Back in the zone

August 31, 2009 at 19:41 (1)

Returned to writing duties today and wrote another 10 pages of my new book (part of the series which I hope to follow up The Thin Executioner and the Mr Crepsley books with). I always hate taking a break halfway through a first draft — ideally I like to push on from start to finish without any interruptions, so that I can stay within the world of the story. It’s a bit awkward when I have to break for a couple of weeks, as I have to try and get back into the mindset of the book and pick up the reins again. But with all the travelling I do these days, I sometimes I have to take a break whether I like it or not. When I come back from a break, I’m always a bit nervous, wondering if the words will come again, or if I’ll struggle to complete the tale. But thankfully, on this book at least, that hasn’t happened and I slipped back into the story today as if I’d never been away. I suspect this is a book I’ll have to edit down a bit later on — there’s a lot of dialogue in it — but as I’ve said often in past blogs, when you’re working on a first draft, it’s always better to put in too much than too little.

I received a very sweet email from a lady called Michelle in America a few days ago:

I wanted to thank you for your Cirque du Freak series. I purchased the Cirque du Freak series for our middle school students. When one of our learning disabled students came to me raving about how much he loved your series, and how he’d read every single book, I knew something amazing was happening. This was a young man who I’d known for 3 years. I’d never seen him interested in any book.

Keeping this in mind, I thought I’d try the book with my son, Conor, who is dyslexic. While he’s very bright and does very well in math and science, his dyslexia makes him avoid reading aloud, and reading silently. My husband and I decided it was worth a try to see if he’d like Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare. Conor wanted us to read it aloud with him, so took turns with us reading and then with him. Conor and his father are now on the final book in your series.

Thank you for creating an engaging story that’s shown my son the joy, excitement and adventure a well-told tale can bring. Conor’s great-grandparents were from Sligo and Mayo, Ireland, so I’m sure they’re smiling down from the heavens knowing that an Irishman convinced their grandson that reading is a challenge worth taking.

Awww — emails like that always put a goofy grin on my face!!! I love reaching any new fan, but it’s particularly rewarding when you manage to hook in someone who isn’t a natural reader. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been happy since the start to let a film be made of my books — movies often introduce books to people who otherwise might not take a chance on them. For me, that chance of reaching out to new fans, of enticing non-readers like Conor into my world and being able to share my stories with them, is worth all of the compromises you have to make when you sell your books to Hollywood.


  1. Robbie said,

    Awww!!!!!!!!!! That is so swee to me! I am glad someone who is not really into reading is starting to read your books now and enjoying them. Shows that one man really CAN make a difference. ‘Nuff said.

    A good blog Darren Shan and I hope that you get back into that mindset soon, no matter how long it takes!!!!

    Keep up the good work please by writng more soon, whether that means books, newspaper articles, blogs, or MySpace comments!!!!! Never give up on your work Darren!

    Sincerely, Robbie Rowe

  2. Paul Carroll said,

    Oh that’s so cool! What a great response to your books!

    Ha funny coincidence (or maybe more than coincidence.. =S) — the day you got back into writing was the day *I* got back into writing. All summer I’ve been struggling to write anything, and yesterday I had a giant writing session (can’t just call it a session because that implies I’m getting drunk….) Between yesterday and today I managed to write 10,000 words! I still can’t believe it. It might not all be good, but it’s a start. I can always try edit it down if I have to.

    How many words do you fit on a page, by the way? You say “10 pages,” but how much is that in words?

  3. sandy said,

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