Actress Julianne Moore and award-winning writer and illustrator Brian Selznick have more in common than writing books for children: they are friends, and through their art, have had the chance to experience each other’s worlds.
For Brian, life as a bestselling author and Caldecott medalist was upturned when his yet-to-be published novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret started making the rounds on the West Coast several years ago. He tells Show Daily @ BookCon, “I first became aware of Hugo’s sudden arrival in Hollywood through emails I began to get from different people who had advanced readers copies of the book, which were making their way around the offices of producers and directors.” Then he heard from Grey Rembert, who worked in the movie business and had a very personal connection to the book. Selznick explains, “She told me that she wanted to bring my book to Martin Scorsese. Then she said, ‘And if Scorsese can’t do it, we can bring it to Steven Spielberg,’ and I just thought to myself, This is someone who’s telling me that Steven Spielberg is the second name on the list. It seemed very insane.”
Of course, director Martin Scorsese signed on to do the movie, and Selznick became immersed in a different environment. “It’s a very insular process while I’m creating a story,” he says. “It’s mostly me and Tracy [Tracy Mack, his editor at Scholastic Press] and my husband and a couple of friends who I’m bouncing ideas off of and reading some sections to during the most intense process, so it’s a very small group of people who are making this happen.” Then he entered Scorsese’s movie world. “The scale of it was so different and so overwhelming. There were several thousand people around the world who were employed on the creation of this movie. I felt that I was inadvertently responsible for so many people making a living for a couple of years, which was great. But we’re all doing the same thing, which is trying to tell a good story as clearly as possible.”
For Julianne Moore, long used to the collaborative process of stage and film, writing was also a completely different experience. She tells Show Daily, “I love being on a set, meeting with lots of different people, having different kinds of experts around. And when you write a book it’s just you sitting there.”
Moore started writing her popular Freckleface Strawberry series with Bloomsbury 10 years ago when her then seven-year-old son was unhappy with how his adult teeth looked when they came in. “I was reminded about how self-conscious kids feels,” she says, “how we all feel as we’re growing up. There are all those things that feel like they’re going to be such big problems that end up not being problems when you get older because you have other things to worry about. I wrote the first story in my Filofax when I was on a plane to London and was alone for the first time in a long time, because I usually have my kids with me.”
She and Selznick connected in 2012 when she was the artistic ambassador for Save the Children and asked him, along with other children’s book authors and illustrators, to design a limited edition valentine to be used for fund-raising purposes. The two have been friends ever since.
They will be together today, 2:30 p.m.–3:30 p.m., for the panel, “Crafting Illustrated Stories for Kids: Julianne Moore in Conversation with Brian Selznick” in Room 1A10. (Selznick will also be doing an autographing, 4–5 p.m., for which tickets are required). Part of the conversation will be a discussion about their newest books. Moore is doing a new Step Into Reading series for early readers, with two June 2015 offerings: Freckleface Strawberry: Backpacks! and Freckleface Strawberry: Lunch, or What’s That? Selznick’s upcoming book is The Marvels (Sept.), which magically weaves together two different stories; an illustrated, five-generation journey starting in 1766 and a prose story beginning in 1990.
Both are excited about appearing with each other. Selznick tells Show Daily @ BookCon, “I always love to talk with people about their process and because Julianne does two seemingly different things—being an actress as well as a writer—I want to know where those two art forms overlap. How does her acting and the way she thinks about creating a role overlap with the stories that she writes, and how does she think about her characters that she’s creating from scratch?””
Moore gets in the last word: “Brian is utterly delightful and way more entertaining then I have ever been on stage. He has lots to say and so much enthusiasm for books and art and narrative. He’s very impressive, erudite, and fun, so I’m sure we’ll have a great time, mostly due to his efforts, I’m sure. I’m going to really rely on Brian to be the entertaining one.”
This article appeared in the May 31, 2015 edition of PW BookCon Daily.