Wednesday
Sep212011

Iceland: I'm Lichen It

I'm just back from a two week road trip around Iceland, and have a new photo essay about it up on mental floss. Check it out!

Tuesday
Aug092011

Yes, There Will Be A Sequel!

Everyone's been asking me, so I figured I'd put it out there in boldface type: YES!  In fact, I just got back from a whirlwind trip around the country to hunt down a new crop of peculiar photos for book 2. I scored lots of great images -- now I just have to figure out how to use them! But that, as they say, is the fun part.

Sunday
Jul032011

Overwhelmed and grateful

It's been an incredible few weeks since Miss Peregrine was published. It's difficult to overstate just how incredible. Suffice to say that I'm very good at keeping my expectations low in order to avoid serious disappointment. Before Miss Peregrine came out, I was just hoping that it would find an audience of any size -- that this strange little book full of odd black-and-white photographs and what seemed like risky plot twists would resonate with some readers, gain a little cult following, and maybe garner a few nice reviews. After all, my intrepid publisher, Quirk Books, didn't have gobs of money to throw at a splashy marketing campaign. They put together an eye-catching package for the book (as they always do), but the marketplace is crowded; the world is fuller than ever of books, movies, games; stories in every form imaginable, all loudly competing for attention. So as the book release approached, despite enthusiasm and encouragement from early reviewers and bloggers who'd read advance copies of Miss Peregrine, I tried to distract myself with other projects, assuming that my publication date would come and go without a whole lot of fuss.

Never in my life have I been happier to be wrong. A week before the book hit shelves, there was a heated auction that resulted in the film rights to Miss Peregrine being sold to 20th Century Fox.  Okay, I told myself. That was great, but don't get too excited. Just because they bought the rights to make a movie doesn't mean they're actually going to make one -- and it doesn't mean anyone's going to pay attention to the book. Movie rights sales happen all the time, to books no one's ever heard of. 

Which was true enough. But just as I was once again girding myself for disappointment, reviews started coming in. Good reviews. Entertainment Weekly, People, The Associated Press, CNN.com, The Christian Science Monitor, McClatchy's news service, Canada's National Post and The Los Angeles Times all had nice things to say. Not to mention the editors at Amazon.com, who named it the best YA book of June, and then one of the best YA books of 2011 (so far, it being only July). The cumulative effect of all this fuss about Miss Peregrine -- on me, psychologically -- has been a combination of delight, anxiety, and a kind of embarassment. (Are they really talking about my book? That thing I worked on alone in my spare bedroom for a year? God, that's weird.)

So we'd sold the film rights, and people were saying nice things. Still, I prepared myself to be disappointed. Just because some reveiwers like it doesn't mean anyone's actually going to buy it, I counseled myself. Don't get your hopes up. And then it hit the New York Times bestseller list, and the last of my defenses came tumbling down. There was no getting around it: I was -- am -- living the dream of countless struggling writers, who if they're anything like the struggling writer I was just a few months ago, hardly dare admit they dream of such things. 

I'll have more exciting developments to share soon. In the meantime, to all the book bloggers who took the time to write about Miss Peregrine, to all the enthusiastic readers who've enjoyed the book and reached out to me, to the photo collectors who welcomed me to their world and continue to help me find amazing images, and to the fantastic team at Quirk Books, I want to say thank you. I am humbled.

Friday
Jun242011

Trespassing in Time Capsules: Making the Miss Peregrine Trailer

Half of the Miss Peregrine trailer was shot in my house. The other half was shot many thousands of miles away, in Belgium and Luxembourg, where I tried to find the locations I'd dreamed up for my book in real life. Along the way I met up with a Dutch urban explorer, got yelled at by Flemish farmers, and discovered some truly creepy abandoned houses.

Tuesday
May312011

Miss Peregrine Book Trailer

"Prepare to have the hair on your arms stand up," quoth EW.com!

Monday
May302011

Miss Peregrine: the Movie!

I'm thrilled to finally be able to announce this most exciting bit of news: the film rights to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children -- after what the Hollywood Reporter called "a heated auction" -- were snapped up by 20th Century Fox.  Now accepting casting suggestions!

Friday
May132011

The Accidental Sea

Here's a short film I made about my favorite post-apocalyptic Hell-hole, the Salton Sea. "A haunting and devastating video," tweeted Roger Ebert.

Friday
Jan072011

Talking Pictures

I have an unusual hobby: I collect snapshots of people I don't know.  I started collecting a few years ago — at swap meets, antique shops and the like — but the thing that got me started wasn’t the photos themselves so much as the scribbles I’d sometimes find on the backs. When you’re looking through bins of thousands of random, unsorted photos, every hundredth one or so will have some writing on it. It’s generally just identifying information (“me and Jerry at the Grand Canyon, 1947″), but every once in a while I'll find a something surprising, emotional, candid, hilarious, heartbreaking -- a few words that bring the picture to life in a profound new way, transforming a blurry black-and-white snapshot of people who seem a million miles and a million years away into an intensely personal sliver of experience that anyone can relate to. It becomes something not just to look at, but to listen to.

I began posting some of my favorite finds online in late 2010, and the reaction they got was amazing.  It wasn't long before publishers got interested -- and now, I'm happy to announce, HarperCollins will be releasing <em>Talking Pictures</em> as a book on October 16, 2012. If you've been a fan of the blogs, fear not -- there will be lots of new (actually, very old -- but new-to-you) pictures in it; I've found some of my very favorite images just in the last few weeks.

Praise for Talking Pictures

"I'm absolutely fascinated by Ransom Riggs' ongoing series at mental_floss called Talking Pictures—themed collections of found photographs that happen to have writing on them. Usually, there's just enough written to make each image more powerful, and leave you wanting more." - Boingboing

"Riggs' book is not exclusively devoted to the aesthetics of the snapshot image, but rather touches on the humor, romance, drama, or tragedy of life via the accompanying handwritten text.  These photos reveal something profound about our shared humanity in all its varied forms and are a poignant reminder of why we take pictures.  None of us who love snapshots will ever look at them the same way again." - Robert E. Jackson, whose collection was featured in The Art of the American Snapshot.

Order the Book

It makes me pretty deliriously happy to finally be able to hold these images in my hands, bound in paper between two covers, and I hope they make a few of you happy, too. You can order Talking Pictures from a number of outlets:

Books-a-Million

Amazon.com

Barnesandnoble.com

IndieBound

It's also available in digital form, for the Nook, iPad and Kindle.

As long as you're clicking on links, take a look at this sort-of-book-trailer I made for Talking Pictures:

 

Friday
Jan072011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here—one of whom was his own grandfather—were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows. 

"A tense, moving, and wondrously strange first novel. The photographs and text work brilliantly together to create an unforgettable story."

- John Green, New York Times bestselling author of Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska

"A haunting and out-of-the-ordinary read, debut author Ransom Riggs' first-person narration is convincing and absorbing, and every detail he draws our eye to is deftly woven into an unforgettable whole. Interspersed with photos throughout, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a truly atmospheric novel with plot twists, turns, and surprises that will delight readers of any age."

- Amazon.com editorial review

"An enjoyable, eccentric read, distinguished by well-developed characters and some very creepy monsters . . . dark but empowering."

- Publisher's Weekly

"An original work that defies categorization."

-Library Journal

An Amazon.com best book of the month, June 2011.

A Los Angeles Times Summer Reading Guide pick.

Coming to bookstores everywhere June 7, 2011. Available now for pre-order at Amazon.

 

Thursday
Jan062011

The Sherlock Holmes Handbook

Amidst the vast breadth of works written about Sherlock Holmes, this volume is unique. It seeks both the instruct the aspiring investigator in the ways of the master and to serve as an entree for the casual reader into the fascinating milieu, brilliant methods, and unorthodox habits of the world's most famous consulting detective.

For every reader who dreams of solving crimes in turn-of-the-century London, The Sherlock Holmes Handbook features skills that all would-be sleuths should know:

• How to Use Deductive Reasoning
• How to Analyze Fingerprints-Without Computers
• How to Master a Dozen Disguises
• How to Survive a Plunge over a Waterfall

Readers will also discover a host of information about Holmes and his universe: How was the real Scotland Yard organized? Could people back then really buy cocaine over the counter? And why were the British so terrified of Australia? Packed with fascinating trivia, evocative illustrations, and a classic Victorian design, The Sherlock Holmes Handbook will appeal to “Baker Street Irregulars” of all ages.

It's available for purchase from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Powell's.

Notable Mentions

Here's a nice write-up from the LA Times.

I was on NPR's "Here and Now" to talk about both Sherlock and the Handbook. Listen to the segment.

"The Sherlock Holmes Handbook is a great tool for those unfamiliar with Sherlock Holmes ... or the perfect way to refresh your knowledge of the series." - Fandomania

"There are two types of people in the world: those who have heard of Sherlock Holmes and those who want to be Sherlock Holmes. This book is perfect for both audiences. For lovers of criminal intent, it features a range of skills that would-be sleuths and curious onlookers should know. Throughout the pages of this beautifully bound book, readers will also learn about the Victorian detective's universe ... a great way to get re-acquainted with the master." - Z!NK Magazine

"Nicely organized and illustrated, not to mention compact and durable, you can keep this volume in your coat pocket or under the seat of your hansom for those tough spots when stress and danger strain your memory. If you're the kind of person who aspires to use the power of analytical reasoning to bring justice to the world, this is your handbook. If you're the kind of person who aspires to learn the secrets of royalty, to the life of the mind, to do interesting things with zest and enthusiasm--this is your handbook." - Guyslitwire

Sample Chapter: How to Fake Your Own Death

 “I owe you many apologies, dear Watson, but it was all-important that it should be thought I was dead, and it is quite certain that you would not have written so convincing an account of my unhappy end had you not yourself thought that it was true.” — Sherlock Holmes, “The Empty House”

Any consulting detective as successful as Sherlock Holmes is sure to rack up an impressive list of powerful enemies, and sometimes—as Holmes decided was the case in “The Final Problem”—the best way to escape their vengeance is to fake one’s own death. This is by no means an option for the faint of heart. Not only is it a cruel thing to inflict upon those who care for you, but it requires an exceeding amount of bother to execute the deed properly. Pray that you never have to embark upon the steps outlined here!

1. Design a persuasive death scene. 

The best kind—and your only option, really—is a death that leaves no recognizable body behind. Explosions or fires are good choices, provided you plant a skeleton in the wreckage that may plausibly be identified as your own. Water-related tragedies in which the corpse is unrecoverable are also ideal, as was Holmes’s choice in “The Final Problem”—he made it appear as though he’d tumbled over the lofty Reichenbach Falls, the treacherous bottom of which authorities didn’t even bother to search for his remains. Holmes’s footprints led up to the precipice and disappeared, leading all concerned to conclude he had fallen to his death—when in fact he had merely climbed over a nearby ledge, where he hid until the scene was deserted and he could make a stealthy escape.

2. Skip town.

As long as you remain near your old familiar haunts or anyone who might recognize you, you’re in danger. Get as far as possible from your home and the scene of your “death,” as quickly as you can. When Holmes miraculously returns to London in “The Empty House,” he tells Watson about the exotic places he’d lived in the intervening three years:Tibet, Persia, Mecca, and Egypt, among other distant locales. Those were extreme choices, to be sure, but extraordinarily safe ones—the chances of his meeting someone there whom he had known prior to his “death” were low indeed.

3. Assume a new identity.

Though your body lives on, your former identity must die. Grow facial hair, change your walk, and develop a new accent to help bury obvious traces of your former self. While traveling far and wide, Holmes went undercover as a Norwegian explorer named Sigerson, whose exploits and discoveries were fantastic enough to make international headlines.Yet he was never recognized as Holmes himself, so convincing was this disguise.

4. Arrange access to a supply of money.

Travel is expensive, and you’ll no longer have access to bank accounts or lines of credit established under your real name. You can always bring cash with you or deposit money into an anonymous offshore account, but keep in mind that making any sudden, last-minute transfers or withdrawals into that account before your death is extremely suspect behavior. If you’re able to plan your death significantly in advance, make gradual, monthly transfers over a period of several years to avoid suspicion. Less advisable was Holmes’s technique: He revealed himself to his brother Mycroft, who became Holmes’s sole confidant and source of funds. Had Mycroft been compromised in some way, Holmes’s secret would’ve been revealed, and his life put into considerable danger. Which brings us to the next point:

5. Reveal yourself to no one.

The wrenching heartache endured by your loved ones is your enemies’ most convinc- ing proof you’re really dead. Should their grief-stricken ululations seem forced or overly theatrical, someone is sure to smell a rat. This profound separation from friends and relations will undoubtedly be the most trying aspect of your ordeal, as even cold and logical Holmes admits—“Several times during the past three years I have taken up my pen to write to you,” he apologizes to Watson—but such cruel alienation is necessary. Holmes explains why: “I feared your affectionate regard for me should tempt you to some indiscretion which would betray my secret.”

6. Wait until your enemies are at their weakest to return.

With time, the fires of your enemies’ vengeance will cool, and their guard will fall. They may themselves die or be jailed (for such are dangers of the criminal life) and when they are at their most defenseless, as Holmes judged his to be shortly before his dramatic resurrection, it’s time to return home.

7. Minimize the shock to your friends and family.

When Holmes finally reveals himself to Watson, he does it in such a shocking way—which Holmes himself later confesses was “unnecessarily dramatic”—that poor Watson, a veteran of war and a man of sound constitution, faints on the spot. Imagine the effect such an appearance would have on the elderly or the anxious, and do your all to introduce yourself to them gradually. Save surprising flourishes for your enemies!