Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Thursday, January 23, 2014

Vintage Photos Inspire Tales Of ‘Peculiar Children’

An image from the cover of "Hollow City" by Ransom Riggs, the sequel to "Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children." (Quirk Books)

An image from the cover of “Hollow City” by Ransom Riggs, the sequel to “Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children.” (Quirk Books)

Author Ransom Riggs started collecting vintage photos at antique stores, flea markets and swap meets all over southern California. Photos from his collection illustrate his best-selling 2011 young adult book “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” as well as the newly released sequel “Hollow City (excerpt below).”

Ranson Riggs' latest book is "Hollow City." (Tahereh Mafi)

Ransom Riggs tells Here & Now, “People who meet me, they say ‘you’re so normal!’ and I’m like ‘yeah the peculiar thing about me is that I write these books.'” (Tahereh Mafi)

Both books center around “peculiar children” who have extraordinary abilities. One girl sets fire with her hands, there is an invisible boy, another boy can reanimate the dead. As Riggs tells Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson, “I wanted to create characters who could do fantastic things, but who weren’t exactly superheros — characters who exist on sort of a spectrum from super-ability to disability.”

The vintage photos factored in heavily to his creative process.

“In the first book, the photos really dictated a big part of story,” he says. “But by the time I was writing the second book, the story already had a ton of momentum of its own, and I had to sort of tame the photos to fit the story.”

Riggs credits the photos with sparking ideas he never would have had otherwise.

“I’m always going back to the photos and looking for inspiration as I write, so the photos will kind of change the direction of a scene,” he says. “But then I’ll want to do something in a scene and I won’t have a photo to fit it, so I’ll go out and look for a photo to fit the scene. I’ll find something that’s almost right but a little different from what I’d imagined, and then I’ll change the scene I’d written to fit the photo, so there’s a lot of push and pull.”

Book Excerpt: ‘Hollow City’

By Ransom Riggs


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

May 23 29 Comments

The Politics Of Home Ownership

Author Brian McCabe finds that our belief about home ownership as a way to improve civic life doesn't necessarily pan out

May 23 15 Comments

How Political Cartoonists Are Watching The Presidential Campaign

For cartoonists Marshall Ramsey, Darrin Bell and Gary Varvel, it's been a mixture of hilarity and sadness.

May 20 2 Comments

Olympic Swimmer: After Russian Doping, ‘No Confidence’ Of Fair Competition In Rio

Olympic athletes from around the world are outraged at the latest doping allegations out of Russia.

May 20 12 Comments

Oklahoma Bill Criminalizing Abortion Is Most Likely Unconstitutional

The Oklahoma legislature has passed a bill making it a felony to perform an abortion, unless it is to save the life of the mother.