Can he fix it? Yes he Shan!!!!

January 15, 2010 at 23:27 (1)

I’ve been editing the third Mr Crepsley book, Palace of the Damned over the last couple of days. This one deals with the period of his life when he went by the name of Vur Horston, something which was referred to way back in the first Cirque Du Freak book when Steve recognised him from a painting in a very old book — in fact, Steve thought that Vur Horston was his real name, something that quite a lot of fans thought too. This one explains why he used that name (it was for a very real, tragic reason) and how he got through one of the very darkest periods of his life.

But the book also needs to touch on two things which were mentioned over the course of The Saga of Darren Shan. In one book, Mr Crepsley said that he had flown in an early plane and had never bothered since — that was a scene I was keen to include, it wasn’t essential but I thought it would be nice to put it in. The difficulty was, the only place where I could put it was in the scene when Mr Crepsley is in Paris in 1903 — but that was 3 years before the first manned flights took to the air!!!!

I usually try to keep my details vague in my books — I try not to mention actual dates, or places, or fashionable trends. It’s something I’ve picked up in the course of my writing — I like my books to occupy a dreamy neverworld sort of place, stories that could be taking place at just about any time and in any country. Occasionally I do get into specifics (as I did in Bec) but usually not. But in the early days of The Saga I hadn’t yet refined that technique and threw in a few references such as Darrem watching an episode of The Simpsons and Mr Crepsley being in Paris in 1903. Paris wasn’t a problem when I came to write this book — in fact it fit in quite neatly with my story, which included some scenes set during World War I. But that aeroplane conundrum REALLY annoyed me!!!! In early drafts, I just wrote it in and put in a foreword saying that I had tinkered with historical fact, acknowledging that the first planes hadn’t flown until 1906, and begging my readers’ indulgence.

But that always niggled at me. I kept thinking it wasn’t right. It wasn’t a major issue, but it bugged me and I couldn’t let it lie. So this time, having thought about it a lot over the last 3 years, I attacked the problem and figured out a way to reconcile the irregularities, by having the scene happen in 1906 but finding a way to explain why it said 1903 in the book that Steve read. It’s a very small plot detail in the grand scheme of things, and I suspect 95% or more of my readers would never have picked up on it. But I think it’s good for a writer to be a perfectionist. It’s not that important whether other people spot a flaw in your work — if YOU know it’s there, it’ll bug you till the day you die!!!!! Sometimes you have to go to great (some would say silly) lengths just to scratch an itch which perhaps only you, the writer, will ever feel.

4 Comments

  1. Alex said,

    Heh heh heh. That tickles me.

    I remember that scene in the Saga of Darren Shan. I wonder if i’d have noticed? Now i’m curious to know why it said 1906 in the book that Steve read…

  2. Miley said,

    Ha! I am a perfectionist myself Mr. Shan! Being a teacher of course, I guess it’s my job! My good friend, Mara complains about it all the time… well, can’t wait!

  3. Auzeen said,

    I don’t pay attention to details most of the times :p but you got me curious!can’t wait to read it!!

  4. Anne Lill Larsen said,

    Hey, Darren! I’m a big fan.. We are having a schoolproject about books and authors. And I saw the chance to write and read about you. I’ve also read “The Demonata” and I loved it. So i thought, if you have time(?) that I might ask you some questions on mail? -that would be fantastic! – Big Love, Norwegian fan, Anne Lill 🙂

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