Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Ghost of Graylock!!!

Hello there -

Scholastic has released the summary for my newest book, The Ghost of Graylock, which will arrive in stores this coming August 2012! Here it is:

Does an abandoned asylum hold the key to a frightful haunting?

Everyone's heard the stories about Graylock Hall.

It was meant to be a place of healing - a hospital where children and teenagers with mental disorders would be cared for and perhaps even cured. But something went wrong. Several young patients died under mysterious circumstances. Eventually, the hospital was shut down, the building abandoned and left to rot deep in the woods.

As the new kid in town, Neil Cady wants to see Graylock for himself. Especially since rumor has it that the building is haunted. He's got fresh batteries in his flashlight, a camera to document the adventure, and a new best friend watching his back.

Neil might think he's prepared for what he'll find in the dark and decrepit asylum. But he's certainly not prepared for what follows him home. . . .

Scary, suspenseful, and surprising, Dan Poblocki's latest ghost story will keep you turning pages deep into the dead of night.

Scared yet? You can pre-order your copy now at!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Murmuration & Chills

You know when birds do that thing . . . ? Swoop and swarm and swirl? When starlings do it, the behavior is called murmuration. This video captures a close-up view, practically from inside the flock. And honestly, it gave me goosebumps. Breath-taking!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Short Career of a Spooky Girl

This is Chloe Moretz, aka Hitgirl from Kickass. And this clip shows how totally awesome she is.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween Never Ends

I wanted to get this pic onto the last post, the one about my brain melting... but this stupid website kept screwing up the formatting... so...

Here I am at my first Zombie Lobster Bake.

Happy Halloween, today and everyday!

I Have Lost My Mind

Well, not really. But after watching 31 Horror Films in 31 Days over the month of October, I'm pretty sure my brain has melted a little bit. I got the idea for this personal challenge from fellow author Daniel Kraus (Rotters) who Tweeted about it early last month. It was grueling, overwhelming, nightmare-inducing, kind of silly, and best of all, inspiring. Watching so many bad (and a few good) films in a row can show what works and what does not work when it comes to story-telling. So, even though I'm pretty sure I lost some muscle tone from sitting on the couch for approximately 70 hours, it was worth it... for ART's sake.
Here is my complete list (* = recommended):
(By the way, if you're under 17, ask your parents before watching any of these... Some of them are NASTY.)
1. Burnt Offerings
2. Case 39
3. Session 9 * Possibly the best haunted insane asylum movie ever made. Filmed in the now destroyed but forever EPIC Danvers State Mental Hospital in Massachusetts.
4. The Eclipse *

5. Lake Mungo * A twisted little mock-documentary about a haunting in Australia. When their daughter drowns during a vacation to serene Lake Mungo, the family doesn't expect her apparition to appear in their home movies. 6. Peeping Tom
7. Cronos *
8. The Sentinel
9. Dead Snow
10. Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil * A horror comedy that turns the "scary cabin in the woods" genre on its decapitated head. 11. Carriers
12. Don't Go to Sleep *
13. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon *
14. Popcorn

15. The Howling

16. I Was a Teenage Zombie & 16. (oops, I marked 2 #16's) The Skin I Live In *
17. Nightmares in Red, White, and Blue
18. Dahmer *

19. The Ward

20. Requiem

21. Zombies of Mass Destruction

22. Deathdream * Vietnam Vets and a vampire of sorts. A creepy little supernatural serial killer flick - from the director of A CHRISTMAS STORY. Yeah.
23. Deep Red
24. Paranormal Activity 3 *
25. Sheitan
26. Scream *
27. Red State * A Kevin Smith nightmare about some totally twisted home-grown fundamentalist terrorists. 28. Child's Play *
29. Paranormal Activity (the original) *
30. The Phantom of the Opera *
31. The Exorcist *

Then, before midnight on Halloween, I squeezed in a few more . . .

32. Ghost Story

33. Hellboy: Blood and Iron

34. Alien *

So, I guess that's technically . . . 35 Horror Films in 31 Days (including the doubling of the 16th film). Not too shabby. It helped that I was waiting for my editor to get back to me regarding my latest project, so I had time to do this without worry.

To check out Daniel Kraus's entertaining list, his blog at Booklist Online is here.

If I can find some way to un-liquify my brain, maybe I'll try again next year. I challenge you to do the same... It's fun!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rumors of My Marriage

I need to clear something up!

Yesterday, I gave a presentation at a local school here in Park Slope, Brooklyn about my new mystery series, The Mysterious Four. One of my good friends, Shirley Wooh, teaches third grade there. I arrived early, excited to see the faces of the kids who were expecting me. Slowly, the classes filed into the library on the school's top story. The students sat down on the floor. I tried to stay focused, going over my plan for the presentation. When Shirley's class came in, I was even more excited, not only to see her students, but also to see my friend.

Often times, when I see a good friend, I'll give them a hug hello and a kiss on the cheek. Well, yesterday, I didn't realize that when I hugged my friend Shirley hello, all of the students slyly observed my action . . . and they came to their own conclusions about what this gesture meant.

After I had gone, Shirley told me that a rumor was racing around her classroom that she and I were engaged to be married. I was so amused! First of all, I know Shirley's fiance, and he's a great guy, but he's certainly not me. Second of all, Shirley and I are just friends!

Shirley tried to explain this to her class, but they weren't having it! No, no, they told her. We saw you kissing!

Little did I expect that my excitement to see Shirley would turn into rumors of marriage! I'm impressed with the detective work, and the deductive reasoning, but a good detective remembers that not everything is exactly what it appears to be.

I'm writing this to set the record straight. I am not marrying Miss Wooh. Her fiance would be VERY mad if that happened, but never mind that because it's not happening . . . not because she isn't a lovely human being, but because we are just FRIENDS.

Here we are, being all friendly! Okay? ;^)



Saturday, June 11, 2011

Viola, Woodrow, Rosie & Sylvester: Character Arc Throughout a Series

With the arrival this summer of my new middle grade series, The Mysterious Four, I've been thinking a whole lot about Character. I've never written a series of novels before (actually these books are more like interweaving story collections than anything else), and I noticed a marked difference in the process from my earlier books, especially when it came to creating the characters.

The Mysterious Four are Viola Hart, Sylvester Cho, Woodrow Knox, and Rosie Smithers, a group of sixth graders who live on the same block in Moon Hollow, an odd little Hudson Valley town (because, really, aren't all Hudson Valley towns a little odd?). After they meet and become friends, the new girl, Viola, binds them together with her love of mystery stories. They form a club and decide to become detectives on their own.

I had a basic idea of who these kids were when I began - even as I wrote the proposal for the first book. It's hard to start a story without a sense of how the protagonists respond to any given stimulus.

The Basics: Viola, that new girl, is outgoing and a bit bossy. Sylvester is a goofball with a penchant for parlor tricks. Woodrow likes sports and games, and he rides his bike everywhere. And Rosie is a science girl, loves reading about animals, and collecting specimens to decorate her room with, to the dismay of her older sister with whom she shares the space.

These very simple traits lead my kids to explore events in their town that interest them most.

For example: Viola listens to her parents' police radio to find out true crimes that occur in Moon Hollow. Sylvester pays attention to the customers at his parents' diner and uses his knowledge of magic tricks to try to debunk some potentially threatening patrons. Woodrow solves some rather benign puzzles during gym class; as a result, he challenges himself to discover some truly weird phenomena in town. And Rosie helps a far-away cousin who is having some extremely strange pet problems.

I never expected the mysteries to be easily solved by my readers--some of the stories may be, and some of them may take an internet search to figure out. And I think that's fine. I think kids who pick up this book want to be surprised - to learn things they've never heard of before. I thought about what excited me when I was a kid - animals with strange traits, puzzles that seemed to have no answer, secret codes, secret passages. My readers have access to all sorts of information, but it might take them some effort to find it. And good for them. The reader can experience being an actual detective.

This is the difference between this series and similar ones that came before it, like the wonderful Encyclopedia Brown books by Donald J. Sobol. Readers nowadays have technology that folks back in the Sobol days didn't have. The fact that Encyclopedia Brown had a photographic memory and knew everything about Everthing certainly helped keep those books interesting and the Sobol's clues varied. Encylopedia's memory was a unique and ground-breaking trait for its time. The kid may have been one of the first superpowered children's book heroes.

Which brings me back to Character . . . My group of kids are NOT geniuses, so I needed to find another way to make the concept of their mystery club success plausible. I tried to do this with their quirks, their unique interests, their temperment, their curiosity.

Even with a book that is simply a group of mystery stories that are linked together like The Mysterious Four, I felt the need to make Viola's, Rosie's, Woodrow's, and Sylvester's relationship grow, become stronger. And this is the difference I discovered in writing a series, rather than the stand alone books I'd written previously--I was able to continue the Four's character transformations into books two and three. I knew I'd have room there to let them grow, change, challenge one another, and surprise themselves. So Book #1 may be pretty straight forward -- but I was happy to find that there was much more to the story.

This was my favorite part of getting to the end of #3: realizing how far the kids had come . . . and yet, how much they had stayed the same. Isn't this the way life is? The ordinary mysteries of our everyday experience shape us, change us, help us see the world in a new way, and if we're lucky, after the dust settles, we ultimately hold on to who we are at our center. Our center is what allowed us to be curious, to explore, to fight in the first place.

I hope I was this generous and capable with my favorite new detectives. And I hope my readers will want to explore Moon Hollow with the Four as they journey into new (and sometimes scary) corners of town. Because, come on, who doesn't like a little mystery?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I don't look like me anymore

Coming across my author photo on the internet, I realized how very quickly things change. Though I only took that picture 2 years ago, I look like a completely different person now. It's kind of funny to think that the person who wrote those earlier books is emblazened on the book jackets... but he's not me.

Looking back at the past 2 years, I'm not sure I could have even written The Stone Child or The Nightmarys today. I've learned so much. About life. About writing. About this crazy business. About myself. My perspective of the world has changed. The WORLD has changed. Yes, it's amazing how quickly things can transform, take new shape, reveal truth, lie. So I guess it makes sense that the guy standing in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is gone now.

What I'm saying is, it's time for a new portrait.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spontaneous Book Haul

Hi there,

I went out after work last night with my good friend Caroline, and we ended up at Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene in Brooklyn. It's a wonderful indie shop with many quirky titles featured by the friendly staff. And how could I not appreciate a store that has copies of my new series - The Mysterious Four! hehehe...

I couldn't stop myself from picking up four books:

The Keep by Jennifer Egan. I've been hearing so much about this writer lately, especially with all the buzz for A Visit From the Goon Squad, so I was curious about her work. I happened to pick up The Keep and the first paragraph totally grabbed me. Two cousins with a troubled past meet up to restore an old castle somewhere in Europe--they end up digging up those old troubles. Mysterious! I'm very excited to read this...

Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell. A collection of interviews and short pieces about old New York City characters from a New Yorker writer. This was recommended to me by my friend Ethan Hill, a portrait photographer here in Brooklyn. How very appropriate, since this book seems to be a series of portraits as well. An exercise in examining small details that reveal character. Very cool.

Just Kids by Patti Smith. It won an award. Woo hoo! But besides that, here is another book about a lost period of New York City history by a woman who lived it. Art, music, young love, two future legends trying to find themselves. What else can one want in a book about NYC in the 70's? I guess I'll find out.

Role Models by John Waters. This guy is just a genius. I've wanted to read his newest book since it came out in hardcover. Now with a beautiful paperback release, I had no excuse to skip it. Or at least I ignored any excuse...

I have so many books on my shelves now, it's becoming extremely difficult to justify bringing home any more babies. But I'm happy with my discoveries at Greenlight. Egan had signed the copy of The Keep. Up in the Old Hotel seems like something I can keep coming back to. Just Kids is so elegant looking, as is Role Models.

Can you tell how much I love books? Go check out Greenlight if you're in Brooklyn. It's so great!

[686 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217-1699 (718) 246-0200] ‎


Thursday, February 10, 2011



For the past nine months (omg nine months!) I've been writing a new series which is coming out from Scholastic this year. It's called The Mysterious Four, and it's about a group of kids who live on the same block who decide to create a detective club. They challenge one other to solve the mysteries they encounter every day, and the reader is invited to solve the mysteries along with the characters. There are fourteen mystery stories in each book (with a bonus e-book mystery), and so far there are three books. By the time I'm done with book number 3 (which should be very soon) I'll have written 45 mysteries total. 45 mysteries in nine months. 3 books in one year. AND I work a full time job at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

If someone told me one year ago that this would be part of my career, I would have said, "No way. I won't have time for that!"

Don't get me wrong, I'm having tons of fun with the project. I'm a working author who, in about six months, will have five books out on the shelves. Every day I come up with another idea for a project I want to work on. I'd love to have just one more day in my week to do all the things a guy has to do in order to not live like a crazy person in a big city. I don't think I've gone grocery shopping in about a month. And laundry sits in the hamper a few days too long at a time.

Am I crazy for wanting to get a dog right now? I have a feeling a little buddy will help me feel more grounded. I definitely want one that's small enough for a Brooklyn apartment, that won't bark too much, and that I can rescue from a shelter. What should I be looking for?

What's the most mysterious dog? Maybe I'll get one to inspire me to keep on truckin.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Free Books Aren't Free (from Saundra Mitchell)

Check out this article by fellow spooky author Saundra Mitchell (Shadowed Summer) about how illegal book downloads are keeping writers poor and pushing us out of the book business... I've had these thoughts for months now - after finding out that The Stone Child has been downloaded illegally a few thousand times... That's my rent money folks!

“Free” Books Aren’t Free