Maxwell Grantly

Magical stories from an independent author

Archive for the tag “Steampunk”

The Incredible Adventure of Fingers and Boston

Abandoned by his parents and forced by fate to work on the streets of New Babbage shining shoes, Edward Croydon (also known as “Fingers”) has to pick the pockets of rich gentlemen in order to survive. However, his life takes an unexpected turn of events when he discovers a stray Boston terrier wandering alone on the streets: a stray dog with the most peculiar-shaped dog tag hanging from her collar. Unfortunately, it’s not only Fingers who is interested in finding out the meaning of this curious dog tag; a gang of local criminals are searching for this dog and her tag too. They will do anything to seize the dog tag for themselves, within the Law or not.

Will Fingers find out the significance behind the strange-shaped dog tag of his new canine friend?

Will the local police be able to trace the missing Boston terrier before the criminals track Fingers and the lost dog?

Will the new friendship of Fingers and his terrier overcome the problems that they face together?

Find out the answer to these questions by reading the new picture storybook by Maxwell Grantly: “The Incredible Adventure of Fingers and Boston.”

The Incredible Adventure of Fingers and Boston

If you are interested in reading The Incredible Adventure of Fingers and Boston, it can be downloaded free of charge from Barnes & Noble, Blio, iBooks, Inktera, Kobo, Lulu and Smashwords. Sadly, the software at Amazon does not allow a zero pricing and so (if you use a Kindle) you may also download this story – but at a very small charge. Simply type “Maxwell Grantly” or “The Incredible Adventure of Fingers and Boston” into the search bar at any of these eight sites.

Gobbler and the Mirror

Gobbler would spend his days searching for scraps of food to steal and, whenever he found some morsel, he would gobble it down quickly. It was for this reason that the other street urchins gave him his nickname.

One day Gobbler’s luck seemed to change when he spied an open door of a rich house and he sneaked inside to search for something to eat. However, he found himself stumbling upon a meeting of local businessmen and he accidentally discovered the announcement of an amazing new invention that would change his life forever.

Find out how Gobbler managed to eavesdrop on the most important scientific discovery in the history of New Babbage and what he found out.

Like all stories by Maxwell Grantly, all is not what it may seem to be.

This delightfully illustrated eBook for children is free to download from iTunes, Kobo and Smashwords.

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The Boy With the Clockwork Heart

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I am very pleased to announce the release of my latest eBook: The Boy With the Clockwork Heart.

This ‘free to download’ story tells the tale of how a young Victorian cotton mill worker, named Edward, received a clockwork heart and how he met the Shadow a total of three times.

Just a few weeks ago, I received a draft copy back from my proofreader, accompanied with a few spelling and grammatical pointers. However, I was most surprised (and flattered) to read a final postscript, “It made me cry.” I was not expecting that!

You are welcome to download the story for yourself, totally free of charge, to determine whether you think my proofreader was justified in reaching for a handkerchief.

The eBook can be downloaded from either iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords or Lulu. (There is a small charge when downloading from Amazon and so I am sure that you may find the other sites more advantageous.)

I do hope that you may enjoy reading it.

The Boy With the Clockwork Heart

Edward had a particularly hard upbringing. Despite being a young child, he had to work long hours in Mr. Grime’s dreadful cotton mill. It was a very hard life and, so very often, tragic accidents would occur within the exposed machinery. The other mill workers would tell tales of how the Shadow would frequently visit the factory, to take away the poor souls of the many fatalities that met their fate there. How Edward wished that he might never ever meet the Shadow.

Sadly, Edward’s wish never came true. In this story, he was to meet the Shadow a total of three times.

This is the tragic tale of how Edward met the Shadow so many times and how he came to be the first ever child to receive a clockwork heart.

(Author’s note: This is a beautifully illustrated story for both older children and adults alike. However, due to the triple appearance of death in this story, in the form of the Shadow, it is recommended that this story is not suitable for young children. Although the Shadow has been portrayed sensitively, as always, adults are recommended to use their discretion in the choice of this eBook for their children.)

Recommended for April

Now that spring has arrived in the Northern Hemisphere, many adults may be relaxing outside, in the company of a good book.

With so many free children’s eBooks by Maxwell Grantly, now is the perfect time to encourage your children to relish the joys of reading too. If you’re looking for the perfect introductory eBook to whet your child’s appetite, you may want to take a look at “Albert’s Wiggly Tooth” – a zany illustrated children’s story that is free to download from both Kobo and iTunes.


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Do you believe in the tooth fairy? Not many children do. Even the thirty-two young boys and girls at the New Babbage orphanage knew that Mr. Bagshaw, the resident housemaster, really took their old teeth and left a silver sixpence under their pillows. Even still, a whole sixpence is such a lot of money: you can buy so many sweets with just the one coin.

When Albert’s wiggly tooth fell out, he wondered what happened to it when he left it under his pillow. To his surprise, he discovered that Mr. Bagshaw was selling the children’s teeth to a local dentist, in order to build dentures for the elderly people in town.

Discover the crazy antics of what happened in church the following Sunday morning, when Albert discovered the identity of the new owner of the children’s missing teeth.

Like all stories from Maxwell Grantly, nothing ever goes to plan!

Christmas Podcast

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You might like to listen to this steampunk podcast, based in the fictional city of New Babbage. It has a full hour of lovely songs and stories, all themed around the lives of street urchins. You can even hear me read one of my steampunk stories as part of the show too.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Christmas Podcast

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If you have read several of my eBooks, you might have noticed that I have developed a specific formatting style for many of my works. Most of my stories have a simple narrative thread but they are packed with numerous beautiful illustrations to accompany the text. However, you may have noticed that my last story (The Christmas Penny) deviated from this general trend. The reason for this change was that my last story was written solely for a steampunk podcast competition, due to be released in time for Christmas.

I am very pleased to announce that this story was successful in the competition and that it was selected (with three others) to form part of the podcast production. Incidentally, just by chance, all four stories were based around street urchin characters and so I understand that the podcast will have a strong steampunk urchin theme. If you have children, they may particularly relish this aspect!

The podcast is currently in the production stage and I understand that it is due for release in the few weeks. Of course, I shall be pleased to provide a link when it is finally available for download.

Recommended for November

Those of us who live in the northern hemisphere have put our clocks back and we are now looking forward to six months of winter. That means that many of us will be curling up by the fire, with a warm cup of cocoa in one hand and a good book in the other.

If you want a reading suggestion for your children (at no cost) you could browse through the large selection of free eBooks on iTunes and Kobo by Maxwell Grantly.

If you want an idea of where to start, why not try the first story in a trilogy about Fingers the Pickpocket, called “The Incredible Story of Fingers and Boston.”

The Incredible Adventure of Fingers and Boston

Abandoned by his parents and forced by fate to work on the streets of New Babbage shining shoes, Edward Croydon (also known as “Fingers”) has to pick the pockets of rich gentlemen in order to survive. However, his life takes an unexpected turn of events when he discovers a stray Boston terrier wandering alone on the streets: a stray dog with the most peculiar-shaped dog tag hanging from her collar. Unfortunately, it’s not only Fingers who is interested in finding out the meaning of this curious dog tag; a gang of local criminals are searching for this dog and her tag too. They will do anything to seize the dog tag for themselves, within the Law or not.
Will Fingers find out the significance behind the strange-shaped dog tag of his new canine friend?
Will the local police be able to trace the missing Boston terrier before the criminals track Fingers and the lost dog?
Will the new friendship of Fingers and his terrier overcome the problems that they face together?
Find out the answer to these questions by reading the picture storybook by Maxwell Grantly: “The Incredible Adventure of Fingers and Boston.”

Gobbler and the Mirror

Gobbler and the Mirror

We all know that light travels incredibly quickly in a vacuum. When it passes through other media, such as water or glass, it slows down very slightly. So, just imagine what life would be like if light travelled substantially slower in glass! How would such a world look?

Professor Higgins discovered that, if you added a special crystalline compound to the manufacture of glass, you could create a new transparent substance that had the property of slowing light by a total of three hours. Just imagine looking through a window that was made of this new invention: it would be like looking three hours into the past!

A local street urchin named Gobbler accidentally stumbled into a lecture given by Professor Higgins and learnt the secret behind this new amazing substance. His life would never be the same from that moment on. Find out how Gobbler’s life changed for the worse when he found himself being framed for a theft that he did not commit and discover whether he managed to clear his name.

Maxwell Grantly reveals all in his new eBook: “Gobbler and the Mirror.”

As is common with many stories by Maxwell, everything is not what it might at first seem to be!

Historical Research for “A Clean Sweep”

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Research is an important part of the planning process of any story. It is essential that a storyline should be believable and that readers are not confused by the inclusion of any misinformation that detracts them from the plot. It is the role of an author to build a world that is as convincing as possible, so that the reader may become fully immersed within the story.

One important area of research for “A Clean Sweep” (Maxwell’s latest story) was the role of children chimney cleaners in Victorian times.

It was common to use small children, as young as four or five, to scramble up the insides of chimneys, to scrape and brush soot from the inside of the walls. These children would often freeze in fear, become stuck or simply fall asleep due to exhaustion, within the confines of the flue. When this happened, their masters would sometimes send a second child up the chimney, to prick the soles of the feet of the first child. At other times, the master would light a small bundle of straw or burn a brimstone candle in the fireplace, so that the suffocating smoke would force the child out.

Soot is a carcinogen and, as these children would often sleep on piles of soot bags and very rarely washed, many of these young boys went on to develop Chimney Sweeps’ Cancer in their early adult years.

Although the use of children chimney sweeps was banned in 1875, the practice continued for some years to come, in some larger country houses.

Interestingly, Maxwell Grantly once lived in a small market town in Suffolk, called Beccles. One quirky historical fact from this town is that one small house in the town centre has a gravestone embedded in the top of the chimneystack. You can see it clearly, on the left of the chimney pot, in the very centre of this photograph. There are many local tales regarding this peculiar setting of a gravestone, at the top of the chimneystack.

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The grave belongs to a young nineteenth century boy, who was a local chimney sweep. It is understood that he was forced up the chimney, in order to brush out soot from the inside of the chimney, but he lost his footing and slipped. In doing so, he became wedged and was unable to escape from the chimney, suffocating within his brick chimney prison. It was felt, at the time, that the top of the chimney was the best location for his gravestone.

Other tales about this gravestone are somewhat more gristly. Some local people explain that the boy’s body was never retrieved and that his skeletal corpse remains embedded within the chimney. This embellishment of the story is most likely untrue. It is completely implausible that the householders would have wanted to live in the same building as a corpse. In fact there has been another account, from elsewhere, of a twelve-year-old chimney sweep becoming trapped within the flue, as he tried to dislodge soot. In this case, the chimney was demolished in a botched attempt to save the life of the urchin, who died shortly afterwards.

All-in-all, it was an awful life being a chimney sweep child in Victorian times and these youngsters suffered from neglect, as well as numerous dreadful hardships.

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Luckily, in the story “A Clean Sweep” the hero of the story does finally find his happy ending. However, like most stories by Maxwell Grantly, there are many interesting twists to the plot and all is not as it might, at first, appear to be.

Recommended for July

Fingers and the Dream ThiefAre you looking for a special eBook for your young son or daughter this July. “Fingers and the Dream Thief” is recommended for children this month.

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Have you ever met a dream thief?

Edward Croydon (also known as “Fingers”) was abandoned by his uncaring parents and left on the streets of New Babbage. Fate forced him to work in order to survive, shining shoes and picking the pockets of rich passers-by. Finally, the kindness of one sympathetic gentleman encouraged Fingers to consider moving into the local orphanage, financed by the town’s wealthy photographer: Mr. Snude. Fingers found that the children of the home were very well-cared for and that they were allowed to play with as many toys as they could wish for. The orphanage looked like a paradise for homeless street children! However, despite all of this, Finger discovered that the children lacked imagination and he soon discovered that this children’s home had a dark and dreadful secret: Mr. Snude was a dream thief!

Discover how Fingers saved the children from a life devoid of dreams and how he was able to teach Mr. Snude a lesson that he would never forget.

—————– Reviews —————–

Beautifully done!

Your stories and images are always rich with heart and light. I hope people will take the time to pick them up and read them as your imagination is inspiring.

Well done indeed!

Another cool story.

A simple and straightforward children’s story, “Fingers and the Dream Thief” is an interesting balance between 3D digital art and storytelling since all descriptions are expressed by the illustrations, with little writing covering the actions. Fingers is an orphan child making a living in a steampunk city by polishing rich men’s shoes and pickpocketing them every now and then. One day, he is told about a lovely local orphanage. There, all children are encouraged to play all day long. But the place hides a dark secret and Fingers needs to save his new friends. I would say it is a bit too short (a few minutes reading), but the fact that there are more books with Finger’s adventures makes up for this. The illustrations and simple writing make it great for children beginning to read.

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