At just 22, Chris Colfer has made a career centered in storytelling via acting, screenwriting and now fiction. Best known for his Golden Globe-winning portrayal of gay teen Kurt Hummel on TV’s “Glee,” Colfer has written The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell (Little, Brown, $17.99), a fast-paced fantasy adventure that blends the modern world with the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen.
On the movie front, Colfer’s first screenplay, “Struck By Lightning,” will hit screens later this year. It’s a comedy about a young man (Colfer) who, after being struck and killed by lightning, recounts the way he blackmailed his fellow classmates into contributing to his literary magazine. Christina Hendricks, Dermot Mulroney and Allison Janney also are in the cast.
Colfer also has been hired by the Disney Channel to write a pilot for a children’s show called “The Little Leftover Witch,” based on a book by Florence Laughlin. And he’s not done yet with Alex and Conner. He’s already at work on a second book that he says “will be a little bit more personal for me.”
Colfer recently took some time to talk about writing, fairy tales and what the future holds for his character on “Glee.”
Q. For someone so young, you have a long history with this book.
A. When I was 10, the overall concept came to me, and I began writing. Ever since then, it’s been in my head, festering and marinating and wanting to get out. After the success with “Glee,” I was approached to do an autobiography. But I was just 20 and didn’t want to do that just yet. I want to wait until I’m at least 25 (laughs). But I suggested the idea of writing a children’s fantasy novel, and they liked the idea.
Q. How did you become interested in writing at such a young age?
A. I loved playing with action figures and gave them very, very detailed story lines. So I think that was kind of my first taste of writing. I was bullied in school, so writing and storytelling became a form of escapism for me. Now I’m addicted to it.
Q. You dedicate the book to your grandmother. Why?
A. She was my first editor when I first started writing years ago. Every time I finished a chapter, I would go over to her house, and she would do the spelling and grammar check for me. If she liked it, she would keep it for her own collection. If she didn’t, she would throw it away and tell me I could do better.
Q. What do you find so fascinating about fairy tales?
A. I love thinking that there is magic in the world, that there are people in the world with amazing abilities that we just don’t know about. And I wanted to make sure to incorporate the original Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen tales into the book. Over the course of time, with all the fairy tale adaptations and cartoons the morals the stories used to hold have kind of been lost. I hope the book inspires readers to take a look at the originals.
Q. What do you hope young readers get from the book?
A. There are a bunch of lessons and morals throughout the story, and hopefully, they can learn from them. But ultimately, my goal was to let kids who need an escape have an adventure with Alex and Conner.
Q. So, screenwriting vs. fiction, are they different challenges?
A. Screenwriting is much easier, because all you have to do is write the action and what they’re saying. You have a lot of help from the actors, the director, the set designer. They’re all helping you bring your vision to life. In a novel, you have to write the internal dialogue, the conflicts, and all that inner turmoil. You have to supply the reader with every single detail you can.
Q. Taking a turn to your other job, what does the new season hold for Kurt on “Glee”? His future was left up in the air after he graduated at the end of last season.
A. I really don’t know. I’m eagerly awaiting the script. All I know is he’s going to be mentored by Sarah Jessica Parker. So I’m very excited about that. And as far as I know, all the graduated characters are coming back.
Q. How do you see your own future unfolding?
A. I just want to do everything. I’m really happy right now being able to do a movie here, a television show there, write a book, write a screenplay. So as long as I’m able to keep my whole storytelling addiction alive, then I’m good.
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