IN a week of spooky goings on, Limerick’s most celebrated author of fantasy and horror books is celebrating after his latest offering clinched the top spot on Amazon UK’s Children’s Horror Best-seller chart.
Darren Shan’s new 12-book series entitled Zom-B, which will run until 2015 and sees a new book published every three months, has also been nominated for the Bord Gais Irish Children’s Book Of The Year award.
“It’s always nice to chart highly, but ultimately I’m more concerned about the response from readers,” said Darren who has just returned from a visit to New York.
Fortunately, the Pallaskenry man managed to avoid Superstorm Sandy by getting on one of the last flights out of JFK Airport before it was shut down on Monday.
“Many best sellers sink quickly and are swiftly forgotten, but if you create a really strong story that readers will respond to and talk about, then it can live on for years or even decades, as Cirque Du Freak has done,” he explained.
Darren began working on the Zom-B series over four and a half years ago. As he was aware that he would be releasing the books very quickly, one every three months, he realised he needed to get a good head start “otherwise there was no way I would be able to keep up when they started to publish.”
The series, which is aimed at teenagers, follows B Smith, a teenager who must struggle to find a place in a world of racism, zombies and darkness.
“On the one hand it is all about a zombie apocalypse and a teenager called B Smith who gets caught up in it, but it is also a series that explores a lot of different social issues, such as racism and the abuse of power and the need to question those who try to govern us,” said Darren who enjoyed his first taste of literary success at age 15 - he was a runner-up in a television script-writing competition for RTE with a dark comedy script titled “A Day in the Morgue”. The feedback to the first instalment of the Zom-B series which was released in September, Darren says, has been “amazing”.
“It has received loads of reviews, and almost all of them have been extremely positive. It’s the sort of reception I think every writer dreams about but doesn’t get to experience too often.” So could he see the series being made into a movie?
“I’m always open to any of my books being adapted, so hopefully Hollywood will come calling, although there’s nothing in the pipeline yet.”
Darren was 17 when he finished his first novel. Although it was never published, he relished the writing experience, and found himself focusing more on novels in the coming years, leaving behind the short-story format. For the next several years, sandwiched between university and work, he wrote an average of one book a year, experimenting with different ideas, genres, lengths and styles. When he started writing full-time, his output shot up to five to six books per year!
But that has dropped back recently, due to all the travelling around he’s been doing to promote sales of his books.
By the start of 2012, Darren’s books were on sale in every continent, in 39 countries, in 31 languages, and have been children’s best-sellers in America, Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and other countries.
The books have topped adult best-seller charts in Hungary, Japan and Taiwan.
In total, his books have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.
A big film buff, with a collection of more than 4,000 at home, Darren also reads lots of comics and books, and likes to study and collect original artwork, especially comic art, impressionist and post-impressionist art, modern art, and sculptures. Other interests include long walks, watching football - he’s a Tottenham Hotspur and Ireland fan - theatre, worldwide travel, and dreaming up new ways to terrify his readers!