Hi, Will! Thanks for stopping by the Middle Grade Book Village to share a book trailer for your newest book. Tell us about Rook!
Thanks so much for inviting me! I am so thrilled to be returning to New Fiddleham and to the bizarre life of Abigail Rook. For those who haven’t read the Jackaby series, those four books follow Rook as she first arrives in America, finds work for the titular supernatural detective, and gradually becomes the hero of her own story over a series of wild capers. Part of my decision to end that series where I did was because it felt like the natural conclusion of an arc—Rook had reached the end of an important chapter in her life and was done following. This book picks up with the next chapter of her life, one in which she very much takes the lead.
The events of the fourth Jackaby book changed things in this world, and without giving too much away, this new novel explores the ramifications of those changes. After generations of isolation, the human world and the world of magic are finally colliding—and New Fiddleham is not the same city that it was when Rook first stepped off the boat. She’s going to have her hands full with paranormal perils, insidious plots, mounting pressure… and parents.
The fourth Jackaby novel came out in 2018. What is it like returning to the series after spending some time away?
It’s like returning home to visit old friends. I’ve missed writing these characters. They’ve grown while I’ve been away, and writing them has been a chance to learn who they are all over again.
Many of your books, including The Oddmire series for middle grade readers, take place in the same universe as Jackaby. What draws you to this world of folklore and fantasy?
The turn of the 20th century is such an interesting time period for a fantasy. The world is scary and rough in many ways, and it still has a lot of growing ahead of it, but human beings are also exploring the development of electricity, pushing the limits of steam power, and developing marvels of engineering… and they’re doing so right alongside Ouija Boards, séances, and spirit phones. It’s a time when anything seems possible, bad or good. That atmosphere pairs so nicely with a coming-of-age story—whether that’s a story about MG characters just coming out of childhood or YA characters learning how to be adults. The urban streets of New Fiddleham and the rural roads of Endsborough are very different venues for exploring these ideas, but the feelings behind them are kindred spirits.
All right, let’s take a look at the book trailer — which, I feel I need to mention, you animated yourself!
Wow! It’s fabulous! Just one thing: Rook isn’t scheduled to release for a while—so what should we read while we’re waiting?
Well, Jackaby and the Oddmire, obviously. But for a few read-alikes: I recently adored Cemetery Boys by fellow Oregon author Aiden Thomas. They managed to create a marvelously grounded yet supernatural world full of darkness and light in perfect balance. Highly recommend. For fans of Fractured Folktales—Curses by Lish McBride is brilliant, too. It releases this month, but I had the privilege of getting to be an early reader. McBride’s writing is always so sharp and cheeky, and this gender-swapped Beauty and the Beast retelling is some of her best. Don’t miss it. I’ll add that the Rick Riordan Presents line of books is perpetually coming out with awesome mythology-inspired fantasy. Roshani Chokshi’s Aru Shah and Kwame Mbalia’s Tristan Strong were both stellar. Rebecca Roanoke’s Race to the Sun is the latest on my TBR. Happy reading!
Where can readers follow your progress and learn more about your work?
I’m on frequently on twitter at @WillOtheWords, and occasionally on my own blog at https://rwillritter.wordpress.com/.
William Ritter is an Oregon author and educator. He is the proud father of the two bravest boys in the Wild Wood, and husband to the indomitable Queen of the Deep Dark.The Oddmireis Ritter’s first series for middle-grade readers. He is also the author of the New York Times bestselling, award-winning Jackaby series for young adult readers. Visit him online at rwillritter.wordpress.com and find him on Twitter: @Willothewords.