It was through a collection of vintage photographs that Riggs, 32, formed the idea for his novel, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. The book is sprinkled with odd characters, like the girl who could create fire and the boy who had bees in his stomach, as well as peculiar pictures including levitating children and ghostly reflections in misty ponds.
"I got bit by a photo collecting bug before I started the book, and they seemed to be pocket-size mysteries that cried out for a story,'' says Riggs. The author, whose latest work has already been optioned by 20th Century Fox, says he began writing at 13, through a neighborhood writers collective while growing up in Englewood. We caught up with Riggs by phone from his home in Los Angeles.
What's on your nightstand?
A weird melange of stuff. I'm reading Imperial by William T. Vollman. I will never finish this. It is 1,334 pages of crazy but thorough monographic history of Imperial County, Calif. I'm also reading A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Power. Barack Obama liked it so much he invited the author to be a part of his cabinet.
Is that why you're reading it?
It has more to do with how the next book I write will delve into Word War II issues. I'm also reading The Red Market: On the Trail of the World's Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers, and Child Traffickers by Scott Carney. It's amazing. And then finally, my friends and I have a book group. We call it Fahrenheit 450 Fun. There's A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, Just Kids by Patti Smith which takes the mystery out of the process on how two kids became artists, and Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.
Out of your book club selections, do you have one you recommend above the others?
Freedom. It's a colossal work of fiction, and I really enjoyed it. It took me 150 pages to get into it. At first I was wondering, "Why do I care about the bourgeois?" But then I got into it and thought, "Oh, this is why. This is great."
Piper Castillo, Times staff writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.