Author Notes for The Evil And The Pure - Part One.

November 6, 2018

 

The Evil And The Pure was released on the 1st of February 2014, and marks the point where I started to use a completely different name for my adult books. I commenced work on the book on 25th April 2001, and finished my final edit a "mere" twelve years later on 10th August 2013!

First of all, I didn't spend twelve years slaving away on the book! Since very early in my career, I've juggled books around -- I'll do a first draft of a book, then set it aside for several months while I work on other material, return to it and rewrite or edit, set it aside for a few months again, and so on. Usually the process is spaced out over a two or three year period, but in this case there was a rather long gap between edits.

What happened was... my Darren Shan career. I've had two parallel and separate experiences as an author. Commercially speaking, on the one hand I've been a hugely successful YA author, while on the other hand I've been a struggling adult author. My books for younger readers took off and sold by the millions, but my books for adults never did, and sales have always stayed down in the thousands.

While I'm disappointed that my books for adults haven't done better, it's hard to be too downhearted about it, given how well my YA books have sold. In fact it's kind of neat to have a secret other life, one where I can do very different things, where I don't have to worry about having to please an editor and a publishing house, where I also don't have to worry about pleasing a large existing fan base -- because on the adult front I don't have one. Every book that I've published has meant a lot to me, regardless of its critical reception or sales -- I judge The Evil And The Pure just the same as I judge Cirque Du Freak, even though in terms of sales they're books that exist in totally alternate universes to one another.

I started out writing for adults, and for a time I was rotating pretty evenly between books for adults and children -- I'd write one or two Cirque Du Freak books, then a book for adults, another few CDF books, another for adults. But as my YA career went from 0 to 100 miles per hour, something had to give. Success makes demands of a writer. I toured aggressively and extensively in support of the books. I gave loads of interviews. I wrote a lot of supplementary material for the website -- indeed, I designed and uploaded everything on the first Darren Shan website, and maintained it by myself for quite a few years. I also went on quite a lot of holidays, and bounced back and forth between Limerick and London on leisure time -- I wrote in quiet and seclusion in Limerick, but lived the high life in London and abroad, going to loads of football (soccer) matches, fancy restaurants, art galleries, the theatre, and so on. Hey, I'm all for hard work, but you've got to enjoy the fruits of your labours too!

There just weren't enough hours in the day to maintain two careers. Something had to give, and when my adult publishers didn't come back for more after Hell's Horizon came out to minimal sales, it was an easy decision to make. I decided to put my adult books on hold while I focused on taking my Darren Shan novels as far as I could. I didn't mean for it to be as lengthy a break as it ended up being, but time has a way of slipping away unnoticed when you're busy and enjoying life, and several years swiftly passed without me working on any new adult material.

Then, as I've explained in my notes for The City trilogy, my YA publishers Harper Collins got interested in my earlier books for older readers and asked me if they could republish them. I re-edited Procession Of The Dead and Hell's Horizon, and returned to work on finishing off City Of The Snakes. The City trilogy sold quite well -- a lot better than they did the first time round -- but the books weren't bestsellers and my publishers struggled to break me into the adult market. I think a large part of the problem was that they published the books under the name of Darren Shan -- I always felt that was a mistake, and I objected to it at the time, but I was over-ruled, and reluctantly went along with it.

We ended up taking my fourth adult novel, Lady Of The Shades, to a different publisher, Orion, who had also published Procession Of The Dead (as Ayuamarca) when it was first released in 1999. They had a good plan to turn me into a writer of mainstream thrillers in the line of Lady Of The Shades, which sold well for them -- but, alas, I had other ideas. I'm a big fan of authors who can churn out high quality thrillers of a similar vein -- writers like Robert Ludlum, Lee Child, Michael Connelly -- but as a writer I've always been drawn to experimentation, trying new things, mashing up all sorts of genres, going where the wind and my imagination blow me.

Orion wanted another book like Lady Of The Shades, but I only had one of those in me. I presented them with a few different options -- I had lots of unpublished books in my back catalogue, and I'd written a new one about a guy who gets badly sunburnt in Bulgaria -- but they weren't keen. My first choice was The Evil And The Pure, which I had intended for quite a few years to be my next book after Lady. Orion actually worked on it with me, almost up to the point of publication, but then god cold feet and asked if they could cancel the deal that they had agreed when they signed me up. I might have been able to force them to publish it, but I didn't think there was any point in making them go with a book that they clearly weren't happy with, so I agreed to terminate our contract and we parted on amicable enough terms.

I knew I would face similar reservations if I took the book to another publisher -- and even if I could one who wanted to publish it, they would no doubt be looking for something similar as a follow-up, whereas I knew I was next going to release that book about the sunburnt guy in Bulgaria. So I decided, after much thought, to go down the self-publishing route. That wouldn't have been possible when I wrote the first draft of Evil, as the world of publishing was a different place back then, but much had changed and ebooks had made self-publishing a much more viable prospect. I knew nothing about that world, how to publish a book, or how to market it. The only thing I was certain of was that it was going to be a real tough struggle. But I've never let the prospect of a tough struggle put me off, so I rolled up my sleeves, started to do some research, and (having bandied around a number of possible pseudonyms) embarked on a new life as the unknown indie author, Darren Dash.

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