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November 8, 2010

Darren Shan: Being On Tour

Posted by jordana

DarrenShan1.jpg20101108224105.jpgAnd so my latest tour of the States begins! Whenever I tell people about my tours, they’re immediately envious. How wonderful it must be to get to travel the world! What a glamorous life I must lead, flitting from one sparkling metropolis to another! And, yes, I’m not going to lie – life on the road IS a treat. Since books sales are positive, I get pampered by my publishers. They put me up in nice hotels. I sometimes get to eat some very nice meals. I’m escorted around the place by true professionals who take much better care of me than my parents ever did! I have the honour of meeting loads of enthusiastic fans, teachers, librarians and booksellers. For me it’s a dream come true, the real icing on the cake of my writer’s life.


And yet... it’s not as glamorous or as easy a ride as it might sound. Nowhere near. America’s a massive country. The distances between events can be mammoth. Travel consumes much of my tour time, flying or driving or getting a train from A to B to C to wherever. I live out of a suitcase for a couple of weeks at a time. (In fact this time, because I hate hanging around waiting for my bags at conveyor belts, I’m just bringing hand luggage!) I visit amazing cities which I would love to explore properly, and all I get to see of them are libraries, schools and book stores. Heck, I went to Las Vegas once and didn’t even get to gamble in a casino! (Whenever I tell people about that trip, and the libraries I visited, I always say that the libraries had slot machines, and every single person so far has believed me!!!) Often I have to eat on the move, a hot dog or pizza or sandwich in the back of a car between talks.


Now, I’m not complaining. Many authors do (it’s one of the things authors love to complain about to one another when they meet up) but I’m not one of them. I might grumble about it from time to time, especially when I’ve just come off the back of a tour or I’m in the middle of an especially hard day. But I know I’m one of the luckiest authors around. I enjoy meeting my fans (you’d be surprised by how many writers don’t, being naturally shy and solitary creatures). I don’t get jet lag. I sleep pretty well in hotels. I don’t mind long journeys. Plus I’m young! Even though I’ve been a published author for a dozen years, I’m still one of the youngest established writers in the game. I’ve got the stamina of youth on my side – even though, at the end of a really long day, I often feel about twice my actual age!



So no, I’m not complaining. I’m just pointing out that it isn’t a holiday. It’s work, and hard workat that. Just as you have to graft hard to force out a good first draft of a book, and then graft hard to edit it into its final polished shape, so too you have to graft hard on the road. I’ll be reading out the same extracts a lot of times over the next couple of weeks. I’ll be answering mostly the same questions over and over, and each time I’ll have to make it seem as if I’ve never been asked that questions before. I’ll have to cheerfully deal with the questions which no writer can answer, the prime example being, of course, “Where do your ideas come from?” I’ll be signing my name thousands of time (hopefully, assuming lots of fans turn up for me events!) and writing messages in books everywhere I go. As I said above, I’m lucky in that I truly do enjoy meeting my fans. But, being human, there are days when I’ll be tired, when I’ll be fighting off a cold, when I’ll have had to rise before dawn and won’t make it back to my bed until midnight, when I’ll have to spend three or four or five hours driving around. On those days I might not feel as sociable as I normally would. If I was on holiday, I’d go to the cinema or retire to my hotel to read a bit. But since I’ll be working, I’ll just have to fight off the tiredness and colds, ignore the long journeys and even longer days, keep on smiling and signing and chatting. It’s what fans expect, and I’m a firm believer in treating your fans with respect and giving the what they ask for – nay, what they deserve.

If you happen to come to one of my events, I hope you’ll enjoy it. I try to give good value for money at my events and signings. (Well, most of them are free, but you know what I mean!) I have fun reading out some of the goriest scenes from my books, and I try to give every fan a memorable message when signing their books. I think a good touring author should be an entertainer – any educational benefits are a bonus, not the core of a tour, as far as I’m concerned. And if you do come, make sure you bring as many of your friends or family members as you can. Because although tours are hard work, even more exhausting and draining than I’ve indicated above, I’ve a confession to make – I LOVE the challenge of them! In a strange sort of way, I’m never happier than when I’m staring out at an audience of dozens or hundreds of fans, keenly anticipating the hours it’s going to take to sign all their books. For me, the mark of a good tour is how busy you are during it, and the busier I am, the merrier you’ll find me! If the tour goes well, I might have to physically drag myself across the floor into bed every night, but I’ll be grinning widely every painful, excrutiating, exhilarating step of the way!!! 


Tour Stops



Friday, November 12



5:00 PM    

Talk and Signing


455 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY  10016





Saturday, November 13


2:00 PM    

Reading and Signing


54 Fairfield St

Montclair, NJ  07042





6:30 PM    

Reading and Signing


911 Haddonfield Rd.

Cherry Hill, NJ  08002







Sunday, November 14

2:00 PM to 3:30 PM               BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
                                                 700 Boylston St.

                                        Boston, MA 02116617-859-2334





Tuesday, November 16


7:00 PM    

Reading and Signing


1 Towne Centre Boulevard

Suite 5800

Fredericksburg, VA  22407





Wednesday, November 17


6:30 PM    

Reading and Signing


1312 E Cary St.

Richmond, VA  23219

 (804) 788-1594





Thursday, November 18


5:30 PM 

Reading and Signing


4139 Park Rd.

Charlotte, NC  28209






Saturday, November 20


 1:30 PM  



Miami-Dade Community College

300 Northeast Second Avenue

Miami, FL  33132

Prometeo Theatre, Room 1101

*Panel with Scott Westerfeld and Ellen Hopkins.