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Darren Shan reveals secrets of his writing success for World Book Day

Darren Shan, author of the Cirque du Freak series and alumnus of Roehampton shares how his time at university inspired his writing, and his advice on writing as a career.

Posted: 27 February 2017

image for news story Darren Shan reveals secrets of his writing success for World Book Day
Darren Shan

Roehampton alumnus Darren Shan has published over fifty young adult books, which have sold more than 25 million copies worldwide to date. His most well-known series, The Saga of Darren Shan, also known as Cirque Du Freak Series is a twelve part series about a boy who finds himself entangled in a dark vampire world.

Darren says that his degree in Sociology and English Literature from Roehampton has proved very helpful for becoming a successful writer. "I really enjoyed my year studying children's literature. I'd always liked reading children's books, even as I moved through my teens and towards adulthood, and this helped sustain that interest and edge me towards one day trying my hand at writing my own book for younger readers. Without that course, there may never have been a Cirque Du Freak or Darren Shan."

For aspiring writers, Darren's top tips are;

1) Write. The more you write, the more you learn, and the better you get. It's as simple as that. There are no shortcuts. You just have to knuckle down, write bad stories, learn from your mistakes, and gradually improve.
2) Write the sort of stories you'd like to read.
3) Don't write to please other people, or to cash in on a trend. Do it for fun, out of a love for words
4) Your goal should be to become the very best writer you can, to achieve your personal best.
5) Every writer starts as a reader, the broader your experience of reading, the wider your boundaries when it comes to writing.

The University of Roehampton runs several undergraduate degree modules that focus both on children's literature and writing for children, and a postgraduate qualification in Children's Literature. The University of Roehampton is also home to the National Centre for Research in Children's Literature.

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