Colin Meloy, best known as the frontman for literate indie rockers The Decemberists, has put his music career on hold to pursue an ancillary passion: literature. He released his debut novel Wildwood last year, a fantasy adventure aimed at readers between the ages of eight and twelve. It told the story of Prue, a precocious youngster from Portland, as she searches for her kidnapped brother in the magical, forested realm of Wildwood. The novel featured illustrations by Meloy’s wife, Carson Ellis, and spent two weeks on the New York Times Best-Seller list.
The sequel to that novel, Under Wildwood, picks up where book one left off: Prue has returned to everyday life as a middle-schooler after rescuing her brother Mac from the clutches of the Dowager Governess. The tranquility is quickly shattered, though, when she is forced to return to Wildwood to help her friend Curtis quell political unrest, all while fending off the attacks of shape-shifting assassins. A parallel storyline introduces two young sisters, Rachel and Elsie, and their plot to escape from an orphanage run by a malevolent industrial conglomerate.
I spoke with Mr. Meloy about his new work. Read the interview below for his thoughts on the book’s weighty themes and his inescapable association with Steam Punk. (Minor SPOILERS ahead).