This seems like a pretty good time to reveal the animal in FunJungle #4…

I know, I know.  FunJungle #3 (Big Game) isn’t even out yet (though it will be soon… October 13th!) and I’m already talking about FunJungle #4 (pub date: sometime in spring 2017).  But there’s been some exciting news this week that’s relevant to the story.

This weekend, at the National Zoo in Washington DC, not one… but two giant panda cubs were born.  Now, the birth of any giant panda is cause for celebration, seeing as there are less that 2,500 giant pandas remaining in the world today.  (About 1,800-1,900 in the wild and 300 or so in zoos.)  So twins is doubly exciting — although they can present problems for Mom.

Which leads me to the amazing reveal that… The animal at the center of the mystery in FunJungle #4 will be…

A duck.

OK, it’s a giant panda.

Why a giant panda?  Because everyone loves giant pandas.  Even more than people love koalas.  A while back, when I was doing research for Big Game at the San Diego Zoo, I happened to mention to some of the staff that a koala was at the center of poached because I was trying to choose an animal that people adored and they all looked at me like I was an idiot and asked, “Then why didn’t you choose a panda?”

I mean, look at them.  They’re adorable, all right.

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(Now, if you’re read Poached, you know that a panda couldn’t have been swiped the same way that a koala could have, so the mystery wouldn’t have worked out the same way.  But still, they had a good point.)

I was already well down the road to writing Big Game, so I had to shelve the panda idea until book four.

Now, I know what you’re all thinking: You have more questions about book #4.  What happens to the panda?  Which characters are returning?  What’s going on with Teddy and Summer?

Well, I’m not going to answer any of those questions right now.  In fact, I’m not answering any questions about FJ4 for a long time.  (Why?  OK, I’ll answer that question… kind of.  Just find my recent post about why I’m not answering any questions about Spy School 4.)

But in the meantime, to assuage your annoyance at me for dropping the panda bomb and then moving on, here’s another bit of bear news from the week: Folks in Alaska spotted a grizzly rolling down a hill, apparently just for fun.  Click here to see it.  It’s ridiculously cute.

This has been one insanely awful week for African wildlife

If you care about animals at all, this has been one of the worst weeks I can ever remember for news about African wildlife — and it’s only Wednesday.

First off, on Sunday, the New York Times ran an editorial revealing that ONE ELEPHANT IS KILLED EVERY 14 MINUTES IN AFRICA.  Every 14 minutes!  That means that, by the time you finish reading this post, there’s a good chance an elephant will have been slaughtered.

Then came the news that Cecil, a beloved lion at Hwange National park in Zimbabwe, had been killed by a hunter after being lured out of the sanctuary with a dead animal tied to a car.  In my upcoming novel Big Game, I try to shine a little light on the idea that hunters can support conservation efforts — but this is a pretty egregious violation of that argument.  A lot of people seem to agree.  The Minnesota dentist who shot Cecil has been shamed on the Internet and the government of Zimbabwe is considering leveling charges of poaching against him.

Then, yesterday, news came that Nabire, an African northern white rhino at a zoo in the Czech republic, has died, meaning that THERE ARE NOW ONLY FOUR NORTHERN WHITE RHINOS LEFT IN THE WORLD.

That’s right.  FOUR.  There’s no way to sugarcoat this:  Those rhinos will go extinct in your lifetime.

Meanwhile, A RHINO IS KILLED IN AFRICA EVERY EIGHT HOURS.

So what can you do?  Sadly, the best things involve money: There are plenty of good organizations out there fighting to protect the animals we have left, but the best way to support them is with donations.  (You might want to hit your parents up for this.  Or have a bake sale.  Or donate a bit of your birthday money.  Every little bit helps.)

If you’re concerned about those elephants, the Center for Biological Diversity is placing pressure on the US government to get more involved.  Did you know it’s still legal to import ivory in most states?  Well, the Center is trying to stop that.  Click here to help.

If you’re concerned about rhinos, try www.rhinos.org.

And if you don’t have any money, but still have a few seconds, the absolute least you can do is visit the Rainforest Site and click on the green button every day.  It costs absolutely nothing, takes almost no time, but still protects endangered habitat.

Sorry for the downer post, but honestly, something has to be done about all this.

Boxed sets of my books are coming this fall!

Hello, readers!

I’m blogging today to share some very exciting news with all of you (although you probably have figured it out from the heading of my post):

This fall, my publisher, Simon & Schuster, will be releasing boxed sets of some of my books.

There will be two different sets: The FunJungle set:


FunJungleBoxedSet

And the Stuart Gibbs Starter Set, with the first book from all three of my series (Belly Up, Spy School and Spaced Out):

StarterBoxedSet

They look awesome, right?

Now, I suppose you might be saying to yourself, “Boxed sets?  Big deal.  I’ve already read all Stuart Gibbs’s books, so what on earth do I need a boxed set for?”

Well, let me explain how this benefits you.

Suppose you have a very good friend, and they’re always coming to you for book advice, because you are a very shrewd, intelligent and discriminating reader.  (Literally discriminating, of course.  Not racially discriminating.)  So, you suggest my books.

And your friend says, ‘Well, which series should I start first?’

Well, now you don’t have to pick!  Just tell them to get the starter set!

Or, suppose you recommend the FunJungle series.  And your friend gets all whiny and says, “Wait.  I’m going to have to get three separate books?  Without some sort of convenient box to hold them all?”

To which you can now say, “Actually, you can get all three books and a convenient box to hold them!”

After which, your friend will no doubt rejoice and probably give you a hug and/or gifts in thanks.

See?  It benefits both of us.

Or, I suppose it just makes gift-giving easier.

Whatever the case, I’m quite happy about it.  Because I am now in the boxed-set pantheon along with such other great writers as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein and J.K. Rowling and even some people with actual first names and not just initials.

Here’s the cover for Spaced Out! (Plus, other intriguing book cover news.)

OK, I know I said I was off social media for all of June (and I almost made it) but sometimes, things come up.  Like, the official release of a cover for a new book. While I was off-line, it turns out that my publisher released the cover for Spaced Out (the sequel to Space Case).  And they also revealed the new release date for that book: April 5, 2016.  In the meantime, check out the awesome cover (once again, the amazing work of Lucy Cummins):

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Now, I know there has already been a little bit of media buzz on this, mostly circulating around the question, “Why a milk carton?”  And some folks have already nailed the answer: because there was a period of time when the faces of kids who had gone missing were placed on milk cartons.  Hopefully, this has allowed people to deduce what this novel is about: It’s not another murder on the moon.  Instead, this time, one of the lunarnauts mysteriously vanishes.  (I will post more details about this in a while.)

Anyhow, I hope you all think this cover is as great as I do.  (If you haven’t already, look closely at that cow on the side of the milk carton.  It has a space helmet on.)

Meanwhile, there’s some other book cover news to share.  Did you know that book covers go through drafts, just like books themselves?  Some of you might recall that the cover for ‘Poached’ changed from the original release cover, going from a darker color scheme to a more eye-catching lighter color scheme.  Well, something similar has happened with the cover of ‘Big Game.’  The original cover had a black rhino on it, but we noticed that the black rhino kept fading into the background (especially when viewed on computer screens).  Plus, the rhino in the story isn’t black anyhow.  It’s gray.  So the cover has been altered to now feature a more eye-catching gray rhino:

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Better, right?  Oh, and for those of you who have been asking, the movie ‘Big Game’ which came out last weekend had nothing to do with my book.  This just happens some times.  There’s only so many titles to go around out there.  To be honest, I have no idea why a movie about a US President (played by Samuel L Jackson) on the run from assassins in Finland is called ‘Big Game,’ but that’s the title and there was nothing we could do about it.  Sorry for any confusion.

I am going off all social media for June

Hey readers!

I know all of you have many, many questions about my books, current and future.  I always do my best to respond to these as quickly as possible.

However, I also have to get writing done on occasion.  And right now, between some upcoming deadlines and my kids finishing school, I’m a little swamped.

So I’m going to try something new here.  For the entire month of June (or at least, what’s left of it) I am going off social media.  I will not be responding to emails or comments on this site until July.  And I won’t be Tweeting either.  You can still write to me, but just don’t get upset if you don’t hear back until July.

Thanks!

Stuart

An answer to your burning questions about Spy School #4

Hello, readers!

First of all, thanks to all of you for being such great supporters of my work.  It has been a thrill to hear from so many people who have read Evil Spy School so soon after it has come out and who can’t wait to hear about Spy School #4.  I have been getting deluged with all sorts of questions about what will happen next.

And I am going to answer only one of them.

Why?

Because answering every question everyone writes to me takes way too much time.

To respond to everyone individually just sucks up an enormous amount of my day, every day.  And that’s time I probably should be spending writing Spy School #4 itself.  (I’ll bet lots of you would probably prefer I spend my time writing SS4 as well.)  I promise all of you that, eventually, I will put some info about SS4 on this site, but you’ll just have to be patient until then.  I know that you have questions, and I know that you desperately want answers to them, but please be aware that, as a writer, I’d really prefer that you not have the answers to every possible question you can think of before you start reading.  It’s more fun for me (and you) for you to not know too much about the next adventure in this series.

So now, here’s the answer you’ve been waiting for.  The answer to the question I have received the most:

Is there going to be a Spy School #4 — and will the series keep going after that?

(Technically, that’s two questions, but what the heck, I’ll answer both.)

As you may have deduced from this post already, there is definitely going to be an SS4.  As of right now, it won’t be out until fall of 2016.  (Why?  Because I have two more books — Big Game and Spaced Out — coming out before that.  And I still have to write SS4.)

And yes, the series will continue after that.  I definitely have an idea for book 5.  I don’t know how many books will be in the series or anything like that.

Also, I don’t know what SS4 is going to be called yet.  (Which is why I keep referring to it as ‘SS4.’)  In fact, I may not know the title until shortly before the book comes out.

Further information will be coming.  It may be several months, though.

Keep calm and carry on.

 

Spy School made the New York Times bestseller list!

When you set out to be an author, you have a few dreams.  And I’m betting that most of us dream of making the New York Times bestseller list.  It is the list in publishing.  And next Sunday, for the first time, I will be on it.  Thanks to the strong sales of Evil Spy School’s opening week — which also boosted sales of Spy School and Spy Camp, I hit #7 on the series list.  Check it out!

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A couple super-cool things about this:

#1) I am above Harry Potter!  (OK, yes, Harry Potter has been on there for several years, but still, I beat it.)

#2) I hit the series list with only three books.  This list is exceptionally hard to crack, because it takes the sales of every book in the series into account.  So a series like, say Harry Potter, with seven books — has a distinct advantage at getting on the list.  In fact, my fearless publisher had claimed that it was almost impossible to break into the series list — so he was extra-thrilled when I did it.

#3) An amusing anecdote about all this.  By a strange twist of fate, I happened to be at my publisher’s offices when the news came in.  I was changing into a tuxedo at the time.  This was the same day of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Awards ceremony, for which Space Case was a nominee.  Normally, I would have been changing at my hotel, but I had already checked out of my hotel, as I had to get to Connecticut that night for school visits the next day — and I had shipped my tuxedo to my editor so that I didn’t have to carry it around for two weeks of book tour before the Edgars.  So, there I am, changing into my tux (which is a very james Bond thing to do) in a spare office when there is a knock at the door and my editor and publisher inform me that I have just hit the NY Times List.  So, I came out, not quite dressed, to celebrate.  Here’s me with Kristin Ostby, my awesome editor.  (She was also dressed for the Edgars, but she had managed to get her shoes on by this time.)

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Point being, it was very nice to learn about the Times while I was at Simon & Schuster and could celebrate with everyone, rather than say merely getting a phone call.  (I did eventually get my shoes on, and get to the Edgars.  I didn’t win.  But landing on the List was an awfully nice consolation prize.)

Want to appear in one of my books? Here’s your chance!

One of the questions I get asked the most be kids (and a few adults) is “Can you write me into one of your books?”  Well, usually, the answer to that is ‘no’ — because I simply can’t do it for everyone who asks.  Otherwise, my books would read like the phonebook.

However, if you really, really, really want to appear in a book of mine, you now have the chance.  My children’s school is doing an auction and I am auctioning off a role in a future book.  If you want to bid on it (or, more importantly, if you want your parents to bid on it), click here.

Then click on “Unique Experiences” and you’ll find a (somewhat outdated) photo of me.  The auction is open to everyone, but there can only be one winner.

There are only two days to bid.  I probably should have posted this earlier, but to be honest, things were kind of crazy on tour, and for the last few days, I was stuck in a hotel with such lousy wifi that I couldn’t access this site.  (Yeah, I’m talking about you, Dream Hotel NYC.)

A few things you need to know about this auction:

1) I cannot guarantee what book you will be in, what role you will play in it, or how big your role will be.  I cannot guarantee that the character will look like you, be the same age as you, or have the same interests as you.  All I can say is that the character will be the same gender as you (i.e. male or female) and have your name.  Also, I will try to make sure that your character is a decent person and not a jerk.

2) This is only good for one person.  I can’t write two people into the story.

3) It will be a while, possibly even up to two years, before the book with your name in it comes out.  That’s just the nature of publishing.

But if you’re interested to appear in a book, here’s your chance!  Bid away!

 

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.

BigGame3

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.

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!