The Shop on Peculiar Hill – three free copies to be won!

Well, with the extra publicity we’ve been getting through lovereading4 kids (as we mentioned last time) we’re getting more people reading The Shop on Peculiar Hill and so, we hope, more people are finding this website for the first time. If one of them is you, then welcome to Planet Grimly, your one stop shop for all things Vale of Strange (though we’re a bit short of unge and glop, to be honest – we suggest you try eBay for them). You are very welcome to ask any questions you may have about The Vale of Strange (just occasionally we may even know the answers) or send us a review of the book or some artwork it has inspired you to create. You will see some of the remarkable artwork and responses we’ve already received if you take a look back through the previous posts. Our contact address is grimlydarkwood03 (at) gmail (dot) com

We’re also delighted to announce that those nice people at lovereading4kids have three signed copies of The Shop on Peculiar Hill to give away free! That’s signed by Grimly himself, I hasten to add. It was quite an effort and he had to lie down afterwards. If he ever becomes a truly best selling author (and he’s not quite there yet) he’s going to have to go on one of those army fitness programmes to tone up his hand muscles first. Otherwise he will never cope with the signing sessions. Anyway, just for now his work is done and he’s getting back his strength by munching on a chocolate biscuit and a stick of celery, so the chances are he’ll pull through this time. If you would like a chance to partake of the fruits of his labour then full details of how you can win one of the valuable signed copies he has produced can be found on the lovereading4kids site here.  The competition closes on 30th June, so don’t delay – get entering right away!

It occurs to me, though, that most of you reading this will probably already have read The Shop on Peculiar Hill so you may not be mega excited by the competition. Bear in mind, however, that these are potentially valuable signed copies, so they could be worth a fortune one day – or at least the price of a packet of chocolate biscuits and a stick of celery, in case you too need to recover from an arduous workout. And it also seems likely that you may know some of those unfortunate people who haven’t yet read the book. So here is your chance to bring a little sunshine into their lives by sending them a link to the competition and strongly suggesting they enter. After all, someone – or, more accurately – three people – have to get lucky and one of them could be them!

All right, that’s all for now. Thanks for reading this (assuming you did, and haven’t just cheated by skipping to the end). Don’t forget to spread the news about the competition – and, most importantly – as always! – don’t forget your hat!

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.