Answers to your burning questions about Big Game (FunJungle #3)

All right fans, now that the release date for Evil Spy School is coming up, the deluge of questions about that book has dropped off, only to be replaced with a deluge of questions about Big Game, the third book in the FunJungle series.  So I figured I ought to answer some of them.

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When is Big Game coming out?

October 13, 2015

What happens in this one?

The main plot in this book is that someone is trying to kill Rhonda, one of FunJungle’s endangered asian rhinos.  So this time, Teddy is in a race to figure out the identity of the hunter and stop them before Rhonda ends up dead.

Ooh!  Sounds exciting!

It is.

Although rhino poaching sounds like a pretty serious topic.  Why did you choose to write about that?

Well, first of all, let me say that the book is still quite funny, just like Belly Up and Poached were.  But you’re right, rhino poaching is a serious issue.  The reason I decided to take it on though, is be cause 1) it’s important and 2) many of my readers seems to be very concerned about environmental topics like this.  Sadly, there’s a decent chance that there might not be any rhinos left in the wild in the near future if something isn’t done about poaching, and so I felt my readers might want to know more about it — although, hopefully, through my book, they can learn about it in an amusing way.

Wait.  Did you say that, in the near future, there might not be any rhinos left on earth?  How long are we talking here?

It depends.  It could be thirty years.  Could be less.  It depends on the species.  When I started writing Big Game, there were seven North African White Rhinos left in the world.  Now, there are only five.  And they’re all probably too old to breed, so that species is going to be extinct soon.  (If you’d like too see what they look like, this is Nola, one of the last five left):

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Aw, man, now I’m kind of depressed.

You should be.  This is depressing stuff.  But maybe, you’ll take those feelings and do something positive with them, like support a charity like www.rhinos.org.  Or www.nature.org.

Um… you did say funny stuff happens in this book, right?  It’s not all preachy and stuff, is it?

No, it’s not preachy.  There’s plenty of funny.  Plus lots of action and adventure.  I just felt that putting the life of an endangered animal at stake would really heighten the tension.

Is Summer in it?

Of course.

How about J.J. and Pete Thwacker and Doc and Teddy’s parents and Xavier?

Yes, they’re all in it too.  Pretty much everyone you’ve met in previous books is back in this one.

Even Vance Jessup?

Er… no.  Not him.

What about Large Marge?  Is she back?

Oh yes.  Marge is back and causing even more trouble for Teddy than ever.

How so?

Well, in addition to the rhino hunter, there’s another criminal on the loose at FunJungle.  A very destructive their has been robbing a lot of the stores in the park.  And Marge suspects Teddy is the real culprit.

Ooh.  So Teddy has two crimes to solve in this one?

Yes.

What happens with Summer and Teddy?  Are they going to start dating?

Wow, you wouldn’t believe how many times I get asked this.  It’s probably the number one question I get.

Are you saying I’m unoriginal?

No!  It just kind of surprises me.  But I guess that means my readers are really invested in what happens with Teddy and Summer.

We are!  So… What happens?

Well, I really don’t want to spill the beans on this. Let’s just say that it’s a question on Teddy’s mind as well.

Aw, man.  You’re really not going to say anything more?

Sorry.  But I have to keep some things secret.  You’re just going to have to wait for the book.

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The Evil Spy School book tour may be visiting your hometown this April!

The plans are finally in place for my book tour for the release of Evil Spy School on April 21.  It’s been very hard to figure out where to go, because millions of fans all over the world have been clamoring for me to come visit them.  But it has finally been narrowed down to a few cities in the eastern USA.  (Sorry, midwest.  You got me twice last year.)

The lucky cities are: Raleigh, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; Alexandria, Virginia; Washington, DC; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Jersey City, New Jersey; New York City and Madison, Connecticut.

Most of the time I’m on book tour, I’m visiting schools, but there are a few events that are going to be open to the public.  So, if you’d like to come see me (or you know someone else who’d like to come see me) this is your chance.  The public events are posted on the upper right hand side of my website under “Upcoming Events” (you can take a split-second and see for yourself) but I figured I’d elaborate:

On Tuesday, April 21, the official launch day of Evil Spy School, I will be in Raleigh, NC at the Barnes & Noble at Brier Creek Commons at 6pm.  8431 Brier Creek Parkway

On Wednesday, April 22, I will be in Richmond, VA at BBGB book store inRichmond, VA at 5pm. 3003 W. Cary St.

On Thursday, April 23, I will be at Hooray 4 Books in Alexandria, VA at 7pm. 1555 King St.

On Friday, April 24, I will be at Politics & Prose in Washington, DC at 10:30 am.  Yes, that’s right.  10:30 am.  On a school day.  Turns out, P&P has the schools come to them. So I guess you can ask your school if they’d like to go.  Or maybe your school will let you out for the day to come see me.  Because it’s educational.  5015 Connecticut Ave NW

On Saturday, April 25, I will be at the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC.  Yes, that’s right.  The International Spy Museum!  The best spy museum in the whole world.  I’m not sure exactly where in the museum I’m going to be quite yet.  Probably in the bookstore.  800 F Street, NW

On Sunday, April 26, I will be at the Open Book Bookstore in Elkins Park, PA at 3pm.  7900 High School Rd

On Monday, April 27, I am going to be at Children’s Book World in Haverford, PA (which is pretty much Philadelphia, PA) at 4:30.  17 Haverford Station Rd

On Tuesday, April 28, I am going to be at Books of Wonder in New York City from 6-8pm.  This one’s a little different than the other appearances.  This is taking place the night before the Edgar Awards, so I’m going to be on a panel with my fellow nominees.  But we’ll all hang out and meet our readers afterwards.  18 W 18th St

I should warn you, these details might change.  But I’ll update my site (including this post and, more importantly, the events calendar) if any changes occur.  Hope to see you in April!

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Big Game cover revealed!

This one slipped out with a little less fanfare than the Evil Spy School cover a few weeks ago.  But since it popped up on both Goodreads and Amazon, I figure it’s officially out there.  So here, yet again, is another masterful Lucy Cummins creation:

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Big Game won’t be out until October 13, 2015.  I’ve been promising to answer some Burning Questions about it for some time, but I’m kind of deep into writing Spy School #4 right now.  So for the time being, just know that — as the cover indicates — this book’s mystery focuses on a rhinoceros.  In a nutshell: Someone is trying to kill the rhinos at FunJungle — most likely for their horns — and Teddy (along with Summer and some others) is in a race to figure out who it is before they succeed.  This time out, Teddy is up against his most dangerous enemy yet, and in addition, he’ll have to confront stampeding elephants, man-eating crocodiles, an incredibly destructive candy thief, the world’s worst taxidermists — and of course, Large Marge.

More to come in a few weeks!

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Barnes & Noble offering Exclusive Collector’s Edition of Evil Spy School!

Exciting news from the world of publishing today!  Barnes & Noble is selling an exclusive collector’s edition of Evil Spy School!  (I’m guessing you probably figured that out from the title of this post, but it bears repeating.)  Now, you may be asking yourself, ‘What exactly is an Exclusive Collector’s Edition?’  Well, to start with, there are 32 pages of top secret bonus content.  32 pages!!!!  That’s like a whole extra book!  (Or at least, a couple extra chapters.)  And, since I wrote those 32 pages of content, I can assure you there’s plenty of good stuff in there.

But wait!  There’s more!  The book also looks different, with a special edition jacket designed by none other than the awesome Lucy Cummins:

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OK, admittedly, the cover might not look that different on this site, but trust me, it’s different.  It’s shiny for one thing.  And there might just be a top-secret map on the inside of the cover.  And super-cool fingerprint end pages.  Basically, there’s plenty of great stuff that you wouldn’t get with the regular book.

Now, I suppose you’re saying to yourself, “Man, that sounds amazing.  More amazing than pretty much anything I’ve ever hear of in my life.  But I wonder if this amazing collector’s edition is going to be really expensive.  After all, Stuart Gibbs wrote 32 pages of bonus material for it.  That done is probably worth a thousand dollars.”

Well, you’d be wrong.  In fact, the collector’s edition costs only 53 cents more than the regular, non-exclusive edition.  53 cents!  For less than the cost of um… honestly, I can’t think of anything that only costs 53 cents… you can get all that bonus stuff.  And your own copy of ESS.

And here’s the best part:  It’s available for pre-order right now!  Just click here.  It won’t arrive until April, but when it does, I’m sure you’ll love it.

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Space Case nominated for an Edgar Award

The Edgar award is the most prestigious award in mystery writing.  In fact, many people think it is more prestigious than the Oscars, Golden Globes and Nobel Peace Prize combined.  The awards are given out every year by the Mystery Writers of America.  And I have just scored my second nomination for one.  Which is a HUGE honor.

Why is it called the Edgar?  Because it’s named after Edgar Allen Poe, who wrote what is regarded as the first modern mystery, the Murders in the Rue Morgue.  (Spoiler alert:  An orangutan did the killing, which links EAP and I as that rarest breed of mystery writer: the z00-based mystery writer.)  And the award itself is a lovingly hand-crafted bust of Edgar made out of the finest Carrera marble.  Or possible porcelain.  Either way, I want one.

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I’m up against a tough group to beat this year, including Heather Vogel Frederick’s Absolutely Truly, which was also edited by my very own editor, Kristin Ostby (who is now apparently the go-to editor for middle-grade mystery).

Here’s the list of nominees:

Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick
Space Case by Stuart Gibbs
Greenglass House by Kate Milford
Nick and Tesla’s Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove by “Science Bob” Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith
Saving Kabul Corner by N.H. Senzai
Eddie Red, Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile by Marcia Wells

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Space Case gets an awesome review from the New York Times!

When you want to be a writer, there are some things you dream about: Seeing your book on the shelves of a bookstore, hearing from readers who’ve loved your work… And getting a review in the New York Times.  Yes, there are other places that review books, but for me, the Times has always been the gold standard.  (Maybe because I’ve been reading this book review every weekend for a very long time.)

It turns out, the only thing better than getting a review in the Times… is getting a GREAT review in the Times.  If you’d like to read it yourself, just click here.

Or, I could give you some nice excerpts.  Like: “…a delightful and brilliantly constructed ­middle-grade thriller.”  Or: “In a novel with such a highly imagined plot, a protagonist this layered is a rare treat.”  Or even: “At its heart, “Space Case” is about exploration for the sake of exploration, offering up the same wonder as a good long look at the night sky.”

I cannot possibly describe for you all how awesome this is.  It’s simply amazing.

Meanwhile, this has also coincided with my Six Minute interview popping up on LitPick today.  Click here for it.

Have a happy holiday, everyone!  See you in the new year!

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Answers to your burning questions about Evil Spy School, part 3

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Hey readers!  A lot of you have been emailing me with questions about Evil Spy School, the long-awaited, highly-anticipated third book in the Spy School series.  I often refer you guys to some posts I did a while back with some answers to these questions, but I just realized that those posts are almost a year old.  (Holy cow.  I can’t believe I’ve been working on this book that long.)  So I figured it was time for an update.  If you’ve read those posts, some of these questions might be a bit familiar, but hey, maybe you forgot the answers anyhow.  So here we go:

When is Evil Spy School going to come out?

Right now, the targeted release date in April 21, 2015.

What???  April 21???  That’s like five months away!!!  Aren’t you done writing this darn thing yet?

Yes.  In fact, I finished writing it about six months ago.

Six months ago???

Please stop repeating everything I say.

I can’t help it.  I’m upset.  Why do I have to wait a year after you’ve finished for the book to come out?

For starters, I’d already written some other books — Poached and Space Case — and those were scheduled to come out first.  Second, just because I’m done doesn’t mean that the book is done.  The cover still has to be designed, and a lot of other stuff had to be done.  (See that cover up at the top of this page?  A lot of work went into that.)  Third, to make sure a book gets a good release, you have to pick a release date way ahead of time.  We need to make sure your local bookstore (or library) has had a chance to hear about the book and order it so it’s there when you want it.

I guess that makes sense.  (Disgruntled sigh.)  What happens in this book anyhow?  You might have told me, but I forgot since you haven’t posted about it in a year.

Our hero, Ben Ripley gets to go on his first undercover mission — at SPYDER’s school for young evil spy wannabes.

Hold on a moment.  How’s that supposed to work?  How can Ben go undercover when everyone at SPYDER knows what he looks like?

Ah.  Good question.  But there’s a very simple answer:  As you may recall from the first two books (SPOILER ALERT: DON’T READ ON IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE FIRST TWO BOOKS) SPYDER has made repeated attempts to recruit Ben to the dark side.  So now, he finally is going to accept their offer.  Or at least, he’s going to make them think he’s going to the dark side, when really, he’s going to secretly keep working for the good guys.  Even though he’ll most likely end up dead if SPYDER figures this out.  (This plan wasn’t Ben’s idea.  He just gets railroaded into it.)

Ooh!  Sounds awesome!

Thanks.

Is Erica in it?

Definitely.  She’s not going undercover with Ben, but trust me, she’ll be around.

Are she and Ben ever going to become a couple?

Man, you wouldn’t believe how many times I get asked this question.  They’re not going to start dating any time soon — partly because they’re pretty young and partly because there’s a lot of other complications in their lives.  But their relationship is going to grow.

Who else is going to be in it?  Alexander Hale?

Yes.

And Zoe?

Yes.

How about Jawa?  Will he be in it too?

Yes.

And Chip?

Let’s just say that everyone you’ve met in the previous books will be in this one.

Like Woodchuck Wallace?

Er… no.  Not him.  But almost everyone else is in it.  Plus, there’s some cool new characters as well.

Like who?

Some of the students at Evil Spy School.  I think you’ll really like them.  Even though they’re evil.

Can you tell me more about them?

I’d prefer not to.  I want to save some surprises for the book.

Can you tell me what SPYDER is plotting this time?

Sorry, that’s classified.  For the same reasons as the previous answer.

Fine.  Be that way.  Can you send me an advanced copy?

No.

Can you write me into the book?

No.  Like I said, it’s done.

Well, can’t you just slip a mention of my name in?  Or mention my friend/family/a product I really like?

I’m sorry, but I can’t.  I get asked this question more than just about anything else (except maybe ‘When is Spy School going to be turned into a movie?’).  The problem is that I can’t put everyone who requests a mention in, because the book would then have thousands of random characters in it and read like the phone book.  So, sadly, the solution is that to be fair to everyone, I can’t put anyone who asks into the books.  Or mention your friends.  Or your pets.  Or give the characters names that you think would be funny.  Sorry.

When is Spy School going to be turned into a movie?

I told you I get this question a lot.  The answer is:  I don’t know.  I’m talking to Hollywood people about it.  The neat thing now is, lots of kids in Hollywood are reading the book, and some of those kids have parents who are movie producers, and so now some producers are getting interested because their kids like the book so much.  We’ll see how all that works out, though.

Isn’t there some way to speed up the process of getting a movie made?

Sure.  The more books that sell, the more interested Hollywood gets.  If Spy School sells millions of copies, the movie business will very likely turn it into a movie.  So just get a million of your closest friends to buy the book, and it’ll end up being a movie!  It’s simple, really.

Are you going to write any more books in this series?

Yes.  In fact, I am just starting work on the fourth one.

Really?  Awesome!  What’s that one about?

I’m not quite ready to share that information yet.  I’m still developing the story.

Do you know when it’s going to come out?

Around fall 2016.

Oh for crying out loud.  Why so long?

Because I have two more books coming out after Evil Spy School.  Big Game, the next book in the FunJungle series, will be out next fall.  And then Spaced Out, the sequel to Space Case, will be out in spring of 2016.

Can’t you write any faster?

No.

 

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My promotion with Carl Hiaasen

My avid readers out there might be aware that I’m a huge fan of Carl Hiaasen.  I first discovered Carl through his books for adults (he wasn’t writing middle grade as well back then) and was blown away by his combination of humor, crime and eco-consciousness.  His writing has certainly influenced my own.  For example, the fact that my FunJungle series is a combination of humor, crime and eco-consciousness.  I know there are plenty of writers out there who claim that their heroes are authors like Dickens, Austen and Shakespeare.  My hero is Hiassen.  Quite simply, as a young writer, he was who I wanted to be.  And he’s also the writer whom I have re-read the most.  I read his books again and again, and they’re always tremendous fun.

So it has been an incredible joy to learn that Barnes & Noble considers me worthy enough a writer to promote alongside Carl.  As of this weekend, this is how my books appear at B&N’s all over the country:

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Look at that!  I even got top billing!  (Although this is probably because my name comes first alphabetically.)  This is really a massive thrill for me.  Like I’m a minor league baseball player who just got called up to the big leagues to play with his hero.

I took a few more photos with my favorite bookstore models:

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Oh man, this is awesome.

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World Domination Update

For the millions of you who are regular fans of this blog, you know that, in the past, I have made no secret of my desire to have my books spread throughout the United States.  But now, the United States appears to be fully conquered by the Gibbs Publishing machine.  There is nary a bookstore in this country where you can’t find my books, perhaps even shelves full of them.  (And if there is a bookstore out there near you without my books, please hector, badger and bullyrag them until they submit and start carrying them.)

So… what’s next?  World Domination, obviously.

I have started to get reports from around the globe of my books showing up in various places.  A friend of mine at the US Embassy in Athens, Greece, reports multiple sightings in that city.  (Yes, I have friends who do cool things like work at the US Embassy in Athens.)  In just the last 24 hours, I have received word of Spy School being read by a young boy named Nicholas in the bush of Queensland, Australia, and pictorial evidence of Belly Up from a young man named Jesse at the American Library in Paris:

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OK, admittedly, there’s nothing about this photo that says ‘Paris’ at all.  No Eiffel Tower out the window behind it or anything like that.  But the book is in Paris, I promise.

But there’s bigger news on the world domination front.  My books are starting to be published in other countries, in other languages.  Like South Korea!  Here’s what Spy School and Spy Camp look like there:

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In case you’re wondering why both books have a #1 on them, it took me a while to figure out myself — since I can’t read Korean.  Turns out, the books are so long when translated into Korean that each is split into two separate books, which means I technically have 4 books out in South Korea.  Spy School is on the left.  Spy Camp is on the right.  I think.  I’m assuming the greenery on the gloves is some sort of foliage.  Or maybe salad.

Now, here’s the super-cool anime-influenced cover of Spy School in Japanese!

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And then, there’s this Scandanavian version of The Last Musketeer (featuring the least Scandanavian looking hero ever):

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I addition, my books are going to be in China, Germany, Japan, Turkey, Hungary, the Netherlands and many other countries.  I just don’t have those copies yet.  (And if you’re in an English-speaking country, there’s a good chance they’re already there.)  But when I get them, I’ll share them.  I promise.

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The Evil Spy School cover, finally revealed!

I know a lot of you have been waiting for this for a long time.  I’ve had a hard time keeping it from you.  My amazing artist Lucy Cummins pretty much nailed this on the first attempt months ago, but there was still a bit of tweaking to be done.  So without any further ado, here it is!

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