact that they look really cool!) check out her post on Instagram: CLICK HERE
Tony Blair was in the news last month when the Chilcot Report was finally published, noting -- to nobody's surprise -- that he took Britain into a war in Iraq when there was no absolute need, and on insufficient evidence. I don't have many true regrets in life -- we all make mistakes, we have to learn from them and move on, not let them drag us down -- but there's one moment I keep coming back to, wishing that I had acted in a contrary fashion.
Shortly before Tony Blair forced the UK into the assault on Iraq, I was invited to Number 10 Downing Street with a lot of other children's authors, for a party to celebrate the strength of British (and Irish) children's literature. Tony and Cherie were in attendance and, I must say, they threw a good bash. Tony even gave a lovely speech, saying how great British children's authors were, though he neglected to mention how good the Irish authors were too, which Eoin Colfer and I noted at the time with a wry raised eyebrow to one another. But, hey, I won't blame him for that -- we were the only two Irish authors there, and I was born in London and even have a Cockney accent!
To be fair, the prime minister did the rounds to meet just about every author who was present, giving a small bit of his time to each, and he was charming and graceful -- we forget, given what happened in Iraq, how popular and positive he was when he first came to power, and for several years thereafter. Maybe it was because we were Irish (it wasn't, but it tickles me to pretend that it was!), but Eoin and I were the last two authors he was introduced to. He got a bit confused when he heard my name -- it's a common name in China, and being active on the global stage, he was probably aware of that, and wondering a) what the hell a Chinese author was doing at an event for British authors, and b) why he looked like a red-cheeked Irishman! The person with him explained that my real name was Darren O'Shaughnessy, which is when I smiled and said the only thing I've so far far got to say to a world leader -- "We're the Irish contingent!" And then he was swiftly ushered away.
It's an amusing little story, one I've often told to friends if talk happens to turn to famous people that we've met. But at the same time I look back ruefully on that night as a missed opportunity. I was vehemently against invading Iraq, as most people in the UK and Ireland were at the time. I had considered bringing it up with him, telling him that if he went ahead with the war, he would be betraying the Labour Party, and the people he had been elected to serve, and that it would further destablise an already volatile region. But it didn't feel right, because I'd been invited into his home, to a party to celebrate children's books, and I'd have felt bad having a go at a man in his own living quarters, when I wasn't there for a political reason. So I remained polite and didn't mention the war.
All these years later, I still regret that. While I place a lot of importance on good, old-fashioned politeness, sometimes you HAVE to speak up, regardless of the circumstances, even if you end up looking like a rude, arrogant boor. I'm 100% sure that my protest would have made absolutely no difference whatsoever to Mr Blair's thinking or actions over the coming months, but at least I'd have voiced my piece to a key instigator of a shameful, needless war during the only opportunity I was ever going to get to voice it, at a time when there was still hope among the masses that he might pull the country away from the direction of violence. It's why I occasionally air my political views on Facebook, when I feel especially strongly about a certain subject, because I've learnt from experience that there are times in this life when you simply MUST speak up, or forever regret not doing so.
Books have all sorts of powers -- to make the imagination soar, to help people find the strength to deal with real-life problems that they might be facing, and even to help us heal. To find out what I mean, read this lovely post from a young medic called James Henderson who discovered the power of words at a recent school athletics meeting...
"Working as a medic at a primary school athletics meeting, young lad comes over crying after being hit in eye, within seconds he got all excited 'you like Darren Shan too!' after seeing the book I'm reading, and tells me all about his favourite books by you, totally forgetting about the small cut below his eye. Magical healing power of the Demonata at work!"
The winners of the July Shanville Competition, in the order drawn, were:
1st - Nate Glandon, USA.
2nd - Ayesha Grimm, England.
3rd - Alyssa Santa Cruz, USA.
4th - Aoibh Kingston, Ireland.
5th - Sophie Bromley, Scotland.
There were 175 entries in total. Thanks to everyone who took part. Congratulations to the winners, and better luck next time to everyone else!
I love it when fans go that little bit extra to show how much a book has impacted on them. To see what I mean, check out this cool Zom-B poster display that a fan operating under the Twitter handle of Shy Ninja created! If only we could replicate it and install a copy in every bookshop in the land!!!
IT'S A WRAP!
And that's it for August. As I said at the start of this issue, I plan to get lots of writing done over the coming months. I'm already hard at work editing what will be my next Darren Dash book (for adults) and I'll be revealing more about that in the near future. I'll also be working on edits of the first couple of books in the new Darren Shan series, and hopefully making a start on the first draft of the third, which will probably keep me busy until about this time next year (or even later) if it ends up being the same sort of length as the first two! But don't worry -- as busy as I am, I'll be back here at the start of September with all the latest news and updates. Until then, all my bloody best, Darren Shan. x x x