Go Away With ... Ransom Riggs
Author Ransom Riggs says the Philippines is one of his favorite countries to visit. (Tahereh Mafi / May 20, 2014)
Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. Iceland in the summer.
Q. To someone who was going there for the first time, what would you recommend that they do during their visit?
A. Rent a car and drive. It's like driving on the moon. Specifically, drive to a national park in the north of Iceland called Jokulsargljufur, which was formed after a subterranean volcano exploded beneath a glacier and caused massive, sudden flooding, carving out a beautiful, river-crossed canyon where, today, one of Iceland's rarest resources grows: trees. You won't find many of them anywhere else in the country. The Vikings cut them down for firewood, but there's a whole forest of ash and birch trees here, and they're startlingly beautiful.
Q. What untapped destination should people know about?
A. Vanuatu is one of my favorite countries in the world. It's a south pacific archipelago and its many islands are blessed with beautiful reefs, friendly people and fascinating culture. For instance, the people of Pentecost Island invented bungee jumping long ago, by building giant land towers, tying stretchy vines around the ankles of young initiates and shoving them off. I can't wait to go back and discover more.
Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?
A. The first one I remember was a visit to Baltimore, where we stopped off to see Edgar Allan Poe's grave. My mom told me all about how every year on Poe's birthday a mysterious stranger leaves a bottle of liquor by the stone. I was four.
Q. What's the most important thing you've learned from your travels?
A. That it's more about the journey than the destination. But a really great destination doesn't hurt, either.
Q. Have you traveled to a place that stood out so much that you felt compelled to incorporate it into your work?
A. Not in a literal sense, but the island I feature in "Miss Peregrine" is a composite of many places I've visited. I spent my junior year of college in Ireland. While there, I fell in love with its western islands. There's a lot of The Arans in my fictional Cairnholm Island.
Q. Where is the most romantic destination?
A. I don't think where you are matters nearly as much as who you're with. Many of the most romantic evenings of my life have been spent in my own house with my wife and a take-out pizza. That said, you could do a lot worse than the resort islands of Palawan in the southwestern Philippines. That place is beautiful.
Q. If you've ever gone away for the holidays, which was the best trip?
A. I hate the cold, but I love New York City at Christmas. Nowhere does the holidays better than Manhattan. I spent New Year's Eve there once, in a suite overlooking Central Park. They set off fireworks at midnight. Magic.
Q. What are your five favorite cities?
A. My own, Los Angeles, has to top the list. There's much to dislike about my city, but its pleasures and charms are many, though occasionally subtle. Wellington, New Zealand, is a beautiful, bite-sized city with great culture, great coffee and it's right on the edge of a world of adventure -- the magnificent South Island of New Zealand, quite possibly one of my favorite places on earth. Dublin is the first non-American city I ever lived in, and it'll always have a special place in my heart. Also, my ancestors were Irish so I'm obligated to list it. Amsterdam is a marvelous place, especially in the summer, and Portland, Oregon.