1. Why rats? Did the story evolve like this or did you consider horses, frogs and bunnies first?
Oh, I always knew it would be rats. I'm a kid at heart and being born just a few days before Halloween, I've always adored the holiday and the books and movies that came with it! In the stories I read and in animated movies, they tend to use rats as creepy background. Nothing more than bony, sinister-looking rats rummaging around a dark alley in the beginning of a movie or in a part of a novel where things really get scary! I decided it was time to make rats the main characters, to explore their world. If you do some investigation, you'll discover they're far more then creepy critters. In fact, they are smarter than most animals as a whole.
2. I love the world you created for them as well as all of their different looks and personalities. Did you have to do any research for this?
Yes indeedy! I love doing research! Who knew I was such a nerdy girl? Okay, I was always nerdy, but I had no idea I was this nerdy! I read several non-fiction books on rats, taking meticulous notes and scoured websites, even got in touch with some known rat experts who were gracious enough to help me. Even still, my rats are very different than the ones that roam the real world. They have "humanish" qualities and not just because I needed them to talk in the book. There is a secret reason for their uniqueness, one that even they have yet to discover.
3. You are so good with these intriguing animals. Do you have plans for any other types of creepy crawlies in future books? Is this going to be a Hilary trademark? :)))
I can't believe you asked me this!! KINGS OF TRILLIUM, Book II in the Nightshade Chronicles, which comes out next year, has some new and intriguing creatures and let's just say my inclination for creepy critters comes back into play and then some. Don't worry though, no talking spiders or anything like that--don't care for spiders, especially talking ones! ;) Also, I'm working on a new animal series, one I'm under lock and key from my publisher not to talk about. I feel all super spy! I'm very excited about it. I'm doing research now and learning about creatures I never even knew existed!
I suppose what I like so much about animal series is having a chance to explore their world--to discover what their lives are like--to try and feel what it would be like to have a long spindly rat's tail or the ability to travel deep under the ground or possibly up into the trees--the sky! To me, animals give us endless possibilities for wonderful storytelling.
Thanks so much for having me on your blog! Your questions were so much fun to answer! Every time I talk about my rats I get all inspired--has me thinking about Book III now! ;)
NIGHTSHADE CITY is available on-line, at Barnes and Noble stores nationwide and Indie Booksellers as well.