What is the backstory of the peculiar children who eventually found refuge with Miss Peregrine? Ransom Riggs gives fans of his bestselling Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children trilogy a glimpse into the lore behind this curious brood that the author provides in Tales of the Peculiar, a collection of 10 stories due from Dutton on September 3. Featuring woodcut engravings by Andrew Davidson, the book will launch with a million-copy first printing and a consumer marketing campaign highlighted by pub-day celebrations in more than 1,000 bookstores across the country. Penguin Young Readers Group has dubbed the book’s launch “Loop Day” in honor of the time loop Miss Peregrine set on September 3, 1940, which froze time in her remote island home in Wales to protect her wards from an imminent bombing.
Published by Quirk Books, Riggs’s trilogy, which encompasses Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2011), Hollow City (2014), and Library of Souls (2015), has sold more than six million copies in more than 40 languages. Tales of the Peculiar was inspired by fictional tomes that play key roles in the Peregrine universe: the Map of Days, a hefty atlas of time loops, and Tales of the Peculiar, a Grimm’s-like collection of folktales beloved by peculiar children everywhere.
“I love building out the worlds of my fiction with fictional books,” Riggs explained. “The Tales are an important part of Hollow City, when the kids discover secrets encoded in them that end up saving their lives. I wrote two tales as part of Hollow City, and spent the next couple of years finishing the trilogy, but itching to write more tales. Once Library of Souls was complete, I finally had time to return to them – and it’s been such a joy!”
Further demonstrating his penchant for enhancing his fiction with fiction, Riggs credits Millard Nullings, the most scholarly of Miss Peregrine’s wards, as the author of the new Tales collection. “Millard spent much of his 70-plus-year tenure in Miss Peregrine’s loop with his nose buried in books, amassing knowledge of his many wide-ranging interests – one of which is peculiar folklore,” Riggs said. “When Miss Peregrine’s home burns at the end of the first novel, Millard risks his life to rescue his three-volume set of the Tales from the flames. In Hollow City, his deep knowledge of them proves invaluable when he decodes crucial secrets hidden in their pages, like the location of an important loop. And near the end of Library of Souls, Millard actually announces his intention to work on a new edition of the Tales. Really, the job has been his for a long time!”
Bringing Riggs’s Work to Life – and to Readers
Tales of the Peculiar has a somewhat different look than Riggs’s trilogy, which is famously illustrated by vintage, fittingly peculiar photographs from the author’s extensive collection. Set in an ancient era that predates photography, Tales called for another illustrative medium, Riggs explained, to make it resemble “an artifact from the world of the peculiars – something you might find on Miss Peregrine’s own bookshelf. It needed a classic aesthetic, and no style of illustration communicates that more effectively, to my mind, than woodcut engravings. They feel timeless rather than dated, and they allow for an incredible amount of detail and dynamism. Andrew was able to capture and deepen the meaning of each story marvelously.”
Riggs also praised the creators of the forthcoming 20th Century Fox film, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, directed by Tim Burton and written by Jane Goldman, whose September 30th release date follows right on the heels of Tales. The author noted that his involvement in the film’s development “was limited to reading drafts of the screenplay and giving general feedback.” Yet Riggs knew that his novel was in safe hands. “I thought what Tim and Jane were creating was brilliant, so I wasn’t too concerned,” he said. “Also, I’ve been a huge fan of Tim’s since I was a kid, so it was easy for me to give him the benefit of the doubt. But any doubts I might have had about changes that were made to the story vanished when I saw the film. Tim captured the heart and soul and tone of my book perfectly, while creating a film that’s just classic Burton in the best way.”
Dutton Children’s Books president and publisher Julie Strauss-Gabel, who brokered the deal for Tales of the Peculiar with Riggs’s agent, Jodi Reamer of Writers House, lauded the author for his “original and extraordinary storytelling and vision.” She anticipates that Tales will bring even more readers into the realm of all things peculiar, since “Ransom’s trilogy fans will obviously want to read Tales, but there are no requisites for entering the world of these stories – anyone can enter it, and enjoy it.”
And, she added, she’s hopeful that Riggs will further expand his Peregrine legacy with additional story collections. “After all, in the world of the trilogy, the Tales fills three volumes,” Strauss-Gabel observed. “I think Ransom may have endless ideas for stories set in this universe, and that there are more unopened doors he wants to explore.”
For now, Riggs is gearing up for Loop Day, when he’ll attend back-to-back celebrations at five stores in the San Francisco Bay Area, his home turf. In the days before and after these September 3rd events, the author is scheduled to visit additional stores and libraries across the country. Several appearances will include conversations with his wife, children’s author Tahereh Mafi, whose most recent novel is Furthermore (Dutton, Aug. 30).
To build the buzz for Tales of the Peculiar and Loop Day, Penguin is each week revealing one of five allegedly “lost,” never-before-seen photos of the peculiars online. Each photo contains a number included in a specific longitude/latitude coordinate which, when pieced together, corresponds to the location of a new “time loop.” Bookstores that signed up to participate in Loop Day received promotional materials and giveaways, and qualified for a chance to be the new time loop site – to be revealed on September 3.
The publisher has also created a retail floor display and has extensive consumer advertising, social media outreach, and school and library promotion in the works. All of which will hopefully help keep fans of Riggs – and his peculiars – in the loop.
Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs, illus. by Andrew Davidson. Dutton, $24.99 Sept. ISBN 978-0-399-53853-7