Lead singer for The Decemberists, Colin Meloy is again showing his talent off the stage as an author with his second children's book, Under Wildwood. Filled with 84 incredible illustrations by his wife, Carson Ellis, Under Wildwood follows the new adventures of Prue McKeel after rescuing her baby brother from the Dowager Governess in the first book, Wildwood.
In celebration, Meloy and Ellis are taking their book on an eight-city tour, including a stop at the King’s English Bookstore in SLC on Thursday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. We interviewed Meloy who willingly shared some of his thoughts about the project and why a musician is writing kids books:
Q: So, what made you want to write kids books anyway?
A: "We [my wife and I] had been talking about doing a long-form collaboration since 2001 when we moved from Portland. She was working in a restaurant and I was in the band. I think I got about 80 pages written and she did a handful of illustrations before our other lives took over."
Q:What challenges did you face writing a sequel?
A: "I think writing the sequel, while it was kind of exciting and fun to explore some of the groundwork and rules in the first book, I felt I was able to blaze a trail and change things in the first book. In the second book, I had to stick to rules and couldn’t change or fudge things very much."
Q: Books, songs—writing's all the same, right?
A: "I don't think they could be more different. I mean, they come from the same part of the brain, but if you like writing songs, it involves a lot of staring off into space and going with whims. When you're writing a book, it's a lot more work. Kind of like attacking a pile of wood one log at a time."
Q: Was it a good idea to work with your wife or just a headache?
A: "It makes it difficult in that you have to pick your battles if you have tussles over things creatively, trying to keep things professional and not let it slip into your day-to-day life. It was also nice because we know each other well enough that I feel like I’m often writing to her strengths and I trust in her judgment. She’s a great sounding board for ideas, so in that sense it’s really helpful."
Q: What kind of books captivated you as a kid?
A: Wildwood and Under Wildwood owe a lot to Tolkien, Dahl, Lloyd Alexander, Ray Bradbury and John Bellairs.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
A: "Try to stay true to your own voice. If you can determine your own voice, I think that’s really the only way you’ll have any real pleasure in writing."