Maxwell Grantly

Magical stories from an independent author

Archive for the tag “Victorian”

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.

A Clean Sweep

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Isaac Little was a chimney sweep apprentice who worked for the cruel Mr. Grubber.

It was a difficult and dangerous life sweeping chimneys, especially as Isaac was forced to crawl within the flues. It was his awful task to climb up the brickwork and loosen the soot with a brush by hand. Each evening Mr. Grubber would spend the day’s takings on drink at the local pub, leaving Isaac to clean the yard and pack the soot into sacks, for sale to farmers as a fertiliser for their fields.

The only consolation that Isaac had for this miserable existence was an anonymous handwritten letter that he kept hidden away in his jacket pocket. Isaac couldn’t recall how he had found this note but he knew that it was his, for his name was included in full within the last sentence of the letter. The mysterious note promised Isaac that his life would improve and that he should trust its unknown author.

One day, Isaac succumbed to temptation when he stole a cigar case from a rich customer’s home. In doing so, he discovered a tiny fragment of a tragic newspaper report, rolled up inside with the cigars. The discovery of this newspaper fragment would change Isaac’s life forever and lead him on a terrifying adventure that would end with a face-to-face meeting with the anonymous author of his treasured mysterious letter.

Who wrote the prediction for Isaac’s life and how did the writer know what the future held for the wretched chimney sweep?

What awful news was written upon the newspaper fragment and why was it hidden within a cigar case?

In common with all stories from Maxwell Grantly, all is not what it might first appear to be.

(If you are interested in reading any of Maxwell’s stories, his work 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 his stories – but at a very small charge. Simply type “Maxwell Grantly” into the search bar at any of these eight sites.)

Free to Download: Professor Nibbler’s Most Amazing Mouse Circus

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Have you seen a real live mouse circus? If you have, you’re very lucky indeed, as very few other people have ever seen one. Sometimes a mouse circus will travel around the country as part of a travelling fair. As part of the performance, the mice will climb upon tightropes, perform amazing acrobatics and scamper about doing all sorts of incredible things.

When Professor Nibbler brought his most amazing mouse circus to Luxembourg, two homeless children (Jacob and Molly) were enchanted by the posters that were pasted across the city. They both yearned to see the mice perform and so devised a plan to earn enough money to see the show. However, as is common with other stories from Maxwell Grantly, things don’t go according to plan.

Discover how Jacob and Molly got to see the most amazing mouse circus in the world, by reading Maxwell Grantly’s latest story: Professor Nibbler’s Most Amazing Mouse Circus. (Available to download free of charge from iTunes, Kobo, Lulu and Smashwords.)

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.)

Pfaffenthal Update

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Next year (2017) will be the 150th anniversary of the Second Treaty of London.

For people living outside Luxembourg, this date will have very little significance. However, for those who live and work in Luxembourg, the year 2017 will be an important opportunity to celebrate the reaffirmation of the neutrality of their city and a chance to remember the starting of a new chapter of this important European location.

The Second Treaty of London was an international treaty signed on 11 May 1867. It was agreed in the aftermath of the Austro-Prussian War and the Luxembourg Crisis and it had wide-reaching consequences for Luxembourg and for the relations between Europe’s Great Powers.

As part of the many celebrations planned for 2017, I am currently working with a team from across the whole of Europe; helping in the production of a transmedia comic strip set in a computer generated reconstruction of the 1867 city. The story revolves around a young Luxembourgish boy named Steft and it explains how his vivid imagination caused him to cross the paths of many different characters in and around his home city of Luxembourg.

If all goes to plan, the comic strip will be released some time next year and it is hoped that it may be a unique way of retelling the stories of the inhabitants of this important European City.

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.

Beccles Town Centre

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.

A Clean Sweep Cover Page

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.

New Free eBook Release

Maxwell Grantly is very pleased to announce the release of his latest steampunk-themed children’s eBook: A Clean Sweep.

A Clean Sweep Cover Page

Isaac Little was a chimney sweep apprentice who worked for the cruel Mr. Grubber.

It was a difficult and dangerous life sweeping chimneys, especially as Isaac was forced to crawl within the flues. It was his awful task to climb up the brickwork and loosen the soot with a brush by hand. Each evening Mr. Grubber would spend the day’s takings on drink at the local pub, leaving Isaac to clean the yard and pack the soot into sacks, for sale to farmers as a fertiliser for their fields.

The only consolation that Isaac had for this miserable existence was an anonymous handwritten letter that he kept hidden away in his jacket pocket. Isaac couldn’t recall how he had found this note but he knew that it was his, for his name was included in full within the last sentence of the letter. The mysterious note promised Isaac that his life would improve and that he should trust its unknown author.

One day, Isaac succumbed to temptation when he stole a cigar case from a rich customer’s home. In doing so, he discovered a tiny fragment of a tragic newspaper report, rolled up inside with the cigars. The discovery of this newspaper fragment would change Isaac’s life forever and lead him on a terrifying adventure that would end with a face-to-face meeting with the anonymous author of his treasured mysterious letter.

Who wrote the prediction for Isaac’s life and how did the writer know what the future held for the wretched chimney sweep?

What awful news was written upon the newspaper fragment and why was it hidden within a cigar case?

In common with all stories from Maxwell Grantly, all is not what it might first appear to be.

Summer Update

Maxwell Grantly is currently working on his latest eBook: an illustrated children’s steampunk story called “A Clean Sweep.” Isaac Little 01 Isaac Little was a chimney sweep apprentice who worked for the cruel Mr. Grubber.

It was a difficult and dangerous life sweeping chimneys, especially as Isaac was forced to crawl within the flues. It was his awful task to climb up the brickwork and loosen the soot with a brush by hand. Each evening Mr. Grubber would spend the day’s takings on drink at the local pub, leaving Isaac to clean the yard and pack the soot into sacks, for sale to farmers as a fertiliser for their fields.

The only consolation that Isaac had for this miserable existence was an anonymous handwritten letter that he kept hidden away in his jacket pocket. Isaac couldn’t recall how he had found this note but he knew that it was his, for his name was included in full within the last sentence of the letter. The mysterious note promised Isaac that his life would improve and that he should trust its unknown author. Isaac Little 02 One day, Isaac succumbed to temptation when he stole a cigar case from a rich customer’s home. In doing so, he discovered a tiny fragment of a tragic newspaper report, rolled up inside with the cigars. The discovery of this newspaper fragment would change Isaac’s life forever and lead him on a terrifying adventure that would end with a face-to-face meeting with the anonymous author of his treasured mysterious letter. Isaac Little 03 Who wrote the prediction for Isaac’s life and how did the writer know what the future held for the wretched chimney sweep?

What awful news was written upon the newspaper fragment and why was it hidden within a cigar case?

In common with all stories from Maxwell Grantly, all is not what it might first appear to be.

The eBook called “A Clean Sweep” is due out in the summer of 2015 and it is packed full of captivating computer generated imagery that will enchant younger readers.

Can You Remember Your Dreams?

Can you remember what you dreamed last night?

Very few people can recall their dreams, a few minutes after they wake. We all dream but (usually) we do not know what we have dreamed. Very soon after waking up, our dreams disappear as quickly as the morning dew – or do they? Perhaps a dream thief may have stolen your dreams.

Mr. Snude was a dream thief. Some people like to relax by drinking alcohol or by smoking tobacco. Mr. Snude enjoyed inhaling the dreams of others. He was particularly partial to the dreams of the young. Children’s dreams are extraordinary. Many adults might dream of completing their annual tax forms on time or buying a new pair of chequered socks. On the other hand, children dream of flying out to the stars in chicken-shaped spaceships or racing down the high street on a brightly coloured fire engine, wearing shiny brass helmets, to the shouts of cheering crowds.

Mr Snude, stole the dreams of youngsters, bottled them up into glass containers and then locked them away in a secure cupboard. But how did he manage it? After all, surely you’d know if someone tried to steal your dreams?

Mr. Snude was a Victorian photographer and he found a way of modifying the posing stands from his studio so that they were able to scan the brains of his clients, as they froze still for their portraits.

You may be unfamiliar with the constraints that Victorian photographers faced in taking pictures. If you want to photograph a scene today, you need only remove your mobile phone from your pocket and make a couple of clicks in the right direction. However, in Victorian times, photography was not as advanced as it is now. The chemicals used on the old photographic plates were so insensitive to light that they had to be exposed to an image for several minutes. This meant that anyone who had to pose for a portrait was forced to stand absolutely still for two or three minutes, so that their image could be taken without blurring. To enable this, a posing stand was used to clamp around their head: it would stop unwanted movement. This is how Mr. Snude managed to trick his way into stealing the dreams of his clients. He’d take two brain scans of his victim, one at night and one the following morning, using a modified posing stand. Then, using a simple subtraction process, he could determine the exact nature of the dream. If he had the dream then the victim could not: the dream had been stolen. Without their dreams, his victims’ lives would become dull and mundane. Their loss of dreams would lead to a corresponding loss of ambition. His victims could only aspire to being geography teachers or barrister clerks.

On the pretence of helping local orphans, Mr. Snude managed to acquire a fresh supply of young imaginative minds. He would donate funds to a local orphanage and then misuse the trust placed in him. His plans were finely executed and all went well until the orphanage took in one young boy called Fingers. Fingers accidentally discovered the deceit of Mr. Snude and decided to teach him a lesson that he would never forget.

01 - Mr Snuce and Fingers

Find out more about this incredible story by reading Fingers and the Dream Thief. The fantastical story will delight children and the accompanying illustrations are sure to engage the most inquisitive and imaginative young minds.

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