Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children/Ransom Riggs: Reflections

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Yesterday, in a post ruminating about the strong hold historical fiction still has on readers, I mentioned that I had begun to read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, a book that has been on the New York Times bestseller list since it debuted in early June (and, indeed, was sold as a film property before it even hit the light of bookselling day).

I had been intrigued by the origins and making of this book—by the Deborah Netburn story I'd read in the LA Times that explained its genesis this way.  "The book came about when (author Ransom) Riggs started collecting found photography at flea markets and swap meets about three years ago.  He kept coming across strange creepy pictures of kids and felt like he wanted to some thing with them....  Riggs had just completed his first book, 'The Sherlock Holmes Handbook' for Quirk Books and asked his editor what he would do with the photos.  The editor suggested the pictures might inform a novel."

What we have here, in other words, is an author's reverence for odd photographic history, an editor's willingness to listen and to suggest, and a publishing house's embrace of the not-exactly-known.  The result?  A gothic, haunted, time-tripping tale that doesn't neatly fit any categories and so has been launched as an illustrated (by those very inspiration-laden vintage photographs) YA book that has people of all ages reading and talking.

We all love success stories, but I think this is a particularly special one—laden, as it is, with exceptional antecedents and peopled by risk takers.  More power, then, to Ransom Riggs and Quirk Books, to Miss Peregrine and all her peculiars, to our hero Jacob and his courageous grandfather, and to that island off the coast of Wales, where time either does or does not stand still.

3 comments:

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Have you seen the trailer (and the story behind it)? Amazing!

simmone said...

Thanks for posting about this - it sounds fascinating. will definitely be seeking it out.

Lilian Nattel said...

You must have read my mind. I was talking to my h today about this book because of your post yesterday. When I saw Miss Peregrine (etc) in a bookstore, I thought it was an example of a very successful book that doesn't follow any of the marketing advice. I was intrigued by the combination of photos and text. Thank you for the info about how the book came about.

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