Husband and wife Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis live in a neighborhood in Forest Park, a 5000 acre northwestern wilderness on the edge of Portland, Oregon. To Colin and Carson, who spend hours and hours walking through the forest, it feels like its own country, vastly different from, yet so close to, the city. This is the inspirational landscape for Wildwood. In fact, when Colin and Carson began working in earnest on the Wildwood series, they began with a map that Carson drew of Forest Park, and from there their imaginations soared.
They have been brewing the world of Wildwood for a while. "The germ of this series goes back a long way," Meloy says. "For me, this is the culmination of a long-term collaboration with Carson, matching words and art. I grew up on a steady diet of Lloyd Alexander, Roald Dahl, and Tolkien; this is our humble paean to that grand tradition of epic adventure stories." Ellis adds, "Wildwood is a project very close to my heart - the collaboration that Colin and I have been dreaming about for years."
They have been actively working on this idea since 2000, a few years after the couple met at college. As Colin states on the series' website: "Carson and I were living humble, impoverished lives in a warehouse in Portland, Oregon. I was thinking about starting a new band; Carson was doing oil paintings and selling them at fire-sale prices. We were kindred spirits. Since we'd met in college a few years prior, we discovered that our creative sensibilities lined up perfectly. Carson had done flyers for my college band. I sometimes suggested subjects for her paintings. We were looking for some way to create a real collaboration. We started working on a story."
That story - eleven years later - is Wildwood. In the time between writing the beginning of this series (which was originally titled How Ruthie Ended the War) and now, Colin Meloy formed his band The Decemberists, and began writing music, performing and touring the world, and Carson Ellis began an illustrating career, illustrating children's books such as Lemony Snicket's The Composer Is Dead, Dillweed's Revenge by Florence Parry Heide, and The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. She is also responsible for all of the album cover, t-shirt and website art of the Decemberists.
There is even an iTunes playlist that the couple made for Wildwood!
For a peek at Carson Ellis's artwork in Wildwood, check out the book trailer below!
This article is from the September 21, 2011 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.
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