Stella Paskins met up with Robin to ask him more about The Wyrd Museum...
Where did you get the idea for the Wyrd Museum series?
My stories often come from drawings. This one started when I drew my old Teddy bear and he came to life as a character in my head. Then I had to find a setting for him. When I moved to Greenwich, I found a wacky building at the end of my street. It was covered in spikes and spires and I found myself imagining it to be a Wyrd Museum. So, I put the two together.
When you started the trilogy, did you know how it was all going to end in The Fatal Strand?
I knew some of it; I knew certain characters had to be introduced, and others were going to die. And I had an idea about some of the things that would happen along the way, but mostly the books evolved as I wrote them. I didn′t have the individual titles in the beginning - they always seem to come much later!′One of my aims with the trilogy was to surprise my readers; I didn′t want The Fatal Strand to be too predictable.
Are your characters based on real people?
Some of them. Veronica and Celandine are - they ran a pub I used to go to. They really looked and dressed the way I′ve described them in the books, with long Victorian gowns and flowing locks, and caked-on make-up. They were amazingly eccentric too. Charles Jamrach was a real person too; his menagerie actually was famous at one time. I also draw on myth and legend, but most characters are actually inventions.
Do you do a lot of research?
Sometimes. I often want to know exactly what colour something was, or when it was made, or where a street was. There are certain historical eras I′m particularly interested in, but I wouldn′t choose to live in the past. The more you research, the more you realise that you′re better off now! It wasn′t so long ago that you couldn′t drink fresh water, and the smells must have been terrible!
Your books are very scary in places - do you ever get scared when you′re writing?
Yes! I try to think what would scare me and I put that in. But you have to get caught up in the mood of the story when you′re writing it, otherwise it wouldn′t feel real. I often listen to film soundtracks to create the right atmosphere. Scorsese′s Cape Fear is a really good one - you begin to quake as soon as it starts!
So, what are you scared of?
Spiders and wood lice and things that crawl! Belial in The Woven Path grew out of my cockroach phobia.
Has anything weird or spooky ever happened to you?
Not directly to me, but maybe to my parents. When I was about two or three, I often used to sleep-walk. One night, they thought they heard a child walking around on the landing - but, when they went to check on me, they found me fast asleep in my cot. Spooky! Then, a few days later my Gran died, and my mum decided that the foosteps must have belonged to the Angel of Death!
Which authors did you enjoy reading when you were a child?
I used to love Alan Garner; I read The Weirdstone of Brisingamen loads and loads and loads of times. I used to beg my parents to drive me to Alderley Edge so I could look for the magic gates. (I never found them.) Later I was introduced to Lucy Boston and the wonderful Green Knowe books, especially An Enemy at Green Knowe. I always, always read. The trouble is, when I started writing, I stopped reading.
What is your next project?
I′m just about to start on a new saga that′s going to be very different from The Wyrd Museum. It′s more of a science fiction/fantasy; I′m not letting on too much at this stage, but it′ll have plenty of interesting creatures and scary bits! But The Fatal Strand won′t be the last you hear of The Wyrd Museum. There are still some tales left to tell, and one day I shall tell them ...
About Robin Jarvis