Darren Shan (1972–) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights
[A pseudonym] (Darren O'Shaughnessy)
Born 1972, in London, England; Education: Roehampton Institute of Higher Education, B.Sc.
Agent—Christopher Little, 10 Eel Brook Studios, 125 Moore Park Rd., London SW6 4PS, England.
"SAGA OF DARREN SHAN" NOVEL SERIES
Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare (also see below), Collins (London, England), 2000, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2001.
The Vampire's Assistant (also see below), Collins (London, England), 2000, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2001.
Tunnels of Blood (also see below), Collins (London, England), 2000, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2002.
Vampire Mountain (also see below), Collins (London, England), 2001, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2002.
Trials of Death (also see below), Collins (London, England), 2001, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2003.
The Vampire Prince (also see below), Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2002.
Allies of the Night (also see below), Collins (London, England), 2002, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2004.
Hunters of the Dusk (also see below), Collins (London, England), 2002, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2004.
Vampire Blood Trilogy (includes Cirque du Freak, Vampire's Assistant, and Tunnels of Blood), HarperCollins (London, England), 2003.
Killers of the Dawn (also see below), Collins (London, England), 2003, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2005.
The Lake of Souls (also see below), Collins (London, England), 2003, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2005.
Vampire Rites Trilogy (includes Vampire Mountain, Trials of Death, and Vampire Prince), HarperCollins (London, England), 2004.
Lord of the Shadows (also see below), Collins (London, England), 2004, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2006.
Sons of Destiny (also see below), Collins (London, England), 2004, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2006.
Vampire War Trilogy (includes Hunters of the Dusk, Allies of the Night, and Killers of the Dawn), HarperCollins (London, England), 2005.
Vampire Destiny Trilogy (includes Lake of Souls, Lord of the Shadows, and Sons of Destiny), HarperCollins (London, England), 2005.
"DEMONATA" NOVEL SERIES
Lord Loss, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2005.
Demon Thief, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2006.
Slawter, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2006.
FOR ADULTS; UNDER NAME DARREN O'SHAUGHNESSY
Ayuamarca: Procession of the Dead, Millennium Orion (London, England), 1999.
Hell's Horizon, Millennium Orion (London, England), 2000.
The "Saga of Darren Shan" was adapted for film by screenwriter Brian Helgeland, to be produced by Lauren Shuler Donner for Universal Studios.
Darren O'Shaughnessy, who writes under the pseudonym Darren Shan, is the author of the popular "Saga of Darren Shan" series of young-adult horror novels. The twelve-volume series follows Darren Shan as he unwittingly becomes a vampire's assistant, resists becoming a vampire himself, and fights against rival undead enemies. "He is in a situation that is beyond his control," as Shan explained to Caroline Horn in the Bookseller, "and that's what makes it so frightening." In 2005, after completing the "Saga of Darren Shan" series, Shan introduced his "Demonata" series for young adults that focuses on, among others, a young boy named Grubbs Grady and his ongoing battle with demonic entities.
The "Saga of Darren Shan" opener, Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare, finds teenager Darren Shan and friend Steve sneaking out to visit the Cirque du Freak against their parents' wishes. While the show features many unusual freaks and specialty performers, the most amazing—and dangerous—of them all is a real vampire with a poisonous spider whose bite is deadly. When the spider bites Steve, Darren must agree to be the vampire's slave in order to get enough of the poison's antidote to save his friend. Debbie Carton, in a review for Booklist, called the novel "a rip-roaring story full of oddities, low-key horror, and occasional, unexpected poignancy."
Darren's adventures continue in The Vampire's Assistant, in which the teen serves as the vampiric Mr. Crepsley's assistant. The pair return to the Cirque du Freak, where Mr. Crepsley attempts to turn Darren into a vampire. Darren refuses to drink blood, however. His friends at the circus, including a wolf man, a snake-boy, and a self-described "eco-warrior," lead him into trouble and a bloody climax. Tim Wadham, in a review for the School Library Journal, praised the book, stating that "Shan creates heart-pounding, page-turning action."
In Tunnels of Blood Darren and his snake-boy friend, Evra, decide that Mr. Crepsley is responsible for six dead bodies that have recently turned up. However, Mr. Crepsley explains that they are the work of a "vampaneze," a type of vampire who drains all of his victims' blood, leaving them dead. The trio set out to find and kill the vampaneze. This gory adventure earned praise from John Peters, who wrote in his review for School Library Journal that Shan's "story is compulsively readable, but it's not for the squeamish."
Vampire Mountain finds Darren and Mr. Crepsley in a perilous journey to the remote headquarters of the vampires. Darren must be presented to the council of vampire generals for their approval, a ceremony that only takes place once every twelve years. The pair also confront the ominous Mr. Tiny, who may be "old as time itself." Connie Forst, writing in Resource Links, called the novel "detailed and gripping."
Darren undergoes a ritual trial to prove his worth to the vampire clan in Trials of Death, the fifth volume in the series. The trial proves more difficult than he thought, however, and with the help of some friends, he tries to leave Vampire Mountain. Then the vampaneze invade the headquarters, throwing everything into confusion. The invasion, noted Susan L. Rogers, writing in School Library Journal, brings the story to a "fever pace."
Darren and Mr. Crepsley are at work tracking down the lord of the vampaneze in Allies of the Night. Along the way, the youthful Darren is picked up by local officials and forced to attend school. A string of murders in town, including some of Darren's schoolmates, soon leads to a chase for the killer through an underground tunnel system. Heather Ver Voort, writing in the School Library Journal, believed that "fans of the series will enjoy this cliff-hanger."
Shan introduces the "Demonata" series with his novel Lord Loss. Planned as a ten-volume series in which each volume introduces readers to a different demonic entity, the "Demonata" books are also aimed at a young adult audience. In Lord Loss young Grubbs Grady discovers that his whole family has been ripped to shreds by demons. When the police do not believe his story, Grady is put into a mental institution, but is eventually saved by his Uncle Dervish, who knows about the demons threatening their family. Paula Rohrlick, writing in Kliatt, admitted that the violent story is "gross as well as engrossing." A critic for Kirkus Reviews found that Shan's "pace is non-stop, keeping the reader turning pages."
Shan once told SATA: "I've been writing all my life. I've always loved telling stories. I started out writing for adults (my 'grownup' books are published in the United Kingdom). Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare began as a side-project: I wanted to write a book which the ten-to-twelve-year-old within me thought was 'cool!!!' It's since pretty much taken over my life, with a series of a projected twelve books. Moral: beware of casual side-projects!
"I write to a page count: ten pages per day, five days a week. Sometimes I also edit other books while writing a new one. Occasionally I'll work on two books at the same time. My first aim is always to tell an exciting story which anyone with a good, basic grasp of the language can read.
"I also use my books to explore personal issues, or areas of interest to me; for example, loneliness, codes of honor, death, violence, friendship, fate, religion, et cetera. Childhood and coming of age revolve around such key issues, so I think children's books should, too. Most of my books are quite darkly themed—some are downright morbid—but I do work in humorous and warm moments. I like to mix genres. Thus, while the first three books of the 'Saga of Darren Shan' are primarily horror books, the next three are fantasy.
"Stephen King has been a huge influence on me. Other favorite writers and books include Roald Dahl, The Secret Garden, Alan Garner, Robert Cormier, Robert Westall, and Rebecca's World.
"My books have been and are being published in many countries, from Brazil to Japan to Israel—with more to come, hopefully. My aims for the future are to carry on writing and to improve. Writers should always be looking to go one better. On my deathbed, I want my last words to be, 'Hang on! I've just had a really good idea….'"
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, April 15, 2001, Debbie Carton, review of Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare, p. 1559; September 15, 2001, Debbie Carton, review of The Vampire's Assistant, p. 224; August, 2002, Debbie Carton, review of Tunnels of Blood, p. 1950; November 1, 2005, Debbie Carton, review of Lord Loss, p. 39.
Bookseller, November 12, 1999, Caroline Horn, "Guide to Vampires: They Can't Be Shut Back in the Coffin."
Books for Keeps, May, 2000, review of Cirque du Freak.
Children's Books in Ireland, May, 2000, interview with Darren O'Shaughnessy.
Canadian Review of Materials, March 14, 2003, review of Cirque du Freak; May 23, 2003, review of The Vampire's Assistant.
Daily Telegraph, March 11, 2000, review of Cirque du Freak.
Independent, December 3, 1999, review of Cirque du Freak.
Irish Times Magazine, September 15, 2001, Eibhir Mulqueen, "Bitten by the Writing Bug."
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2002, review of Vampire Mountain, p. 1143; September 15, 2005, review of Lord Loss, p. 1033.
Kliatt, November, 2003, Stacey Conrad, review of Vampire Mountain, p. 26; September, 2005, Paula Rohrlick, review of Lord Loss, p. 14.
Magpies, September, 2005, Bevis Masson-Leach, interview with Darren Shan, p. 16.
Manchester Evening News, February 24, 2001, review of Cirque du Freak.
Observer, October 22, 2000, review of Cirque du Freak.
Publishers Weekly, February 19, 2001, review of Cirque du Freak, p. 92; August 27, 2001, review of The Vampire's Assistant, p. p. 86; July 8, 2002, review of Cirque du Freak, p. 51; October 24, 2005, review of Lord Loss, p. 60.
Resource Links, June, 2003, Gail Lennon, review of Tunnels of Blood, p. 35, and Connie Forst, review of Vampire Mountain, p. 36.
School Library Journal, May, 2001, Timothy Capehart, review of Cirque du Freak, p. 159; August, 2001, Tim Wadham, review of The Vampire's Assistant, p. 188; May, 2002, John Peters, review of Tunnels of Blood, p. 160; September, 2002, John Sigwald, review of Vampire Mountain, p. 233; July, 2003, Susan L. Rogers, review of Trials of Death, p. 135; November, 2003, Sharon S. Pearce, review of The Vampire Prince, p. 148; July, 2004, Jessi Platt, review of Hunters of the Dusk, p. 112; October, 2004, Heather Ver Voort, review of Allies of the Night, p. 176; November, 2005, Hillias J. Martin, review of Lord Loss, p. 148.
Scotsman, February 5, 2000, review of Cirque du Freak.
Times (London, England), February 4, 2000, interview with Darren Shan; February 17, 2000, review of Cirque du Freak.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 2002, review of Cirque du Freak, p. 409; April, 2005, Stacy Dillon, review of Allies of the Night, p. 61.
Darren Shan Home Page, http://www.darrenshan.com (January 26, 2006).
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