September is going to be a very peculiar month, guys. In addition to the Tim Burton film adaptation of Ransom Riggs’s gothic novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children premiering on the 30th, Riggs’s new book in the Miss Peregrine universe will be published on Saturday (September 3) — which is also Loop Day.
Tales of the Peculiar is a collection of short stories — edited by Miss Peregrine’s ward, invisible boy Millard Nullings — that provides hidden clues to peculiardom’s past, as well as the locations of other time loops. Check out MTV News’s interview with Riggs and listen to an exclusive snippet from the Tales of the Peculiar audiobook — read by Outlander’s Simon Callow — below.
In Tales of the Peculiar, you opted for Andrew Davidson’s illustrations over the iconic, old-school photographs used in the Miss Peregrine trilogy. What was the reasoning behind this?
Ransom Riggs: Tales is a book — a set of books, really — that exist in the world of the peculiars, and I wanted it to feel like it really was an artifact from that world, like something you might find on Miss Peregrine’s own bookshelf. Andrew’s beautiful woodcut engravings have a timeless feel that’s at once ancient and modern — whereas photography could only exist after about 1850. Many of the stories are much older than that.
Several of these stories felt like slightly darker (or dare I say peculiar) versions of Aesop’s Fables, complete with a twist/moral at the end. Was this the original plan when you were mapping them out, or is that just what ended up happening as you were writing?
Riggs: I wanted them to be like classic fairy tales — because that’s what they are to the peculiars. These are their Grimms’ [Fairy Tales], their Hans Christian Andersen, their Aesop’s Fables. They’re part moral tale, each with a lesson about the challenges of growing up peculiar in a largely hostile world, but also peculiar history. Primarily, though, they’re just meant to be ripping good yarns.
Besides being the “editor” of Tales of the Peculiar, Millard Nullings also spent a great chunk of his life studying everything on the island and meticulously documenting it. Will any kind of book/snippet from his life’s work ever be shared in print?
Riggs: As one of the other characters point out, Millard’s exhaustive history of everything that happens to every person and every animal on Cairnholm Island on September 3, 1943 would probably be the most boring thing ever written ... though if someone actually had the fortitude to create it, it might be an amusing object just to have and flip through once in a while. I’m definitely not writing it, though!
These stories are simultaneously playful, detailed, eerie, and fun to read. Which of them did you have the most fun writing, and how did you come up with the ideas? Are any inspired by previous movies, TV shows, and/or books?
Riggs: Some were immensely fun to write, and had me cackling with laughter as I typed — “The Splendid Cannibals,” for instance — while others, like “The Locust,” were really quite emotional, and had me exploring quite personal things I’d never tackled before in fiction. It really runs the gamut. As for inspiration, the cool thing about writing inside the world of the peculiars is that it’s so vast, and there are so many corners I haven’t explored yet, that the possibilities are endless.
What’s one thing you want your fans to know about this newest addition to the Miss Peregrine universe?
Riggs: That it was meant to be read aloud, preferably before a crackling fire on a rainy night. If you prefer being read to, however, the audiobook, narrated by British legend Simon Callow, is very good.