Friday, April 1, 2011

Meeting Darren Shan

There's something so special about meeting your favourite authors. I always find it kind of surreal, like part of me doubts that such a person really exists until I actually see them in the flesh. Sure, you've seen photos of them and read their blogs, but seeing them in the same room as you is pretty mind-boggling.

Today I made the trip out to Dymocks Camberwell to see one of my all-time favourite authors, Darren Shan. I roped in my long-suffering boyfriend Nick and workmate Nathan and we waited upstairs at the Ebony Quill Cafe along with a room full of Shan fans young and old.

We didn't have to wait long before Darren appeared looking eager to warp some young minds. I was immediately impressed by his speaking ability - he easily joked with the crowd and sucked us in despite having only arrived in Melbourne early that morning. He gave us a short intro about his books and then launched into a reading of Lord Loss. I'd heard great things about Darren's reading of the gory second chapter, but hearing it in person was just mesmerising. He performed it with such relish, I was literally on the edge of my seat! Something that struck me as rather funny was that I'd read the exact same chapter out to a group of school kids on Tuesday this week, and after hearing the author himself read it I realised what a lacklustre performance my own had been - Darren knew all the right spots to emphasize to have us laughing and crying out in fright. Nothing beats hearing a story in the author's own voice!

After Darren read the section from Lord Loss he treated us to a reading from the superb Birth of a Killer (review here) and then opened up the floor to some questions on topics as diverse as the mythology of his demons to the philosophy of life.

Then it was time to line up to get our books signed, and what a line it was! Even though Darren had very graciously said he would sign every book people had, I still felt a little greedy with my stack of 12 (Demonata, Birth of a Killer and Thin Executioner - it was a difficult choice leaving Saga of Darren Shan at home) and made my way to the back of the line where I met fellow Shanster Veronica. She'd come all the way from Alice Springs just to meet Darren, which I thought was a fantastic show of dedication and a testament to the level of fandom he inspires!

When it was my turn to have my books signed, Darren didn't sigh or roll his eyes at my tower of books, which I thought was very good form seeing as how he must've been dead on his feet by that point. I got to rant at him about how good his books were, beg him for another book set in the world of Thin Executioner and I even got a book recommendation from Darren - The Demon by Hubert Selby Jr... sounds right down my alley! Darren even recognised me from my blog, which had to have been one of my happiest fangirl moments yet!

There seemed to be no end to Darren's patience, because he even posed for a photo with me:
Just a little tighter and maybe she'll leave me alone...
Such a great day! Darren was one of the first authors I read when I got back into kids' and YA books, and in my own writing I try to follow his example of picking a word limit and sticking to it on a daily basis. Thanks for everything, Darren, and if you're reading this, have a blast in Melbourne!

ADDENDUM: Oh, I completely forgot to write about my favourite part: since the talk took place in the back room of a restaurant, there were also people who could hear the talk in the next room. Shortly after one of Darren's spinechilling readings, a little girl no more than three or four started crying. When her father picked her up she distinctly cried, 'I SCARED!'

Darren knows his stuff! ;-)

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