• Issue 163 - February 2014

    01 February 2014



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the February issue of the Shanville Monthly. February 2014 marks the fifteenth anniversary of the publication of my first book, so it's a special time for me -- hard to believe everything I've come through over the last decade and a half! It's only fitting, then, that this is a REALLY packed edition of the monthly newsletter! New covers for the next Zom-B book and other upcoming titles... updates about Zom-B Circus... the first peek at a special piece of interior art from Zom-B Mission... tour updates for Canada, Ireland and the UK... a new competition... plus lots more, not least of which is the news that following on from the release of Lady of the Shades last year, I am releasing my next book for adult readers NOW!!! Yes, it's on sale worldwide, even while you're reading these words! If you think I'm joking, you're in for a lovely delight below -- but only after lots of other news and updates -- after all, children should always go first! 








    Book 7 of my zombie series, Zom-B Mission, goes on sale on March 27th in the UK & Ireland, April 4th in Canada, and April 8th in the USA. It will also go on sale in Australia and New Zealand around the same time. The UK cover is currently in the process of being revealed by YOU the fans, which is why you can't see the whole cover above. There are 1,000 pieces, and each of you has the ability to reveal two pieces, one by sharing a link through Facebook, one by sharing through Twitter. Fans everywhere in the world can take part, but there is also a competition running for people in the UK and Ireland, where you can win signed books, a Zom-B t-shirt and poster, and a zombie baby! To take part in the reveal, CLICK HERE. This is the first time that a YA cover has been revealed this way in the UK -- you can find out more about that by CLICKING HERE -- and the speed of the cover reveal depends entirely on how many people take part, so spread the word as much as you can!



    Since my American publishers are using a different version of the image, I am able to reveal the whole of the USA cover above. I think it's a beautifully eerie cover, one of my favourite American covers so far -- I hope you guys like it too!


    You should be able to buy Zom-B Mission in your local bookseller when it comes out -- if you don't see it on the shelves, do please ask a member of staff to locate or order a copy for you. Alternatively you can buy or download it online if you prefer.


    In the UK you can buy the book on Amazon UK (currently at the incredible pre-sale price of just £3.49!!!) or download it in a variety of eFormats including Kindle (where it's currently on pre-sale at just £3.41!!!!).


    In the USA you can buy the book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or download it in a variety of eFormats including Kindle and Nook Book.







    Last year my UK publishers, Simon & Schuster, ran a competition where the winner got a chance to appear as a character in Zom-B Mission in one of the Warren Pleece illustrations. I think it's one of the coolest competitions we've ever run! The lucky winner's name is Stephen Parkin, and you can see him on the far right of the drawing above, along with a photo of how he looks in real life. I think Warren got him spot-on! You'll be able to enjoy plenty more drawings when Zom-B Mission goes on sale in the spring, and I'll try to share a few more with you in advance next month.





    As I revealed exlusively here last month, I'm releasing an extra Zom-B book in March. Called Zom-B Circus, it's not a full-length book -- it will be about half the size of a normal Zom-B book -- and it doesn't focus on B Smith (though she has a small but crucial part to play in it). Instead it focuses on a teacher from B's school who gets caught up in the madness when the zombies attack, and undergoes a most surprising and disturbing transformation. The book will be a stand-alone, though it also links in with B's story in certain ways, featuring appearances by some of the characters we have already met (or will meet soon) in the main series. It also gives us a chance to have another look at Mr Dowling and his merry crew in wild, kill-crazy action, to catch up on what they've been up to while they've been keeping low in the series...


    The plan in the UK and Ireland is to sell Zom-B Circus as an eBook for £0.99 -- we're hoping to have that ready to go on sale in the UK and Ireland at the same time as the seventh book in the series, Zom-B Mission, on March 27th, but I'll confirm that next month, once we know for sure if we can make the deadline.


    Zom-B Circus is also going to be produced in a physical format, i.e. as an actual book, but only as a giveaway -- it's due to be given away free with the magazine SFX in the UK & Ireland, in issue 248, which goes on sale on April 30th. SFX has a circulation of about 30,000 so it will be quite a large print run, but I'd recommend you reserve your copy of the magazine in advance, before copies of the book start popping up for inflated prices on eBay!!!


    Zom-B Circus is also going to be given away for free through Easons stores in Ireland -- I think this will be at the same time as Zom-B Mission, but again, I'll confirm that next month once I know for definite. 


    I'm still waiting for news on whether or not Zom-B Circus is going to be available to readers in America -- I'm hopeful it will be, but I'll have an update one way or the other about that in the March issue of the Shanville Monthly.







    It's going to be a Shantastic few months in the world of leading sci-fi magazine SFX!! As well as the Zom-B Circus giveaway in issue 248 (see above) they're running a short story-writing competition in issue 246, on sale March 5th, in which one of the judges is going to be... me!!! One of my rules over the last fifteen years has been to never read unpublished fiction -- in fact, I don't normally read a lot of published fiction either, since I just don't have enough time. However, I've agreed to make a rare (it might even prove to be a one-off) exception, and will read the final shortlist, before chipping in to help choose an overall winner. If you've ever wanted me to read one of your stories, this might very well be your only opportunity to make it happen!!


    There will be more about the competition in issue 247 (on sale April 2nd), along with an ad for Zom-B Mission. Then the Zom-B Circus giveaway in issue 248. The winner of the short story competiton will be announced in issue 250, on sale June 25th -- I also think the winning short story will be included, but don't quote me on that! And then there'll be an ad for the eighth Zom-B book (I'll be revealing the title of that very shortly) in issue 251.


    So -- do you need any MORE reasons to subscribe to maybe the coolest sci-fi magazine on the planet?!? http://www.sfx.co.uk/







    I forgot to mention last month that the paperback edition of Zom-B Angels went on sale at the same time as the hardback edition of Zom-B Gladiator. It should be available in all good bookshops, or you can order or download it as an eBook on Amazon UK.






    In Hungary, Birth of a Killer, the first book in The Saga Of Larten Crepsley, goes on sale on February 8th. I've always enjoyed incredible support from my Hungarian Shansters, so I'm delighted that this is now available there. I hope you all enjoy the start of Larten's story. You can find out more about the book's release, and order it, on my Hungarian publisher's site, by CLICKING HERE.





    In Finland, the manga edition of Vampire Mountain goes on sale on February 1st. You can find my Finnish publisher's link for the page by CLICKING HERE, but at the moment there isn't an online image of it.





    How long does it take me to write a book? Where do the names of my characters come from? How do I go about researching my stories? These are some of the questions I get asked a lot. And they’re questions that I answer, along with a whole lot more, in the BOOKS part of my web site.


    I’ve written up Author Notes for every single book that I’ve published, in which I talk about the conception and writing of them, as well as providing you guys with some intriguing background details, such as how I once lost most of a book, and the influence of Star Wars on my work!!


    I’ve now added my notes for Zom-B Gladiator to my site, in which I talk among other things about how its title was originally slightly different, and where the names for the hellacious members of the Board came from. To go straight to the author notes page for Zom-B Gladiator, CLICK HERE.





    There was exciting news on the awards front recently, when I found out that Zom-B has been listed for a couple of reader-voted awards in the UK. First up, I heard that it had made the Doncaster Book Award shortlist -- I've been nominated for that award before, so it's nice to be back in the running. Not long after that, I received word that Zom-B had been longlisted for the Surrey Amazing Book Awards -- there's only word for that really -- AMAZING!! The book is up against some tough competition in both awards, but even if it doesn’t win, it’s always sweet to make a shortlist!





    If you want to improve your spelling... read Darren Shan?!? I'm not kidding, as you'll see if you check out this article about a boy who won a spelling bee competition in Miami to advance to the county finals. His favourite books? "Cirque Du Freak." Proof that my books are educational as well as scary!!! To access the article, CLICK HERE.







    Although some of my Saga Of Darren Shan/Cirque Du Freak books were published in audio format in the UK, the series was never completed or made available in other countries. That’s all about to change! The first seven books in the series have been released in brand new audio editions, in both the UK and USA, and Book 8, Allies of the Night, and Book 9, Killers Of The Dawn, are due to be released on February 1st, with the rest to soon follow -- see below. The narrator is Ralph Lister. Those are the super-cool covers above. If you click on them, you will be able to listen to free samples of the books, and download them if you wish to buy them.


    You can download Cirque Du Freak through the Amazon UK site here or you can buy it on CD here. You will find links for the other available books on that page.


    In the USA you can download Cirque Du Freak through the Ambling Books site here or buy it on CD through Amazon here. You will find links for all of the other books on those pages.


    Books 10 and 11 are scheduled to be released on March 1st 2014, and book 12 on April 1st 2014.


    My Zom-B books are also available in audio format -- look or ask for them in your local bookstore, or else search for them online. I was very pleased to see the first book shortlisted as one of Audiobook Heaven's favourite audio books of the year! To see the full list, CLICK HERE.





    I was inrigued by this article, written by a fan of my Zom-B series, about some of the problems and issues that translators might face when coming to translate it (especially the first book) into their own language. I only speak English myself. I figured Zom-B would be challenging for translators, but I'd no idea it could be this complicated! If you want to find out more, CLICK HERE.





    I was very pleased to see a bookseller, Kendall, in Texas rate Zom-B among his Top 3 reads of 2013! I always like to get positive feeback from readers, but it’s especially sweet when it comes from a bookseller, as those guys REALLY know their books and can be very hard to impress!! To see the full list, CLICK HERE.


    I was just as pleased to see a librarian, Lisa, also in Texas (they clearly have great taste in the Lone Star State!), also recommend one of my books, this time Zom-B Angels. Like good booksellers, good librarians are among the most-read and knowledgeable people I’ve ever met, so it’s always sweet to have them onside!! To check it out, CLICK HERE.






    What the hell are the ZOM-B CHRONICLES?!? Well, it’s a collection of the first three books in my Zom-B series, which will be going on sale in the USA on September 9th. The collection will present the first three books in their entirety, except for the prologues in books 2 and 3 — we figured there was no need for them in a collection like this. The plan is to bring out the rest of the books in this format further down the line, but there are no release dates set for those future volumes yet. There are also currently no plans to release bind-ups like this in any other country. I’ll be flagging this up again later in the year, closer to the book’s release date—I just couldn’t wait to share the very cool cover with you guys!!! You can pre-order the book from Amazon if you wish—as you can see, this is going to be a very economical way to collect the books!







    Canadian singer Rose Weekes has written a beautiful, haunting song called LORD LOSS, inspired by… you guessed it!! When I first sat down to listen to this, I was expecting a hardcore, grisly, fast-paced slice of noise—I was completely unprepared for what lay in store for me! As a creator, I love when my work inspires others to get creative, be that through writing, art, or music — but it’s even more of a thrill when my work inspires someone to create something GOOD!!! I really enjoyed this the first time I heard it, but I've listened to it several times since, and it's got better and better each time! Have a listen, folks, and share it with everyone you know (they don’t need to have read my books, or even have the slightest bit of interest in them) — you won’t regret it!!! https://soundcloud.com/roseweekes/lordloss






    In February 1999, a debut novel by a young writer was released in the UK and Ireland. Saddled with an improbable title, Ayuamarca picked up some positive reviews but failed to set the world alight on the sales front. Its author, Darren O'Shaughnessy, released another book for adults the following year, called Hell's Horizon, but then disappeared off the radar. However, while Darren O'Shaughnessy was busy disappearing, Darren Shan was busy making himself known, and on the children's front I stormed from success to success. There was even a revival for the adult books in later years, albeit under the name of D B Shan (later Darren Shan) this time, and with Ayuamarca re-titled to the much more reader-friendly Procession of the Dead. (The book, and its sequels, are available to buy or download in the UK and USA, and are also on sale in several other countries as well -- click here to see if they're available in YOUR language.)


    My life has changed in so many ways over the last fifteen years. I was 21 when I wrote the first draft of Ayuamarca, having just recently finished university. I re-wrote it over the next five years, and was 26 when it was released. I was drawing unemployment benefits for much of that time, and living with my parents, writing in my bedroom, at the table where I used to be my homework when I was in school. Apart from occasional trips to London, I hadn't travelled anywhere else in the world. I had a large video collection, in the days before DVDs, and although I bought my first CD player for my birthday when I was 21, I still had a lot of audio cassettes since they were cheaper to buy -- the thought of being able to download a film, album or book at the click of the button was nothing more than science-fiction!


    The one thing that hasn't really changed over the last fifteen years is my love of writing. I've gone through all sorts of different stories and genres, both for adults and children, pushing myself as hard and as far as I can -- although making time for more leisurely pursuits too, as I think it's important not to work TOO hard in life. I love all of the success that I've enjoyed with my Darren Shan books, but at the end of the day it's just material success, and for me secondary to the most important thing of all, i.e. writing good books. I was a penniless, unknown writer in February 1999. I'm now a wealthy writer in February 2014, having sold somewhere in the region of 25 millions books across the world. But take all the money away and I'm still, first and foremost, the same thing -- a writer. I'm still trying to find new stories, and new ways to tell them. I have hopes that I will write better books than I already have, and fears that I'll write worse books than I already have. Every day when I sit down to write, the rest of the world fades away, all the success, all the money, all the expectations of my fans, and I become the same person I was when I was 26, focused only on the words and the worlds that I am creating.


    I've released thirty-eight novels and two shorter books in the last fifteen years, under three different names -- Darren O'Shaughnessy, D B Shan, and of course Darren Shan. I've recently added a fourth name to my portfolio (see below). Will that be the last pseudonym I use? Probably, though if I've learnt anything over the last fifteen years, it's not to take anything for granted! But, regardless of the name on the cover, or whether I'm writing a lighter book for children or an incredibly dark book for adults, there's always the same guy behind it, a guy who loves writing stories, a guy who likes to share his stories, a guy who wants to keep experimenting and writing all the way through the rest of his life.


    The last fifteen years have been a blast for me. Thank YOU for enjoying at least some of them with me. And here's to the next fifteen... and beyond!







    To tie in with the fifteenth anniversary of the release of my first book, I've released a new book for adult readers, but I'm using a different name, which I won't reveal here. I was always uneasy about releasing adult books and children's books under the same name -- that's why I used two different names in the beginning. Years later I was persuaded to combine them, but I was always concerned about such a move -- it made my adult books a lot more visible than they might otherwise have been, but it also increased the risk of them being misplaced on shelves in bookshops and libraries, and ending up in the hands of readers who were younger than the target audience. As well as that, there was the issue that I've written various types of adult books, some of which are much more experimental than anything else I've published -- I was worried that I'd disappoint readers who were expecting a "Darren Shan type" book and instead found themselves in a whole different type of literary world.


    I've decided, therefore, to reinstate the division between my work for adults and children that I first put in place fifteen years ago. I considered saying nothing at all about my new pseudonym, and releasing the book without any mention here, but the trouble with that is that I have an established older fanbase in place, readers of a more mature age who are patiently waiting for my next adult book. If I told them nothing about my new work, they wouldn't have the option of trying it. At the same time, I didn't want to drive my younger readers towards the new book, since I don't consider it appropriate for them, in the same way that The City Trilogy and Lady of the Shades are not appropriate for children.


    In the end I came up with a compromise. I've created a verification page on my Darren Shan web site (you can find the link above at the top and bottom of this entry), which leads to the web page that I will be using from this point onwards for my adult books. If you're interested in learning more about the new book, including its title and the name I'm using for it, you can go to the verification page, input your age, and be re-directed if appropriate.


    While I hope to establish traditional publishing deals for my new adult work going forward, where a physical version will be produced and sold in shops, at the moment the new book is currently only available as an eBook -- but on the plus side it's available worldwide, through the majority of online bookselling platforms. I plan to release other books for adults in this fashion -- the low costs involved mean that I can sell them at a very reasonable price, which frees me up to try different types of stories, so I no longer feel tied to producing a specific type of book that won't disappoint an established audience. I can go from a serious book about the nature of evil, to a schlock horror story about monsters, to a light Shakespearean-influenced comedy... and, trust me, I will!!! I'm now in a world of "anything goes," which is always where I wanted to be with my adult books. If traditional publishers get interested and are happy to follow me down all or some of the different warrens where I want to run, great, I'll happily discuss regular publishing deals with them. But if they don't, c'est la vie, I'll just as happily go on creating my own online world of many-coloured wonders.


    I'll be releasing very differing types of books for adults over the coming years, but this first one is one of the darkest books I've ever written, a grim thriller with no fantastical elements. While it explores many of the same themes that you can find in The City books and Lady of the Shades, the lack of a fantasy angle means that it feels like a harsher, more morally challenging work, and it's 100% certainly NOT for children! It's probably not for all adults either, so my advice would be to approach with caution! If you do decide to take a chance on it, and enjoy what you read, please feel free to write up a review and spread the word -- there's no publicity campaign in place for the new adult work, so it's going to rely entirely on word of mouth.







    To celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of my first published book, as well as the release of my latest book for adults, I'm running a competition this month where you have a chance to win one of fifteen signed copies of the UK paperback edition of Lady Of the Shades! This is open to fans everywhere in the world, but you must indicate in your entry that you are 16 years of age of older, as I don't believe that any of my adult books are appropriate for young readers.


    1) Answer this question: "How many years has it been since I released my first book?"


    2) Send your entry to: [email protected]


    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. In addition, you must signify that you are 16 years of age or older -- I cannot accept entries from anyone under 16 years of age.


    (4) Closing date is midnight, UK Time, Wednesday, February 12th, 2014.


    (5) This competition is open to everybody 16 years or older, 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 Thursday, February 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 February issue of 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. I'll keep your details on my PC, then delete the info once the competition ends.


    (10) My decision will be final.





    The 14 winners of the January Shanville Monthly competition, who each won a signed copy of Zom-B City, were, in the order drawn:

    Rath Su - New Zealand.
    Jacinta Woodhouse - Australia.
    Melody Dixon - USA.
    Megan Blakeley - UK.
    Sebastian Tate - USA.
    Rachel Teggart - Ireland.
    Veronika Kemenesne Partay - Hungary.
    Jennifer O’Reilly - Ireland.
    Joanne Small - UK.
    Stef White - UK.
    Ian Redington - UK.
    Lilith Reiter - Austria.
    Ivana van der Heiden - Netherlands.
    Zain Razaw - UK.

    And, because I was in a generous mood, I decided to give away 6 runner-up prizes as well, so the following each got a signed copy of the manga edition of The Lake Of Souls:

    Annette Masteron - Ireland.
    Bettina Madarasz - UK.
    Ayrton McGurgan - Ireland.
    Cass Oakley - UK.
    Egypt Spivey - USA.
    Felicia Joseph - Canada.

    Congratulations to everyone who won, better luck next time to those who didn’t, and thanks to you all for entering. There were 202 valid entries overall.






    My 2014 tour diary is starting to fill up, with lots of events already confirmed for the first half of the year. Here are the details as they currently stand -- I'll update this part of the Monthly as and when dates and times are confirmed. UPDATE -- 4/2/14 -- I've managed to sort out a New York public event before my trip to Canada in March, and there's also talk of a return trip to Hungary in June.



    Saturday 1st February

    12.00pm -- meeting winners of Irish Zom-B Feast competition, Dublin.



    Thursday 20th March

    5.00pm -- public panel event with 3 other writers, Books Of Wonder, 18 West 18th, between 5th and 6th Avenues, New York, NY. http://www.booksofwonder.com/event.php?id=174



    Tuesday 25th March

    7.00pm -- public event and signing, North York Public Library, Toronto. http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDMEVT159668&R=EVT159668

    Thursday 27th March

    am -- school event, Ottawa.

    12.30pm -- School event, Ottawa Public Library, Carlington branch.

    6.00pm -- public event and signing, Ottawa Public Library, Nepean Centrepointe Branch, Ottawa.



    Tuesday 1st April

    am -- school event, Ashcroft High School, Luton.

    pm -- school event, TBC.

    pm -- public event, TBC.

    Wednesday 2nd April

    am -- school event, TBC.

    pm -- school event, Anglo European School, Ingatestone, Essex.

    pm -- public event or signing, TBC.

    Thursday 3rd April

    10.45am -- school event, Lampton School, Hounslow.

    pm -- school event, TBC.

    pm -- public event or signing, TBC.

    Friday 4th April

    am -- school event, TBC.

    pm -- school event, TBC.

    pm -- public event or signing, TBC.

    Saturday 5th April

    am -- public signing, TBC.

    4.00pm -- public event, Cambridge Literary Festival. https://www.adcticketing.com/whats-on/literary/darren-shan.aspx

    Sunday 6th April

    am/pm -- public signing, TBC.



    Monday 7th April

    am -- school event, TBC.

    2.00pm -- school event, Methodist College, Belfast.

    pm -- public event or signing, TBC.

    Tuesday 8th April

    am -- school event, TBC.

    pm -- school event, TBC.

    pm -- public signing, TBC.

    Wednesday 9th April

    10.00am -- school event, Dunamaise Arts Theatre, Portlaiose. Click here to book.

    12.30pm -- school event, Dunamaise Arts Theatre, Portlaiose. Click here to book.

    7.00pm -- public event, Dunamaise Arts Theatre, Portlaiose. Click here to book.

    Thursday 10th April

    10.00am -- school event, Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge.

    pm -- school event, TBC.

    pm -- public event or signing, TBC.



    Saturday 10th May

    4.00pm -- public event, Brighton Festival. http://brightonfestival.org/

    Friday 23rd May

    5.00pm -- public event, Norwich And Norwich Festival, Norwich. http://www.nnfestival.org.uk/

    Monday 26th May

    2.30pm -- public event, Hay Festival, Hay-On-Wye. Click here for web site.



    Friday 4th July

    pm -- public event, Hay Festival Kells, County Meath. Click here for web site.



    Saturday 5th July

    am -- public signing, TBC.

    6.00pm -- public event, Manchester Children's Book Festival, Manchester. http://www.mcbf.org.uk/


    public event, Edinburgh Book Festival, date and time TBC.





    And that's it for February -- and the first fifteen years of my career as a published author! I'll be back here at the start of March (and the next fifteen years!) with all the latest news and updates. Until then, all my bloody best, Darren Shan. x x x


    Follow Darren Shan on Facebook and Twitter. He also has a (very rarely updated!) YouTube page.