Frequently Asked Questions

By Simon Tesla


The following are some questions that seem to be on everyone's mind, though some of them are questions I anticipate visitors may ask. If your question isn't answered here, feel free to contact me.

General Questions

Is Thorn Valley a real place? Where is it located?

The short answer is no, Thorn Valley is a fictional place. However, it is likely based on some of the areas that Robert C. O'Brien lived near or visited often. As an aside, NIMH is a real place in Maryland. So, assuming the rats had wandered for a while before settling on the Fitzgibbon's farm, the most likely areas for them to end up would be somewhere in the Appalachians of Virginia or West Virginia. But, again, no place named Thorn Valley exists in any location near NIMH.

Will there be a NIMH 3?

It's extremely unlikely. In the past, the only real support for this possibility was a page on the IMDB that had an entry for The Secret of NIMH 3: The Beginning. However, the page has since been removed and no other official mention has been made since then. More information can be found in this forum post.

Update (March 2015): MGM is apparently working on a new NIMH movie that will be "an origin story in which an imperiled mouse protagonist befriends a comical crew of lab rats as they turn hyper-intelligent. They escape a secret laboratory and become the great minds of vermin civilization, forced to outwit the humans hot on their tails." It is planned to be a CGI/Live Action movie, though no release date has been announced. Additional details in this forum thread and this article on IGN and another on Variety. Suffice it to say that most fans aren't particularly optimistic about this one.

Is there a widescreen version of The Secret of NIMH?

Yes, there is. The Secret of NIMH Blu-Ray is probably the best quality widescreen version available, with a remastered transfer in 1080p HD that gives the movie superior color and detail. There is also the Secret of NIMH 2 Disc 'Family Fun' Edition (yeah, I know it's a hokey title) which contains the movie in widescreen and fullscreen formats, and is significantly improved over its original DVD release, using what appears to be the same remastered transfer as the Blu-Ray version. Both the Blu-Ray and Family Fun edition DVDs have a director commentary track and a Making-Of featurette, however only the DVD release has the fullscreen option, if that's important to you. Since the film was originally filmed in a 1.33:1 ratio, the fullscreen version actually shows more of the frame than the widescreen version, at the expense of the greater detail present in the widescreen releases (especially the Blu-Ray version). However, the film was shown theatrically in 1.85:1 widescreen, and that was the intended aspect ratio for the film.

How can I get a copy of the Secret of NIMH soundtrack?

While it is not the rarest piece of NIMH merchandise, it has gotten a bit harder to get ahold of and more expensive to buy these days. Here are a few places you can find a copy:

  • Intrada - The recent 2015 Intrada re-release of the soundtrack features additional tracks not featured on the original Varèse Sarabande release, making this the definitive NIMH soundtrack. This is the one to get, and as of this writing (early 2017) is still in print. Also available on Amazon
  • iTunes Music Store (download only)
  • eBay - with eBay, listings of NIMH soundtracks can come and go, and they tend to be the priciest option, since bidders, like you, think that it's a rarer item than it is. That said, if you want the vinyl LP, this is pretty much your only option.
  • Or just search for it

Will you do my homework on Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH for me?

No. You're welcome to check out the articles in the Library section of the site for sources, though.

What was NIMHmuck?

NIMHmuck was a multiplayer, text-based, online, role-playing game based in the world of the Secret of NIMH that is no longer running. While it was running it was a hub for collaborative storytelling in the NIMH universe with a setting inspired by Paul S. Gibbs Rats of Thorn Valley fanfic, encompassing such themes as life in Thorn Valley after the move, the fate of the lost mice at NIMH, and the reactions of the creatures inhabiting the valley to the presense of the Rats. It ran from 1998 to 2016 with a few interruptions, though it was most active between 1998 and 2010.

What happened to NIMHmuck?

NIMHmuck died primarily due to lack of interest and the difficulty in keeping the aged software that ran it up and running. Towards the end of its lifespan, there would only be around 3 people that regularly logged in and importantly, roleplaying just wasn't happening anymore. Rather than trying to prop up a dying platform, I decided to take the MUCK offline permanently. See also the old NIMHmuck website where I go into a bit more detail.

Are you ever going to finish The Return to NIMH?

No. I've decided that I didn't much care for the original direction Return to NIMH was taking (too close to NIMH 2 for comfort), and I've worked off and on with various ideas for a long-form fanfic, but I never could figure out an overall plot that worked for me. Most likely my fanfic output will be limited to short stories, which fit my attention span better.

For those of you wondering what The Return to NIMH was, it was originally intended to be a fanfic centered around Timothy helping to rescue the mice lost at NIMH. I no longer have it posted here as I don't see much point in keeping up a piece of writing that I'll never finish and no longer reflects my writing skills.

Was The Return to NIMH a rewrite of NIMH 2?

No. In fact I came up with the idea nearly a year before the release of NIMH2. Admittedly the plot of both is based on a fairly obvious question, "what happened to the mice that got left behind at NIMH?" but, even if there are a number of similarities between the two, it was never a rewrite.

Website Questions

I'd like to make a contribution to or help out with Thorn Valley. What do I do?

Due to the nature of this site, I cannot accept monetary contributions for the upkeep of Thorn Valley. Money isn't a major issue for me anyway. That said, if you do find yourself wanting to donate money, I'd love it if you donated to a charity supporting progressive causes. Here are a few I like:

If you want to share a fan work that you have created, keep reading.

How do I submit Fan Art or Fan Fiction?

For various reasons, I don't accept fan art posts to the main site anymore, however if you post your fan art publicly, I'd be happy to feature it on the Thorn Valley tumblr.

I still accept fan fiction submissions, but since the posting process is a manual one, I require that the submitted draft be as close to final as you can make it before submitting it, and I make no guarantees that I will post it. Feel free to contact me if you have questions about this process.

If you want to have a better chance at it getting posted by making my life easier, or want more control over your work than I am able to offer, please post your work in your preferred location (like deviantArt or AO3 or whatever) and send me a link. If it's something I'm willing to post, I'll make sure that the link gets featured either on the main site or on the tumblr.

What happened to all of the content that used to be on Thorn Valley?

The more observant among you may have noticed that while I've tried to keep nearly all of the posted art, stories and content from the original version of the site, there were a number of old bits of content that were placeholders for ideas that never bore fruit, or reflected very old writing styles and sensibilities that I don't really identify with anymore. I feel no particular attachment to them anymore, and they aren't really all that interesting to begin with, so I've removed them. If you're bothered by this, you're always welcome to check out the Internet Archive copy of the old site.

What happened to the forums?

In much the same way as NIMHmuck became a ghost town, the forums also became less frequented and and more trouble than it was worth to maintain, since the forum software needed to be kept up-to-date to prevent hackers and spammers from taking advantage of it for nefarious purposes. These days Thorn Valley is entirely composed of static files, with no database or content management software running behind the scenes, so I can host it pretty much anywhere that lets me upload arbitrary files for a webserver to serve and I don't have to worry about maintenance. That said, the Internet Archive has a snapshot of the old forum if you want to see it.

Again, maintenance issues and specifically the discontinuation of the gallery software I used to run it meant that its days were numbered. Fortunately, I was able to use an archive of the database to reconstruct a static version of the art gallery (with some generous help from a friend of mine, who did most of the dirty work). At present, it's kind of ugly, but it's there. Comments are gone, but most everything else is still there. I may work on getting it to look nicer, but at this point its purpose is to preserve old content. There are a variety of venues for hosting artwork, and it's no longer worth anyone's time for Thorn Valley to be in the business of hosting a gallery that supports user uploads.

What's up with this thing I remember being posted here that's gone?

Over the years, I've had requests from authors to take down content that they no longer want posted, for whatever reason, and I comply with those requests. If that means that something you remember seeing is gone, that's most likely what happened.

What happened to Robin's Fanfic Archive?

As old-timers may know, I took over running Robin's Fanfic Archive from Robin some time ago, and for a while I ran it as a separate site, using a content management system (CMS) to manage everything. Unfortunately, the CMS got older, and I had less time to keep up with software updates and it became too much of a hassle to run it as its own thing. (It may have even gotten hacked, but at the time of writing it's been a few years since I made the change and I don't remember exactly.) So as part of the whole redesign of Thorn Valley, I pulled in a bunch of content that used to be hosted as a separate site, which meant the stories and art from Robin's and the old NTFE site got pulled into Thorn Valley proper. All of the stories and art (aside from the ones I've been asked to remove) are still posted here, under the Library and Art sections, respectively. You can still see the older versions of Robin's Fanfic Archive and the NIMH: The Final Experiment site on the Internet Archive if you want to take a look.

What happened to the Thorn Valley Discord server?

As far as I know it's still running under a different name, but someone else is running it as I've decided to step away from running a public fan community. Moderation is hard and I don't really have it in me anymore; not that it was that difficult to run, but the responsibility was no longer one that I was interested in. I left the Discord server entirely because I know that I would be tempted to mini-mod it otherwise, and that is part of the reason I no longer link to it here, as I want it to be a clean break and it's an unknown quantity to me now. These days I enjoy the company of friends more than strangers with a common interest, even if that's how many of my friends were originally found.

So... Is Thorn Valley ever going away?

While it's true that Thorn Valley and the various ancillary bits has shrunk over the years as I've shut down or abandoned various pieces of it, it's now at a point where it requires basically zero maintenance aside from me paying the hosting bills. Since I can afford to keep it up, and it isn't the timesink it once was, I intend to continue keeping it around as an archive of fan works from this earlier phase in the NIMH fandom, with the very occasional update as the mood strikes me.

Wasn't there a thing where you weren't posting "Rated-R" stories?

One of my many regrets is that my conservative, religious upbringing meant that for much of the early history of this site, I was pretty uptight about content like that, and one of my conditions for taking on the fanfic content that used to be hosted at Robin's Fanfic Archive was that I would be allowed to drop the Rated-R stories. Since then, I'm no longer uptight about such content (and no longer a religious conservative, but that's beside the point), so I've restored the pieces that I had formerly omitted. I would like to sincerely apologize for any of the harm this attitude caused; I know that it likely was a factor in the cooling interest or departure of a few people from the fandom.

Note that this doesn't mean I plan to post pornographic works; while I have no objections to such content, it often runs afoul of hosting companies' policies, and it's just easier to avoid it. Besides, this is the internet; it's not hard to find NIMH porn if you really want to see it.

Can I repost any of the content on Thorn Valley elsewhere?

If it's a reproduction, scan or reprint of officially published materials (like screenshots, pictures of merchandise or collectibles, etc.), given I probably don't own the copyright on it, go right ahead. Keep in mind you'll be responsible for your own use of said materials, so I don't recommend using them for commercial purposes.

If you're referring to any original piece of fan work, like fan art or fan fiction, or any content that I have written or produced myself, then please ask permission of the original author or artist before reposting it anywhere. Linking to that content is fine.

For more details, see the Thorn Valley copyright and disclaimer statement.

Yes! You don't even need to ask my permission. Linking to a specific page ("Deep Linking") is fine too, but please don't link to specific images or other non-text files without permission.

First of all, congratulations on making a fan-site in this day and age of social media dominance. Bespoke fan-sites are a dying breed, as evidenced by the multitudes of sites on my links page that point to an Internet Archive snapshot. Anyway, please check to make sure your site meets the requirements below:

  • The site must actually be there. No sites with "Coming soon" or "Under Construction" notices where the NIMH content should be are accepted.
  • Your site should be hosted on a fairly reliable hosting provider.
  • If you are copying content from another author without permission, you will not be listed.
  • Links to social media sites that are fan-community-focused are acceptable as well.

If your site meets these requirements, e-mail me and I will look it over to see if it is something I want to link. I make no guarantee that I'll list it, however.

No. This goes double for SEO spammers trying to increase their page rank.

Will you make a website for me?

No. I work full time already, and I don't have much leftover time to work on my own website as it is.

How do I make my own website?

So, I used to have a whole spiel here about finding web hosting and learning HTML, but honestly, these days I'd just recommend that if you don't already know how to set up your own website, go find a hosting provider and use their website builder. A popular option (and one that I use for some of Thorn Valley's content) is tumblr. (I'm not sure whether I'm relieved or sad that this isn't a frequently asked question anymore.)

How do you do [insert feature here] on your website?

Generally, the best way to tell how I do something on my site is to use your browser's developer tools (usually accessible by pressing F12) and poking around to see how it was done. This obviously requires some familiarity with HTML, CSS and Javascript, but you're welcome to ask me about specifics and I'll try to answer them.