Congratulations to the Dark Crystal Author Quest Finalists and Editors’ Choice selections!

After reviewing the almost 500 amazing entries, the creative teams at The Jim Henson Company and Grosset & Dunlap have selected our Top 25 favorite stories. This was no easy challenge as there were many thrilling, adventurous, humorous, and thought-provoking stories. They were all a joy to read. Even if your name is not on this list, we congratulate you on your hard work and thank you for sharing your vision of The Dark Crystal with us.

Thank you,
The Jim Henson Company and Grosset & Dunlap

The Finalists:

Vinnie Chiappini, Washington, DC

Vincent Chiappini is an attorney in the US Army. Mr. Chiappini has been published as a writer in Let’s Go France 2007, as the editor of Let’s Go Italy 2008, and as an author in the Boston College Law Review. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Boston College Law School.

What The Dark Crystal means to me: The artful blend of solemn themes and playful humor in The Dark Crystal mirrors how I understand my own identity. On the one hand, the film is a grave, thoughtful story about an earnest underdog, the lone survivor of a genocide, who must resolve a Manichean battle between mysterious beings. On the other hand, Fizzgig’s antics, Aughra’s humorous dialogue, and Thra’s distinctively “Jim Henson” feel make the movie a celebration. As a Pentagon lawyer who studied the classics but loves the Muppets and writing fantasy stories about Gelfling, that balance between the serious and the silly speaks to me.

Greg Coles, State College, PA

Greg Coles is a graduate student studying English and rhetoric at Penn State University, where he also teaches first-year composition. He loves writing, music, baking, and occasionally hanging out the doors of moving vehicles in other countries.

What The Dark Crystal means to me: I have always been enthralled by worlds not bound by the same rules as planet Earth, worlds where anything might happen and where the whole story hasn’t been written yet. For me, the world of The Dark Crystal is such a world. I fell in love with Thra because it came alive to me. It stopped feeling like a fiction someone made up and started feeling like another home I used to know. 

Where to find online:

Nancy Gray, West Columbia, SC

Nancy Gray lives in South Carolina with her husband and daughter. She graduated from the University of South Carolina with a BA in media arts and an English cognate. She started out as a graphic designer and then changed professions when she realized that writing was her calling. Her short story “Marrow” appeared in Deep Space Terror, and her stories “Hemophobia” and “Sleep Like the Dead” appeared in the New Bedlam Project.

What The Dark Crystal means to me: The Dark Crystal means a great deal to me because it is one of the movies that inspired me as a child, resulting in my major in media arts. It also made me want to write fantasy. The setting was so real that you could almost touch it. As a child, I wanted to work for The Jim Henson Company, and writing for the Dark Crystal universe is like fulfilling that dream.

Where to find online:
Twitter: @WriterNancyGray

J. M. Lee, Saint Paul, MN

J. M. (Joseph) Lee is a novelist, writing mentor, illustrator, and graphic designer with a background in linguistics and film. As a writer, he finds the most rewarding stories in fusion genre, from nostalgic historical fantasies to gritty sci-fi westerns. On the side, he enjoys dabbling in experimental short fiction and drinking a lot of coffee. He is represented by Erzsi Deak/Hen&ink Literary Studio.

What The Dark Crystal means to me: The Dark Crystal was my first Jim Henson experience after being coerced into a viewing by my father, who since has admitted he just thought I would like the “soundtrack performed by a bunch of giant crows.” And I did! I’ve always been a fan of dark fantasy, but thinking back on how early it was that The Dark Crystal became part of my VHS (!) library, I wonder which came first: the Skeksis or the egg. Even now, the depth of world and profundity has continued to reveal itself as I grow into my so-called adulthood. 

Where to find online:
Twitter: @joeyverse

Esther Palmer, Castle Rock, CO

Esther Palmer is the author of two young adult novels, The Alezia Chronicles, currently available on Her whole life has been about reading and writing. She has always been drawn to fantasy and the way it gives you a new perspective on the world.

What The Dark Crystal means to me: The Dark Crystal is a fantasy that explores our human natures in the form of an “alien” world, which makes it easier for us to accept. The split between the urRu and Skeksis highlights our dual natures between light and dark. The gentleness of the Gelfling and their naïveté is forced to evolve as they are thrust into a war they have no choice in or control over. It’s a story of ourselves and our continuing struggles with the different parts of ourselves and how sometimes the dark side wins, but in the end, the good will triumph.

Where to find online:

Editors’ Choice:

AuthorEditorial Highlights
Sarah Aswell
Missoula, MT
“The Dark Crystal: Claw Mountain”
“A beautiful story, with clear and strong writing that describes a perfect relationship between creature and gelfling.”
Ian Ayliffe
Redditch, UK
“The Dark Crystal: Shadows of the Prophecy”
“Talk about tension! This was a great read; the storylines were woven together almost seamlessly. Definitely a page-turner.”
Bethany Beckman
Columbus, OH
“The Dark Crystal: Swordsworn”
“After a little while, I realized I was clenching my fists!”
Virg Bodyfelt
Rock Springs, WY
“A really unique story idea, with such a strong lead character. The writing drew me in from the start, and just kept getting better.”
Peter Ehm
Victoria, BC
“Darkening Light”
“From the first line, I was right in there—seeing, smelling, and feeling every word that was written.”
Hannah Frank
Yardley, PA
“Sheera is such a vulnerable yet strong character, perfectly depicted by the honest and clear writing style.”
Laura Haden
Millville, PA
“The Great Gathering”
“The juxtaposition of the two protagonists creates a flawless harmony, and sets up for an epic tale.” 
Joseph Henson
Moreno Valley, CA
“Tales of the Dark Crystal”
“I loved this one! The pace was exciting, the characters drawn well, and the writing completely addictive.” 
John Joyner
Brooklyn, NY
“Under the Triple Suns”
“This is a really solid piece of writing. Unique, clear, and shows a great connection to The Dark Crystal story.”
Andrea Judy
Atlanta, GA
“Through Sea and Stone”
“An engaging story told from a unique perspective—this was a joy to read.”
Andrew Lister
Davenport, IA
“The Gathering of the Darkened Wood”
“The writing in this was so beautiful and descriptive; it became so real to me I could see the shadows moving.”
Krista Martino
Meriden, CT
“The Dark Crystal: Prophecy”
“The writing is clear and descriptive, and the story set up well. This shows a huge amount of promise.”
Emily McKeon
Mapleville, RI
“Beneath the Triple Suns”
“Excellent writing and style. Though a deviation from the suggested route of a pre-Garthim era, the story was well drawn and captured the essence of The Dark Crystal.”
John Otte
South Saint Paul, MN
“Dark Discovery”
“This is a wonderfully executed story—so engaging and readable.”
Jason Rubis
Herndon, VA
“Two Hunters”
“I couldn’t stop reading—I was entertained from the start.”
Beverly Sanford
Essex, UK
“The Song of the Dark Crystal”
“Entertaining story and strong writing. A definite contender.”
John Schultz
Aurora, CO
“The Dark Crystal: Journey of the Mystics”
“Such a close connection to the story of The Dark Crystal, told with a huge amount of talent and even more style.”
Jeff Valluzzi
Woodinville, WA
“Dawn’s Awakening”
“One of the most original story ideas I’ve read. For a minute, I could feel the pain of the sunlight in my eyes.”
Amy Vidrine
Chicago, IL
“Queen of the Gelflings”
“Atmospheric and suspenseful. An enjoyable read.” 
T.E. Watson
New Orleans, LA
“The Lost Seer: A Dark Crystal Prequel”
“Excellent! Well-crafted and compelling, while remaining true to the feel of the original Dark Crystal story. I felt very involved, and eager to keep reading.”

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