Five (or more) questions with Colin Meloy on ‘Wildwood Imperium’

Decemberists frontman and author Colin Meloy and illustrator Carson Ellis will read from the newest in the Wildwood Chronicles series, Imperium, at a book signing hosted by Malaprops on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. 

The event requires a ticket, which can be purchased at Tickets are $15 and include a $5 off coupon for Wildwood Imperium.

Q: So, why and when did you decide to start writing books?

A: It was sort of a long time coming. The story had been kind of sketched out for a while, so that was to finish the story, or a version of the story. And that was because—it’s something I had been wanting to do for a while. It was something that Carson and I had talked about doing—kind of before we even started doing stuff with The Decemberists. We wanted to do a long-form story that would be heavily illustrated. And finally we had an idea and an opportunity to do it, so we kind of leaped on it.

Q: What was your inspiration for the Wildwood Chronicles?

A: A bunch of things. Primarily it takes place in a re-imagined version of Portland. I feel like the landscape and the environment and the energy that is Portland certainly had a big influence on it. The park inside of Portland—that really served as the main inspiration and was kind of the reason for this book even existing.

Q: And your inspiration for the characters?

A: Well the two main protagonists—as I was writing, I found myself drawing a lot from my own experience as an 11 year old for Curtis. And then Prue was initially kind of roughly based on the only 11 year old I really knew at the time, who was the niece of a friend of ours. But I ended up kind of digging into Carson’s childhood to flush out that character. So in some ways, Prue and Curtis, to a certain degree, are Carson and I.

Q: Tell me a little bit about Imperium.

A: Well, it’s the third book in the series. It’s kind of a closing of sorts. It’s going to bring to a close the things that got started in the first book. I don’t want to give away too much. It’ll give a closer understanding of the inter-workings of the world. You see a lot of the strings left untied in the second book get tied up.

Q: So how does writing a book differ from writing songs?

A: I think they’re both challenging in their own right, but for different reasons. Writing a book can sometimes feel—you have your day of work cut out for you. It’s more of a 9-5 job—or it can be. But I feel like ideas with writing songs often comes in fits and starts. With books, in some way, you have the whole day in front of you where you know what you need to write. It’s sort of satisfying. Whereas, I feel like, writing songs can be more like grabbing things out of the air.

Q: Is it as different when your music has a strong narrative?

A: I think they are similar in that they have the narrative to them. Beyond that it’s like the two things are very different as far as getting them down on paper.

Q: So, I have to ask, have you been to Asheville before?

A: Yeah, I’ve been a few times. I love Asheville. It’s a beautiful little town.

Q: I think a lot of people in Asheville consider it Portland’s unofficial sister city. Can you see any connection? Or is that Asheville inflating our own ego?

A: (laughs) Oh really? As a Portlander, I approve of whats happening in Asheville. I haven’t spent a ton of time there, just passing through with the band, but I think it’s beautiful.

Q: So what will you and Carson be doing at the event?

A: We’ll be signing books. We will be giving a little presentation just talking about the books. I’ll be doing a short reading, and then we’ll be doing Q&A.

Q: Will you sign my book?

A: Absolutely! As long as you promise to read it.


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About Hayley Benton
Current freelance journalist and artist. Former culture/entertainment reporter at the Asheville Citizen-Times and former news reporter at Mountain Xpress. Also a coffee drinker, bad photographer, teller of stupid jokes and maker-upper of words. I can be reached at hayleyebenton [at] Follow me @HayleyTweeet

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