The Lifkin Wall

As I promised yesterday, I’m now going to explain what’s really going on in Pete Lyon’s cover illustration for ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill‘ so you can get a taste of what’s going to happen in the new book.

What the cover shows is an enormous wall which the lifkins have built to protect the underground deposits of strangeness. These are under attack from a new character, the villainous Percival Crow, so putting at risk the very balance of the weirdosphere. The lifkins are the industrious, spindly creatures who first appeared in ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’. They make everything out of things they find lying around in the Vale of Strange and this wall is no exception. Pete has used this as the starting point for an extraordinary picture, showing all the things that make up the wall in microscopic detail: bits of cars, an aeroplane, an old fashioned camera, a postbox, an anchor with chain, everything including the kitchen sink… How many different things can you spot?

In the right hand side of the foreground, you can see a lifkin called Suds who has been using a vacuum cleaner to clear up puddles of strangeness following an attack from Percival Crow the previous day. In doing so, he has also accidentally vacuumed up the three children. He has just switched off the vacuum and is reading the instructions in concern, while the children have fallen to the floor where they look rather dazed. In a few moments time, they will need to have all their wits about them, as who should come scrambling down the wall but Thing, the lifkin who caused them so much trouble in the previous book. Thing’s mood has not improved in the meantime….

And as for that creature in the background, that isn’t a bogey, is it? It looks too big….

That’s all I can tell you for now. You’ll have to wait till the book comes out to find out more. But it won’t be long now. The eBook version can be pre-ordered right away and the paperback can be purchased on the publication date, which is 1st Dec, next Sunday! The wait is almost over….

In the meantime, if you haven’t already done so, take a look at the first two chapters of the book, available free on line right now!

Last Chance to Imagine

If you’re on Twitter and are feeling creative, you should just have time to pop over to @reading_realm and have a go at the competition to win a free signed copy of my latest Vale of Strange book, Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill. You just have to RT and follow them and then – this may be the trickier bit – come up with a short story based on this picture which fits into a tweet. Hmm. So far the only entries have come from some very clever teachers but I bet you can do it too if you give it a try. The story can be about anything you like. It doesn’t have to be about Peter and his friends. See what you can come up with. Don’t delay! The last day is tomorrow.

The picture is Pete Lyon’s Cover for ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’ of course and tomorrow I’ll explain what it’s really about, so you’ll get another taste of what to expect in the book….

The Reading Realm Cover Competition

I’m delighted to be sharing the front cover of my new book ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill‘ here on the Grimly blog today. Thanks again to Mani of Mani’s Book Corner for revealing it to the public gaze for the first time a few days ago. I’m going to be telling you a bit more about the picture (created by the brilliant Pete Lyon) and how it fits in with the new book very soon, but for today we’re asking you to let your own imagination run wild and think of your own (very) short story inspired by the picture. So this doesn’t have to be anything to do with Peter and Amanda and the Vale of Strange (unless you want it to be). It can be anything you want to write about that is inspired by the picture. You’ll have to keep it short though, because it has to fit in a tweet!

This competition is being run by The Reading Realm, some very nice people who have created an app for the iPad to encourage children to read. It has excerpts from over 200 pieces of prose and poetry including – would you believe it? – The Shop on Peculiar Hill! There are questions to answer about what you read and all sorts of other games. It’s great fun and it can be downloaded now from the Apple store. An android version is expected later this year.

Anyway, the Reading Realm (who created the app) are running this competition over on their Twitter feed, so if you are on Twitter, get over there and take a look at it now. You can find them here: @reading_realm The prize for the best (very) short story inspired by Pete’s picture and which fits in a tweet will win a valuable signed copy (by me, Grimly) of ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’. So get over there now and get your imagination racing. Good luck with it!

Oh yes, and don’t forget your hat…

(The competition is UK only (Sorry!) and closes 24 November.)

Grimly at The Reading Realm

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Here’s a really great interview with Grimly by Ian Eagleton, designer of the briliant app The Reading Realm, which can be downloaded now for iPad and has all sorts of quizzes and games to encourage children to read. Ian asks some very interesting questions about the influences on Grimly and how it felt to create the Vale of Strange. Enjoy…

Revealed At Last!

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Well it’s been tense and time got a little bit tight for a while, but I’m pleased to announce that we now have a definite publication date for ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’, the eagerly awaited second book in the ‘Vale of Strange’ series and sequel to ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’. It’s going to be released in good time for Christmas: on 1st December. Not only that, but copies of the eBook can be ordered right now. They will then be auto-downloaded to your Kindle device or app on 1st December.

You can order here if you are in the UK and here for the US. The paperback version can’t be pre-ordered but it can be purchased at Amazon from 1st December. The book will also be available in both formats from Amazon sites worldwide.

To add to the excitement, we can now announce that the book’s splendid cover by Pete Lyon, which we enthused about in a previous post, is being revealed right now at Mani’s Book Corner. You may remember that Mani was the first blogger to review The Shop on Peculiar Hill and she has always been very enthusiastic and supportive so we decided that she was the ideal person to do the Cover Reveal, especially as her blog has a lot more regular readers than ours does! So I strongly suggest you get over there right now and take a look at the cover. Prepare to have your breath taken away by this remarkably detailed imagining of a scene from ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’.

One more thing before you go: if you don’t already follow this blog, we suggest you sign up now. You’ll then be assured of getting all the latest news on the new book and all other Vale of Strange-related matters. Just pop your email in the box you will find in the sidebar. Or if you have a WordPress account, you can sign up to follow through WP. You will also find us on Facebook and Twitter of course.

A very important reason for signing up is that you’ll be informed as soon as the free sample chapters become available online. That will be very shortly, well before publication date. So don’t miss out on your chance to take an advance peek into this latest mind-boggling adventure…

Oh yes, in all the excitement. I almost forgot to remind you of the most important thing: One! – Two! – Three! – Don’t forget your hat!

Stranger Days Are Nearly Here!

Hello – Grimly here! It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here and I’ve noticed that a few new people have been viewing this site (welcome!) so I decided I should bring my computer out of the cupboard under the stairs, eject the rats that had set up home in the backup drive, de-louse the keyboard, polish the monitor, hunt around for the password cupboard, wrestle the mouse off the mice, and write you an update on what has been going on around here.

Well, nothing much really, but it’s all going to start soon because I’ve just taken delivery of Pete Lyon’s magnificent cover for ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’, the sequel to ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ and part two of the ‘Vale of Strange’ series. Pete’s illustration really is wonderful. If you liked the cover of the first book, you’re going to really love this one! It’s a good thing that the ‘Vale of Strange’ paperbacks are larger format than the tiny books which seem to pass for normal these days because that will give you a chance to study the fine detail of the drawing. Even so, you might want to think about buying the Kindle version as well (so you can take advantage of the magnification capability) and to make sure you really appreciate the fine details I suggest adding an electron microscope to your Christmas list.

You think I’m joking? The illustration would really look at its best on the wall of some great public building. You’ll see what I mean when you see it. Maybe the House of Commons would like to feature ‘Stranger Days’? Some might think it appropriate.

I would have shown you the cover here but we’re going to look into the possibility of organising a ‘Cover Reveal’ event in advance of publication. If we manage to set that up, we will let you know here of course.

At the moment, we’re hoping for a mid November publication date, but once again we will publish the details here. If you’re not already following the blog, you can sign up for email alerts in the right hand sidebar. That way, you’re sure to be fully informed of all developments. You can sign up for our Facebook group there too.

That’s it for now then – but don’t forget your hat! It’s autumn now, so this message is endorsed by not only Aunt Maggie but also Uncle Bob. It’s October – almost Halloween – and the bogeys are flying!

(Photo shows Pete Lyon and Grimly Darkwood, on the lookout for bogeys.)

Cover Wars 3 – The ‘Author Shout’ Interview with Grimly

After our joint first position yesterday morning, we’ve just slipped back into second position in the Cover Wars competition, so we’d better pull something extra out of the bag to encourage you to go and vote for us today. And here it is: the Author Shout interview with Grimly Darkwood, in which Grimly (author of The Shop on Peculiar Hill) responds entertainingly, informatively, and occasionally at too great a length, to a number of polite enquiries. Here is a brief excerpt:

Do you proofread/edit your own books or send them off to an editor?

You have to get your book checked over by someone else because we all have holes in our heads through which the mistakes leak. Fortunately other people’s heads have holes in different places so they can catch the mistakes you’ve missed. Professional editors are the best people to use because they have at least 80% fewer holes in total than other people.

If you had the chance to get one message out there to readers all over the world, what would it be?

Please find a way to get along with each other – but not so well that we all get bored.

You can find the rest of the interview here. You may have to scroll down a bit past the bio.

If you enjoy the interview, please vote in the Cover Wars competition here

If you think the interview is rubbish but like Pete’s cover, please vote here anyway.

Don’t forget the 24 hour rule! You need to leave at least 24 hours since you last voted. (How did life get so complicated?)