The Raven Mysteries is my all-time favourite series for younger readers (see my post here to find out why) and I'm rather excited to have author Marcus Sedgwick here on my blog today. Yay!
If you don't know what this series is about, here's a quick summary of book one, Flood and Fang, to tell you more:
Meet the wonderfully weird Otherhand family and their faithful guardian, Edgar the raven, and discover the dark secrets of Castle Otherhand.
Edgar is alarmed when he sees a nasty looking black tail slinking under the castle walls. But his warnings to the inhabitants of the castle go unheeded: Lord Valevine Otherhand is too busy trying to invent the unthinkable and discover the unknowable; his wife, Minty, is too absorbed in her latest obsession - baking; and ten-year-old Cudweed is running riot with his infernal pet monkey. Only Solstice, the black-haired, poetry-writing Otherhand daughter, seems to pay any attention. As the lower storeys of the castle begin mysteriously to flood, and kitchen maids continue to go missing, the family come ever closer to the owner of the black tail...
Thanks to the ever lovely Mr. Sedgwick for answering my questions, and I hope you'll all go and read The Raven Mysteries straight away. As Edgar would say: Futhork!
[Illustrations by Pete Williamson]
Wondrous Reads: Hello Marcus! Why did you initially decide to make the jump from writing for young adults to writing for children?
Marcus Sedgwick: Two reasons; the first simply because I wanted to write some funny books as my reputation was for only doing dark things, and secondly, and very cynically, I thought it might be good to have some younger books out there so that they might recruit readers for my older ones. It seems to pay off from what parents tell me.
WR: What inspired the gothic characters and setting?
MS: I love gothic stuff and always have done. The strange thing about the gothic is that it’s always verging on the silly anyway, so a goth-fest is the perfect vehicle for humour, as we have seen over the years with Addams Family, the Munsters, etc etc. I was also thinking about Gorey and such like illustrators. Finally, because I live in a tiny tiny cottage, I thought it might be fun to write about a giant castle which could be a character in itself as well as providing the backdrop to all the other fun and games.
WR: How closely did you work with illustrator Pete Williamson in order to get everyone looking as they should?
MS: We tried out four or five illustrators but Pete was clearly the man for the job - he ‘got’ it immediately and after a few tweaks to some of the major character designs we were good to go. He’s a great person to work with - fast and efficient and a thoroughly wonderful chap. He brings so much more to the books that would just be there on the page and I have yet to find anyone who doesn’t love his art.
WR: If Castle Otherhand was a real place, would you dare to visit?
MS: Yes. Maybe. If it meant I got to meet Edgar, and as long as he was in a reasonable mood.
WR: Will you ever write more about the Otherhand family, either novels or short stories? [Pleeease!]
MS: Maybe! There’s a chance of a small Edgar Rides Again type project in the next year or so, but it’s a way off being definite yet. I’d love to do some more, but we’ll have to see.
WR: Favourite character?
MS: Easy question! Edgar.
WR: Best book to write?
MS: They were all fun and as the series went on it became more and more fun. I think Magic and Mayhem is the favourite for me because of all the bunny rabbits.
WR: Scene that made you laugh the most?
MS: See above! There’s something about bunny rabbits that cracks me up. Throw in some Otherhand weirdness and that book was a lot of fun to do. I also like it when Edgar gets his beak stuck in the table top in Ghosts and Gadgets.
WR: Solstice or Cudweed?
MS: Cudweed. I feel sorry for him. He needs help. Solstice can take care of herself pretty much.
WR: Valevine's best invention?
MS: Predictometer from Lunatics and Luck because I like the stupid sentences it comes up with.