We had the opportunity a few weeks ago to interview author Jonathan Auxier. Jonathan is the creator of the celebrated books Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes (Amulet Books, 2012) and The Night Gardener (Amulet, 2014). A few of us here at TheCrawlSpace were able to know Jonathan as our professor in Chatham University’s MFA program.
If you enjoy this interview, you’ll probably also enjoy Jonathan’s newest book, Sophie Quire and The Last Storyguard, coming out in the spring of 2016!
TheCrawlSpace Journal (TCSJ): What is the book that made you want to become a writer?
Jonathan Auxier (JA): Probably the earliest book that made me want to write was Matilda by Roald Dahl, which I first read when I was eight. As with all of Dahl’s books, there is a wonderful and palpable sense of personality that shines through the narrator … and reading that book was like having a curtain pulled back – I suddenly realized that every story had a unique author behind it. And I wanted to be one of those authors.
TCSJ: If you could be any literary character, who would you be?
JA: Staying with the Roald Dahl theme, I can’t help but wish I were more like the father character from Danny the Champion of the World.
TCSJ: Where do you find your ideas for character names?
JA: Character names are very important to my process, and I can’t write a character until I’ve discovered their name. Peter Nimble came to me straightaway, but often it takes a lot more work. In the case of my upcoming book, Sophie Quire and The Last Storyguard, I went through literally hundreds of names, sifting through genealogies and histories and other novels. When I discovered “Quire” (which is a term for a signature of pages in a published book), I knew I had finally found my character!
TCSJ: We loved Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes. Where did you come up with the idea for the main character?
JA: Most all of my stories start as sketches in my journals. In the case of Peter Nimble, I had doodled a random drawing of a baby floating in a basket with a raven perched on the edge who had just pecked out the baby’s eyes! It was a disturbing drawing, but also a compelling one. I wanted to know more about that baby and what would happen to it next. So I wrote a book about him!
TCSJ: Tell us a bit more about your most recent book, The Night Gardener. Where did you get your idea for the tree?
JA: The Night Gardener is the tale of two abandoned children who discover an ancient, mysterious old tree that seems to be able to grant wishes … but only at a deadly price! I can’t say exactly where the idea came from beyond the many examples of magical trees throughout literature … from the Garden of Eden to Homer’s lotus eaters to Tolkien’s ents to Shell Silverstien’s Giving Tree.
TCSJ: Where is your “crawlspace”—your favorite place to read?
JA: I think best when I’m walking, so my favorite way to read is while taking a brisk walk through my neighborhood with an audiobook playing in my ears.
TCSJ: How do you know when a book is finished?
JA: When the publisher rips out of my trembling hands.
You can read more about Jonathan Auxier on his website, www.thescop.com!