I have been waiting for Hollow City since I finished Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children in early 2012. I have met Ransom in the past at Comic-Con but I knew I would attend his Hollow City tour if it stopped in the Chicago area and I am so happy he did! The event/signing didn’t actually start until 2:00 but I am perpetually early and therefore got to Anderson’s around 12:30. I browsed for a bit since they hadn’t set the event area up yet and I also had a 25% off coupon I needed to use. I managed to snag a seat in the front row shortly after they put the chairs out. Ransom began by introducing himself as well as Hollow City and it quickly went into a Q&A setting. I did rearrange some of the answers just so it flowed better.
Ransom was first asked was about how he started collecting photos. He couldn’t collect fine art so he started collecting photos (it was a lot cheaper!) that would normally be thrown away, essentially saving them from being lost forever. After browsing for some time, he found a pattern of interesting captions accompanying these eerie photos that interested him. These captions would help bring the pictures to life in a new way.
He was drawn in by the Victorian weirdness that he saw throughout many of the photos he found. He was reminded of the work of Edward Gorey, who was an illustrator that has a style parallel to many of the pictures featured throughout Miss Peregrine. Ransom originally brought the photos to his editor in hopes of making them into a calendar or perhaps a Halloween book. Soon after, it was discussed to make a book featuring a story about the people featured in the pictures. Ransom never stopped looking for photos while writing Miss Peregrine and Hollow City. The story would bounce off the photos as well as a search for a photo that would fit the story was constantly happening.
99% of the photos in Miss Peregrine and Hollow City are unedited by today’s standards. Some photos do feature editing that was done in the 1920’s. These techniques were done in the darkroom and are not common in today’s era.
There are some weird, random photos featured throughout the books that do not particularly add to the story…yet. Some are there because Ransom wanted to put them in the book because of their interesting factor and some may serve a purpose in a later book.
Ransom is a photo collector, having a collection well into the thousands. He said he would estimate that he looked at over half a million photos by the time Hollow City published. His personal collection features these “found” photos as well as old photos he has received from family members such as his grandma. No one has ever come “forward” to claim any of the photos featured in the books.
One thing that is important for Ransom when it comes to choosing photos for his books is the story that it tells. While the scenery and the costumes are important to the story a photo tells, it is also important that there is that special something in the facial expression or even a story in the eyes.
Book 1 did not require much research because about half of it takes place in his childhood hometown in Florida. He did look up pictures of Wales, specially looking for once that helped set the tone of the book. Book 2 required more research because it was set during The Blitz in the United Kingdom. Ransom went as far as reading hour by hour accounts of the events to get specifics down.
Ransom was asked what he is currently reading and enjoying. He of course talked about his wife, Tahereh Mafi’s book because the third and final installment Ignite Me comes out in a few weeks. He said no spoilers and that he is not Team Adam or Team Warner, just Team Tahereh. Can this couple get any cuter? He also recommended The Sky Is Everywhere and I’ll Give You the Sun, both by Jandy Nelson. He also recommended anything by John Green or John Corey Whaley. I expected John Green given their past friendship!
One of the most interesting things I learned at this event was that originally the story before Miss Peregrine was set up as Jacob writing letters to dead girl he was in love with and could not get over. Ransom soon realized that he did not want the book to read as a contemporary romance and went back to the drawing table and came up with the book we know today.
He said we should be expecting book 3 in 2015. He didn’t say when in 2015 but one can only hope that it arrives in the early part of the year. The movie version of Miss Peregrine is scheduled to shoot later this year and if all goes as planned it should hit theatres sometime next year. 2015 is going to be a big year for the Miss Peregrine fandom!