With A Map of Days, Ransom Riggs introduces new elements to the world of the peculiars, including a 20th-century American setting. Riggs talks about the new book, keeping the peculiar stories fresh, and his ever-enigmatic photographs.

How has the world of the peculiars evolved between first book and the fourth?

The books are told from Jacob Portman’s point of view, and he knew nothing of the peculiar world when the story began. Now that Jacob knows so much and has made himself such an integral part of the peculiar community, big, world-shaking things can happen much more easily.

Why did you decide to feature color images?

In A Map of Days, the peculiar children travel through 20th-century America, which. I associate with loud, kitschy, square-format Kodachrome color. So it just felt right.

Has Tim Burton’s film influenced your writing?

I think the movie and the books coexist very happily. I wondered whether the strong images Tim created would bleed into my writing, but they really didn’t.

Why are books that are unworldly, spooky, or macabre so appealing to readers of all ages?

The world itself is profoundly macabre, but we spend most of our waking hours ignoring all the scary stuff because it’s too much to deal with head-on. It’s easier—and more fun—to process our fears, and our deep curiosity about the unknown, by reading and telling stories.