Bad news about the Spy School movie — for now

Hey everyone –

I know you have been waiting a long time for an update about the Spy School movie — and I am sure this is not what you were hoping for.  It’s certainly not what I was hoping for.

After 54 weeks of doing nothing with the movie script, Disney decided that they were not going to move forward with the Spy School movie.

Why?  I don’t really have a great answer for that.  I was told that Disney had some concerns with the story involving kids in real danger — which you’d think they would have been able to figure out was part of the plot long ago, given the title.

Sadly, this kind of thing happens a lot in Hollywood.  As I keep saying, it is very hard to get a movie made.

This does not mean the movie will never get made.  My agents can now try to set the project up at another movie studio or streaming service.  We will see what happens.

In the meantime, feel free to write angry letters to Disney or cancel your Disney + accounts in protest.

Answers to all your questions about the Spy School Movie

Hi everyone –

I have been getting a LOT of mail lately from people wanting to know if there are any updates on the Spy School Movie.  And i realize that a lot of the posts about the movie are quite old — because this process has been going on for a very long time.  So some of the questions I’m including are the same ones I answered before, but maybe this post will become a one-stop point for learning about the movie.

Can you please give me an update on what is going on with the movie?

Sadly, there are none.  I turned my last draft into the studio on January 31, 2020.  As of this date, that was 10 1/2 months ago.  I have not heard a things from Disney since.  Part of this is due to COVID.  Few companies have been hurt as badly by the pandemic as Disney.  But still, this is an insanely long time to wait for an answer.  I know you are frustrated that things are stalled, but trust me, no one is as frustrated by this as I am.  In addition, my agents are frustrated and angry too.  I wish I had a better update for you, but I don’t.

So does this mean the movie isn’t getting made?

I really don’t know.  I suppose there is still a chance that Disney might make it.  And if they say no, then I can take it to another studio to see if they will make it.  But for right now, all I can do is wait to see what Disney has to say.

Is the movie going to stick closely to the book?

That is my plan.  I have written three drafts of the screenplay.  So far, it stays close to the book, although since it is a movie and not a book, I have made some changes.  They’re not huge, and some might be quite funny, but they were necessary.

Will there be sequels based on the other books?

Ideally, but that depends on how the first movie does.  There is a slight chance that, if Disney loves the script, they will decide to move ahead with a sequel before the first movie comes out, but I wouldn’t count on that.

Is the movie going to be live action or animated?

Live action.

Are you going to do just one book for each movie, or combined books into one movie?

The idea is to do one book per movie.

If the movie does get made, when is the absolute earliest that the movie come out?

If the movie was given the go-ahead tomorrow, it probably couldn’t start shooting for several months, and then that would take a few months, and then it would have to be edited and scored and such so… the very earliest would probably be 18 months from now — and that’s a best case scenario.  Don’t expect anything until 2022, if not later.

Is it going to be released in theaters — or could it show up on Disney Plus?

Personally, I would love for it to be released theatrically — so that’s what we are shooting for.  But the fact is, Disney needs a lot of content for Disney Plus, so that remains an option.  (Also, if it was made for Disney Plus, there is a chance that sequels could be started earlier.)

Are the characters going to look the same as I imagine them?

Probably not.  Because I have no control over how you imagine the characters.  You may have noticed that I don’t describe the characters in much detail in my books.  I leave a lot to your imagination.  Personally, I hope that the casting director selects the best possible actors for the roles and doesn’t get hung up on looks.  (You might have noticed that I never describe the ethnicity of many characters, including Ben, so personally, I’m open to most of them being any ethnicity.)  Anyhow, the chance of an actor or actress looking exactly like the way you imagine the character is virtually nonexistent.  So don’t get upset if the actors don’t look exactly as you’d hoped.

But you’re going to release a graphic novel in 2022.  After that, won’t we know what the characters look like?

No.  You will know that Anjan, the artist of the graphic novel, thinks the characters look like.  But that doesn’t mean that is what the characters have to look like.

If the movie does film, can I be in it?  I’m really good at acting.  Maybe you could tell the casting director about me?

Honestly, I won’t have any say in casting at all.  I know that might sound wrong to you, but here’s the best explanation I can give:

Actors are hired by casting directors.  That is the casting director’s job, and they train for years to do it.  So, if I were to call a casting director and say, “Hey, you should consider this kid for the movie,” that would be like the casting director coming up to me and saying, “Hey, would you mind if I wrote a chapter of your book for you?”  The casting director has their job.  I have mine.  It is not cool for me to try to tell them how to do their job.

Thus, I have no idea if there will be an open casting call or when that would even happen.  My bet is, it is unlikely.  If there is an open casting call, I will post about it on this blog.

Could you write to me personally and let me know if there is open casting?

Er…No.  I get asked this a lot and, not to sound like a jerk, but I have a lot to do.  Emailing every one of the thousands of kids (and a lot of parents) who has asked me to contact them directly would take me weeks.  I do not have time to do that.  I have books to write.

All right.  That’s the info I have right now.  Again, I really, really wish I had more of an update.  Hopefully, I will have more news soon.

In the mean time, stay safe, have a happy holiday, and keep on reading.

Here’s Why I Can’t Answer Certain Questions You Have About My Books

Hi everyone –

I have been deluged with questions since Spy School Revolution came out, and while I have been doing my best to answer them, I have noticed that there are categories of questions that come up again and again.  So rather than answering them repeatedly, I figured I’d try to address them in a blog post.

Category One:  Questions about what is going to happen in future books

This is the type of question I get asked the most and there’s a simple reason why I feel it would be better not to answer them: Because it will ruin future surprises in the books for you — and this ruin some of the fun of reading those books.

You hate spoilers, right?  Well, asking me to tell you who Ben Ripley will end up with — or whether or not a character you like is going to reappear in a future book — or really anything about the future of any series — is asking me to spoil something for you.  I know you want to find out what’s in store, but I promise you, the less you know about what’s coming, the more fun the read will be.

Category Two: Questions about things that didn’t get answered in the books

If I didn’t share a piece of information with you in the book, that wasn’t an oversight.  It’s because I didn’t want to share that piece of information.  Often, this is because I’m saving it to reveal in another book.

For example, I know there are some questions left at the end of SSR.  But if I had wanted to answer those questions, I would have.  I promise, they will eventually be answered — although I think most of you could probably make very educated guesses about what happened.

Category Three: Questions about obscure things

An author can’t possibly tell you every single thing that happened to every single character over the course of their lives.  Honestly, we can’t possibly even imagine all those things.  We have to leave many things out of the story.  So if you’re writing to ask what happened to a character after the Moon Base Alpha series ended — or what a character likes for breakfast — or when a character’s birthday is — or whether someone likes cats or dogs better — the answer is honestly: I don’t know.  Whatever you imagine the answer to be is good enough for me.

Category Four: Questions about what my characters look like

I get a lot of requests to specifically describe characters which is because I didn’t specifically describe many of them in my books.  That’s because, frankly, I don’t think extremely specific character descriptions are very helpful.  My own experience is that, no matter how specifically a character is described, I probably imagine them the way I want to anyhow.  So I’m pretty sure that you do the same.  Therefore, whatever you imagine a character to look like is what they look like.

Now, this doesn’t really work for graphic novels or movies.  You will very obviously see the characters in the graphic novels, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that is the only way they can look.  It’s just one version.  The chances are very slim that any character will look exactly as you imagined them in the graphic novel — or the movie.  There is nothing i or anyone else can do about this.  That’s just the way things are.  Try not to be disappointed.

And finally, this is probably the question I get asked more than any other, even though it is answered elsewhere on this site:

Category Five: Questions about how many books will be in each series

I can’t answer a question I don’t know the answer to.  And right now, I do not know how long each series will go.  Sorry.

 

Here’s why both the Moon Base Alpha series and the Last Musketeer series have ended

Hi everyone –

The information in this post may be old news to many of you, but I have been getting a lot of questions from readers asking why both MBA and Musketeer stopped at three books.  The posts where I explained this are now a couple years old, so I thought I would revisit the issue.  The reasons I stopped writing each series are quite different.

Why I ended Moon Base Alpha

When I first started writing this series, I really thought it might run for a long time.  But I also made the decision to write a sci-fi series where space travel was depicted as realistically as possible.  My good friend, astronaut Garrett Reisman, who was overseeing the human space flight program at SpaceX, served as my technical advisor.  I was very pleased with the world that I created, but it had an unforeseen side effect:

It was very limiting.  Moon Base Alpha was small and cramped; there weren’t many rooms and less than thirty residents.  I had originally planned to bring in new residents (which is why the Patucket family is mentioned) but after three books, I was having trouble coming up with new ways to make life in the moon base exciting.

Meanwhile, the world outside the moon base was also more limiting than I had realized.  Planet Earth has billions of different locations, all of which are different from each other — but the exterior of the moon is basically the same, no matter where you go.  True, there is variation, but for the most part, it is moon dust, with the occasional crater or lava tube.  And there is no way to get from one place to another quickly, so even if there was great variation, I couldn’t move my characters very far.

Even worse, the only way to go outside the moon base involved wearing a space suit, which provided its own limitations.  An action sequence in a space suit is very different from one where the characters are free to move about in any way they would like.

Therefore, I realized that, if I kept going with the series, it was going to start feeling repetitive — and I didn’t want that to happen.  I really hated ending the series, because it was a very personal series to me, but I thought that letting it get boring would be worse than bringing it to a close.  (Plus, I was having trouble getting inspired to write another book.)

Many of you have written to me, suggesting various ways to move the series along.  But all of them have their issues:

Why not open Moon Base Beta — or move the series to another planet?

Neither of those really solves my issue with a series that is set in a base on another planet (or a moon) feeling limited.

Why not follow up with Dashiell’s life when he gets back to earth?

What made this series special was the fact that it took place on the moon.  Once it returns to earth, it’s just not that special any more.

Spoiler alert:  Why not continue the story after it ends in Waste of Space, on another planet in another galaxy?

Because, first of all, after the epilogue in Waste of Space, Dashiell is in his forties.  But more importantly, the story would be very different that the type of story I was telling in the series so far.  I wanted to write mysteries set on a moon base, which was technically science fiction, but very heavy on the science.  Switching to a whole new world would definitely open up what I could do — but it would veer into full on science fiction, which isn’t really what I want to write.

So is the series over forever?

Probably.  I won’t rule out the chance that maybe, some day, I will be inspired to write another story in this series, but for now, I am going to focus on the three series I have going: Spy School, Charlie Thorne and FunJungle.  That is really the maximum number of chapter series I can handle.

In the meantime, if you haven’t read the MBA series, you can get the whole thing in a lovely boxed set by clicking here.

 

Why I ended The Last Musketeer

The Last Musketeer is, to this date, the only series that I have written for a publisher besides Simon & Schuster.  (That’s why the covers look different.)  It is also the only series I have written that was not my original idea.  Before Belly Up was even published, I was approached by an editor at another publishing house (which I will not name).  The editor wanted to know if I would do a three book series and gave me the basic concept: Kid goes back in time and meets the three musketeers.  He had a few other ideas, which I used in the book, although I would say that 98-99% of the story is my own original ideas.  I was told that this was a huge priority for the publisher, and that I would need to be prepared to do a lot of travel to promote the series.

Here’s what happened instead: After I finished the first book, the publisher fired the editor and shut down the entire division.  I still was under contract to do the other two books, but no one really was looking out for the series.  In my opinion, the publisher didn’t do much to market the books at all.  To this day, they have never arranged for a single school visit, festival or book store event.  Meanwhile, the original covers were very disappointing.  Bookstores didn’t realize that I had even written those books.  They looked so different, people assumed that a different Stuart Gibbs had written them.

I would have been happy to write more books in this series if the publisher had supported it.  But it made far more sense to write books for a more supportive publisher like Simon & Schuster instead.  There is little point in writing a book that you think no one is ever going to read.

I spent years pestering the publisher of The Last Musketeer to change the covers, which they finally did.  This change encouraged more bookstores to carry the books, and so they have started selling better — although they still don’t sell nearly as well as my other books, as that publisher really still doesn’t promote them.  The major way those books are promoted is on this website.  At this point, it has been nearly a decade since I wrote that series, so I can say that there is no chance that I will revisit it.

I still like the series, though.  If you want to give it a try, you can get the first book by clicking here.

And just in case you’re interested, here’s what the book originally looked like:

 

Here’s what it look like now:

 

New FunJungle mystery now available — in Super Puzzletastic Mysteries!

Hey everyone!

Many of you have been writing to me, saying that you need a great new book to read.  Well I have one for you.

Super Puzzletastic Mysteries is out today.  It has twenty great short stories written by a cavalcade of exceptional Middle Grade authors: folks like Chris Grabenstein, James Ponti, Kate Milford, Lauren Magaziner, Peter Lerangis… and more.  Including a short FunJungle mystery by me.  Grabenstein himself edited them all — and did his usual, excellent job. Some are hilarious.  Some are touching.  And all are wonderful.

And, for extra fun, you get to match wits with these mystery writers.  Like Encyclopedia Brown mysteries, each story challenges you to solve it — before turning to the back of the book to see if you’re right.

Click here to order it today!

Today, May 18, 2020, is the tenth anniversary of Belly Up’s publication.

Ten years ago today, I became a published author. Belly Up was released by Simon & Schuster.  If you go back to my very first blog post (which was also published about ten years ago) you will see that it was a very momentous week fo me.  On May 14, I had watched my friend, astronaut Garrett Reisman, blast off into space, and then my family spent the next few days having fun in Florida.  Somewhere around may 18, Garrett took this incredible photo of my first copy of Belly Up (which was an Advanced Reader Copy) on the space shuttle.

At the time that Belly Up was published, I thought that maybe, this might be the only book I would ever write. But thanks to the support of some of the finest people I have ever worked with, such as my agent Jennifer Joel, my publisher, Justin Chanda, editors like Courtney Bongiolatti (who really left publishing to become an FBI agent), Kristin Ostby Hoyle, Liz Kossnar and Krista Vitola, and my cover artist Lucy Cummins (who may have created the finest cover ever for this book), I have now published twenty books and am scheduled for another six over the next two and a half years.  (Plus, there might be some exciting new projects to mention in a few months.)

My career in publishing has been an incredible journey. When I started, I had no idea that I would get to engage with my young readers so often via school visits and blog post comments, or that my own children would eventually get involved in the editing process, or that I would be participating at book festivals and meeting fellows authors. As it happens, many of those authors have become some of my closest friends.  Authors like James Ponti, Sarah Mlynowski, Christina Soontornvat, Karina Yan Glaser, Max Brallier, Gordon Korman, Ally Carter and many, many, many more.

So thank you to everyone who has supported my career, bought one of my books, come to a reading of mine, sat in on a panel, written me fan mail, given me a positive review, or simply enjoyed the book. Thanks to all the hard-working bookstore employees and librarians out there who have recommended my books to young readers.

And of course, thanks to all of you, my readers.  This wouldn’t have happened without you.

Stuart

Five reasons to start buying books from Bookshop.org

  1. Bookshop.org supports local businesses, which are having a very hard time right now.
  2. You will get your books delivered to you faster if you use Bookshop.org.  Amazon has said that shipping books is now a low priority for them.  They are too busy shipping other supplies.
  3. Bookshop.org can connect you with local independent bookstores.  Some of them are still open, as they have been deemed vital businesses.  You can’t go inside, but they will deliver your books to you at the curb.  That’s much faster than having them shipped!
  4. Bookshop.org is easy to use!  Just click here.
  5. Let’s face it, Amazon is kind of evil.  (And frankly, they’re going to be fine.  They’re making plenty of money shipping toilet paper right now.)

And if you want a signed book from me, Once Upon A Time has many in stock.  And they will ship to you as well. Click here to get one!

Finally, if you want an exclusive version of tyrannosaurus Wrecks, with sixteen pages of bonus content, click here to get it from Barnes & Noble.  Yes, B&N is not an independent company, but they are still a bookstore and thus, prioritizing shipping of books over other items.  (You can also order puzzles, games, Legos and other items from them as well.)

I hope all of you are holding up well during this trying time.

Book recommendations

Hey everyone –

I am constantly being asked for recommendations for books to read, so I figured I should just write a post about it.

The easiest way for me to introduce you to a trove of incredible authors is to direct you to the Renegades of Middle Grade website, which features the work of eighteen fantastic authors with links to their websites.  Plus, there’s even some fun games devised by my fellow author James Ponti that can keep you busy for a while.  Just click here to visit it.

Or click here to see a great trailer for books by thirteen of us, each talking up our books.

That said, I’ll single out some other great authors that I have become friends with over the years.  Just click on their names to access their sites.

Since I’ve already mentioned him, James Ponti writes great, clever mysteries and just published City Spies, which is excellent.

Sarah Mlynowski has books for just about every age that are all funny and extremely creative (sometimes with a bit of romance thrown in).

Christina Soontornvat also has a book for just about every age, although her newest, A Wish In The Dark, comes out the same day that my new book does and it’s wonderful.

Gordon Korman has published 96 books!  So it’s guaranteed that he’s written at least one that you will love.

Karina Yan Glaser writes the endearing Vanderbeekers series.

Ally Carter writes exceptionally good spy stories and has a brand new middle grade book out this month: Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor.

Max Brallier writes hilarious illustrated books like The Last Kids on Earth and Galactic Hot Dogs.

Varian Johnson wrote the award-winning Parker Inheritance and the very fun Great Greene Heist.

Liesl Shurtliff has her new Time Castaway series — and many other great books.

Elizabeth Eulberg has the Great Shelby Holmes mysteries — plus lots of YA too.

Leslie Margolis writes the Maggie Brooklyn mystery series.  (She’s also my neighbor!)

If you’re looking for something a little more YA, check out the books of Julie Buxbaum.

Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi, just came out and could not have been published at a more appropriate time.

Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams has won so many awards, they can barely all fit on the cover.  And it deserves them all — and more.

The Parker Inheritance, by the very talented Varian Johnson, is a great mystery with great characters that will also really make you think.

New Kid, a graphic novel by Jerry Craft, has also won a slew of awards.  And deservedly so.

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon is a Coretta Scott King honor book.

You have probably already heard of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.  But still, if you haven’t read it, you should.

And… this one is for all the adults out there.  My father just published his first book!  It’s an alternative history of the Revolutionary War that wonders what might have happened if George Washington was wounded in battle.  It follows the race to save his life and keep the British from taking advantage of the lack of leadership.  You can get it by clicking here.

And there are so many more that I could list!  Maybe I will get around to adding a few more names to this list when I have more time.  (I’m actually staying very busy right now wrangling my kids and writing more books for you to read.)  But for now, that ought to get you started.

As always, it would be great if you shopped at your local, independent bookstore, or bookshop.org — or even Barnes & Noble, rather than Amazon.

The Last Musketeer is being re-released and repackaged and it looks amazing.

It’s been a long time since I posted about The Last Musketeer.  But there have been some exciting developments since then.

For those of you who are unaware of what The Last Musketeer even is, it’s a trilogy I wrote back in 2011-12 about a modern day kid named Greg Rich who gets transported back to Paris 400 years ago, where he ends up bringing together the Three Musketeers for their first adventure — and becoming the infamous D’Artagnan.

For the past few years, it has been relatively hard to get these books — and the second two in the series were never even released in paperback.

Well that has all changed!  Some of you may have noticed this beautifully redesigned version of The Last Musketeer in your bookstores recently:

Well, the next two books in the series will be re-released this spring!  (Eagle-eyed readers of this website may have already noticed that this has been mentioned in the ‘Upcoming Releases’ on the right hand side of this site.)  On February 26 (which also happens to be the release date of Lion Down) you will finally be able to get The Last Musketeer: Traitor’s Chase in paperback:

And on May 7, the final book in the series, Double Cross, will be available:

And if you prefer audiobooks, the series will soon be available that way too.

If you have never had the chance to read this series, here it is!  It’s full of adventure, swashbuckling, mystery and humor.  I’ve always been proud of this series (my son used to claim it was his favorite of mine) so I hope you check it out.

You can start by getting The Last Musketeer 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