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My Interview with Ransom Riggs
Ransom Riggs, author of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children answered some questions for me. With his permission, I share the answers with you. I hope you enjoy reading the answers as much as I did.
What came first, the pictures or the idea for the book? How did you find all of these wonderful, imaginative pictures?
Ransom Riggs: The pictures came first. I started finding old photos at swap meets and flea markets a few years ago, and pretty soon my collecting hobby became an obsession. As interesting as the photos and the people in them were, they were anonymous, and I didn’t know anything about their stories – so I made them up! In addition to flea markets and such, I also made contact with a number of other collectors who’d been amassing old photos for much longer than I had, and when I told them about my project they generously let me paw through their voluminous collections looking for “peculiar” stuff.
When I first read about the different things these children were capable of, the first thing I though of was the X-Men. Did you by any chance think about them to while you were writing this?
Ransom Riggs: A bit – though I was never a big fan and I didn’t set out to pay homage to the X-Men or anything. I was more aware of the peculiar children’s relationship to superhero characters in general, inasmuch as I didn’t want them to be superheroes, exactly, even though some of them are capable of amazing, extra-normal feats. There’s generally a dark side to the children’s abilities – a price they’ve all paid for them – and the abilities themselves reside on a spectrum ranging from things that seem pretty unambiguously like superpowers (Emma making fire with her hands, for instance) to peculiarities which tend more toward a kind of disability (being so light that you need weighted shoes to keep you on the ground, like Olive, or having an extra mouth in the back of your head, like Claire, which serves no obvious purpose but presents lots of challenges to anyone attempting to have a normal childhood).
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was an orphanage. Is there an actual orphanage that you used for inspiration, perhaps one that you've written about in a travel essay? Or was it all out of your imagination?
Ransom Riggs: The peculiar children aren’t orphans, exactly – many of them still have living parents -- so I guess their home isn’t exactly an orphanage – though it certainly operates like one. As for the house, I’ve never been to an orphanage or a children’s home, but I’ve been to my share of creepy, abandoned houses. As with most of the places in the book, it’s an amalgam of real details and details I made up, but one of my main inspirations for the look of the house was an abandoned chateau in Belgium, which an urban explorer friend of mine had been to and photographed. I was lucky enough to visit the house when I was making the trailer for the book (it’s featured in the trailer), and if you watch the video I made about making the trailer, you can learn more about how I went looking for it, and the ruin I found inside, and a few other creepy houses I found along the way. (Both videos are on my youtube page: www.youtube.com/ransriggs.)
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