Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 20, 2013

Grosset & Dunlap Fantasy Publishing Contest


Penguin’s Grosset & Dunlap imprint will award a $10,000 contract to a writer who can write the first book in a new young adult series based on Jim Henson’s 1982 fantasy film THE DARK CRYSTAL.

The world of The Dark Crystal is a world unlike any we have ever known. Under the triple suns, the skies roil with cloud formations not seen in our skies. Seedpods spiral up and rocks scuttle off. It is a world where the wise and noble urSkeks have been split into two imperfect races, Skeksis and urRu; and the Gelfling Clans, the species most like our own, go about their lives not knowing what their future holds. This is a world waiting to be explored and expanded upon with new stories, new quests.

You could be the author of a new novel
set in the world of Jim Henson’s
The Dark Crystal.

At The Jim Henson Company, we continue to be enthralled with the possibilities of this world and invite you to join us in our obsession. We have set up a portal to share what we know, a new website with all of the information about this place and these creatures: We invite you to use the resources, character descriptions, locations, and history on this site to join us in imagining the next Dark Crystal story.

darkcrystalCheryl Henson Founder,

From October 1st, 2013 to December 31st, 2013, The Jim Henson Company and Grosset & Dunlap of the Penguin Young Readers Group will be accepting writing submissions to find the author for a new novel set in the world of Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal. This author search is open to all professional and aspiring professional writers.

This new Dark Crystal novel will be a prequel story set at the time of the Gelfling Gathering, between the Second Great Conjunction and the creation of the Wall of Destiny. We will be placing all known lore from this era on, the definitive home of The Dark Crystal. There you will find all the knowledge available for you to shape and build your story—and all we ask is that you share your stories with us.

Your submission should be an original story set in the era outlined above. The final novel will be upwards of 50,000 words, but please send in 7,500-10,000 words that represent the story you would tell in a full-length Dark Crystal novel. It can either be the first chapters, final chapters, a collection of middle chapters, or a short piece that would form the inspiration for a novel-length story. The Author Quest will be a two-staged journey. In the first stage, each submission we receive will be reviewed by the editorial staff of Grosset & Dunlap and the creative staff of The Jim Henson Company, including Francesco Sedita, President and Publisher of Grosset & Dunlap, and Cheryl Henson, Founder of Our review will be based on the following criteria:

Overall storytelling:

You may have an amazing story coursing through your brain, but channeling those brilliant ideas and expressing them thoughtfully and clearly on the page is something very different. Is your writing engaging and thought provoking? Have you crafted a narrative that readers can—and want to—follow? Have you captured the essence of The Dark Crystal in a way that will please the fans while also infusing the story with your own style and personality? Have you told a story that can withstand the test of time and forever be a part of The Dark Crystal canon?


Creating memorable characters is one of the most difficult aspects of storytelling. It’s more than just giving them a name and describing a haircut or clothes, it’s giving life to a whole new entity. When creating these characters, you need to envision them as complete beings with desires, needs, and feelings. Even if it never makes it to the page, you should know and understand where they came from, why they’re in the situation we find them in, and what they ultimately want in life. Just like in the real world, knowing where someone came from can help you see where they’re going. One important thing to keep in mind while creating these characters is that the Gelflings aren’t human and don’t act or think like humans.

Creativity and originality:

While we’re all fans of The Dark Crystal and we know the story of the film as if it was our own, traveling through someone else’s imagination can be a challenge. In creating your story it is important to tell an exciting and unique tale that expands the existing canon in a way that’s true to not just the physical world and characters of The Dark Crystal but also to its themes and ideas.

Writing ability:

Since we are looking for professional-quality writers, all works must be well written. Even if you have a great, original story filled with unique characters, people aren’t going to read it for very long if it’s not properly written. We are not accepting submissions until October 1st, so please take your time.

After the initial review process is complete, five writers will be selected to proceed to the second stage of the Author Quest. At this point, each of the five writers will receive editorial feedback on their stories and be asked to make revisions. They will also be tasked with creating a detailed outline for their proposed novel. These top-five stories will be posted on

The final review will apply the same criteria as the first stage to both the revision and the outline. Grosset & Dunlap and The Jim Henson Company will then select the one writer who best exemplifies the creative talent, imagination, and writing ability that we’ve searched for to author this Dark Crystal novel.

Rob Valois Senior Editor, Grosset & Dunlap says, “We look forward to reading your story.”



What a great idea! I bet a lot of people will rent the movie, THE DARK CRYSTAL to everyone who wants to participate in this contest. Good Luck!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. This is SUCH a cool idea! If I wasn’t bent on writing my own series, I’d jump right on this! 😀 I hope lots of people take advantage of something like this!


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