Exclusive Collector’s Edition of Spaced Out available at Barnes & Noble

Remember how, last year, Barnes & Noble printed exclusive editions of Evil Spy School and Big Game, with lots of great extra bonus material, and they were really awesome?

Well, there’s now an equally-awesome exclusive edition of Spaced Out!

First of all, check out the special cover.  Oooh!  Shiny!

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Even better, if you take the cover off, there’s a bonus promotional poster for Moon Base Alpha inside.

And there’s other great bonus material too, like more promotional materials from Moon Base Alpha, and an interview with Garrett Reisman, former astronaut and current director of crew operations at SpaceX.

You’re probably saying to yourself, “Wow.  That special edition probably costs a million dollars.”

Well, you’re wrong.  In fact, right now, if you pre-order a copy, it’s only $9.65.  Don’t believe me?  Click here for proof.

Supplies are limited.  And this deal won’t last forever.

Also, even though the book isn’t officially out until April 5, I have received reports from avid readers claiming that they have already received their copies.  So maybe you’ll get your copy early too.

 

Big news about Spy School #4 — and the spy school series overall

Here’s that big update on Spy School #4 I’ve been promising for a while.

To start with, here’s the cover (once again, done by the immensely talented Lucy Cummins):

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As you have probably deduced, this one involves a mission at a ski resort.  Why a ski resort?  because when I was growing up, it seemed that every James Bond movie had a really amazing ski sequence.  They haven’t done them quite as much with the Daniel Craig Bonds (though there was a scene on a ski mountain in Spectre) but it always seemed that the glamor and action of skiing was a big part of the spy world to me.  So I decided to let Ben and Erica go to the mountains.

Here’s what I can reveal of the plot: Since Ben has proven himself on previous battles against SPYDER, he has now been approved for his first official mission, Operation Snow Bunny.  His assignment: Become friends with Jessica Shang, the daughter of a suspected Chinese crime boss, and find out all of her father’s secrets. Jessica wants to go to ski school in the Rocky Mountains, so Ben is sent to join her — along with Erica, Zoe, Jawa, Warren and Chip.  Yes, all Ben’s pals get to join him on this one, too.  (Cyrus and Alexander hale will be along to run the show.)

Only, things don’t go nearly as well as planned.  There’s plenty of complications, rivalries, plot twists and near-death experiences.  I don’t want to reveal much more, because I don’t want to ruin the story for you, so if you write posts or emails begging for more details, I’ll probably tell you all that is classified.  But I can assure you this book will have all the action, humor and continued character development you’ve been asking me for.

The book hits stores on October 11.  Though if you’re desperate to pre-order it, you can do that by clicking here.

More news: For those of you who are upset you’ll have to wait 18 months in between spy school books, you won’t have to wait as long for the next one.  Spy School #5 will be out in fall of 2017.

And while I’m at it, here’s one last piece of big spy school news: This fall, a boxed set of the first three Spy School books will be released.  If you haven’t checked out the series yet, this would be a great way to start.  And if you already have the books, well… this would make a great present for someone who hasn’t.

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The boxed set wil be in stores on October 4th.  But you can pre-order it by clicking here.

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:

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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:

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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.

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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:

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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.)

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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!

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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…

This is Nola. She’s a northern white rhino. And her species is about to go extinct.

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EXCEPTIONALLY SAD UPDATE TO THIS POST:

Shortly after I wrote this, Nola passed away.  So now,  instead of four Northern White Rhinos left on earth… there are three.

Here’s the rest of the original post, though:

Nola lives at the San Diego Safari Park.  By all accounts, she as as sweet and good-natured as any animal can be; she’s like a two ton labrador retriever.  And she is one of only four northern white rhinos left on earth.  That’s right: THERE ARE ONLY FOUR OF THESE RHINOS LEFT ON THE ENTIRE PLANET.

There are none left in the wild.  The other three are in a zoo in Europe.  And they’re all too old to breed, which means there is really nothing we can do to save them.  This beautiful creature is going to die out in your lifetime.

If you’ve been paying attention to this blog, you’ll know this isn’t the first time I’ve called attention to this.  However, it seems worth bringing up again.  I’ve been traveling around the USA over the past few weeks, talking about the serious problem of rhino poaching (as it’s at the heart of my newest book, Big Game).  And the school kids I’ve talked to are very, very upset to learn about Nola and the rest of her species.

They’re also very upset to learn about the fact that other rhino species are being killed off at an unsustainable rate, meaning they might go extinct in our lifetimes as well.

They’re upset to learn that on average, THREE RHINOS ARE KILLED ILLEGALLY EVERY DAY.

And they’re also upset to hear that elephants are in serious trouble as well.  Right now, on average, ONE OF THESE BEAUTIFUL CREATURES IS BEING KILLED ILLEGALLY EVERY 14 MINUTES.  THAT’S 96 ELEPHANTS A DAY.

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Tanzania estimates it has lost 60% of its elephant population over the last five years.

If you want to get involved, there are many great organizations working to help stop the slaughter.  Please check out at least one of these to find out what you (and your family, and your friends, and your school) can do:

www.rhinos.org

www.96elephants.org

www.savetherhino.org

And check out the Save The World tab at the top of this page to learn about other organizations protecting wildlife and their habitats around the world.

Let’s try to make sure that other species don’t suffer the same fate that Nola will.

Thanks,

Stuart

Barnes & Noble is printing an exclusive edition of Big Game!

Did you enjoy the B&N exclusive edition of Evil Spy School, with its 32 pages of hilarious bonus material, secret map on the inside of the book jacket, and super-shiny cover?  Well, here’s some very exciting news:  B&N is going to have an even-more-awesome exclusive edition of Big Game!

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(For those of you who missed out on the special edition of ESS, I tried to tell you about it.  Honest.  I had a post on this very blog.  Plus links!  And I tweeted and used all sorts of other social media.  I even came to your house to talk to you personally, but you weren’t home.  You can still get it, though.  Just click here.)

The exclusive edition of Big Game also has 32 bonus pages of hilarious additional material, and a secret surprise on the inside of the book jacket, and a super shiny cover.  (See it above?  Ooooooh.  Shiny!)  I worked really hard on it, and so did Lucy (my amazing cover designer) who put together some great extra artwork.

Now, I bet you’re saying to yourself, “Hmmm.  32 extra pages of bonus material, a surprise inside the book jacket and a shiny cover?  Boy, I’ll bet that’s gonna run me an extra $300.”

Well, you’d be wrong!  The exclusive edition will run you and extra… 24 cents.

That’s right, for less than the cost of… um… honestly, I don’t even know if anything costs a quarter any more… but anyhow, for less than a quarter, you get all that great stuff!  And you get the rest of the book, too!

Just run down to your local Barnes & Noble store on October 13.  Or click here to preorder it!

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:


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

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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.