HE is renowned for his big plot surprises but according to multi-million selling author, Darren Shan, his latest offering packs in more twists and turns than anything he has released before.
Lady of the Shades – a one-off thriller written for adults - which was influenced by movies such as American psychological horror film The Sixth Sense – features up to six “seismic changes” with readers really only getting to grips with what’s been going on, in the final chapters.
The book which goes on release at the end of this month has been a work in progress for the Pallaskenry resident who has been writing, re-writing, editing and tweaking the publication over the past decade.
And already the author - whose real names is Darren O’Shaughnessy - has an inkling that the book has to potential to develop into something big, perhaps even a movie deal.
“It’s one I’m really excited about it,” said Darren whose books are now on sale in every continent.
“It’s like when I wrote Cirque Du Freak. I had done a lot of books at that stage and I was pleased to various extents with each book that I had worked on but with Cirque Du Freak I had this feeling that it had potential to much, much more.”
Cirque Du Freak - a children’s book which was based on a vampire - was made into a blockbuster Hollywood movie in 2009 - the Irish premiere of which took place in Limerick.
“With Lady of the Shades it’s sort of the first book I have written that I really feel has a chance to maybe do something really big and maybe get a film deal like Cirque did and maybe lead to something exciting on the adult front the way that Cirque did on the children’s front,” Darren continued.
“I could be completely wrong about that but I have this good feeling about it so hopefully, touch wood,” he added.
Lady of the Shades - which is aimed people of 14 years and upwards - Darren describes as “a crime novel with supernatural undertones.”
A big film buff – he has a collection of more than 4,000 movies at home, Darren drew inspiration for the novel from old noir type movies and books, including films like Double Indemnity and other works by Raymond Chandler.
“I just wanted to something that started out where this guy falls in love with a femme fatale and he is not sure what her motives are. Is she trying to use him to kill off her husband? Is it true love? Is she trying to play him? And then I started to bring in elements from other genres. It was a little bit after the movie The Sixth Sense was released so I tapped into that as well – some of the shocks and surprises that it had,” he explained.
Although Darren always wanted to be a writer, it was only in his teenage years that he began writing in his spare time for fun. He bought his first typewriter when he was 14, and never looked back. In the early years much of his writing was done in his bedroom at home in his parents’ house in Pallaskenry but since he bought his own place - in Pallaskenry - in recent years, an office overlooking the River Shannon is where the literary magic happens. The 40-year-old has already had in the region of 30 books published but he has written a lot more and has books in various stages of development.
“I work quite strangely actually,” he admits.
“I like to give myself at least two years working on any one book. I write very quickly, I would finish the first draft of a children’s book in maybe a few weeks or a month but then I like to leave it for a few months.”
Darren goes away and works on other material before returning to the draft to re-write it. Then he will leave it for a few more months again and so on.
“I find that with those gaps it allows me to be a bit more objective each time I go back to it. I can see what isn’t working. That’s important because when you do the first draft, everything seems wonderful. If you leave it for several months you come back and see this isn’t working, that needs to be fixed and this needs to be tightened up.”
Meanwhile, the first book in his new series for teenagers, Zom-B , goes on sale in Ireland in late September. There will be 12 books in total and each book will be coming out at a period of roughly three months. The series follows B Smith, a teenager who must struggle to find a place in a world of racism, zombies and darkness.
Lady of the Shades will be available in book stores from August 30.