Uncanny Trivia


This and all other Uncanny Express images copyright Jen Hill.

Hello, friends! The past two weeks have been super-exciting, as The Uncanny Express is now out in the world (and available for purchase here and here and here and via my local indie where if you want a signed copy, just note the personalization in the order comments section), and since its publication, I’ve been riding the rails with Jaundice and Kale on our UNCANNY EXPRESS Blog Tour. You can retrace our route and learn a lot about me and the book via The Little Crooked Cottage, MG Book Village, Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook, YAYOMG!, LibrariansQuest, Storymamas, and All the Wonders. Our final stop will be on Sunday, when we visit the esteemed Nerdy Book Club — hope you’ll join us!

In the meantime, I thought I’d give my Bland Fans something extra special — namely, a reveal of some trivia about the book. Without further ado…

  • The book is dedicated to Pearl. Pearl was my beloved cat, who died the day after I handed in the manuscript.

Dearly-departed Pearl.

  • Colonel Donald McRobb is named after one of my best friends, Rob McDonald. When The Jolly Regina came out, Rob seemed disappointed that none of the characters were inspired by him. You’re welcome, Rob.
  • Kale is obsessed with cleaning (and even cleans the toilet with a TOOTHBRUSH); I actually haaaaaate cleaning.

Sorry, Kale.

  • I’ve spent a lot of time on trains; when I worked as an editor at Candlewick Press, I took the commuter rail between Providence and Somerville every day. When I worked at Scholastic, I took the train in to New York once a week.
  • When I create my characters, I sometimes envision specific actors. For Magique, I imagined Cate Blanchett or Tilda Swinton. I can see a bit of a resemblance in Jen Hill’s illustrations!

Isn’t the resemblance…uncanny?

  • In Chapter Eight, the great detective Hugo Fromage is served tea, though he barely takes a sip of it before pushing it away. I wanted to be sure he never drank traditional tea, as Hercule Poirot only drank tisane (herbal tea).
  • It’s mentioned that the Bland Sisters have just started reading a series of books about two intrepid brothers: Keith and Joe, aka the Nubbins Twins. Of course, their names start with a K and J, like Kale and Jaundice, though I imagine Keith and Joe to be the very opposite of the Bland Sisters, a cross between the Hardy Boys and the Bobbsey Twins.
  • After Hercule Poirot would interview all the suspects of a crime, he would take some time to himself to review all the evidence; he called it using his “little gray cells” (aka his brain). Similarly, Hugo Fromage tells the Bland Sisters he needs time to allow his “brain stew” to simmer.

Mmm…brain stew.

  • Like a certain murderess on The Uncanny Express, I too own a poison ring.
  • A lot of my own experience with failure is reflected in Magique’s feelings about it — I’ve never had anyone throw tomatoes at me, though (not literally, anyway).
  • One of the clues left behind by Magique is a box of Good & Plenty. I hate Good & Plenty, and anything flavored with black licorice in general.
  • The Uncanny Valley Hippodrome was inspired by The Holiday Hippodrome, a kitschy circus my sister and I saw when we were kids.
  • At the end of the story, the Bland Sisters encounter an airplane called the Bluebird. For some time, I had a freelance editing business called Bluebird Works (named for the bluebird of happiness).
  • The third and final (???) Bland Sisters adventure will come out in early 2019. Among other things, it features an ancient curse, a villain with very bad teeth, and a BIG reveal of some Bland Family secrets.

Hope you enjoyed these little factoids — if you have any other questions for me, be sure to leave them in the comments. Which brings me to today’s big GIVEAWAY…

If you comment here on the blog, or follow/like/RT me on Twitter or Instagram TODAY, you’ll be eligible for an Uncanny giveaway! I’ll announce the winner on Twitter on Monday, January 22.


The giveaway includes: signed copies of The Jolly Regina and The Uncanny Express, and a swag pack featuring fun bookmarks, a set of Jolly Regina postcards, and a genuine Hugo Fromage mustache!

P.S. Just a reminder the The Jolly Regina is now out in paperback, wherever books are sold! If you want to check out some fun trivia about the book, take a look at my Five Things About the Jolly Regina series, mateys!