Kid Reporters

Spiderwick Authors Reunite

Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi talk about the 10th anniversary of The Spiderwick Chronicles

May 17, 2013
COURTESY BERNARDO FAMILY

TFK Kid Reporter Bridget Bernardo poses with The Spiderwick Chronicles authors Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi and their latest books, in Providence, Rhode Island.

Authors Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black reunited in Providence, Rhode Island, on May 15, for events celebrating Children’s Book Week and the tenth anniversary of The Field Guide, the first  book in their series, The Spiderwick Chronicles. The fantasy books are about three siblings who move into the Spiderwick Estate and discover a world filled with mystical creatures. Since collaborating on the series, which was made into a feature film in 2008, the authors have remained friends while releasing many of their own successful books.

The first book in The Spiderwick Chronicles series, The Field Guide, features a special new cover to celebrate its 10th anniversary.
DON HEINY FOR TIME FOR KIDS
The first book in The Spiderwick Chronicles series, The Field Guide, features a special new cover to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

DiTerlizzi, an author and illustrator, is currently writing the final volume of his exciting and action-packed WondLa trilogy. The Search for WondLa is the first book in the series. It tells the tale of 12-year-old Eva Nine, who is raised by robots in an underground world and has never seen a human being. Later, when her home is destroyed, Eva moves aboveground, finds a scrap of paper with “WondLa” written on it and searches for other humans, which carries into the second book, A Hero For WondLa. The third book, The Battle for WondLa, will be released in 2014.

Meanwhile, Black earlier this month released her latest book, Doll Bones, which could make readers question whether to keep or get rid of their dolls. It’s a creative and scary story of three sixth-grade friends, Alice, Poppy and Zach, who like to play together with action figures. That is, until Zach’s dad throws out his toys and Zach stops being friends with Alice and Poppy. Poppy then has recurring dreams where she buries a bone-china doll called “The Queen.” According to the dreams, the doll is made up of real human bones. The kids go on a quest to bury the doll.

I sat down with DiTerlizzi and Black in Providence to discuss their writing process, their new books and the Spiderwick anniversary.

TFK:

What inspired you to write the WondLa series and Doll Bones?

DITERLIZZI:

Some of my favorite books are Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan and Wendy. All those stories have female protagonists and most of the themes are about home and family. The character leaves home, goes into a Wonderland or an Oz or a Neverland, only to realize, “I wish I could go back home and be with my family.” So I wanted to see if I could tell a story that was like that. Instead of tin men and mad hatters, I went for aliens and robots and things that I thought were maybe more 21st century.

BLACK:

When I was a kid, my friends and I had a big game that we played for a really long time, and we told stories. There was a point in my life where I really felt like everybody was telling me, “You either can be the person who tells stories and be a kid, or you can grow up and you can give up telling stories.” As an adult who tells stories, obviously, [I know] that’s not true, but it felt true at the time. [That’s one of the] things that inspired me to write Doll Bones.

TFK:

What can fans expect from the third and final WondLa book?

DITERLIZZI:

Firstly, hopefully they can expect a third book. I should be home writing it. They can expect a couple new characters. I’ve pretty much spent two books setting the stage, so now it’s just going back to different locations, but with different knowledge. Sadly, some characters don’t make it to the end. Imagine that. But hopefully it will make for a lot of adventure and a thoughtful conclusion.

TFK:

Congratulations on the 10th anniversary of the first Spiderwick Chronicles book. What has been the best part of the Spiderwick experience for the both of you?

DITERLIZZI:

Number one, we’re still friends.

BLACK:

Yeah. I think going out and touring and doing all the stuff we did together was the best part of it. It was the thing that you know made it such so much more of a meaningful experience to be sharing it, but I think the thing I really loved was hearing stories from kids about their one favorite experience. We had this red book, and kids and adults would write in the book about the strange things they’ve seen. I couldn’t believe how many responses we had to that and reading through it, I always loved that.

Kid Reporter
Bridget Bernardo

TFK:

What’s it like working together on books?

BLACK:

A lot of times, when you make a book by yourself, it’s a pretty lonely process. So one of the things is that you get to, when you’re stuck, call somebody else, and they are contractually obligated to help you. One of the things that we learned when we would have arguments— because we did have arguments—is that we could figure out a third way that was better than the first two ways.

DITERLIZZI:

The way we kind of worked was we would sit and talk about the plot of the story or what the kids were going do, and then at the end of the day Holly had to go off and write it, and I would start doing the sketches for the art. But along the way we kept exchanging information and offering our viewpoints on what would make it a better story.

TFK:

This week is Children’s Book Week. What do you like most about writing for kids?

BLACK:

When kids really love books, they really, really love books. In the way that I did when it was the first time that I was like, “This book is just for me. This book is my favorite thing.” I mean, adult readers are passionate, but kid readers are really, really passionate and they’re really, really honest. So if they don’t like something, they are going to tell you.

DITERLIZZI:

In elementary school or middle school, you get all these books on a reading list that the teacher assigns you. You go to the library and you’re like, “Oh, I’ve got to pick one of them on the list.” Then there’s a moment when you see a book and you pick it up not because you have to but because you want to. That can be the moment that a person becomes a reader. It’s awesome to be part of that moment. If we are responsible for that moment, then we have more than done our job.

Holly Black's latest book for middle schoolers, Doll Bones, is available now.
DON HEINY FOR TIME FOR KIDS
Holly Black's latest book for middle schoolers, Doll Bones, is available now.

TFK:

Both Doll Bones and the Spiderwick series are spooky books. What do you enjoy most about writing creepy books?

BLACK:

I think it’s because I’m really easily frightened. Like, I’m the most easily frightened person in the world. And so I think it’s very easy for me to write about things in a spooky way. When I was a kid, I grew up in this really old house like the Spiderwick house, this 100-year-old Victorian, and the branches were really long and they would scratch at my window at night and I was sure something was going to get me. I remember I would make my mom promise me a long list of creatures would not get me each night.

DITERLIZZI:

I just like the feeling. I like being a little creeped out. Just the fact that you’re feeling anything while you’re looking at words on paper is an accomplishment, so I think any kind of emotion—if a book makes you cry or cheer up—that’s really incredibly powerful.

For a list of Children’s Book Week events happening around the U.S., visit bookweekonline.com/official.


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