The Dagger in the Desk is originally an interactive 6-part story, a Halloween special, written by Jonathan Stroud, who wrote it in six days with the help from members of the Guardian children's website, who participated in polls during each part, deciding what elements to be featured.
The process ran through October 26th to 31st, 2013 on the website. It is later published in ebook and Kindle format, being considered #1.5 of the Lockwood & Co. series.
In London, a mysterious and potentially deadly ghost is stalking the halls of St Simeon's Academy for Talented Youngsters. It lurks in the shadows, spreading fear and icy cold – and it carries a sharp and very solid dagger...
On October 11th, 2013, Stroud announced that he would be collaborating with theguardian.com on writing a special story to celebrate the publication of the first book, The Screaming Staircase, along with providing the poll for where this story takes place, and the additional challenge of sending in one's idea of a really scary ghost. The choices of the haunted location were a school, department store, and art gallery, and a hunted school won 40% of the votes.
On October 18th, 2013, three selections of the story's potential title were to be decided, with the additional challenge of sending in one's idea of a funny situation. The options for the title were The Howling Headmaster, The Dagger in the Desk, and The Cursed Classroom, with The Dagger in the Desk winning 53% of the votes.
On November 1st, 2013, the following day of the completion of the story, Stroud shared his experience about writing the piece, stating that it was rather refreshing for it was out of his comfort zone, as there was a strict deadline and he couldn't really prepare priorly until the interactive poll results of each part came out, and that what people voted almost always ended up not being the ones he personally predicted.
- The "bonus" ghost guide included in the US edition is the same material, A guide to ghosts, Stroud published on theguardian.com on the Halloween of 2014.
- A guide to ghosts by Jonathan Stroud - theguardian.com
- Listen to Jonathan Stroud narrating The Dagger in the Desk - theguardian.com