I’ve got a hell of a treat for you guys today – an exclusive interview with bestselling author Darren Shan! As a huge Cirque Du Freak fan, you can only imagine how excited I was when he agreed to do an interview with me (there was some happy dancing involved). Shan’s unique vampire mythos continues to be one of my favorites, and I love that he brought those badass vamps back in The Saga of Larten Crepsley. Shan and I chatted about the new series, his upcoming vampire books and more, check it out:
Can you tell us about your book Birth of a Killer: The Saga of Larten Crepsley?
It’s the first of a four-book series, charting 200 years in the life of a vampire. Book 1 begins when Larten is a young boy, working in a factory. When a bullying foreman kills the person he most cares about, Larten reacts savagely and starts down a ragged, bloodstained path into the darkness, which ultimately leads him into the world of the night and offers him the hope of redemption.
Other than Mr. Crepsley, are there any other Cirque Du Freak characters in the new series?
Oh yes, lots! We get to meet Seba Nile, Larten’s mentor, along with Vancha March, one of the most memorable Princes from the first series, and many others. Some have a crucial role to play in this story, others a lesser part. Fans will have to keep reading to find out if their favourites from Cirque Du Freak are major players or not this time round!
What got you interested in writing about vampires?
I always loved them, ever since I saw my first Dracula film when I was 5 or 6 years old. They captured my imagination as no other horror creatures did, and all these years later, I’m still fascinated by them.
You write both young adult books and adult books (loved Procession of the Dead) and while your current vampire books can be enjoyed by all ages, do you think you will ever write an adult vampire novel?
Strange you should mention that! I’ve been toying around with an idea for an adult novel for several years, but up until this year I couldn’t figure out a way to make it work. Then one day I idly wondered what would happen if I brought vampiric element into the mix, and I think that might be the key to unlocking it! I haven’t yet started to write it, but hopefully I’ll be able to get a first draft in the bag in the not too distant future. If it works out the way I hope, we might be seeing it on shelves in a few years’ time…
Your vampires are very unique and completely your own – what advice do you have for writers that want to write about vampires, but are worried about being like everyone else?
Look for your own way into the story. Don’t just try to replicate what has come before. When I was a child, I used to wonder what it would be like if I got turned into a vampire and had to drink blood. That intrigued me, and that was the idea I returned to years later, because it felt personal.
Ok, here’s a question I ask all folks I interview: I’ve noticed that most of the authors I follow on Twitter talk about the music they’re currently writing to. What kind of setting/atmosphere do you find most conducive to your writing?
I always have music playing the background when I write. Writing is a very solitary business, and silence reminds me of just how isolated and alone I am when I write. To combat that, I have my jukebox playing non-top behind me. But the songs don’t really matter or influence me – I usually tune them out and am only barely aware of what’s playing. As long as there’s some sort of noise, with a good beat, I’m happy.
Given the current vampire craze, people feel specially attracted to vampires, why do you think that is?
The same reason people are so interested in religion – the possibility of them gives us the notion that we might be more than we are. Mankind has been kicking against its nature since the dawn of the first Neanderthals. We don’t want to be meaningless evolutionary quirks. We want to matter, to be central to the universe, to have the potential to be awesome. One way in which we try to reassure ourselves that we’re not insignificant flecks is by embracing the light of religion. Another way is by embracing the darkness of vampires and other mythical monsters. Great evil can be just as alluring as great good, if it gives us the promise of greatness within our reach. Vampires are probably the most believable and credible of monsters, which is why I think they’ve enjoyed such growing success over the last century or so.
Who’s your favorite fictitious vampire (other than your own)?
Obviously Dracula is the daddy!! But my own personal favourite is the Glick boy from Salem’s Lot. When he turns into a vampire and comes after his brother, it’s one of the creepiest moments ever recorded either in a book or on film!
What is your favorite vampire book/movie/show?
Again, Salem’s Lot. I saw the movie when I was 8 or 9 years old, and it freaked the life out of me – which I loved!! I read the book not long after, marking my introduction to the writings of Stephen King, who still stands as my favourite author all these years later.
If vampires were discovered to exist today, do you think our society would accept them or try to destroy them?
I think a lot of people would want to join them. No matter how unattractive you make them – whether they’re evil killers as they are in many stories, or fascistic, unhygenic fighting machines as they are in my books – fans love their vampish souls and yearn to join their ranks! There’d be no more recession if vampires were proved to be real – people worldwide would down tools and run off to sign up for the cause!
And finally, what other projects are you currently working on? Any goodies we should watch out for?
I’m working on some new adult books, including the one that might have a vampiric edge to it that I mentioned already. And I’m also well advanced on a new, multi-book series for my teen fans. But I can’t say any more about any of them right now. Let’s focus on the next three Larten Crepsley books for the time being – they’ll keep us going until May 2012!!!