Happy Hallow’Read: An Interview with Allan Stratton

Toronto-based author Allan Stratton talks about how he approaches writing fantasy and shares a peak at his latest middle-grade book, The Grave Robber’s Apprentice (HarperCollins).

Danielle: Welcome Allan! What attracted you to a book about a grave robber’s apprentice?

Allan Stratton: I did a short story about a grave robber for the collection HALF-MINUTE HORRORS. The idea for a full book grew from there.

D: There are some truly fantastic (and creepy) characters in The Grave Robber’s Apprentice. Which character was your favourite to write and why?

AS: I loved writing the Necromancer because he’s so evil and has such a wicked sense of humour. This is his first introduction:

The Necromancer floated into view. A wraith-like creature, draped in a dirty, velvet shroud, he was as tall as he was thin and as hairless as he was old. The ears were withered, no bigger than thimbles; his nose and lips rotted away by some loathsome disease. He had no teeth. Nor eyes. His empty sockets were deep, empty caverns rippling with shadows from the lamp light. Yet a fierce energy burned within his core. It was as if he was fueled by the fires of hell.

“How long have you been there?” Angela whispered.

“I have been here, since the moment you thought of me,” the Necromancer replied, the long, boney fingers of his right hand clutching a wooden staff, as if preparing for some satanic ritual. With his left, he withdrew two eggs from his shroud, and placed them in his eye sockets. “You see, I’ve been watching you since you left your castle, my crow’s eyes circling the night sky.”

D: Love it! Most of your previous books are contemporary ones, like Chanda’s Wars and Leslie’s Journal. Do you approach writing fantasy differently?

AS: No. I consider my fantasy worlds real as well. In every scene, for every character, I ask: What does each character want? What will they do to get it? Then I imagine myself into the head of each character and let the scenes rip!

D: That’s a great piece of advice for aspiring writers to keep in mind! What would you say was the biggest challenge writing The Grave Robber’s Apprentice? And what aspect of writing it did you enjoy the most?

AS: The biggest challenge was making my fantasy world real for me and my readers. That was also what I enjoyed the most.

D: What kids/YA book scares you the most OR which book did you love to read around Halloween when you were a kid?

AS: The Headless Horseman.

D: Thanks for stopping by Allan!

AS: You’re welcome. It was fun.


Allan Stratton is the award-winning author of Chanda’s Wars, Chanda’s Secrets and Leslie’s Journal. His latest work, The Grave Robber’s Apprentice, follows the adventures of an orphan named Hans who is taken in by a grave robber. Hans befriends the young countess Angela von Schwanenberg who is fleeing from an evil archduke and an even more evil Necromancer.

You can find Allan online at allanstratton.com

This post is part of the month long feature Happy Hallow’Read! Don’t forget to check out more Happy Hallow’Read posts and the spectacularly spooky giveaways! (Details here.)

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