Radzy’s Review of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’

Hi, Grimly here! Yes, I know it’s the first time I’ve shown my face in a while but I’ve been busy putting the finishing touches to my new book ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’. I’ll be sending it off to our publisher, Jennifer, at Journey Fiction any day now so it should be out in good time for Christmas. Don’t forget to put it on Santa’s shopping list…

As you might have guessed, it’s all about the further adventures of Peter and Amanda on Peculiar Hill, this time joined by another young friend called Mala, whose father, the hapless explorer Augustus Flipper, has gone mysteriously missing. Is there a chance that in the course of their investigations they will wander into the Vale of Strange, you may be asking? It may be best not to exclude this possibility.

You’ll be able to read much more about the new book here on the blog in the buildup to publication, so don’t forget to follow us to make sure you get notification of new posts as they come out. You can do this either by email (see the form in the sidebar) or through Facebook. If you have a WordPress account, you can also follow us through them.

To add to the excitement, there’s another new review of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ just out, this time by blogger Radzy who writes: “I can only imagine the creative impact this will have on young minds, and cannot recommend this book enough for yourself, the wee ones in your world, or just anyone you know who will enjoy a quirky, meaningful novel.”

As you can tell, she really likes the book and it’s a very thoughtful, perceptive review, well worth a read in full on her excellent blog, ‘Radzy Writes and Reviews‘. I strongly suggest you take a look at it now…

Thank you, Radzy!

Finally, the usual piece of fashion advice: Uncle Bob may say you don’t really need one for bogeys at this time of year, but if you’re here in the UK, you’ll need one to keep out the rain. So do the smart thing and don’t forget your hat!

(This column has Aunt Maggie’s Official Seal of Approval.)

Audrey’s Illustration

Hello Everyone – Grimly here, and this time we have another contribution from Audrey, the reader who I was chatting with a few weeks ago. This time she has produced this great illustration of a large proportion of the cast of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill‘. Let’s see if you can spot who is who.

Audrey pic Shop

Got it?

No, that isn’t Uncle Bob painted blue with wings on. That’s a bogey, one of the vary rare blue ones in fact. And the green character on the left isn’t Mr Grimble feeling a bit green and sickly after having been accidentally shrunk in the washing machine. It’s a heeblegreeb. But you really knew that, didn’t you?

The next two are easy of course: Amanda looking cool in black and Peter in his new blue jeans, but is that a hot air balloon in between them or could it possibly be a strange tomato on a lead? I think it’s a strange tomato all right. It’s the purring that gives it away!

And finally, the character at the far right hand side surely has to be Algernon, but are those muscles under his T shirt? He looks like more than a match for any strange creatures who come his way. The only thing that worries me is that he hasn’t got a hat. Hopefully Amanda has it safely stashed away in her bag in case the bogeys start fizzing.

Many thanks to Audrey for sending us that terrific picture. I look forward to seeing her illustration of ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’ which is due out later this year of course. And in the meantime, if anyone else would like to try your hand at illustrating any of the characters in ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’, we shall be delighted to see what you come up with. Just remember that if you send any drawings in, we will assume that you’re happy for us to publish them on the blog.

And finally, following on from last time, I decided that yes, I would change the photo of me that goes at the top of the blog. Up there now is one that my friend Lee (Audrey’s grandma) has lovingly photoshopped into submission. Yes, perhaps it makes me look a bit younger than I actually am but I think it also makes me look less scary than the previous photo did. And after all, what with bogeys and heeblegreebs and jamjam plants, there are enough scary things in ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ without people having to worry about the author as well, don’t you think?

‘And I’m not really scary, am I?’ I ask the staff here at Grimly Central. But no one replies. They’re all hiding behind their desks.

Ho hum. That’s all for now then, but bear in mind it’s still bogey season so… Don’t forget your hat!

Conversation with Audrey

Audrey

Hello – Grimly here. It was great to have the chance to meet one of my readers recently. Eight-year-old Audrey is one of only two kids who has read not only ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ but also the current version of the second book in the series ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’. By ‘current version’, I mean the version of ‘Stranger Days’ which is the most up-to-date at this particular time. So I’m talking about ‘current’, not ‘currant’, which would be more like a type of pudding.

Perhaps I should start this again.

I am currently revising ‘Stranger Days’ so it is getting better all the time and will be better than ever by the time it is published later this year. I have asked Audrey if she would read the next version when I have completed it to make sure it is indeed getting better all the time and not getting worse all the time, in which case I might have to put some currants in it after all.

I explained to Audrey that ordinary books are the same the second time you read them. “Stranger Days’, however, is an extraordinary book because it will be different the next time she reads it. She thought this was a neat idea. Actually, I think it will end in much the same way, but the way they get there will be different and a bit quicker. It will be a bit like taking the car instead of a train. Except that eventually, I will have to stop revising the book, so each time you read it after that, they will always take the car. Unless of course they decide to take an aeroplane.

I think perhaps I should really start this again…

Ahem.

I asked Audrey which was her favourite character in the books and she said it was Peter. She always likes the main characters in the books she reads because they do the most important things. Which makes perfect sense when you think about it. She also likes Amanda, who is the other main character in ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ of course. Audrey likes the way she keeps fooling Peter. She likes strong female characters  in the books she reads, such as in the book she was reading that afternoon, ‘Ramona the Pest’ by one of her favourite authors, Beverly Clearly.

Since reading ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’, Audrey has written her own fantasy story for a competition. It has five main characters: a small boy named Bill who is six; an older girl called Amber aged nine; two twins aged five –  Sunshine and Moondown – and Lolly who is seven. She has some very good names for characters, don’t you think?

Audrey also told me that her mother uses a taxi company called Speed Cars which promises to get you wherever you are going in 10 minutes. Even if you are going from Leeds to London. Sometimes she uses Uber instead but they will only take her to the house next door.

I think Audrey has some very good ideas for fantasy stories. I think when she gets going, I am going to be out of a job. Never mind – at least there will be Audrey’s stories to read.

I’d better get back to work then,

Thanks again to Audrey!

Bye for now – and don’t forget your hat!

Grimly

(Thanks to Graham James for the photo)

Five Stars

IMG_3013

Hi Everyone – If you have read ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ and would like to let other people know what you think about it, you can leave a review on Amazon. Here are the Amazon listings for the book. Scroll down and you will see a button on the left inviting you to leave a review.

Amazon UK site

Amazon US site

Speaking of which, we just got our first review on the Amazon UK site and it’s a good one, giving us a maximum five stars!

This is what the customer who left the review said:

“This is a thoroughly delightful tale about Peter who goes to live with his Uncle and Aunt on the edge of the Vale of Strange – a valley where strangeness oozes through cracks in the earth, engendering all sorts of weird creatures to terrify and, on occasion, consume tourists. The writer, Grimly Darkwood, skilfully treads the fine line between laugh out loud funny and disturbingly creepy to great effect. Despite reassuringly daft names like Bogeys and Heeble-greebs, the bizarre monsters that Peter and his friend Amanda encounter while trying to rescue a missing child, are often genuinely frightening. Darkwood builds up the suspense in the first half of the book very effectively, so that when the two adventurers are finally plunged into the depths of the Vale of Strange there’s a real sense of desperate peril. The sheer scope and barminess of the author’s imagination places this story firmly at the pioneering end of children’s fantasy, and I can heartily recommend it to both younger and older readers alike.”

Pretty good, eh? The review has the title ‘utterly charming and completely bonkers in equal measure’ though we’re not sure if that refers to the book or to the author Grimly Darkwood himself. (Note to Mr Darkwood: “I was only joking. Please don’t sack me, sir!”)

We look forward to speaking with you again soon.

Grimly and the Team