New blog

June 14, 2010 at 15:03 (Uncategorized)

This is the link for the new blog page:  http://www.darrenshan.com/news/ You will be able to comment there, the same way you were able to comment here, and you can Subscribe on the site to receive blog updates if you want to be sent an email each time I post a new blog or news item. I won’t be making any new blog entries on this wordpress site. It’s been fun, but all good things must come to an end — or, in this case, move over to a new host site!! Ciao, wordpress!!!!

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Closing this Blog down

June 8, 2010 at 19:55 (Uncategorized)

Hi folks, I’m going to be shutting down this wordpress blog shortly. Now that my site has been redesigned, I am hosting the blog over at www.darrenshan.com in the News & Blog section. By keeping it there, I’m going to be able to maintain it much easier. Also it will tie in with the rest of my site, and make it easeir for you guys to view it as part of the site. I’ll still be replicating it on MySpace for the time being, but this wordpress version now seems redundant, so my advice is to head on over to the freshly designed web site and register your details there, using the Subscribe function, which works the same way this one does, alerting you every time a new blog or news article is posted.

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New York update

June 2, 2010 at 02:56 (Uncategorized)

Sorry for another long blog absence, folks, but I’ve been in New York on holiday for most of the past week and I just couldn’t find the time for a long blog! I have been tweeting quite regularly — if you haven’t started to follow me yet on Twitter, my account name there is @darrenshan

Bas and I flew to NY last Friday. After a delicious burger and hot dog in the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, we met my friends Jennifer and Emily (the latter lives in Taiwan, but happened to be in NY at the same time as us!) and went to see “Promises, Promises” on Broadway. It starred Kristin Chenoweth, one of our favourite actresses, and was based on the great movie “The Apartment”, so we had high hopes that it would be something special — but those hopes were swiftly dashed!! It was miscast, and the songs just didn’t work with the story — they didn’t move the plot forward. It was so bad that we left during the interval!! From there we went to a pub just off Times Square where my aunt Majella is a manageress. We had a couple of drinks with her, as well as with a cousin of mind called Dawn who, like Emily, just happened to be in town (she lives in Australia!!), then hit the sack and slept like logs.

On Saturday we went for a long walk in Central Park — it’s such a beautiful place!! I’m always freshly struck by how awesome it is every time I visit New York!! We had a yummy brunch in the Boat House there, walked some more, then met up with Jennifer again and went to see “A Little Night Music” on Broadway. We had seen the same production in London last year, and it was just as fab here, with the added attractions of Catherine Zeta Jones and the evergreen Angela Lansbury. It’s a fabulous play, and this is a first-rate version — the 3 hours zipped by like a refreshing summer breeze. Later we had dinner with my editor, Cindy, and ex-publicist Elizabeth Eulberg (who recently published her first book for teenage girls — go check it out!). After that we went to a piano bar called Marie’s Crisis, where we sang lots of show tunes, and then to a nearby karaoke bar, where we sang lots of rock tunes!!! Fun times!!!!!

We slept in late on Sunday, then went for another long walk in Central Park. We got sandwiches from the Carnegie Deli on the way, and they were the biggest sandwiches either one of us had ever seen!! They were so big it was ridiculous — we couldn’t figure out how the hell we were supposed to eat them!!!! We met up with Jennifer again after that and went to see “Glee! Live” It was the cast of “Glee” (minus the adult actors) singing many of the songs from the show, and it was a lot of fun — cheesy, but catchy! We bid Jennifer adieu at the end of the raucous singalong, then Bas and I went to see “Million Dollar Quartet”, which was basically just a lot of 1950s rock ‘n’ roll songs belted out by an enthusiastic cast — but despite its flimsy plot, it worked as a greatest hits vehicle.

On Monday we went to SoHo and wandered around Chinatown and Little Italy. We had lunch in Cafe Habana, where they do the best corn on the cob in all the world!! We did some shopping — I bought some sandals and slippers from the Ugg store, so I’m all set for both summer and winter conditions now!! After a rest we went for pizza to John’s on West 44th, then we went to see “Shrek Forever After” at the cinema — it was a big improvement over the previous entry and we both came away smiling.

Today we hit the museums. We started with the Guggenheim, which we both found very disappointing — it’s a fabulous building, but most of the pieces on display didn’t do much for either of us — mostly modern photographs which left us scratching our heads. They did have one room full of fabulous Impressionist paintings, which fired us up, but overall I think it’s an overpriced museum that offers poor value for money. We went to the Met next, and you could never accuse THAT place of offering poor value for money!!! It’s a treasure trove, a delight to explore. You can never see the whole of it in one visit, but we covered a nice section this time, taking in the modern and Impressionist art, as well as a quick trip through the African and Indonesian areas, and the lovely roof garden with its spectacular views over Central Park. We had planned to visit Roosevelt Island or Staten Island later, but were too exhausted, so we just came back and rested for an hour. After dinner at Bubba Gump’s, we went to see “American Idiot”, based on the Greenday album. Bas loved it, but it left me cold. The music was great, the set was impressive, the cast sung their hearts out, and the choreography was top-notch — but the story didn’t grab me. I thought they would at least try to flesh out the think story from the album a bit, but they didn’t really, preferring to let the songs flow almost uninterrupted. I didn’t mind the lack of a plot when I saw “Million Dollar Quartet” but it bugged me here and I never truly connected with the show. Bas left on a high, I left on a low. C’est la vie!!!

We’re squeezing in one more show on Wednesday – “A Behanding in Spokane” – and then we’re catching the plane home. Hopefully I’ll be able to blog more regularly from this point on, now that things have returned to normal…

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The hardest talk

May 26, 2010 at 20:34 (Uncategorized)

The last couple of days have been hard. After my Grandad died on Sunday, his body was taken away to be embalmed and was then returned to the house. I stayed up all night with some of the family — it’s a tradition here that someone keeps the corpse company all night when it is resting at home. I grabbed some sleep on Monday morning, then returned for the laying out — that’s another tradition here in Ireland, where people who knew the deceased are invited to come and view the body before the lid is put on. Often that happens in a funeral parlour, but we had the viewing in his home, in the TV room where he had spent so much of the last 19 years since retiring and moving back to Ireland from London. His children sat inside with him, while all of his grandchildren who were present (along with some of his great-grandchildren) stood in a line outside the house, shaking hands with everyone who had come to visit. It was a huge turnout, close to 500 people — he had been a hugely popular and visible local figure all of his life. We were there for 4 hours. Then the family gathered inside the room, said our last goodbyes, and the lid was laid in place — always a horrible moment, since you know that’s the very last time you’re ever going to see the dead person’s face. We then drove to the village and walked after the hearse all the way up the street. He had been a great hurler, and had won lots of medals at county level, so the local GAA members gave us a guard of honour, players marching along beside us — it was a very nice touch. I helped carry the coffin into the church, then we had a short service, then we left him to lie by himself in church overnight.
On Tuesday we had the burial. Mass was at midday. I had volunteered to do a little eulogy about him. He had written a few books of memoirs during his retirement, and I decided to read out an extract from one of those, to remind everyone of what he had been like. I’m well used to speaking in public, but this was easily the hardest talk I’ve ever given. I was very emotional, and when I began speaking I almost broke down in tears. I managed to press on without crying, but then my right leg started to shake wildly! I don’t think anyone could see, as I was standing behind a podium, but I was aware of it all the time and couldn’t stop it. I was delighted to be able to speak at his funeral, and wouldn’t have had it any other way, but it was also a relief when I came to the final line and was able to return to my pew. After that we escorted the coffin to the graveyard and I helped lower it into the grave and tossed in a couple of shovels of dirt, then watched as it was filled back in. Having bid Grandad a final farewell, we headed to the Corner House, where food had been laid on for everyone, and we spent the rest of the afternoon and night remembering him and toasting his memory. He might be gone, but he will never be forgotten by those who knew him and loved him — and that was virtually everyone whose path he had crossed.
Today was strange. I feel disjointed, without purpose. The last week had been devoted entirely to Grandad and preparing for the inevitable. Now I’ve started the return to normal life, but it will take a while to readjust and get back to my regular patterns. When a loved one is taken from your life, it’s impossible to just bounce back as if nothing has happened. You need to take a bit of time to find your feet again. And that’s good — it reminds you of how much the deceased meant to you, and how richer your life was for having them in it.

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Bye bye Grandad

May 23, 2010 at 18:11 (Uncategorized)

Sorry I haven’t posted a blog for so long but it’s been a difficult week. My Grandad fell seriously ill last Monday and spent the whole of the week passing way. He finally moved on to Vampire Paradise this Sunday at 2.25pm. I spent most of the week up at his house, and while I did my best to Tweet every day, I wasn’t able to find the time or energy to blog. It’s a sad occasion, obviously, but he lived a full life and was 84 and a half years old when he died, and he went very peacefully, surround by his family — so, all things considered, he can’t have too many complaints!! We were very close, especially since he retired and moved back to the village where I live 18 or so years ago. I was very lucky to have him around and in my life for such a long time. I’ll miss him massively now that he’s gone.

It was a long, hard week for all of us, but not without its lighter moments. My favourite came late Friday night. He looked to be on his way out that night. His breathing had deteriorated and he hadn’t shown any signs of consciousness for quite a while. We were gathered around him, most of his kids and a few of his many grandads. Every time he took a deep breath, we froze, thinking this was the end. We watched in absolute silence for ages. The he coughed and shuddered. Everyone leaned forward, ready to bid him farewell, tears welling in all our eyes. A beautiful, serene moment.

Then he opened his eyes, looked around at us, blinked and said “What’s wrong?”

We fell about laughing!!!!

That’s how I’ll remember him.

John Barry, 1925 – 2010. RIP.

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Perfection can wait

May 17, 2010 at 20:14 (Uncategorized)

I took Saturday off and went for a walk along the beach in Ballybunion with Bas. Apart from that I’ve been working hard, editing a book for adults which I wrote several years ago. I have two books for adults which I’m currently working on, one which I’ve mentioned on this blog before, and this one. The former has a fantastical element, this one doesn’t. I like them both, a LOT, and definitely hope to publish both in the near future. It’s just a matter of deciding which one to try and lead off with. I’ve done a few edits on the first. Now I’m re-visiting this book to see what sort of a shape it’s in. Once I’ve edited it, I’ll be in a better position to compare them and decide which to line up first.

I’ve been trimming the book down quite sharply, shortening paragraphs, cutting words that don’t need to be there, tightening up. I’ve said it here before, but it’s worth repeating — in my experience you should never worry too much about a first draft. I think a lot of writers, especially young writers, get hung up at an early stage. They want every line to be absolutely right, the best line they can produce, and they focus too hard on individual lines, not moving forward with the book until they’re happy. I think that can be very dangerous. I like to rush forward as swiftly as I can when I’m writing a first draft. I write more than I need, and it’s often lumpy and over-stuffed with details. But when I finish, I have a complete first draft which I can then work on and hone down. It’s like chiselling a statue out of a block of marble — first you need to cut away a lot of the material, to get a rough shape, and only then do you work on the finer edges and details. Pretty much every author goes through a book at least 6 or 7 times before it’s ready to be puiblished. The time to focus on fine-tuning lines is during the editing process — at that stage you’ll have done the hard work of getting a first draft down on paper, you’ll easily be able to see what works and what doesn’t, you’ll be free to spend as much time as you like playing around with words and phrases. With a first draft you should be focused on getting your story down in one big lump, so that you have material — a “block of marble” — to chip away at. If you let yourself get hung up on details, the chances are you’ll probably never make it to the end. Full steam ahead!!!!!!

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Celtic synchronicity!

May 14, 2010 at 20:02 (Uncategorized)

I received the following email from a lady called Tracy in the USA, which made me smile:

So I sat down and watched the Vampire’s Assistant movie sometime ago and noticed it came from a book series. Since I’m a proud owner of the B&N Nook I ran off and downloaded some of the books which later turned into ALL of the series. Fantastic work! I will say though I am happy I’ve learned through the book to movie projects that you should ALWAYS see the movie first and you’ll appreciate both the movie and book more in the end. The differences between the two were drastic at times and I was never really sure how they would do another movie from the next three book’s influence. Please understand I wasn’t disappointed with either, but in fact loved them both.

ANYWAYS on to the real point of my email. After reading all the Cirque books I had looked around online to see if there was any talk of the sequel to the movie and then to see if you had any other series out there. I came across your web page and found out about the Demonata series and I slowly started reading them. I was quite a bit busy at the time planning for a vacation to Ireland with my Husband, child and mother-in-law when right there I find you are from Ireland. I thought to myself “What are the odds of that.” Well I knew it would be a long flight and a long drive (seeing Ireland from a road trip in only 9 days) so I downloaded Bec to keep me company.

On our second day there I went on a fantastic tour and then on the way to the next place I started reading Bec. All I could think was “HOLY CRAP He took this tour, threw in demons and magic and BOOM a book!”. The tour I took was the Irish National Heritage Park tour. It must have been a day later that I got to the part about how she cooked the meat in the hole in the water and wrapped the meat in straw (perfectly described in my tour at the INHP). In case you are wondering I don’t read that slow I was just so busy enjoying the country side, take a tour or screaming at my husband “LEFT!!  DRIVE ON THE LEFT!” or “OMG THE ROAD IS TOO NARROW!” or the many other driving hazards of an American driver in Ireland.

I honestly have to say that I was able to REALLY enjoy the book more as I was in Ireland at that time and learning all the different tools, homes and cooking methods of Ireland’s past AT THE TIME I was reading that book. Again all I could say was “What are the odds of that.” I’m home now, yes my family and I have been victorious over the ash cloud’s attack of flying, and just finished Bec and I have to say its the best so far because of the perfect timing of it all  :) Thank you for letting everyone have a glimpse of your imagination in your writing!

Heh heh — as I said to Tracy — coincidence… or DESTINY?!? Like Tracy, I toured some of the national heritage parks of Ireland when researching Bec, and they played a large part in helping me hopefully cpature what Celtic Ireland might have been like 1600 years ago — demons excetped, it’s as historically accurate a book as I could write. If anyone else is thinking of coming to Western Ireland on holiday, bring a copy of Bec with you, or read it in advnce or just after your tour — you’ll find the two probably play off one another very nicely indeed!!!

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Done touring… again!!

May 12, 2010 at 20:55 (Uncategorized)

The end of another successful, enjoyable tour!! I had a busy Saturday morning signing session in Chelmsford — I was there for two and a half hours, going at full speed!! The evening event in Dulwich was one of my quieter public events. I’ve been to the area quite a lot over the years, and I think maybe it’s time to give it a rest for a while — in my experience, with very few exceptions, fans do get tired of seeing the same old face rotate in year after year!!

On Sunday I was signing in Westfield for an hour and a half. I then did a talk at the Oxford Union for an expectedly small group, but in this instance the numbers weren’t a disappointment — it was an honour to be inivited there, so I was doing it for the prestige — something for my Mum to boast about!!! I really enjoyed it actually. I don’t often speak to groups of just adults, and it’s a very different vibe to speaking to a group of mixed ages. I wouldn’t like to do it all the time (I love having an audience of all ages) but it’s nice every once in a while.

I did a good school event on Monday in Leicester, though they didn’t have a microphone for me, which was annoying — I can be much more effective with a mic, especially when I’m doing voices during my readings. To be honest, one of the reasons I now do most of my school events in venues like theatres or public halls is to be able to ensure that a good mic is in place. Two things that mean a lot to me when I’m speaking to an audience — I like to have a big crowd (especially if it’s a schools event), and I like for everyone present to be able to hear every word that I say, because kids tend to fidget and chat to one another if they can’t hear a speaker and get bored!! I rounded off the tour with a nice, busy signing in Birmingham, two and a quarter hours, going full tilt, barely even time for breath!!!!

Some stats from the tour, for those who are interested… I did 12 public signings, the average signing time of which was 2 hours 30 minutes!!! Only 2 of those sessions lasted less than an hour and a half!! I met approximately 1630 kids at my 6 schools events!! And approximately 500-plus at my public events — a bit lower than it would normally be, because of the Oxford Union event and the Dulwich surprise. Busy busy!!!!!

I went to see Flight of the Conchords live in Birmingham after my last session — very enjoyable. Then, on Tuesday, I returned home. Today I went through the American proofs for Hell’s Horizon, and also trawled through the new Darren Shan web site, checking every page, making a list of tweaks and changes which we should be able to implement over the next couple of days. If all goes well, the site should be full functional and finished by early next week. I’m VERY pleased with it — much tighter and easier to navigate than before. When it’s all done and dusted, I’ll talk a bit more about it. For now — some much-deserved rest!!!

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Buzzing along nicely

May 7, 2010 at 21:11 (Uncategorized)

The tour has been buzzing along nicely. I did a lunchtime signing in Nottingham on Thursday. Most kids were at school — the reason we did a signing rather than a schools event was because of the election in the UK, which meant some schools were closed.  Even though many of my fans weren’t able to come because of school, lots of fans sent their parents, or even grandparents, so I was signing for an hour and a half!! I then went to Boston in Lincolnshire, where I did a public event for 150 kids in a really cool theatre. I was signing for 2 and a half hours afterwards.

Today I did a school event in Cambridge. I had been supposed to do an event in the Cambridge Union Society Debating Chamber for students from 10 schools — but that fell through when 8 of the schools canceled for various reasons!!! Luckily, the staff of Heffers in Cambridge were able to arrange for me to go into Linton Village College, where I did a fun event for 200 or so kids. I signed for an hour after that, then headed on to Bury St Edmunds, where I did a signing in Waterstones. A good crowd turned up, and I signed for an hour and a quarter, then stayed on and signed LOTS of stock too! Now I’m in my hotel room, resting up and enjoying a rare night of down time. Only 3 days left of the tour — it’s flown by!!! If you want to catch me during my last few days, I’m doing a public signing in Chelmsford on Saturday in WHSmith at 11.30… my last public event is in Alleyn’s School in London on Saturday at 4.00pm, and there are still tickets left… I’m signing in Foyles Westfield in London on Sunday at 1.30pm… I’m at the Oxford Union Society on Sunday at 8.00pm, but that’s only open to members… I’m doing a schools event in Leicester on Monday… then my final signing in Birmingham at 4.30pm Monday in Waterstones, 24-26 High Street (I might try to start a bit earlier if I can get there before that). For more details, check out the Shanville Monthly or Events section on www.darrenshan.com

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Beautiful day!!

May 5, 2010 at 22:49 (Uncategorized)

The tour has been going splendidly!! I was signing in Southampton for 2 hours 45 minutes on Monday. Bournemouth was the only small turnout of the tour so far — I was only there for 45 minutes. I did a big schools event in Dorking on Tuesday, for 300 kids, and signed for 2 hours. Then I did a public event for 160 in Worcester in the evening, and signed for another couple of hours. I faced a long drive to Sheffield after that, and didn’t arrive at my hotel until well after midnight.

But today will be hard to beat — and not just for the events!!! It started with a mammoth schools event in Sheffield — 400 kids. I spent two hours signing, but that was at top-speed, with no time for photos or much smalltalk, because I had to catch a train. If I’d had more time, I would have easily spent another hour signing, maybe even more — I hate having to rush, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. In Liverpool there was a huge turnout for my public signing, and I was there for 3 and a half hours — wonderful!!! But the REAL magic of the day came after that. Spurs were playing Man City in the league. If we beat them on their home turf, we would secure 4th spot in the league and qualify for the Champions League/European Cup for the first time in almost 50 years!!! If we drew or lost, it would go down to the last game of the season on Sunday. I missed the first half hour, but for the rest of the match we were in command, playing like the home team, creating the best chances. And then, with 7 minutes left to go, we scored!!!! I whooped and hollered and cheered — then clung on to my bed for the rest of the match, hardly daring to believe. But then the final whistle blew and it was real — we were there!!!!! Well… we’ve qualified for the qualification stages at least. But that’s still further than we’ve been in half a century. It’s a wonderful night to be a Tottenham fan!!!!

Anyway, I’m off to dream sweet dreams. The tour continues tomorrow, with a signing in Nottingham and a fan event in Boston, Lincolnshire. It’s election day, and the country might have a new government by the end of the day, but in the world of Darren Shan it’s business as normal!!!

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