Interview: Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi: The Spiderwick Chroniclers
by R.J. Carter
Published: October 30, 2005
Arthur Spiderwick was an odd duck. In a secret room of his old house, he kept notes on what he claimed were sightings of fairies -- goblins, sprites, brownies, you name it. His notes were copious; his sketches, astonishing.
Several years later, Simon, Jared and Mallory Grace discovered his hidden "Field Guide" and soon found themselves the target of several fairy creatures, who want the book destroyed and the rest of humanity left ignorant of their existence. Their story was delivered to Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, so that the rest of the world could know what happened to them -- and what could happen to any of us -- should we suddenly become aware of the fantastic world around us.
What was it in both your backgrounds, do you think, that made the Grace kids seek you out to tell their story, and what about their story made you believe them?
Holly: Mallory read my first book, Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale, and because that has faeries in it, she said she thought I might believe she and her brothers. When I first heard their story, I admit that I didn't know what to think, but it was so intriguing that I wanted to know more. The most convincing evidence was the field guide itself. Just looking at the pages of it, Tony and I knew it was a unique and extraordinary volume.
Tony: Both Jared and Simon were familiar with the fantasy artwork I did for the collectible card game, Magic: the Gathering and had seen my picture books as well. I suppose they thought I'd be able to make fantastical images that children would enjoy.
The perils the Grace children have encountered -- did you ever give any thought to the idea that they may have needed help? After all, they are children, albeit very astute ones.
Holly: It's frightening to think of all they managed to accomplish by themselves. By the time we got involved, they were out of immediate danger, but I do worry about them. Happily, they seem to be leading normal adolescent lives.
Tony: I think that the Grace kids definitely overcame some dangerous obstacles, but no more dangerous than say Hansel and Gretel or Jack (from "Jack and the Beanstalk"). So in many ways they are cut from the same block as many classic fairy-tale heroes.
Have the Grace's given the go ahead to have their story told in a more visual medium, like a movie?
Holly: Their names have been changed to protect their identities, which can be pretty frustrating for them sometimes. They're really excited about the possibility of a movie, but they kind of wish they could do cool things like go to the premiere and be recognized.
Tony: A movie of this story would be exciting, and there is work being done on it but it just takes time to develop. I would love to see the faerie creatures brought to life on the silver screen ala "The Dark Crystal" or "Labyrinth".
Now that others have joined the Grace's in their awareness of the world around them, do you think that truly ends their adventures, or merely takes them to a whole new level of potential danger?
Holly: I think that the Grace kids adventure was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Considering that it's been more than a year since they faced Mulgarath and there hasn't been another threat, I think the danger is thankfully behind them. I can't say the same for all you people who are currently looking through the restored Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You, however. You might be using it to get yourselves into all kinds of trouble.
Tony: As Jared found out, "knowledge is power", it just depends on how one chooses to use it. In his case, he proved that he were considerate and sympathetic to the world of the fey, and so he was rewarded. What readers choose to do with the knowledge in Spiderwick's guide is entirely up to them, just remember there are always consequences to one's actions...
What are you both working on while awaiting the next installment from the Graces? And how can you work on anything else, knowing that -- perhaps at this very moment! -- the entire Grace family could be in danger?
Holly: I've been working on my novels for teens. My second YA novel, Valiant, came out this past June and I am currently working on Ironside, the sequel to Tithe. Tony and I do keep in touch with Jared, Mallory and Simon, so we're ready to do what we can should they need our help.
Tony: I am working away on a silly alphabet book, G is for One Gzonk, (which will be out next summer) and looking forward to working with Holly again to tell more tales from Spiderwick.
What's all the hubbub, you say? If you've missed out, check out the Spiderwick Chronicles boxed set of all five adventures of the Grace kids.