Home again — briefly!!

October 25, 2009 at 22:24 (1)

I had a nice meal in Lund on Friday night. One of the people at my table was Martin Widmark, who is Sweden’s most successful children’s author at the moment. He’s absolutely massive out there, and big in other countries too, though his works have yet to be translated and released in the UK. It reminded me of how… well, I guess the only word is lazy we are in the UK and Ireland when it comes to translating foreign books. I know we’ve got lots of great writers writing in English, in the UK, Ireland, America, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere, but I think most countries are more willing to embrace books from other cultures, and it’s something I think we’re missing out on. It’s not a positive state of affairs, as I think it makes our book culture quite insular and inward-looking. I’d love if more books from other countries were available in English — one of the joys of travel is getting to see how other people live and experience the world, and books are a great way of capturing that without even having to leave your home. Hopefully it’s a situation that will change one day in the future…

Anyway, I did a great public event in Lund on Saturday. Elise and Pumpkin turned up again (hi, girls!!) and so did lots of other hardcore fans too!! Some even dressed up — I spotted a Snake Boy and a Vampaneze lurking in among the crowd!!!! You never know how an event is going to go when you travel to a foreign county for the first time, so it was a delight to see so many faces in the audience, and to have people line up patiently afterwards to get their books signed. Good times!!!

I flew back to London after the event and stayed at my flat there that night. On Sunday morning I did some internet stuff, then went for a lovely walk in St James’ Park. I fed lots of squirrels, and birds too, which always gives me a thrill. Some of the road around central London were closed off to traffic today, to encourage pedestrians to explore more, and I got a real buzz out of walking down the middle of the road over Westminster Bridge, and then up the middle of the Mall. It was a cool idea and I hope it gets repeated more often. After that I flew back home to Limerick, for a very brief visit — in the morning we jet off to Florida for a short holiday — bring on the roller coasters!!! It’s been a crazy, hectic month, but this is the ideal way to draw it to a close!

The movie opened in the USA and UK on Friday. I haven’t had any figures yet for the UK, but it hasn’t got off to the strongest of starts in the States. Then again, I doubt if Universal were banking on a huge opening weekend — my books are popular in America, but not massive, and the movie is pitched at teenagers, and although the cast is full of excellent actors, there are no real crowd-drawing stars in prominent roles, so I think the odds were always against it opening BIG. This is a movie that will rely on word of mouth — and so far that was been very positive, with most fans enjoying the film and accepting it on its own terms. If those who’ve seen it keep talking positively about it and encouraging their friends to check it out, then I think it might well end up surprising a few of the critics who have been gleefully writing it off as “DOA”!!!!

I posted a message on my message board earlier today in response to a fan who wanted to know why most of the negative reviews of the movie were coming from mainstream publications. As I pointed out, most mainstream critics don’t like genre movies, i.e. horror, fantasy or sci-fi. And they absolutely hate teen films. So we’re fighting a battle on two fronts as far as those guys are concerned!!!! They also like to believe that they’re movie experts and that their reviews decide the fate of a film — which is why so many of the bad reviews for the film have delighted in claiming that no sequels will be made, and that it will fail just because it doesn’t rake in tens of millions of dollars in its opening weekend. What these guys fail to appreciate is that good genre films tend to pick up a head of steam over time, and outlast and outperform many films which burn brightly for a very short time. Of the 123 reviews that I’ve read and catalogued (you can find them all on my Message Board), 55 were positive, 45 were negative, and 23 were average. In other words, more critics liked the film than disliked it — though you wouldn’t find too many mainstream reviewers willing to accept that — they like to believe that their word is law!!!!

I think the film has a long way yet to go before anyone should be claiming it a flop, so my advice is not to worry if you read articles pronouncing it dead in the water. As I said above, it was never likely that it was going to open massively — it’s a film that will have to earn its viewers — so critics who say it’s a flop because of that are talking out of their rear end!!! My books have been popular in lots of different countries around the world, and I think the movie might mirror that. I also think it’s one that might do very big things on DVD, when the extras will reveal even more of the fascinating world that was created for the movie (I know they shot a LOT more footage of the Cirque Du Freak and its stars which had to be trimmed in order to keep the running time to a manageable level). It will take a few months for a clear picture of the film’s fortunes to emerge, and that was always going to be the case, so no decision about a sequel is likely to be made until then, and the possibility of there being a sequel remains every bit as strong now as it did before its opening weekend — nothing major has changed on that front, despite what certain critics might say. YOU guys will be the deciding factor. If enough of you like the movie, and get your friends to go to it, and keep talking about it over the coming months, and ensure strong DVD sales and another wave of interest, then there’s every possibility of there being more CDF films, no matter what certain critics might say. It’s by no means a sure thing — but it’s no impossibility either, or anywhere near. There might be lots more life in this freaky, vampish little baby yet!!!!

14 Comments

  1. Tracy said,

    I’ve recently read 10 of the Cirque Du Freak books. I can honestly say I LOVE THEM. Was soo excited when it was annouced that the movie was in the making. I know that certain things need to be changed or cut out of the book due to time restrictions. But damn they didn’t even get Octa’s colors right. How hard was that???

  2. Savanna said,

    I just saw the movie 2 days ago..and I have to say they only thing they got right was some of the names. And the plot barely followed the book..I think they should have made the first book into the first movie, the secound into the 2nd movie and so on. Cirque du Freak is so fast past that in each book like.. 5 major events or more happen. I personally think the movie was horrible..AND what I thought was almost racist is that the changed Debbie into a WHITE monkey girl who is in the cirque..
    I LOVE the books. The movie..not so much.

    • blade said,

      while i agree with what you have said savanna i would just like to point out that the ‘monkey girl’ – rebecca – is completely unrelated to debbie. i have no idea what the other films are going to be like but i have already started to go off them. if they cant keep the simplest details true of the books to the films then whats the point?

      • Alex said,

        I’m with you there, Blade. I love the books and the story they tell, and would love to see them recreated on film faithfully. The movie is far too different from the books to be enjoyable. For me anyway.

  3. Emma said,

    I’m a huge fan and I went to see the movie yesturday and I really enjoyed it. Even if it wasn’t exactly like the books, I think the changes they made worked well for the movie and it also means that people who haven’t read the books get to discover more about the story when they do read them after watching the film.

  4. Rachel said,

    I’m ten and i practicaly in love with the Vampire books.I haven’t seen the movie yet but I’m hoping it is as enjoyable as the books. What comments would you guys think of the Movie too?

  5. M said,

    My friends and I went to see the movie on Saturday, and we loved it! We agreed that there were TONS of differences, but it was still amazing.
    I dragged my parents to come see it with me again on Sunday, and even they enjoyed it! (Which is saying something!)
    I personally was dissapointed that the reviews were so negative. The stupid critics should be open to all types of genres if there going to be a damn critic at all!!!
    But despite the negativity, I will definately be buying the DVD (:
    Love ya! (Especially your books, haha!)

  6. Chase said,

    If you didn’t like the movie, tough luck–THAT’S hollywood! If you’ve ever seen a book adapted into a movie prior to this you should know well that screenwriters ARE NOT AT ALL faithful to ANY book they bring to the big screen, especially not an Irish author with only a cult American following and a status that is, sadly, BELOW Stephenie Meyers (keep in mind, Darren Shan is my hero, so I’m not just ripping on him or his books!) And as for the monkey girl/Debbie change: they DIDN’T turn Debbie white–they took her completely OUT and REPLACED her with a new character, which, if you paid attention to the storylines being kept, only makes sense to their film (and yes, it is ‘their’ film, not Darren Shan’s, sadly enough. Basing a movie off a series of books never means the author has any say of what gets kept/cut.)

  7. Marion said,

    I went to see the film at the weekend with my 2 daughters age 13 and 17. All of us have read all of the books in the Saga & we all unfortunately absolutely hated the film.

    I had realised that the fim would never be an absolute representation of the books, but had hoped that it might retain, maybe the same degree of faithfulness as say the Harry Potter films, Sadly no. Some of the characters shared the same names as those in the books and that seemed to be where any similarity whatsoever stopped. I can honestly say that I don’t think that I have ever seen a film made that was such a butchery of good books! I really wanted to like the film but now I don’t know who it would possibly appeal to, as anyone who enjoyed the books, especially I feel, in the UK, would be left a bit shellshocked by the Americanisation of everything on top of the complete departure from any recognisable plot. Obviously I can’t say what someone who had never read any of the books might make of the fim but I imagine they might just be confused.

    I feel my younger daughter hit he nail on the head when she pointed out that Darren himself must have been watching the film for the first time with pretty much no idea what was going to happen next – which says something about the adaptation.

    I know that Darren has expressed that he enjoyed the film and of course I can understand that he wants it to be a success, but I think making this fim was a serious mistake, though I suppose if it brings new readers to his books than that at least ,is a good thing.

    The few positive things I can say about the film is that strangely I didn’t hate Mr Crepsley as much as I probably should have considering the actor that was cast and that Ray Stevenson was excellent as Murlough. I just wish that Murlough could have been left to be as he was in the books and I think it would have worked so much better.

    So sorry Darren, didn’t mean to dis your film quite so much – but it really was dire. Please, never sell the rights to the Demonata, I don’t think I could bear a similar treatment for Lord Loss, which is probably one of the best children’s books ever written!!

  8. Kathryn Winstanley said,

    Hi, Darren.

    Me and my dad went and saw your movie and we both loved it! Although it wasn’t exactly like your books, it still made a brilliant movie and I think that it will attract a lot of new fans to your books, too.
    Honestly, I can’t see why people would have anything bad to say about it, and I’d be only too happy to buy it when it comes out on DVD.

    Take care, I hope you have a good trip to Florida.

    From your big fan Kathryn Winstanley.

  9. xKamex said,

    I’ve read all the entire Darren Shan saga and I must say, I’m in love with it. Amazing story and a brilliant take on vampires! But the movie… Well. I went to see it today with my best friend who is also a devoted fan and it got to the point where we wanted to walk out. The film is VERY loosely based on the books and on the whole, I thought it a terrible movie, even if I hadn’t read the books. There were only a handful of things that were true to the book, i.e. Their names, that they turn into vampires and that Murloch dies. Other than that, it’s almost unrecognisable as being the same story!

    I know that like with most book adaptations, they change the plot here and there and try and make it into something that will please a general audience as opposed to just the book fans, but this was the WORST adaptation I have ever seen! They basically just took random pages of the first three books and randomly put them in order and created the film. Even the tiniest details, like Madam Octa’s colouring were changed!

    I’m VERY upset as I was so excited when I heard that one of my FAVOURITE sagas EVER was coming to the big screen! I only hope that IF there is a sequel, that it can follow at least SOME of the plot from the book, as this pretty much ignored it!

    I don’t even see why it’s called the Vampire’s Assistant, that book was almost entirely ignored in the movie! And the fact that Debbie is now a random WHITE monkey girl… well, that just says it all really doesn’t it =/

  10. Zoe said,

    YAAAAAAYYY!!! I CANT WAIT TO SEE THE MOVIE! I JUST FINNISHED THE FIRST BOOK and it only took me one night! i am almost finnised the second!

  11. Andrew said,

    I read all 12 books years ago, and loved every page! From comments of the film I’ve read it looks like they kept to the book more than just story wise. Somebody mentioned too much talking, well I always felt that was how the books were. Others have questioned the lack of classic vampire moments, biting and sucking blood and such. But if they’d care to notice, the books state that real vampires don’t do that.

    Not seen the film yet, seeing it later today though and can’t wait! I will be explaining to many people I think, the differences between Vampires and Vampaneze. Hopefully I won’t be disappointed in it.

    Anyway, really hope people read the books since I’m sure that’ll clear up any questions brought up by the film 🙂

  12. Rachel said,

    What happened to Cyrus in the Darran Shan Saga?????

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