Welcome!  OK, first some friendly, authorish rules:  ♦♦ I cannot reveal 39 Clues or Seven Wonders spoilers, no matter how beautifully you ask.  Also, I’m not able to read/evaluate stories or excerpts from novels, as I am maxed out from tour and new writing projects. ♦♦ All answers given below.  Oh, and if you do NOT want your message recorded here, just let me know.  OK, now that that’s out of the way, please click the “Add Guestbook Entry” link, just below

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Ethan Patel
Dear Peter Lerangis,
Hi my name is Ethan PateI. I am 10 years old and live in Acton, MA. I read your book The 39 Clues; The Viper’s Nest. I heard about a new series called Cahills vs. Vespers and can’t wait for the book you write.
My favorite part in The Viper’s Nest was when Dan, Amy, Nellie, Professor Bardsley and his students escaped from the Tomas stronghold. I liked how Dan came up with capturing the Tomas in the hunting trap. And I think it was funny when Amy threw the diamond bracelet in the trap and Nellie said “That could have paid off my MasterCard!” I also liked when Amy and Dan realized they were Madrigals.
My opinion about the overall book was that it was amazing and the best 39 Clues book I’ve read so far (I’m on book eight). Though I think in chapter 8 Nellie should have decoded the Morse code because then Amy and Dan would have gotten suspicious about the whole “super au pair” thing sooner. Besides that I thought the book was funny, exciting, enjoyable, and entertaining. All of your books have those traits and I think that’s what makes you an amazing writer.
One of my connections to the story is that I have a very annoying sister just like Dan, but wouldn’t want to lose her. Another connection is I have a pet I love very much. The last connection I have is that I have a very mean aunt like Amy and Dan. These are some of the things I have in common with your book.
I have a few questions for you:
1. Do you and the others authors of the 39 Clues series work together on what to write in each book or is it the author of each book’s job to pick up where the series left off?
2. Do you answer all your fan mail?
3. When you were my age what did you want to be when you grew up? If you aren’t doing that job, why aren’t you?
If you could please answer these questions in your response it would make me very happy.

Ethan Patel
Monday, November 08, 2010 at 05:10:19 PM
Peter replied

Hello, Ethan! Thanks so much for this thoughtful and thorough message, and for all the kind words. I’m happy you liked VIPER’S NEST and am impressed with your astuteness. Very good suggestion about Nellie! Here are answers to your questions:

1. We 39 CLUES authors don’t work together or talk about plots. Which means we can have more fun at parties, eating and telling jokes instead of working! Seriously, if we were to discuss the books, the conversations would leave out the other authors. Because of the tight publishing schedule, the books are written simultaneously (one author may be doing corrections on an about-to-be-published book while another is working on a second draft, while another is putting together an outline, while another is researching an idea, etc.). It’s crucial that each author knows every plot change, new character, etc. So rather than have individual conversations, we talk instead to our editor, who then passes the info on to everyone else.

2. I’m very bad with snail mail these days; in fact, I have a backlog of more than a year. On the other hand, this guestbook makes it much easier for me, and I do answer every entry.

3. I always wanted to be two things: an actor and a writer. And those are the only two things I've done to make a living.

I hope that answers everything, Ethan. Best of luck with all your own plans!


I am a 5th grade teacher and my students would like to write a friendly letter to you by snail mail. Do you have an address where you receive fan mail?

Monday, October 25, 2010 at 12:26:55 PM
Peter replied
That's wonderful! Yes, by all means send the letter to me c/o Scholastic Author Mail, 555 Broadway, New York, NY 10012. I should warn you, though, that I'm terribly backlogged with snail mail, so I may not even have a chance to reply -- but be assured I will look for the envelope and will read every word. Please send my warmest regards to your students!
anytime would be great
Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at 08:51:54 PM
Peter replied

Hello, Owen! Thanks for writing. I would be delighted to Skype with your school, and November 4 would work fine! Here's how we usually work it:

Click here to send a private message, letting me know (1) what time you'd like to Skype, (2) what you'd like to talk about, and (3) how long an amount of time you'd like. The message will automatically come to me and also to Ms. Nooney at Scholastic, who can help make the arrangements. OK?

(If the link above doesn't show properly, here's the email address to use:

I look forward to talking to you all!

Hello Peter. I am at Cool Springs school and i was wondering if you would like to skype with us on any thursday in November?please answer ASAP. November the 4th would be great.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010 at 01:16:01 PM
I LOVED your book Watchers Last Stop!!! My teacher recommended it to me and now I want to read Watchers Rewind!
please e-mail me back!!!
Sunday, October 03, 2010 at 08:07:32 PM
Peter replied
Hi, Antonia! So glad you enjoyed reading LAST STOP. It remains one of my favorite books I've ever written. In some ways, I like REWIND even better. Hope you agree, and thanks for writing!
That sounds cool, It will be interesting to compare the authors. Hoping there going to be some comclusion about Amy and Ian, hehe. Thanks again Peter 🙂
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 07:16:10 PM
Peter replied
You’re welcome. And stay tuned!
Carrie Grubb
My children and I are wondering if you are going to continue the Spy X series? We really love it!
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 04:21:06 PM
Peter replied
Hi, Carrie. So delighted you’ve enjoyed SPY X, and many thanks for the kind words. I get more mail about that series than just about anything else I’ve written. I was planning to write Books 5 & 6, but publishing is a very unpredictable business, and the series was canceled very suddenly for reasons beyond my and my editor’s control (more to do with the economy at that time, I believe). I wish I could have forged on, but unless a miracle happens, the series will remain at four books. Sorry I couldn’t provide better news, but I’m very glad your family had the chance to go along on the wild ride with Andrew and Evie!
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH so excited for Vesper's rising!!! So from what I can tell the first one is a bunch of short stories and the rest are regualar novels, am I right?
Seems like I'm a regualar here sorry to be so annoying:)
Monday, September 27, 2010 at 10:39:53 PM
Peter replied
Hi, Jenna! Yes, you’re right, although the first book is not exactly filled with short stories — more like long stories, or novellas. And I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about those tales. They will be awesome, trust me. And yes, six regular, full-length books will follow, by Gordon Korman, Jude Watson, yours truly, Roland Smith, Linda Sue Park, and David Baldacci, in that order.
Oops I meant think of it before I write or go with the flow 🙂
Thursday, September 09, 2010 at 12:47:24 AM
Sorry I write you so much

I just started writing a story and basically I didn't plan really. Just the beggining stuff. Would you say that's wrong? Also making up your climax is hard so should I think of it well I'm writing or should I just go with the flow and see what comes?

Thanks again Peter
Thursday, September 09, 2010 at 12:45:31 AM
Peter replied
Hi, Jenna! To give your story its proper attention, I'd need much more time than I could carve out, as I'm overloaded with deadlines and family commitments -- sorry about that! I think your best bet when you get stuck like this is to go back and make an outline. You may find that by doing this you'll be able to plow ahead and find your solution, or you may decide you want to rewrite the beginning. Writing without an outline is certainly possible, but it can be much, much harder!
I just finished the tenth 39 clues book. How is it the last? :(. Did you like it? I saw you reading it on the web cast. It was good but the whole time I wanted the whole Ian- Amy thing to happen, didn't you? Someone needs to make a epilogue, a long one. What was your favorite part?
Thursday, September 02, 2010 at 11:30:36 PM
Peter replied
I loved it! My favorite part was the end -- I enjoyed the whole book, but everything that happened from the moment they entered the gauntlet had me riveted. I was moved by the way all the characters grew -- and there was a line from Eisenhower Holt, of all people, that kind of choked me up! I thought Margaret did a phenomenal job tying together all the strands of the previous books and creating an adventure was gripping and full of surprises. And what a perfect ending!
To Pearl-
Like Patrick said, He didn't change the characters really at all. And anyways in the 39 clues series your going to love some, like some, and not like some. I didn't really like a few, but I kept reading. When you put all of them together, you'll be like, Whoa, that's the best series ever! To me the third book was my favorite, but you might like different ones. Maybe you should try reading three again slower, and really soaking it all in. But mostly, KEEP READING THE SERIES!!! YOU WILL BE SORRY!
Friday, August 27, 2010 at 08:16:12 PM
hello, I'm Steven and I literally just finished reading wtf and with the epilogue I would like to know if this novel was fact based or a true story or none of them.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 at 05:55:32 AM
Peter replied
Hi, Steven! Thanks for writing. The correct answer is (c) none of the above. wtf is fiction, through and through!
I have been reading the 39 clues. When I got to book three, I felt that you changed the entire tone of the characters. You had Dan stealing ashtrays and acting extremly obnoxious. Nellie all of a sudden had tattoos and was more of a punk than initially portrayed. I was baffled by the new characteristics you put in that were definitely not there in the first two books.

After I got through your book (not an easy task) all the characters in the following books went back to the initial state they were presented in during the first book (and book two). Nellie was still a cool babysitter, but talked in an educated manner. Dan was back to a nice 11 year old kid that collected neat things not ashtrays or whatever he could get his grubby paws on.

Now I am at book seven and you wrote that one, too. I am disappointed because you have the characters back to how you perceive them not how the overall story perceives them.

My questions to you (if you wouldn't mind answering them) are... First, why did you feel like you had to change the characters so much? Second, Did you read the first two books prior to writing book three? Third, Did you read books 4, 5, and 6 prior to writing book 7? I have just started book seven today and can't believe what a complete opposite direction the characters personalities have taken...again.

Please help me understand.
Monday, August 23, 2010 at 05:28:09 PM
Peter replied
First of all, thanks so much for writing! I think it's a brave and wonderful thing for a reader to have the courage to speak up as you did, with critical reservations (refreshing, actually!). One of the beautiful things about fiction is that every person brings a different sensibility to the book he or she has read. Two different people will often have wildly opposite opinions about the same book. And there will be opinions galore when it comes to a multi-author series! I see that your observations are mostly about style, and I'd offer that my style actually doesn't change the characters at all, merely sees them through my own writer's eye, my sense of humor, pacing, etc. Many readers have found Books 3 and 7 to be their favorite, precisely because of the style. But not everybody, of course! Each of us 7 authors has our fans and detractors. To answer your questions: Our working process has been very rigorous indeed -- we all read each other's books several times, took extensive notes, and had long discussions with the editorial staff. And then we each went to work when our time came, giving the books our unique stamps, making sure to stay within the guidelines of the characters, and each book went through several drafts via the editors. One of the things we prize is the difference in flavors between the writers, and a lot of readers have responded well to that aspect, too. If the books were all uniform in style, despite the different authors, as a reader I'd be pretty disappointed. While I understand the longing for a more uniform style, that would be a different kind of series. In Book 3, I loved connecting with Nellie's punk side, and Dan's mischievous nature (in fact, Nellie has indeed had tattoos, a nose ring, and a love of punk music from the beginning of the series). I was eager to ratchet up the tension and add conflict via Alastair and the Kabras. As for Book 7, I encourage you to stick with it, I think you may be pleasantly surprised. Keep in mind, the beginning of that book follows an extremely tragic event at the end of Book 6. Thus the beginning of Book 7 is quite intense, dealing with the aftermath and the feelings. There are quite a few plot twists to come, and a lot will be discovered about Amy and Dan's past! Hope this helps. Again, thank you for contacting me, and I hope you continue to enjoy the series.
Hey, it's me again! 😀

My question this time is:
If, while you're writing, you feel like the story is getting a little...unexiting...for that chapter (you previously told me to make chapters a mini story with climaxes, etc.), is it justifiable to put in something extremely strange?

Such as, let's say people are wandering around, and Guy1 gets his arm chopped off. Then he disappears. So, Girl1, who was previously holding his arm, screams and drops it. Guy2 runs up, picks up the arm, builds a fire, cooks it, and eats it. 'you need to do anything to survive.'

Do you think it's a little over-the-limit, or is it just right, or what? (I guess it sorta helps develop the character a little.....)
Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 11:09:46 PM
Peter replied
Well, I can't really say whether the scenario you mentioned works or not, since I don't know the story. It might. Just keep a few things in mind -- every story has its own internal logic, even horror stories and loopy anarchic comedies. All your incidents have to work within the logic of your story. You need to have a reason to put the event in. Don't forget, every incident becomes a part of the plot. You'll need to follow through, show the consequences, etc. If you put a big event in your story only because you're bored, and you don't follow through, the reader will scratch his or her head and wonder "What's that doing there?" So yes, do be free and imaginative, and yes, do develop your characters -- but be sure to work out your plot carefully, and adjust it with each new event you add!
Yes I have. Just trying to get some extra input 😉
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 01:07:44 AM
Peter replied
Oops. Sorry -- yes, I see you did mention that you'd sent in the questions. I think the Holts were just too headstrong and not subtle enough, burning too many bridges, etc. And as for the Book 9 question, honestly, I'm scratching my head over that one myself. I'll have to look into it.
Awwwww, that stinks. Stupid contracts! Can you see if they can answer them on the chat?

Thanks again,
Sunday, August 08, 2010 at 07:21:38 PM
Peter replied
Great idea. Have you submitted these questions for the chat? You can do that here!
Hi (again)!

I sent in some questions for the video chat thingy (whatever you want to call it) for the 39 clues, but it probably won't be answered. If you could answer them that would be awesome!

1.I know there's a whole thing about how the Holts became the "black sheep" of the Tomas, and I'm sadly confused about the thing. Can you sumerise it please?

2. IF YOU HAVE NOT READ BOOK 9 YET DON'T READ THIS! Ok so In the 9th book we meet you know who (I'm gonna talk like this so people don't spoil the series for themselves ;))and they're in the you know whats. And say their branch is nice. BUT, in the code on the bottom of some pages (are you with me? lol)it says "they aren't telling the truth". So am I supposed to get this?!? Are they good or bad!

Sorry if that made no sense to you! I tried.

Thank you so much!!!

Jenna (again)
Saturday, August 07, 2010 at 02:00:50 PM
Peter replied
Hi, Jenna! Yes, I know exactly what you mean, but actually both things tread into some territory I can't go into until August 31, when Book 10 is published — so sorry!
Thanks that really helps! Hope to contact you soon!

Daniel 🙂
Wednesday, August 04, 2010 at 08:38:51 PM
Peter replied
You're welcome, Daniel!
Yeah thanks! You are a great inspiration! Another question...
I like to write. If i am writing a story/book thingy how should i create the characters before i start writing and how should i pick a memorable name? Hope you can help (you being an amazing author and all)!

Your Biggest Fan,
Daniel 🙂
Tuesday, August 03, 2010 at 11:51:08 PM
Peter replied
Hmm. Well, without knowing what kind of story you're trying to write, how old you are, etc., the best I can tell you is to ask yourself what do the characters want out of the situation? A good story comes out of conflict, and the conflict boils down to the fact that one character wants something badly and the other character wants something different, and just as badly. Choose characters of the right personality, age, etc. that bring these conflicts to life. Make the stakes (whatever it is they want) very high -- extreme inportance. And then give them personalities with characteristics that ring true to you -- maybe little bits of your own personality and the personalities of people you know. Some writers like to think of the characters first, then let the story grow from there. Others like to nail down the plot first and worry about the characters later. Still others like to think of a cool title first! Pick one of these methods, or some of them. You may want to nail down some memorable characters, and then set them loose on the page and see what happens. Or you may want to map out the story with a brief outline, think of a setting, know what the conflict is, and just start writing. Sometimes your characters will come to life AFTER you start. You can always go back and change a character based on things that occur to you later on. As far as memorable names go, those are very personal things. If you can't think of something good right away, give your characters "dummy" names (Girl 1, xyz, Boy 2, etc.) and then when a good name pops into your head later on, do a global replace. That happens to me quite a bit, a perfect name will come to me in, say, chapter 3, and I'll go back and make the substitution! Hope this helps.