About Miss Peregrine:1. Why did you choose Wales as the setting for Miss Peregrine? Is the island that the orphanage is on based on a particular place?
I knew I didn't want it to be set in America -- that it needed to be a bit more "exotic" in setting than that, at least to American readers' eyes. The British Isles seem a natural place to set any sort of book with a fantasy element, as they have such a rich history of fantastical folklore and legends. That said, Harry Potter lives in Scotland, and Ireland seemed almost too fantastical -- all those green hills leaping with leprechauns; it's a fairly peculiar country to begin with -- whereas Wales is a place we Americans don't know much about, that I felt I'd be able to lay this fantasy world overtop of without stepping on too many other fantasy stories (the Arthurian legends notwithstanding).
The island isn't based on any island in particular, just an amalgam of places I researched that I thought would be the perfect spot for peculiar children to hide -- forbidding from the outside, enchanting and summery once you find the island's "secret."
2. Did you visit Wales to do research for your book?
Nope! It was all so profoundly made-up that I didn't really need to -- and all of the Wales-set action took place on a fictional island, anyway. I was there about 10 years ago on vacation for a few days, though, and it was beautiful. I remember a lot of windy little roads and ruined abbeys.
3. If you had the opportunity to live with the peculiars in the loop, would you?
They have a pretty good reason to hide there, and have definitely made the best of a bad situation -- but I don't need to hide! I like my life a lot, and there are no slavering, tentacle-tongued monsters stalking me (at the moment), so my desire for escape is fairly low.
4. I read that the film rights have been bought by 20th Century Fox. Congrats! Anything you can tell us about where the movie will be filmed or about the casting?
Thanks! It's ridiculously exciting. However, one thing I'm learning about big-budget movie development is: these things take time. I think it'll be awhile before there's any casting news or they've picked out places to shoot. I'll be shouting it from the rooftops, though, once there's something to talk about!
5. You do a column for mental floss called "Strange Geographies". (Which is awesome, by the way.) What do you consider the best adventure you've had while writing this column?
I think the best adventure I've had was Vanuatu, though that was a vacation that I just happened to write a strange geographies column about, not somewhere they sent me. It's 84 islands that not so long ago were home to cannibal tribes -- now, no longer interested in "long pig" meat (as they call human morsels), some of the friendliest people you'll meet -- a place filled with beautiful jungles, beaches, diving sites, fascinating ruins, and cool cultural traditions. I can't wait to get back to the south pacific. Someday!
6. If you could visit any place with any person (fictional or otherwise), where would you go and with whom?
I think I'd paddle around the south pacific with Paul Theroux, a legendary travel writer whose book The Happy Isles of Oceania convinced me to go to Vanuatu in the first place.
7. According to your bio, you've done quite a bit of travelling. (Moving from Maryland to Florida to LA) How has that affected your writing?
I don't know! That seems like a pretty normal amount of moving-around-the-country over the course of 33 years to me. Doesn't it? I lived in florida from age 5 to 18 -- grew up there -- so that definitely shaped my view on things more than the other places, I think.
8. Let's say time travel is possible. Where (or rather, when) do you go?
London in the mid-19th century. It was the center of the universe, the capitol of a world that was becoming profoundly different at a head-spinning pace. I think the whole industrial revolution is a pretty fascinating time in history, but London during that time is really where they were working out the kinks -- it was the best of times, it was the worst of times!
Thanks for stopping by, Mr. Riggs!