This contemporary, fantasy series by American author Ransom Riggs is told through a combination of narrative and a mix of vernacular and found photography from the personal archives of collectors listed by the author. The first book was originally intended to be a picture book featuring photographs Riggs had collected, but on the advice of an editor at Quirk Books, he used the photographs as a guide from which to put together a narrative. Riggs was a collector of photographs, but needed more for his novel. He met Leonard Lightfoot, a well-known collector at the Rose Bowl Flea Market, and was introduced to other collectors. The result was a story about a boy who follows clues from his grandfather's old photographs, tales, and his grandfather's last words which lead him on an adventure that takes him to a large abandoned orphanage on Cairnholm, a fictional Welsh island.