Teens’ Top Ten: An Interview with Ransom Riggs

Teen Read Week is October 14th through 20th, but here at The Hub, we’re celebrating for ten days so we can bring you interviews, guest posts, videos, and more with each of the authors whose books made this year’s Teens’ Top Ten. Today we feature Ransom Riggs, whose book Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is #4 on this year’s list.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar ChildrenRansom Riggs’ book of fascinating photos, Talking Pictures: Images and Messages Rescued From The Past, is now available. I was curious if we can expect more deliciously creepy photographs in the next installment of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. The bestselling book was recently named in YALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten for 2012. Here’s my interview with Ransom:

Do you have the entire series for Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children mapped, out or does the story change as you write?

Whenever I try to map things out they inevitably change. Which doesn’t mean I don’t map them out — I just try to embrace the better ideas that come along as my fingers are flying around the keyboard mid-draft! So yes and no.

Do you have a favorite photo from your book? Which one creeps you out the most and why?

I love the photo of the woman and boy holding hands and walking into a tunnel of light. It encapsulates the whole story for me and many of its themes (though it’s not particularly creepy). The creepiest photo, for me, anyway, might be the dentist with no pupils who’s about to wrench a tooth out of a skull with some nasty-looking pliers. I think that might be because I find dentists a little creepy (except mine — pay no attention to this, Dr. P!), and something about those old heavy tools makes my skin crawl!

What was your inspiration for the monster with the tentacle mouth?

I tried to make a human figure as inhuman as possible: the hollowgast looks like a human, kind of, but its mouth is full of tentacles, its spine is twisted, its body bent, and it looks dead. The scariest monsters are corruptions of the human form, I think, so that’s what I tried to create.

You are well known for your fantastic book trailers. Is there a favorite book you would like to make a trailer for if you had the time?

Well, thank you! I feel like book trailers are best suited to certain types of stories — fantastic stories, stories full of action; things that can be made cinematic. But there’s something just inescapably silly about a book trailer that I think wouldn’t feel right with some of my favorite books: The Road doesn’t need a book trailer! The Things They Carried would feel a bit cheapened by a book trailer.

I think it’d be fun to make a trailer for Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend — except they already made it into a movie (twice!) so it’d be hard to get away from those associations. But if I could forget about Will Smith fighting zombies, it’d be fun to make some zombies of my own!

Do you have any plans to make more videos with John Green?

Not at the moment, but I do plan to hang out with John in the future, and because wherever we go we tend to bring cameras along with us, I’ll bet a video of some sort will result.

Have you ever considered writing your own series about Sherlock< Holmes?

I haven’t! So many people have done that and done it well, it would be exhausting just trying to think of a new approach! I’d rather create my own detective character. (Hmm … maybe I should really do that.)

What are your favorite books written for young adults? Your favorite YA authors?

Well, John’s The Fault in Our Stars comes to mind as an instant classic / favorite. One of my favorite series is Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me, about a girl who has a lethal touch, and is locked up by a government who wants to use her as a weapon. I love Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials books, and of course The Chronicles of Narnia kind of started it all for me, back when I was a kid. I ate those books up. Oh, and I recently got a chance to read Kami Garcia’s upcoming novel Unbreakable, and it’s very scary and very fun.

Aside from the ones I just mentioned, a few of my favorite YA authors are Libba Bray, John Corey Whaley, and David Levithan, who I think are all just immensely talented. I’m just getting started in the YA world, though, and there’s a lot I still haven’t read! It’s a whole exciting universe, YA.

Is there anything you would like us to know about your second book?

I don’t want to give away too much, as I’m still putting the finishing touches on it and everything’s subject to change, but I can tell you that it picks up right where the first book leaves off, and it answers all (or nearly all) the first book’s unanswered questions. And it has LOTS more photos, including many of my very favorite ones that I just couldn’t manage to work into the first book.

Ransom Riggs’s much anticipated sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children will be out in June 2013.

— Kris Hickey, currently reading Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell