Live on Peculiar Hill

Illustrious speaking opportunity yesterday. Well, all right, a chance to read aloud from ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill‘ for five minutes before they sound a bell and throw you off stage. Naturally I myself (Grimly) was far too busy so I sent Simon Ounsley instead (see picture). As usual, he had a great time swanning about pretending to be me – and the reading seemed to be well received, though from what I hear his Aunt Maggie voice needs a lot more work.

Many thanks to Anzir Boodoo for telling us about the event, and to Fictions of Every Kind for the opportunity to speak. We hope to attend a future meeting, and this time perhaps provide an exclusive foretaste of ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’, the second book in the series, which is due out later this year.

And now he’s had a try-out in front of some adults (as far as I could tell, though there might have been the odd twelve-year-old with a false beard who had slipped in undetected) we can send Simon Ounsley to read in front of some children. If you are involved with some likely establishment (school, library, shop or similar) who might tolerate him for a short while as he mangles my prose, then please get in touch with us.

Do send Ounsley back in one piece though. He still has a vital role to fulfill in our organisation. No one has made me a decent cappuccino all morning.

Don’t forget that we’re always very happy to receive illustrations, reviews, and anything else you might be inspired to produce after reading ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’! Please send such items to us, but bear in mind that we will be assuming you are submitting them for publication unless you specifically say otherwise.

Our email for all purposes is grimlydarkwood03 (at) gmail (dot) com

See you next time then, and remember it’s still bogey season, so don’t forget your hat!

Strange Vegetables

“This book has it all – death, darkness, fearsome creatures, strange vegetables – everything needed to brew up a fantastical tale. This story is well written in very straightforward language… there is always something going on to keep your interest. The author has written the characters very well, so clearly that you can picture them in your mind – kind of like watching a Harry Potter movie. Great story and I’m looking forward to Book Two.”

– Anne-Marie Reynolds (Readers’ Favorite)

Grimly is very excited about this new review of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill‘. He likes it when people choose exactly the right words to describe a book. If in doubt, “Harry Potter” will always do very nicely, though “strange vegetables” comes a close second…

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)

A Glimpse of Bogeys

Greetings from all at Vale of Strange HQ! We thought we’d start the New Year by sharing some impressions of The Shop on Peculiar Hill. One of our readers, Janet, sent some great, very spooky pictures of bogeys. You may have seen them on our Facebook page but here is one of them again.

I don’t know about you at home but everyone here in the office is now hiding behind the sofa. These bogeys look very similar to the bogey pictured in the top right of Pete Lyon’s excellent cover illustration (see below) so maybe they’re genuine bogeys. Perhaps Janet went out for a stroll and just happened to have her phone handy when the bogeys flew by. I hope you had your hat with you too, Janet.

This is actually one of two bogeys on Pete’s cover. Have you noticed the other one? If so, can you write and tell us where it is? And while we’re about it, what do you think is peering out of the cellar of the Shop on Peculiar Hill? Have you noticed those eyes?

We shall be excited to hear your own impressions of Peculiar Hill, the Vale of Strange, and the scary creatures which live there. Please write in with your pictures or descriptions and we’ll post them here. (Please note that by sending these in, you are giving us permission to post them here and/or share them online. We will just identify you by your first name unless you tell us otherwise.)

You can write to us at grimlydarkwood03 (at) gmail (dot) com or use the ‘ContactGrimly’ form.

Don’t forget you can also share your impressions of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ by leaving a review on the Amazon.com or Amazon UK sites. This is very useful, as it helps to spread the word about the book. You can also leave reviews on other sites such as iTunes and Goodreads.

Grimly says “Hi!” but is too busy to say any more because he is working hard on the next book in the Vale of Strange series, ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill ‘, which is due out later this year and is due to reveal some further secrets about the vale and its inhabitants. Don’t forget to look out for it – and don’t forget your hat!


Happy New Year!

The Shop on Peculiar Hill Cover

Grimly and the team at the Vale of Strange wish you all A Happy (Bogey-free) New Year!

Remember the Fizz Count is high at this time of year! Don’t forget your hat….

… or your copy of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’. Get it at Amazon UK, Amazon.com and other online bookshops.

“The sheer scope and barminess of the author’s imagination places this story firmly at the pioneering end of children’s fantasy.” – Amazon customer.

Fun for All Ages

IMG_6683

Well, we’re in the pre- Christmas rush period now, so everyone’s rushing round to get everything ready for Christmas. This is very important. If everything wasn’t ready for Christmas then people would have to sit around pretending to open invisible presents and wondering who had run off with the Christmas tree. So, it’s very important that all these things get done, including putting in the bit that goes bang in the Christmas crackers. Otherwise they might go pop instead of bang and you might have to somehow struggle through the next twelve months without a tiny screwdriver set or a joke about a reindeer.

Then there’s remembering to order in enough snow and making sure the chimney’s unlocked so that Santa can get down it with all the presents, none of which leaves very much time left over for writing book reviews on Amazon. So after the first gush of five-star responses to ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’, there’s been a bit of a quiet time. But a new review arrived just the other day, and the person who wrote it has left some very useful thoughts to share with the other Amazon customers. Here’s what she had to say:

“Question: What amuses a seven-year-old and a seventy-year old for hours? Answer: The Shop on Peculiar Hill. My 7 year old granddaughter and her 70 year old grandfather both loved it. It’s a brilliant book, suitable for 7 year olds and upwards.”

We love that review, especially the bit about it being “a brilliant book”, but it’s also really helpful that this reader has explained how the book can be enjoyed by a very wide age range of people. This is what Grimly and the rest of the team have been saying all along. So if you can’t find a copy of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ around the house to read, it might be because you or your parents have accidentally forgotten to buy one (possibly because you were too busy ordering some other bit of Christmas) or it may be that your seventy year old grandfather or similarly aged relative have come across the book and have now found a spot to hide quietly away in and read it themselves. In which case you may just have to politely suggest that they get their own copy at Amazon UK, Amazon USA, or some other online bookshop of their choice. Or better still, why don’t you suggest that you read it together? That way you can share all the funny and scary bits, chuckling at the antics of Uncle Bob and Aunt Maggie, then hiding under the sofa together when the bogeys come out.

But whether you read it alone or in company, we hope these Christmas holidays provide you with time to read the book if you haven’t already had chance. After Christmas, we’ll be having lots of entertaining chats about the book here on the blog and we think you’ll enjoy those a lot more if you already know the story.

Right then, I hear the jingling of reindeer bells. Grimly says “Ho ho ho!” but he can’t stop and chat right now because we’re doing our test run with the sleigh we’ll be using to distribute the ‘Shop on Peculiar Hill’ flyers planetary wide this evening. Don’t worry – they’re made out of biodegradable Christmas Cake and they burst into flames as soon as you’ve read them anyway. All environmentally sound. “Hey, Mr Darkwoood! Wait for me!”

Merry Christmas, everybody!

(Thanks to Sarah Helen Booth for the photograph.)