Jane Lynch has displayed her diverse talents on a number of stages. She’s won Emmy and Golden Globe Awards for her performance in Glee and reveals her quick wit as host of Hollywood Game Night. She’s also a singer, playwright, and author of a memoir, Happy Accidents (Voice, 2011). At BEA, Lynch steps into yet another role: that of children’s book author. Her debut picture book, Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean (Random House, Sept.), co-written with clinical psychologist Lara Embry and former children’s book editor A.E. Mikesell, is illustrated by Tricia Tusa.
The story introduces a mean girl who rules the school until a classmate finally stands up to her. “Lara, Elizabeth, and I all admitted to each other that at different times in our lives we’ve all done some bullying and have been recipients of it,” say Lynch of the inspiration for the story line. “There are so many awful things kids have to deal with on both sides of the coin, and we wanted to explore these experiences through a character who is a bright light with great potential—she is a real individual and will probably lead a corporation one day—but has bad social skills.”
The three-way writing collaboration worked quite well, according to Lynch. “Marlene’s voice came to us quite easily, as did the story, since we all agreed about everything,” Lynch reports. “I think the book came together well because it came from an honest place within ourselves.”
And, not surprisingly given Lynch’s curriculum vitae, there’s a good deal of humor in Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean. “That was our impulse from the start,” says Lynch. “We wanted to make kids laugh while absorbing what the story was saying. Lara and Elizabeth brought a lot to the book. They are a lot smarter than I am, but I’m a lot taller—and I provided the funny.” And Tusa, Lynch adds, “did a great job with her cute and funny illustrations. We wanted Marlene to be a real individual, and comfortable in her own body. In the book’s pictures, she comes across perfectly.”
Lynch is adjusting quite easily to her persona of children’s book author. “It isn’t something that I had on my bucket list, but I don’t really plan everything I do in my life,” she says. “I kind of stumble upon whatever it is I’m supposed to do next. I’m used to wearing a lot of hats—in fact, I change hats a couple of times a day. I like using different parts of my brain and skill sets.”
Lynch will sign prints featuring art from Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean today, 1–2 p.m., in the Random House booth (2839).