All posts by Stu

Want a signed exclusive copy of Spy School Secret Service? Visit Barnes & Noble soon!

As if the exclusive edition of Spy School Secret Service wasn’t already exciting enough… with all the extra pages of bonus material and the secret poster on the inside of the book jacket… Now, while supplies last, you can get a copy with my signature as well.

I have signed 3200 copies of the book, which have been distributed to Barnes & Nobles all around the country.  They are now in stores and available for purchase.

Now, I know what you’re asking: Did you really sign all those books yourself?  Or did B&N just hire someone else to do it?  Or was there a stamp involved?

I signed them.  It took a very long time.  I had to spread it out over a few days to keep my hand from cramping up.  If you want proof that they’re all originals, check out a few copies.  The signatures in all of them ought to be slightly different from one another.

But like I said, there are only 3200, and once they’re gone, they’re gone.  So if you want one, you’d better hurry up and get it.

Happy holidays!

New Versions of Poached and Big Game in stores November 28th

On November 28, something very exciting is happening.  Poached and Big Game are changing their covers.  As of that day (and possibly a little bit earlier), the covers will look like this:

Amazing, right?  My incredible designer, Lucy Cummins, has done it again.

If you already have a copy of one of these books, don’t be alarmed.  Everything inside the book (except for some of the design elements) ought to stay exactly the same.

So you could be forgiven for asking, ‘Why are you changing the covers at all?’

To which I will respond with a question of my own: ‘Have you ever heard the phrase: Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover?’

Of course you have. That phrase applies to people, though.  Not books.  (It’s meant to be taken metaphorically, not literally.)  Everyone judges books by their covers:  You do it.  I do it.  Your teachers and parents and librarians do it.

While the original covers Lucy did for Poached and Big Game are excellent, we felt it would be a good idea to give the series a cohesive look.  I mean, look at the covers for the Spy School series:

No question that those books are all in the same series, right?

But that wasn’t the case with the FunJungle series.  The covers were all very different:

 

 

 

 

 

 

They don’t look like they’re in the same series.

So that’s why we’re changing them.  There was no improving upon the original Belly Up cover, of course, which is a classic, but as for the rest, they are all going to look more like Lucy’s amazing Panda-monium cover:

And that’s why we’re changing them, pure and simple.  If you already have a copy, there’s no need to get a new one.

Unless, of course, you want every possible edition of my works in your collection.  Then by all means, feel free to buy another version of each of these books.

Barnes & Noble will be printing an exclusive edition of Spy School Secret Service

Did you enjoy the B&N special edition of Evil Spy School? Or Big Game? Or Spy Ski School? Or Panda-Monium? If you did (or heck, even if you didn’t) here’s some good news:

There is going to be a special edition of Spy School Secret Service too.

I have just wrapped up work on some fun bonus features, and the fabulous Lucy Cummins is designing some great stuff for it as well. Like the others, there will be a special, extra-shiny book jacket with a secret surprise poster on the inside, along with lots of pages of bonus material.

And right now (July 24), the book is only $10.95 if you pre-order it on B&N. I have no idea where they came up with the price of $10.95, but if I were you, I wouldn’t question it.

All you have to do is click right here to pre-order it!

(In the past, some special editions have shipped up to a week early.  I can’t promise this will happen again, but it’s yet another bonus for pre-ordering it.)

 

Cover and plot reveal for Moon Base Alpha #3: Waste Of Space!

A lot of you have been writing to me, asking for details about MBA #3, so you’ll be pleased to know the time has come to reveal them.

First of all, here’s the cover, another amazing job by Lucy Cummins:

The tentative release date is April 24, 2018.

Now, the plot:

Someone at Moon Base Alpha has poisoned Lars Sjoberg. Lars Survives the attempt, and Dash is forced, against his will, to help investigate.  Unfortunately, the killer will do anything to protect their identity, which means Dash may find himself in serious danger once again.

What really intrigued me about doing this idea was that I thought it’d be fun to write a mystery where every single person at MBA had a motive for wanting the victim dead.  The more suspects, the more fun the mystery is.  And in this mystery I have more suspects than ever before.

Plus, there’s another element of danger at work.  But I’m not going to tell you what it is.  You’ll have to read the book to find out.

And, for those of you who have asked for more info about Zan Perfonic, you’ll get it in this book.  I promise.

But I’m not going to share any more about Zan.  Or anything else about the book.

Why?  Because the less you know about the plot, the more fun the book is to read.  I know it’s a long time until the book comes out, but it ought to be worth the wait.

(If you’re dying to pre-order it, you can do that now by clicking here.)

The plot of Big Game comes true: Some awful person just really killed a rhino in a French zoo

For those of you who don’t know, the plot of my book Big Game is about someone trying to poach an endangered rhino from a zoo, possibly to steal its horn.

Well, that has now happened in real life.  Yesterday, in a French Zoo near Paris, poachers broke in, killed a four year old rhino and stole its horn.  You can read the story by clicking here.  This is the victim:

I am devastated by this news.  When I came up with the idea for Big Game, it was because I actually had a fear that something like this might happen some day.  But I really hoped it wouldn’t.

The reason this happened is because the price of rhino horn is ridiculously high.  There are still horribly misinformed people out there who believe that rhino horn has the power to cure diseases such of cancer, even though that has never been proven.  (Rhino horn is made of keratin, which is the same stuff that your fingernails are made of.)  As long as there is demand for rhino horn, no matter how dumb the reasons, people will be killing rhinos.

One species of rhino, the African northern white rhino, will go extinct in the next few years.  There only three of them left in the world.

But there is also a decent chance that all species will be extinct in the wild soon, unless extreme action is taken.

If you want to help, I suggest you visit these sites and learn what you can do:

rhinos.org

World Wildlife Fund

Save the Rhino

Thanks,

Stuart

Here’s what you’ve been waiting for: The title — and cover — of Spy School #5!

Hey readers!

I have been getting a lot of questions about Spy School #5.  In particular: ‘Does it have a title besides Spy School #5?’

It does!  And while I could just type it here, it’s more fun to reveal it this way, with the incredible cover designed, as usual, by my incredible designer, Lucy Cummins:

Amazing, right?  And, as usual, what you’re seeing here doesn’t even do it justice.  The actual cover has this cool, shimmery effect for the sunglasses.  It’s fantastic!

Now, I know what your next question is going to be: ‘When does it come out?’

The answer to that is… October 10, 2017.

And now, I know what your third question is going to be: ‘What happens in this book?’

All right, I will tell you.  But with a caveat:

This is all I am going to tell you about the book.  I know this will be frustrating to you, and that you will have more questions.  But I am not going to answer those questions, no matter how nicely you ask.  Because the more you know, the less fun it is for you to read the book.

So here’s the plot, in a nutshell: Ben is sent undercover into the White House to investigate a plot against the president.  As usual, things don’t quite work out the way anyone expects, and chaos and mayhem ensue.

Everything else is classified.  For now.

My visit with the WWF wildlife crimes division (and some new info about FunJungle 4)

HEADS UP: There is some cool new info about FunJungle 4 — including the name of the book — in the blog post below.

A few weeks ago, I got to meet some of the great unsung heroes on earth: the people who deal with wildlife crimes for the World Wildlife Fund.

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking: “Hold on.  The World Wildlife Fund has an animal crimes division?”

And to be honest, I don’t blame you.  I have donated plenty to the WWF over the years and paid a lot of attention to the work they do and yet, I was never aware they had a wildlife crimes division myself until an amazing woman named Giavanna Grein who works there reached out to me.  Giavanna had read Big Game and liked how I dealt with the issue of poaching.  Once I found out what she did, I immediately asked if I could talk to her.  It turned out I was going to be in Washington DC where the WWF was headquartered, so she invited me to drop by and meet some of the team.

Giavanna specializes in fighting animal trafficking, which is the illegal movement of live animals (which are usually being smuggled into the country to be sold as pets) or animals parts (like elephant tusks or rhino horns).  I would have been happy to simply meet with her, but to my surprise, she lined up an all-star crew of people for me to meet.

People like Nilanga Jayasinghe, who oversees all animal protection projects in Asia; Bas Huijbrets, who oversees animal protection projects in Africa — and Ben Freitas, who oversees all marine animal protection projects.  Rachel Kramer and Robin Sawyer also worked to fight trafficking, while also specializing in wlidlife tech (Rachel) and reptiles (Robin).  John Probert was working on wildlife protection technology while also specializing in giraffe protection.  Karen Baragona is a panda protection specialist who also works to reduce demand for animal parts.  And Crawford Allan has been fighting for animal protection for 25 years.

It was very exciting for me to meet all these incredibly impressive people.  As those of you who read my blog know, the next book in the FunJungle series concerns giant pandas.  But here are some things I haven’t revealed before:  First of all, the book is going to be called Panda-Monium.  Second, the crime at the center of the story is that a giant panda disappears en route from the San Diego Zoo to FunJungle.  As I was playing around with this idea, it occurred to me that some potential culprits might be animal traffickers — and now, I have been able to meet with some of the biggest experts on animal trafficking on earth.

Also, I got to meet Karen, the panda protection specialist.  Which was very exciting for both of us.  She has a ten-year-old who likes my books.  And I had been following the WWF’s work on panda conservation.  In fact, I had already quoted a lot of facts from the WWF before I even knew I was going to meet Karen.  So here we are, being all excited to meet each other:

stuart gibbs-2

So… what did I learn?  Well, I learned some disturbing things about the state of animal conservation — and some good things too.

Here’s something disturbing: The USA might be the biggest culprit in animal trafficking in the world.  I know a lot of time we like to point the finger at China, but our country might be just as bad when it comes to importing live animals and animal parts as China is.  (Turns out, it is very hard to track this.)  I even got to see some of the horrible things made from endangered animals that people have tried to smuggle into this country.  Here some are:

First of all, here I am holding the skin of an entire tiger that was being smuggled into the country:

IMG_5464

This is an ice bucket made of the foot of an elephant.  Because, obviously, nothing is as cool as getting ice from the foot of a dead animal.  (That’s sarcasm.)

IMG_5465

Here’s a briefcase made of rhino skin:

IMG_5466

Here are cowboy boots made from Pangolin scales.  Pangolins, which are scaly anteaters from southeastern Asia, may be the most-trafficked animals on the planet:

IMG_5467

And here is a belt made by Versace.  Yes, Versace, the big, fancy French designer, is making belts with illegal animal parts.

IMG_5468

Why anyone would want any of these items in their home (or on their bodies) is beyond me.  And yet, there are people out there who don’t merely want to pay money for these things: They want them so badly, they are willing to break the law to get them.

 

Another disturbing thing: Giraffe poaching has gone up far more than I realized.  I was well-aware that elephant and rhino poaching was on the rise, but I had never heard of anyone poaching a giraffe.  Apparently, it’s happening, though.

But, there is good news too.  The fine folks at the WWF are making progress in the fight to protect wildlife.  Nilanga informed me that Nepal has now gone four years without a single rhino poaching incident.  Four years!  The things that have worked there — like making communities more invested in the fate of the animals — are now being tested in other countries as well.  And John talked about how new technology, like drones, may make it easier for us to track wildlife — and find poachers.

Meanwhile, on the panda front, thanks in part to the work of people like Karen, the Chinese panda population is climbing — and several new panda reserves have been established, which don’t only protect pandas, but also other wildlife such as takins and snub-nosed monkeys.

If you want to help the WWF in their fight against animal crimes, there are things you can do.

First of all, don’t buy any illegal animal products — and help spread the word.

Second, be very careful about buying an exotic pet.

It turns out, a great number of the live animals being trafficked illegally aren’t big things like pandas, but smaller animals like reptiles, birds and fish, which are usually sold to everyday families as pets.  If you are looking to buy an animal like this, ask the dealer lots of questions about where the animal came from.  See if they can provide documentation that proves the animal was bred in captivity (which is legal) and not taken from the wild (which is probably illegal).  Ask if they have a sustainability plan.  And double-check their answers on Google.  (For example, if they claim their rhino viper is from Asia, they’re lying.  And also, don’t buy a rhino viper.  It will kill you.)

If a dealer can’t answer your questions truthfully or provide the documentation you want, then maybe you shouldn’t be buying from them.

Finally, support the World Wildlife Fund.  Every little bit helps.  Click here to visit their website.

Thanks to Giavanna and everyone at the WWF for taking the time to meet with me — and for doing such important work around the world every day.  We all owe you a huge debt of gratitude!

 

An answer to your burning question: Where do I get my ideas?

I get this question more than any other (except ‘When is your next Spy School/FunJungle/Moon Base Alpha novel coming out?’) and it’s one of the most complicated questions to answer.  So I’m going to do my best to answer it right now.

Sort of.  It’s very hard to say where ideas come from.  They just kind of happen.  I didn’t really think, “Where would be an interesting place to set a mystery?” and eventually realize, “Aha!  A zoo!”  Instead, one day, a long time ago, the idea of doing a mystery in a zoo just popped into my head and I realized it was a good one.

So maybe the better question to answer is: What do I do to inspire myself to come up with ideas?

There are two parts to that answer.  1) I tend to write about things that interest me.  Note that this is different than saying “Write what you know.”  A lot of people tell me they’ve been told to write what they know, but if everyone did that, we’d end up with a million books about middle school, high school and college.  There are lots of things that fascinate me: animals, zoos, spies, space travel…

2) I research those things.  This is the fun part, because research isn’t necessarily just reading about something (although that certainly counts).  It’s also trying to experience those things, which I find can generate more ideas than simply hanging around, thinking about something.  For example, walking around a zoo inspires more ideas than merely thinking about a zoo.

It’s pretty amazing how effective immersing yourself in an experience can be to generate ideas.  For example, there’s this volcanic crater in Hawaii — Kilauea Iki — that my son and I love to hike in:

DSC02679

Notice that this crater (which only formed in 1959, by the way) looks pretty alien.  In fact, it’s about as close as you can come to hiking on the lunar surface as possible on earth.  Every time I’m in that crater, I kind of feel like I’m on the moon — and I suddenly find myself besieged with ideas for the Moon Base Alpha series.  Ideas that I might not have come up with otherwise.

It just so happens, there’s a pretty awesome lava tube right near Kilauea Iki.  Fun fact: There are also lava tubes on the moon!  A while back, I sought out the help of some scientists who specialize in potential lunar construction, and they’d told me that if we were to build anything on the moon, we’d probably have to set up our first camps in lava tubes to protect ourselves from meteorite strikes.  (Research!)  Now, while looking at a picture of a lava tube is interesting, actually walking through one is considerably more inspiring:

DSC02671

 

Research like this and inspiration go pretty much hand-in-hand.  If you’re learning about something, inspiration strikes all the time — often for something you weren’t even trying to learn about. For example, I was researching rhinos down at the San Diego Zoo when we dropped by the panda habitat and suddenly, it became evident that FunJungle four ought to be about — you guessed it — pandas.

DSC_0315

 

Meanwhile, somewhere else along the line, I’d had the idea that it would also be interesting to have a story involving dolphins.  So I took it upon myself to do a little research on dolphins as well.  Luckily, a place called Dolphin Quest was happy to do this for me:

IMG_4830

 

Extremely educational — and very inspirational!  (Not to mention awfully fun.  I told you research was the fun part.)  When FunJungle #4 comes out in spring 2017, expect there to be a bit of a dolphin mystery in there, along with the panda mystery.

So if you’re looking for inspiration, I highly recommend trying to experience as much as possible (as long as your parents say its ok.)  Go to zoos and museums and national parks.  Take lessons in things that interest you.  Explore the world!  And read a lot.

(And for those of you still wanting details on Spy School #4 — and what inspired that — I promise you, details will be coming in February some time.)

Boxed sets of my books are now in stores!

Troubled by which one of my book series to start first?  Well, now you don’t have to worry any more — because you can get the first edition of all three series at once!  That’s right, Belly Up, Spy School and Space Case are now all available in one handy set: Astronauts, Spies and Hippopotami, the Stuart Gibbs Starter Collection.  Plus, they come in a beautiful, hand-crafted carrying case!  (Otherwise known as a box.)  Check out how beautiful it is!  (And click here to order one.  Or two.  Or twelve.)

StarterBoxedSet

Or, are you dealing with a different conundrum: You want to buy all the books in the FunJungle series, but you wish there was a beautiful, hand-crafted carrying case for them as well. (Or, at least, a box.)  Well, your problem is solved, because there is now a FunJungle Collection as well.  Click here to order yours today!

FunJungleBoxedSet

 

Both sets are perfect for holiday gifts, or for simply putting on your fireplace mantle and inducing gasps of awe and jealousy from your houseguests.

For those of you who are Spy School fans, there are no boxed sets for that series at the moment.  But there might be soon.  Stay tuned…