Shaggy dog story

February 17, 2010 at 22:37 (1)

Wrote 11 pages of the new book today. Hitting my stride nicely now — as I know from past experience, it’s always quite natural and free-flowing once you sit down and fall back into your regular writing routine. The hardest bit about writing is probably all the thinking you do about it before you sit down and begin. It’s why I often advise young writers not to think too much, but to get stuck in. Of course thinking is important for a writer — that’s where everything starts — but you can think too much and psyche yourself out. That, I think, is how writer’s block starts.

I saw a curious little film a few days ago that has stuck with me. Called Dean Spanley, the only real reason I watched it was because Peter O’Toole was in it, and I always like watching him in films, especially in his more recent roles — having wasted a lot of his career on drinking and showing up in any film that offered a halfway decent pay cheque, he’s now making up for lost time and has turned in some first-rate performances in interesting little films over the last several years. He was excellent in this one too, though for a long time it seemed like his small role would be the only real thing of note in it. An odd little tale about a dean who was a dog in a previous life, and who recalls that life when he drinks a very rare wine, it built slowly and meanderingly, and seemed as if it would be nothing more than a pleasant but unremarkable shaggy dog story, light and forgettable, designed only to raise a few chuckles. Then, towards the end, it suddenly changed and became much more emotionally charged — in fact, I found myself starting to cry!!! It’s a risky business, sucking people slowly into your story, only surprising them with its true heart right at the end, especially in this day and age of high-speed living. But I think it’s great that there are still some people out there prepared to tell a story their own way, at their own pace, bucking the trend and creating quiet little packages of joy in the process. If you get a chance, check out Dean Spanley and stick with it. It might perplex you a bit along the way, but it will hopefully leave you with tears in your eyes and a smile on your lips, and how many movies or TV shows or books ever do that?


  1. kerry said,

    Hi Darren – I have to comment that the Dean Spanley director, Toa Fraser’s film No.2 is one of my favourite New Zealand movies. I haven’t seen Dean Spanley yet but will now make the effort. My son, Liam, is a BIG fan of your Demonata books. We came to your Halloween night years ago when you were in Auckland – my younger 2 children have grownup with the Shan books!

    • Darren Shan said,

      I remember that Halloween event — one of the touring highlights of my trip down under!!! Hopefully I’ll get to come back in the not too distant future….

  2. Miley said,

    Sounds interesting… a dean who was a dog! I hope it comes out in the local theatre. They only put the most popular movies up like “When In Rome”… crazy.

  3. Selena Lopez said,

    Hey Darren do you have any pets? And what were their name

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