Max Greenfield is best known as an actor and has appeared in recurring roles in such television series as Veronica Mars, Ugly Betty, and New Girl. Since 2018, Greenfield has played Dave Johnson in the CBS sitcom, The Neighborhood. Greenfield has previously published three picture books; his fourth picture book, Good Night Thoughts, illustrated by James Serafino, will be published in September. Greenfield is currently shooting an indie film in Portland, Ore., entitled Let’s Have Kids, and wrote his responses to PW’s queries in between takes.

You wrote Good Night Thoughts in tribute to a friend, Leslie Jordan. Why did you choose to honor your friend with a picture book about nighttime anxieties?

Before Good Night Thoughts was conceived, both Jennifer Klonsky [publisher of Penguin Young Readers] and I were drawn to the idea of my doing a more traditional children’s book. It was right around the time of Leslie Jordan’s passing. Leslie was a dear friend, and a subject we discussed often was fear. The foundations of the story we are telling in Good Night Thoughts are based on some of those discussions.

Do you remember when you were a child, what your worst bedtime worries consisted of? Were they the same kind of over-the-top fears that the character in Good Night Thoughts has?

I’m kind of glad I can’t remember what I was afraid of as a child. I’m sure it wasn’t any different than what I’m afraid of now as an adult. We tried to cover a lot of ground in the book, allowing readers with different fears to have an access point. Sadly, they all rang true for me.

Do you think that children these days are growing up with more anxiety than previous generations of children?

It’s hard to say. It’s been my experience though that fear and anxiety are a part of everyone’s life, whether we like it or not. I think I’m more interested in how we are approaching the subject of accepting it.

What do you think of James Serafino’s illustrations?

James’s illustrations make the book. It was set up that way: I really wanted to tee up an artist to bring these thoughts to life, and James exceeded every expectation.

You’re a busy and successful actor, and such work is time-consuming, with long days of filming. Yet this is your fourth book for children. What is your process? Do you write between takes, or do you write in between projects?

Writing these books has been one of the great joys of my life. I think the process is blended in with everything I do. It’s also very collaborative. I have loved working with everyone at Penguin, with James and with Mike Lowery, who illustrated the first series of books. It never feels like work.

Your three previous picture books focused on literacy: I Don’t Want to Read This Book, This Book Is Not a Present, and I Don’t Want to Read This Book Aloud. Did that last book, about not wanting to read aloud, have any impact upon your deciding to write Good Night Thoughts?

Yes. The first three books are all essentially about fear. Fear of reading in general, fear of a different approach to learning, and a fear of reading aloud. Again, I think the goal of these books and of Good Night Thoughts is to find some sort of way to accept that fear and then build a different relationship with it.

Does the prospect of being surrounded by thousands of librarians later this month cause you any anxiety or even nightmares, or is it worth it for the chance to visit San Diego?

Being surrounded by thousands of librarians in the heart of San Diego is exactly where I always thought I’d end up in my life.

What do you hope readers take away from reading Good Night Thoughts?

I want readers to have their own experience with the book. Far be it from me to underestimate their capacity to draw more from the book than I could ever have imagined.

Max Greenfield is an ALA featured speaker; he will be in conversation with Kit Ballenger on the main stage in Ballroom 20 at the San Diego Convention Center on Sunday, June 30, 9:30 a.m.10:30 a.m. PST.

Good Night Thoughts by Max Greenfield, illus. by James Serafino. Putnam, $18.99 Sept. 3 ISBN 978-0-59-369789-4