I like when musicians and actors explore their other creative talents. I know they get a lot of criticism for it, but I don’t see anything wrong with it. A creative person, whether he be a famous actor, a musician, or a filmmaker, has the right and the means to create art with multiple media, and it should be encouraged (provided it’s worth publication)—which brings me to the topic of this post.
About a month ago I was ambling around the Children’s Section of my local Barnes & Noble, a place I know well. I grew up there, sitting in corners for hours reading Ella Enchanted or Harry Potter. I went in to see if they had a new edition of the Hogwarts Library (because I’m a nerd) and on my way out, not having found the book I wanted, I looked down and saw something else: a book called Wildwood. It was a square brick book, easily 500 pages, with a deckle edge and a beautiful cover illustration: these are the books I love as objects. I picked it up and it reminded me of a book I’d read when I was 13, Inkheart. It had the same feeling of magic and childlike fantasy, so I bought the book on a whim. It wasn’t until I took it home and looked it up on Goodreads that I realized Colin Meloy, frontman of The Decemberists, was the unlikely author.
On the other hand, for Christmas this year I received Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller. After hearing Segel speak last year at the BookCon (and falling desperately in love with him), I itched to read his children’s fantasy novel, which tackles the subjects of nightmares and childhood fears, all within a fantasy setting. I haven’t read a children’s book in a really long time, and this year, the two I picked to read just happened to be written by famous people. Go figure.
I’m especially excited about Wildwood because Meloy studied creative writing and English in college, and his storytelling abilities are apparent in the one album I like by The Decemberists (they’re a little too folk for my musical taste): The Hazards of Love. This album is entirely a ‘rock opera’ love story set in a pagan-ish Britain and manages to create a lively cast of characters through music and voice talent alone. I’ve begun reading Wildwood and find myself plunged into a fantasy story every bit as gripping as that album was. It’s partly an ode to Meloy’s native Portland, Oregon and it’s as enchanting as a children’s book should be.
Then I’ll read Nightmares! and plan a way to marry Jason Segel.