On Friday, June 1 on the Uptown Stage at BookExpo, actor turned writer Chris Colfer was interviewed by New York Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul. Colfer was attending the show to promote Worlds Collide, the paperback release of the sixth and final book in his bestselling The Land of Stories series, which will hit shelves on June 12.
During the event, Colfer reflected about the genesis of the series, which he said he “started writing when I was seven years old.” His grandmother, he noted, was his first and toughest editor. “I loved fairy tales when I was a kid. I asked my mom a million questions about the stories we read together and finally one day she said, ‘Just write your own fairy tale.’ ” He took that to heart and began writing the story when he spent time in the hospital when his sister was sick (with epilepsy).
Colfer has always been drawn to fairy tales, he said, noting that to him they are the “building blocks of literature.” He doesn’t worry too much about offending traditionalists. “I try not to mess with the original stories too much, but rather update them. The cycle seems to be that we bastardize them and then go back to the original then bastardize them, then go back to the original.”
His favorite fairy tale used to be “Sleeping Beauty” because he liked the idea that you “fall asleep and wake up married and everything is taken care of—how nice would that be?” But he now likes “Snow White” the best because “the evil queen is delicious.”
When asked whether he identifies as an actor, writer, or director, he joked that “If I had to choose, I’m fundamentally a writer because you can do that in your pajamas.” He then added, more seriously, “Books are what saved me as a kid so I’m glad to give back to that world.”
He admits that he enjoys writing for the middle grade market more than for young adults because “there is so much more pressure writing for teenagers than for children.”
Fans of The Land of Stories will be able to continue to visit Colfer’s fairy tale world. He is not only writing the screenplay for a movie version of the series (which he will also direct), but he’s at work on a prequel series, currently set to be two books.