Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Wildwood Imperium Reading with Colin Meloy, or, “Does his voice sound the same as on the album?”

I distinctly remember reading Colin Meloy’s book Wildwood last winter when I was applying to graduate programs. (Yes, I am in my 20s and frequently read children’s and young adult books. So what? More on that later.) I was well into my Portland State application when I discovered the book coincidentally takes place in Portland. Shocking, I know.

Wildwood's descriptions of Portland and the Impassable Wilderness (modeled after Portland’s own Forest Park Conservancy) drew me in and tugged at my heart. I needed to go there. I needed to go to PSU. All of that feels like a big cliché and understatement, but it’s the best I can come up with right now (budding migraine).

And now here I am. When I heard that there would be a reading and author signing for his newest Wildwood book, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Even though I knew I’d be surrounded by sticky, noisy children again. It’s the price I pay for reading outside my “age group,” I suppose. Whatever that means.

What a beauty.
Fortunately, I wasn’t the only 20-something unaccompanying a minor, like I was at the Lemony Snicket reading. There were plenty of people from my age group there, and even some young, hip parents, though I have a sneaking suspicion it’s because Colin Meloy is the vocalist for the Decemberists.

Which brings us to the question, “Does his voice sound the same as it does on the albums?”

The answer is no, it doesn’t at all. It’s not nearly as nasally.
(Shouts out to Jordan for the great question!)


Colin’s wife Carson Ellis illustrates the series, which is pretty rad, and she participated in the reading/signing as well. She’s also done album art for the Decemberists and illustrations for books such as The Mysterious Benedict Society.

Unfortunately, no flash photography/videos/posed pictures were allowed, and as I was in the back, I couldn’t exactly see well enough to get a decent non-flash picture. So all I have to show is this crappy, blurry phone picture:

You're welcome.

The event began with the duo introducing themselves and launching into a slideshow, through which they cycled through projections of some of Colin’s early short stories as a child (He read the entirety of one called “The Killer Marshmallow” and it was a riot) and some of Carson’s early artwork. Each were accompanied by snarky comments, which, as you should hopefully know by now, are my favorite. At the end of the presentation Colin read the first chapter from Imperium. And no, his voice didn’t sound different then either.

I think the best part of the event (arguably) was seeing how Colin and Carson interacted with each other as they talked about their childhoods, their respective art, and how they’ve always collaborated on projects. In short: they were too adorable and I couldn’t handle it one bit. It would have been difficult to miss how much they respect and admire each other. I don’t know how long they’ve been married, but you could definitely tell they are still very much in love.

That’s sappy of me, I know. But it was a good reminder that the kind of artistic support I want and need in a relationship exists.

Or at least I want to believe it exists.
Sorry, I had to.
At the end of the event while I was waiting for the signing, I had the pleasure of eavesdropping overhearing a conversation between a young girl and her grandmother. The girl kept saying how she’s really excited about writing and has a great idea for a story, but is having trouble starting it. And it warmed my heart at how supportive the grandmother was, offering her advice and ideas and whatnot.

As for the whole book signing part, I have this horrible habit of clamming up when I get the chance to talk to an author, so I just grin and nod dumbly and say “thanks!” A bit of a let down, I know. I'm disappointed in myself too. 

But hey, at least I wasn’t the guy who asked to have his burned Decemberists CD signed.

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