Talking to Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell about the
What was your inspiration for The Edge Chronicles?
Paul: The Edge Chronicles started off with
the map. Chris drew it and gave it to me saying, 'here
is the world, tell me what happens there.'
Chris: I drew a map that looked like the edge of
a map because I've always been fascinated by the edges
of maps - the place where the known world ends.
Paul: My main inspiration for the Deepwoods was
perhaps the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, though
other booksAlice in Wonderland and Through
the Looking Glass, Gormenghast, Gulliver's
Travels also played their part.
What was your favorite character(s) to create?
Chris: My favorite character is the spindlebug. It
was easy for Paul to write that it was see-through, like
glass, but a challenge for an illustrator to draw. The
creatures live an immense amount of timeup to four
centuries which means that they witness a lot more
history of the Edge than other characters.
Paul: My favorite characters are the banderbears.
Chris drew them first as fierce, pyramid-like bear
creatures. Because they looked so ferocious, I made
their character more timid. We have enjoyed developing
the creatures as the series has progressed, learning
about their natural habits and habitat and creating a
language all of their own.
Where did you come up with the names for your
characters? The various personalities and life stories?
Paul: Both of us hate the clichéd fantasy names and
tried to make the names in the Edge world a little
different. Woodtrolls have woody names, like Snatchwood,
Gruffbark, Snetterbark. Slaughterers have 'meaty' names
like Gristle, Sinew, Tendon and Brisket. The academics
have Latin/Basque names with lots of ius's and x's.
Cowlquape, who goes through lots of changes, has a name
taken from the German for tadpole - Kaulquappe. While
Twig, of course, is just a tiny bit of the forest.
As the series has progressed, with prequels and sequels,
the life histories of the various characters have become
more deeply described. So Twig's mother, Maris, is only
mentioned in Beyond the Deepwoods. In book 4,
the Curse of the Gloamglozer, we meet her as a girl.
And in the book we have just completed, Book 7 -
Freeglader - we learn all about what happened to her
after she abandoned her baby in the Deepwoods. The
continuity revealed as the story unfolds is deeply
What was your favorite book as a child?
Chris: Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown
Paul: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton
Since you both work as a team from conception to finish,
what is the creative process like? How exactly does the
Paul: The pictures and words take shape
simultaneously, each affecting the development of the
other. Sometimes characters and creatures start with a
picture, sometimes with a textual description. In
addition, the plot is worked on constantly by both of us
and, when they are around, our children! Similarly, the
text is passed back and forth, being rewritten
continuously, until both of us are happy with it.
What has been the most challenging part of writing the
Paul: The whole process is challenging. More
importantly, though, it is also rewarding. Both of us
have immense fun playing with the Edge world. Beyond
the Deepwoods was the simplest book, an episodic
rite of passage novel where we, as well as the main
protagonist, began to explore this new world. As we have
gone deeper into it, the world has become richer and
richer, and the storylines similarly, more involved. We
are fascinated by the way the world is still developing
as we learn more and more about its history and explore
all areas of the political and natural world in
When did you first begin writing/drawing?
Chris: At five years old in the back pew of my
father's church. My mother gave me paper and pens to
keep me quiet during Dad's (very interesting) sermons.
Paul: From the moment I could write, I have been
writing down stories. At seven, I was working on a
series of stories about a snail called Oliver. At ten, I
attempted to write a follow-up to The Phantom
Tollbooth with ideas that took shape over the next
20 years and finally became a book entitled The
In Midnight Over Sanctaphrax, Twig deals with the
loss of two father figures. How is this important for
Paul: Twig has to grow up and assume responsibility
for his father's crew and, when he learns of Tuntum's
death, he realizes how he has grown and matured since he
left the Woodtroll village. He hopes that Tuntum would
be proud of him, and what he has achieved.
What scene did you have the most fun creating?
Chris: Both of us enjoyed the wig-wig arena scene a
lot. The whole Shryke slave market, with its platforms
and walkways all hanging from the Deepwoods trees, was
great fun to create as a home for the flightless Shrykes.
The escape from it on Prowlgrinback was also great fun
both to write and draw.
Paul: Midnight over Sanctaphrax was the
third in the series, and the book where we were
beginning to reap the rewards both of close
collaboration and of getting to know the world more
deeply. The Prowlgrins (which I had originally described
as being like hyena/leopard-like creatures, but which
Chris had drawn as a curious cross between a whale and a
toad) looked to me as if they were brilliantly designed
for leaping from branch to branch. Therefore the
pictures in Book 1 directly influenced the plot in
Book 3. Similarly, in book 1, I had wanted a pirate-like
punishment similar to keelhauling, and had come up with
sky-firing. In Midnight over Sanctaphrax, this
throwaway idea becomes pivotal to the plot but we won't
give it away just in case you haven't read the book yet!
The Edge Chronicles seems perfectly suited for
film, with its fast-paced action, loveable creatures,
and incredible comic-timing. Were you thinking along
these lines during its inception?
Paul: We did not deliberately set out to produce
fiction which could be turned into a film. That said,
both of us work in a very visual way, so a lot of the
plotting, characterization and scene development is
quite cinematic. It would be a great thrill to see
The Edge Chronicles realized on the big screen!