Chris Colfer on The Land of Stories and Harry Potter
Golden Globe winner and best-selling author Chris Colfer kicks off his latest book tour on Tuesday to celebrate the release of The Land of Stories: An Author’s Odyssey, the penultimate installment in his fairy tale series. The tour is set to include brand new activities for readers, including costume and trivia contests, making its first stop in New York City.
Before setting out on his author’s odyssey, Colfer chatted with EW about all things Land of Stories — from his dream Harry Potter crossover to the inclusion of LGBT fairy tale characters to the upcoming sixth and final book. He also touched on his post-Glee acting projects, including an update on the Noel Coward biopic, his upcoming role in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, and if he’d ever reunite with former Glee boss Ryan Murphy on Scream Queens or American Horror Story.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Congratulations on the new book and the tour. Is there a memorable moment you had during the last tour?
It’s hard to pick just one because everything can be really memorable. But there’s nothing like having a 10-year-old come up to you and talk to you about your characters as if they’re real people. I get really giddy whenever a little kid tells me, “Please tell this character I said hello,” or, “Tell this character I think they’re a bad person.” It’s really wonderful to see that excitement in their eyes.
So what can readers expect from the new book, An Author’s Odyssey?
This story is about a writer who gets to meet his own characters and see the environment come to life that had only existed in his imagination prior. It’s kind of based on my experience as a screenwriter. When you write something on the page, the next thing you know, it’s living and breathing in front of you. I thought that would be a fun element to bring to the series.
If you could enter your own Land of Stories, what would you say to your main characters, Alex and Conner?
Oh, gosh, I would just apologize to them for making their lives so complicated.
You’ve delved into so many different fairy tale lands — Oz, Wonderland, Neverland. Say you had the rights to any fantasy world, are there any you’d have your characters visit?
I would love for Alex and Conner to meet Harry Potter, but I’m sure I would get sued from here to Timbuktu, so I won’t even attempt to do that. But it’s nice because those classic stories like The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland really, unfortunately, aren’t quite as known with this new generation of kids. With more recent adaptations, the morals and the traditional stories have kind of gotten lost. It’s really wonderful as an author to introduce a new generation to those stories.
So after An Author’s Odyssey, you have a sixth Land of Stories book coming next year. Is there an end in sight, an endgame you’re headed towards?
Yes, number six will be the final one in the series. But I still have a lot of spin-offs of the series coming out. This October, The Land of Stories: Treasury of Classic Fairy Tales and Rhymes comes out. I have another picture book called Trollbella Throws a Party coming out, and then I’ll have a graphic novel based on the character of Goldilocks coming out.
Any news on The Land of Stories being adapted into a film?
Yeah, I’ve really changed my mind over the years. When I published the first book, that was the most asked question: would you ever see this as a film? And I would say, “No, I really want this to be a book.” But when 6-year-olds come up to you with these huge, teary eyes, and they beg you to do a movie, who am I to deny them of that? [Laughs] So I’ve been taking a lot of meetings and I was hoping to have a little more of an announcement to make with this book, but I’m definitely not going to rush things. But it’s closer now than it has ever been.
Would you be in it?
[Laughs] I think that would be very vain of me, to write a book series and be in the film. That’s not something I necessarily want, but the fans have made it known that they really want me to play the character Froggy. So we’ll see — that might be a fight I lose.
One of your companion books, The Mother Goose Diaries, touched on LGBT rights, with the character marching for marriage equality. How important do you think it is to incorporate LGBT themes into children’s literature?
In that book in particular, I just really wanted to show her fighting for women’s rights and suffrage, walking with Martin Luther King Jr., and standing with LGBT people fighting for marriage equality. It was important for me to show these different battles in history and to show how much progress we’ve made as a country, but how there’s still so much progress to go. We’re getting into an election season and people are being overly political everywhere. And I have to say, I don’t think you change the world by persuading an older generation, you change the world by educating the new generation.
Will we see LGBT characters in The Land of Stories?
There already are LGBT characters in The Land of Stories. I guess I just haven’t made their orientation a part of the plot yet.
Acting wise, what’s going on with the Noel Coward biopic [directed by Joe Stephenson]? Is that still happening?
Yes. Unfortunately, we were so, so close for it to happen — I was planning on shooting it by the end of the year, but Brexit kind of complicated things with financing. It’ll probably be a little bit longer before it gets made, but I really, really hope it gets made. It’s very rare that a role like that comes to a young actor, especially to a young, gay actor. I’m really hopeful that the stars align and it happens.
Can you tell me about your role in the upcoming Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (out July 22)? How did that come about?
I play Jennifer Saunders’s character’s hairdresser/social media consultant. It could’ve been my Make-a-Wish, it really could’ve. I love the show so much and was so touched that Jennifer wrote me a part and included me in it. I think the movie is fantastic, I think people are going to love it. If they’re fans of the show, they’re gonna freak out over it — just like I did — because it’s so damn funny.
You worked with Ryan Murphy on Glee, so will we ever see you on American Horror Story or Scream Queens?
I’m not sure. I don’t really like the sight of blood, so probably not. [Laughs] I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to that.
[Laughs] They’re good. They both had to be put on diets, so the house has been a little tense. Brian [his cat] is down a couple ounces, and Cooper [his dog] is down a couple pounds. They’re much healthier. People always tell me I should do Instagram [accounts] for my cat and my dog, but then I’m like, “What would I Instagram?”
The Land of Stories: An Author’s Odyssey is out now. Find more info about his book tour here.