I suppose I should answer the most common question I'm asked about my work . . . Yes, Jason Segel every bit as awesome as he seems.
I never thought I'd ever co-write books, but my Nightmares! experience has been wonderful—so wonderful, in fact, that Jason and I are already hard at work on our second book series!
The hero of Nightmares! is a boy named Charlie Laird who lives in his stepmother’s rundown purple mansion. Charlie suspects that his father’s new wife may be a witch—a hunch that only grows stronger when he discovers that her creepy old house has a portal to the Netherworld—the land of Nightmares.
The Nightmares! series is packed with gruesome characters. Aside from the standard monsters (witches, sewer alligators, yurei) there are also talking cockroaches, devious pet monkeys, sleepwalking zombies, haughty gorgons, and evil British twins. Sure, we want to scare kids. (Because kids love being scared.) But the books are also meant to convey an important message: Don’t run away from your nightmares! If you try, they’ll just follow you wherever you go. You have to find the courage to stand your ground. The only way to defeat your fears . . . is to face them.
One of the most prolific and successful criminals in nineteenth century New York was a woman by the name of Marm Mandelbaum. Apparently good accomplices were hard to find in those days, so Marm decided to start her own school for young criminals. She recruited urchins off the streets of Manhattan and had them trained in various illegal arts, including lock picking, safe cracking and forgery.
How to Lead a Life of Crime was inspired by a simple thought: What if Marm’s school hadn’t closed? What if it had evolved, changed its name and become . . . respectable. What would it be like in the 21st century?
I love this book. If it’s not my favorite, it’s certainly in the top three. The day it was nominated for an Edgar Award was one of the happiest days of my life. But I feel I should warn you—How to Lead a Life of Crime is not for everyone. It's dark, disturbing and violent. It's not appropriate for younger kids.
Crest Art: James Maszel
Twelve-year-old Ananka Fishbein has a life she compares to “flavorless mush.” Then one morning she glances out her bedroom window and sees that an enormous sinkhole has swallowed a small park near her Manhattan home.
Ananka sets out to investigate and discovers the entrance to a vast network of tunnels once known as the Shadow City. One hundred and fifty years ago, it was home to New York’s thriving criminal community. Now the tunnels lie abandoned and (almost) completely forgotten.
Soon after her discovery, Ananaka meets the mysterious Kiki Strike. A tiny, white-haired girl who claims she’d like to be “dangerous,” Kiki has not only visited the Shadow City, she also knows things about Ananka that she has no business knowing.
Throwing caution to the wind, Ananka joins forces with Kiki Strike, and together they assemble the Irregulars—a band of six delinquent Girl Scouts with talents that range from picking locks to the art of disguise.
As the Irregulars use their unusual skills to explore the Shadow City, they must confront skeletons, man-eating rats, exiled royalty and devious criminals. They must also unearth plenty of dark and deadly secrets—about each other and their bizarre young leader.
In 2006, the original Kiki Strike website was a thing of beauty. More than ten years later, it's showing its age. But I still love it, and I wouldn't change a thing. Visit it if you need a Flash fix. (The website and much of the art on it was created by the brilliant Jon Magner.)
The Russian Kiki Strike may be my favorite.
The Irregular Guide to New York City
Visiting New York soon? Fabulous! The Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty are amazing, of course. But if you're the kind of person (like me) who prefers to step off the well-beaten path and explore the other side of a city, then The Irregular Guide to New York City is for you!
You'll discover haunted houses, secret subways, forgotten graveyards and toxic canals. (Just a couple of blocks from my home in Brooklyn is the most scenic superfund site in the world!)
Download The Irregular Guide to New York Cityhere! You won't be disappointed. You can't be! It's FREE!
The Eternal Ones
Okay, let’s get this out of the way. The number two question I’m always asked is: will there be a third Eternal Ones book? The answer, I’m afraid, is no. It was only meant to be a two book series! (For the record, I am Team Adam.) It’s a shame, I know. I hear the Spanish translations are fabulous. (Hola, Mexico!)
So what's it about? Reincarnation—a subject that has long fascinated me. The Eternal Ones started out as a thriller, but became a romance. (To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure how I feel about that.) Here's a brief description:
For as long as she can remember, Haven Moore has had visions of a city she’s never visited and a handsome young man she’s never met. Haven’s visions, she learns unexpectedly, aren’t just fantasies—they’re memories. Memories of another life that ended in tragedy almost ninety years earlier.
At last Haven understands why she’s always felt like there was someone out there that she needed to find. And a chance glimpse of a young man on TV convinces her that she should look for him in New York. But Haven’s search for her one eternal love leads her into unimaginable jeopardy when she finds herself linked with a notorious playboy and a mysterious secret society. Before her quest is finally over, Haven discovers just how dangerous love can be.
So yes, it’s a romance. But it’s a romance with snake handlers, sinister secret societies, and (believe it or not) Satan.
Otherworld is the first novel in a three-book teen series that I'm writing with Jason Segel. I can't say much more right now . . . but oh man, it's going to be cool!
For seven years, I blogged about everything weird and wonderful. There's so much great material on the old Bank St. Irregular blog that I couldn't bear to see it remain so neglected!
I've gone through the posts and updated some of my favorites. If you share my fascination with Bigfoot, aliens, mysterious places, rats and other revolting and marvelous things, I highly recommend you pay the original Bank St. Irregular a visit.
Art: A Kiki Strike fan sent this to me years ago, but I can't find a name! If you're the artist, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can credit you properly!
Otherworld (book #1 in the new teen series I'm writing with Jason Segel)
Everything You Need to Know About Nightmares and How to Defeat Them (book #4 in the Nightmares! series)
Both will be out in 2017!
Here's the bran new cover of Nightmares #4!
Squirrels are Evil
What? You think they're cute and fluffy? Oh you poor, confused soul. Squirrels have been trying doing their best to destroy mankind for years!
A few years back, I contributed to a really cool anthology called Breakfast on Mars. My essay, “Sasquatch is Out There (And He Wants Us to Leave Him Alone),” argued for the existence of Bigfoot.
I suspect most people thought it was all a big joke. It was most certainly not a joke. I believe in Bigfoot. (And many of his cousins—the Yeti, the Orang Pendek, and the Yeren. I'm not so sure about the Yowie, though. Sorry, Australia.)
Why do I believe? Mostly because I want to believe. (Though I think I present some pretty darn convincing evidence in Breakfast on Mars.)
You see, when I was growing up in the mountains of North Carolina, I heard stories about the Gray Man—a Bigfoot-like creature that lived deep in the woods. I even knew people who claimed to have seen it. Were the stories true? Who cares? They captured my imagination. In fact, I think believing in Bigfoot may have been one of the first steps I took toward becoming the author of weird YA fiction.
So it makes no difference what the boffins say. I will always believe in Bigfoot.
Like all writers, I live in Brooklyn. (I’m only half kidding—I see Martin Amis in the grocery store twice a week. I'm pretty sure he doesn't see me.) Sometimes I work in advertising. My eight-year-old daughter thinks this toothbrush commercial is my greatest accomplishment in life. (For the record, I didn’t direct, write or produce the spot. I’m only responsible for the strategy that inspired it. But seriously—you can’t go wrong with a Philips Sonicare.)
If you really want to know more, here are three randomly chosen interviews!