What was the genesis of this trilogy?
It was the dawn of a cold spring morning. I was seated next to my youngest daughter, Miranda, and we were waiting for her school bus to arrive. An immense flock of birds cut across the sky, came to rest in a crooked poplar tree, and promptly commenced chattering with one another. Miranda turned to me and remarked that it was just like a family reunion. That got me thinking. What if it was a family reunion? And it just took off from there.
Had you ever considered penning a novel before? Why did you decide that tweens would best relate to the storyline of The Mob?
I’ve been a pretty busy writer for some time now, and I hadn’t thought about writing a novel until the inspiration for this story suddenly surfaced. As for targeting tweens, the truth is I started out writing this story just to entertain my daughters, and at the time they were ten and fourteen respectively. I think the thing that made me believe that it would appeal to them (and by extension others of that age) The Mob is about crows struggling to discover who they are, and what they are capable of, as their entire world changes.
Which of your crow characters are you most like and why?
I asked my daughters that question and they felt I was most like the Chooser of the flock, Kalum, although I don’t really think I possess either Kalum’s age or wisdom. Or the stylish feathers.
Did you have trouble coming up with all of the character names? Why do all their names start with K?
I started thinking about how crows would talk. Crows can express many, many sounds and are terrific mimics (they can and will imitate fire engines, owls and humans); but because of the way their beaks are constructed, the sound you’re most likely to hear from them would be that familiar “kaw” call. I thought, let’s use that as the base sound for their vocabulary and for their names.
Given your playwright’s inner eye for picturing scenes and settings, how do you envision The Mob translating to 3-D-animated feature film format?
I think The Mob is, in many ways, a story made for 3-D animation. The world of the crow is so fantastically visual, and so terrifically fast. Imagine the perspective of a crow for just one moment. Imagine what it is like to live high up within an immense tree, to know each branch and leaf, from the inside out. Imagine what it’s like to soar above a mountain and then dive down to the bottom of the valley within seconds and skim along through the reeds and brambles of the valley floor. Imagine what it’s like to travel through the sky with a hundred thousand of your friends spread out wing to wing around you. I can’t wait to see those kinds of images translated to the screen.
If you could have any voice talent of your choosing, who would you select for your main characters?
I’d cast Johnny Depp as Kuper—it seems to me that he’d be able to portray the intelligence, strength, and hidden dimensions that Kuper has. Either Morgan Freeman or Gene Hackman as Kalum—they’re both great actors and would be able to impart the kind of depth of experience and wisdom Kalum has. Alexis Bledel would make a terrific Kym—she’s smart, independent and unconventional. As for Kyp, he would be the hardest to cast. He’s an individual struggling to understand who he is, and who he has the potential to be. I like what Hayden Christensen was able to bring to his character in Life is a House, so maybe him.
After completing the Crow Chronicles, do you forsee yourself writing and further children’s novels?
Without a doubt! It has been such an intense pleasure working with these crows, getting to know them, and crawling into their world day in and day out, that I’m pretty certain I will be a little depressed when the series eventually comes to a close. To diminish the possibility of any lasting sadness, I’ve already started setting down some pretty detailed notes for another series.
If you could be any Nelvana character of your choosing, who would it be and why?
I might be Babar because I find elephants complicated and fascinating, and Babar is a pretty classy dresser. Or I might be Pippi Longstocking’s seafaring pappy because he seems both good natured and well traveled.