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By Seija Rankin
February 24, 2021 at 03:51 PM EST
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Ransom Riggs, The Desolations of Devil's Acre (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children Book 6)
Credit: Tahereh Mafi; Dutton Books for Young Readers

Ransom Riggs' latest book has been a long time coming — nine years and five installments, to be exact. The bestselling author is bringing his fan-favorite series to a close with The Desolation of Devil's Acre, which sees Caul brought back from the collapsed time loop that was the Library of Souls with even more power, and a huge army to boot. The peculiars, along with light-eater Noor Pradesh, are tasked with attempting to fulfill an ancient prophecy to give them the chance to banish Caul for good. Here, Riggs waxes poetic on this final installment and tells EW a little bit about his very writerly process.

whats-in-a-page

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What is the first thing — ever — that you remember writing?

RANSOM RIGGS: A crudely-illustrated sci-fi adventure called The Popcorn World, in which a boy travels to a world made entirely of popcorn. (How does he get there? What does he do on the popcorn world? The story is vague on those points.) It was about four pages long, and the pages were crookedly stapled together and folded to resemble a book. I think I was four or five years old. Not my best work.

What is the last book that made you cry?

An Emotion of Great Delight by Tahereh Mafi. It doesn't hit shelves until June, but one of the great things about being married to Tahereh is that I get to read all her books in advance. Great Delight is based in part on her own experiences as a Muslim teenager growing up in America post 9/11, and it manages to somehow be heart-piercing and poignant but also funny and hopeful.

Which book is at the top of your current To-Read list?

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff.

 Where do you write?

In the home office I share with my wife, our desks a few feet apart and facing a window that looks out on an expanse of green.

Which book made you a forever reader?

The Secret Garden. I devoured that book over and over as a young person. I love hidden world stories, portal stories, and that has always seemed to me an archetypal one. That and the Narnia books really sealed the deal for me. But being read to was probably what put me on the path to loving books from an early age.

What is a snack you couldn't write without?

I don't eat while I'm writing, but I'm usually nursing an espresso.  Blue Bottle Hayes Valley blend, served black, in a tiny pre-heated ceramic cup, with a side of carbonated water. Pinky up.

If you could change one thing about any of your books what would it be?

How long it took me to write them. I used to be really slow, years between each book. It took me a while to realize that my particular variety of perfectionism didn't actually result in better novels, just more agony in the writing process.

 What is your favorite part of The Desolation of Devil's Acre?

The ending. I've been building toward it for years but was never totally sure how it would play out. It was one of those rare instances in my writing where I felt like the characters were guiding me, rather than the other way around.

What was the hardest plot point or character to write?

There's a long sequence where some of the characters have to cross through the No Man's Land of a World War I battlefield (twice, and survive), which required a giant amount of research to get right and so many synonyms for run, scream, ricochet, and explode that my thesaurus caught fire.

Write a movie poster tag line for the book:

 One battle will decide whether the future is history.

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