HE revels in the mysterious and loves Halloween – but this year the annual celebration will take on a new twist for children’s author Darren Shan thanks to a new book, and, most importantly, a new baby.
The Pallaskenry resident who has just released the ninth book in his hugely successful 12-part Zom-B series became a dad for the first time on September 23 when little Dante entered the world.
“He was nearly two weeks late so it was incredible to finally see him. He has been sleeping quite well so I have been getting a spread of good nights,” smiles Darren, who revealed that he doesn’t shirk the night duty.
Mum Bas looks after the feeds and dad changes the nappies.
“I work from home so I can help during the day as well. I’m enjoying it – it’s good fun.”
While Dante is too young to understand his dad’s magical way with words, according to Darren he is quite bright at only four weeks old.
“He reacts to high-pitch noises so I make up sounds – the reading will have to wait for another while,” he smiled.
The unusual choice of name is partly down to an aunt of Bas who is a Carmelite nun and has been in the enclosed order for over 50 years.
“She loves The Divine Comedy [an epic poem written by Italian poet Dante Alighieri – she would often be raving about Dante. We go to Italy a lot – my wife has an Italian background and in a few places we spotted a few streets named after Dante and sometimes we would take a photo to show the aunt when we went to visit her.”
During the late summer, Darren and Bas were on their way to Croatia on a break before the birth of their first child, when they decided on Dante as a name.
“I was reading Dan Brown’s latest, Inferno, which is inspired a lot by The Divine Comedy and set in Florence. I thought Dante is not a bad name, I started thinking about my wife’s aunt, I mentioned it to my wife she liked it too - we decided to go for it.”
Meanwhile, the ninth instalment in the acclaimed Zom-B series, Family, came out at the end of September and has been getting a “great reaction” according to the 42-year-old.
“Normally, I would release one at this time of year. As one reviewer noted, you might expect to be losing interest by book nine but the story is getting stronger and stronger as it goes along,” he noted. A lot of reviewers have gone as far as to say it is their favourite or one of their favourites of the series so far which was Darren’s inkling as he was penning the book.
“But you never know for sure – sometimes fans react in a different way to a book than you do as an author. It’s been going down great guns.”
Zombie, he says, “builds and builds” as it goes along - “you have more and more shocks and more and more twists”.
“It’s getting to the point now where everything is kicking off and coming together.”
He spent about two or three years writing the books and spent two or three years editing them and by the time they come out he says he would have written at least six or seven drafts. “I’m pretty happy with them by the time they come out - I have done as much as I can do.”
While fatherhood is managing to keep him busy he says he is still squeezing in some writing as well.
“I’m doing my final few edits of the last book of Zombie. I’m working on a new book as well. I do books for adults as well as children. I’ve other stuff lined up as well so I’m ticking over,” he smiles.
While he has a flat in London, Pallaskenry is always home for Darren.
“I have a house here and my family are here. We go to the flat in London quite regularly but our main home is here and this is where I do most of my work.”
To coincide with Halloween, Darren is thrilled to be taking part in the Bualadh Bos book festival in Limerick which forms a significant part of the Lime Tree-run children’s programme, taking place for the month in the city.
“It is the first time they have had a children’s festival in Limerick so I was delighted to be involved. They have some really good people - Andy Stanton is coming over - he has a slightly younger audience than mine - I have seen him before and he is really, really good.”
Darren will be doing readings at 69 O’Connell Street, answering a few questions and doing signings afterwards on Friday, October 31 at 2pm.
”I will come back home and prepare lots of treats for the trick or treaters. I’m hoping to go see Paul Heaton - he is in The Big Top at The Milk Market – but I’m not sure with the baby. We’ll see,” he smiles.
See www.limetreetheatre.ie for further details on the Bualadh Bos festival.
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