1) Firstly, please tell us about yourself and your novel Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children...
I live in Los Angeles. I'm 33. I came out here for film school and was on that track when I got a little sidetracked by book-writing, which has been a great joy -- something I very much envisioned myself doing when I was younger, but had gotten away from. Miss Peregrine is my first novel, a sort of contemporary YA / fantasy hybrid that's peppered with real, found, vintage photographs -- something that came out of my love of both photography and weird, old things you find at secondhand shops. The novel's been doing really well in the states, has sold to about 30 countries, and Tim Burton is attached to direct a film adaptation. So in terms of great things that could happen to a guy on his first novel, they've pretty much all come to terms. I am now totally spoiled, and I'm pretty sure it's all downhill from here. :)
2) Where did the inspiration for the story come from? There is a Ralph Waldo Emerson poem in the book, was this a big inspiration?
It came from the photographs, and from the title of the book, which came to me all at once one day, walking down my street in Los Angeles. Also, I've always loved stories about regular people who discover fantastic worlds, and as a guy who grew up in a boring seaside town in Florida, I took a bit of inspiration from my own upbringing, and what might happen if someone like me discovered something like what happens in the book.
There are a number of Emerson poems and essays that seem almost to be talking about my characters or the world I've created, in this uncanny way. There was a previous version of the book where Emerson was a lot more central to the story (in a way that recalls, perhaps, how John Green used Whitman in Paper Towns), but during the editing process a lot of that fell away and moved into the background. I couldn't bear to get rid of all of it, though.
3) The book is peppered with eerie photos of peculiar children in odd situations. What came first – the photos or the story?
The photographs. I started finding them at flea markets and secondhand stores -- strange photos of children from long ago. I thought there might be something there, a story, maybe. I brought them to my editor at Quirk Books, and he thought so, too.
4) Which is your favourite photo in the book?
It's always so hard to choose, but if I *had* to, I would choose this one:
Not only is it beautiful and evocative, but the old woman and young person walking into the light -- it seems like a visual metaphor for the whole story, encapsulated in a single image. I love it.
5) The “peculiar children” in the book each have their own unique and exciting powers. Was it easy coming up with powers for each of them, or did you have trouble deciding who could do what?
That was one of my favorite parts of writing the book. The hard part was keeping the number of peculiar children down to a manageable number -- it was tempting to write 50 of them so I could give them all powers and play around with that. But that's what second books are for!
6) The antagonists in Miss Peregrine's are Hollowgasts, invisible monsters that feed on peculiar children, and their pupil-less servants the Wights. Where did the inspiration for these horrific creations come?
My tortured brain! I relished the challenge of creating monsters who felt a little different from ones I'd seen before. I probably had a dozen different "designs" for them floating around in my head before I settled on the wights and hollows as they're presented now. It was a process of deciding what would be scariest, grossest, and most useful in story terms all at once. A lot of fun.
Thank you to Ransom for taking the time to answer our questions.
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