Keeping In Touch

Just to ring the changes a bit as regards pictures here on the blog, many thanks to John Guy Collick, author of the galaxy-spanning Book of the Colossus series, for sharing this photo of his paperback copy of Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill on desk display...

Now that all the Kindles have been sieved and measured as they were downloaded through the great colander in the sky, we are able to report that almost a thousand people (yes, almost a thousand!) took advantage of the splendid offer of a free e-copy of The Shop on Peculiar Hill. This being so, it seems likely that some of them have been smart enough not only to grasp this remarkable opportunity with eager fingers but also to find their way here to the premier source of knowledge of all things Grimly. One of them may even be you, in which case welcome along!

This is indeed the place to come to keep up-to-date with all the latest developments in the world of the Vale of Strange. You may wish to check back here from time to time to make sure you’re not missing anything. Alternatively, if you’re as smart as I think you are, you’ll prefer to automate the process by putting your email address in the little box on the right-hand side of the page, the one labelled ‘Follow Blog by Email’. It will not surprise you to learn that this will sign you up to get email notifications of new posts here on the blog.

But of course, communication is a two-way thing. Extensive scientific experiments have proved that shouting at the top of your voice is a totally useless means of communication if no one is listening. So I wish to assure you that, for our part, we are sitting here with our ears sticking out of our hats (which Aunt Maggie assures me is perfectly safe as long as no bogeys are flying around), ready to capture your faintest whisper and place it on the conveyor belt which carries it up to what passes for a brain here at Grimly Central, where a conglomeration of brain bits (to use the technical terminology) will convert it into the message you wish to transmit.

Or to put it another way, tell us what you think and we’ll be listening.

Have you finished reading that book yet? What do you think of Peculiar Hill and the Vale of Strange? Would you like to live there? Who is your favourite character in the book and why? If you have just read ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’, are you keen to read ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’ next? What do you think is going to happen next? What would you like to happen? What is your favourite monster in the Vale of Strange? Do you think there are some more in there that we haven’t discovered yet?

And if any children – or indeed adults – would like to send us a drawing based on the books, we should be very interested to see it and perhaps share it here on the blog. Our artist, Pete Lyon, has shown us what he thinks the humans and monsters look like. What do you think?

You can contact us via the ‘Contact Grimly’ page, a link to which you will see on the right-hand side of the screen. In the case of any difficulty using the ‘contact Grimly’ form, just use the email address which is given on that page or leave a comment on this post. We’re really hoping to hear from you!

(If you do send us drawings and/or your thoughts about the books – and we very much hope you will – we’ll assume you are happy for them to be published in this blog unless you tell us otherwise.)

Of course, if you haven’t finished the book(s) yet then keep on reading – and keep on wearing that hat!

One last reminder: you can also keep up to date with events in the Vale of Strange by following us on Facebook and/or Twitter – see the links on the right….

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…

The Excitement is Building!

We still don’t have a definite publication date for ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’, Book Two of the ‘Vale of Strange’ series. We’ll let you know as soon as we hear, but in the meantime the excitement is building. Here’s a great tweet from Ian Eagleton who has developed the wonderful ‘The Reading Realm’ app to encourage children to read using extracts of text with games and quizzes. The updated app, which features an extract from ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’, has just been released today! It’s really great to have Ian’s support for the book, which he describes as ‘one of my fav books this year for children 10+. What a hidden gem!’

As you’ll see from the tweet, Ian is also looking forward to the new book and is going to run a competition to give away a signed copy. Ahead of that, Mani of ‘Mani’s Book Corner’ will be doing a Cover Reveal of Pete Lyon’s wonderful cover for ‘Stranger Days’ on her ‘Mani’s Book Corner’ blog. You may remember she featured a great review of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ earlier this year. We’ll let you know when Mani’s Cover Reveal will be – along with the publication date – as soon as we know!

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.)