By Valerie Shelton | Reporter
Famous Clovis East alum Chris Colfer returned to his hometown July 25 to celebrate the launch of the final book in his Land of Stories children’s series, “Land of Stories: Worlds Collide.” His Clovis appearance at the Mercedes Edwards Theater was stop No. 13 out of 20 on Colfer’s tour for the book.
Colfer, who is best known for playing Kurt on the hit Fox show “Glee,” has become a prolific author as well as actor. In addition to the six book Land of Stories series, Colfer has also written two young adult novels, “Stanger Than Fanfiction” and “Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal.” The latter was turned into a film starring Colfer.
The popularity of the ‘Land of Stories’ series has landed it at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list. The books have been translated into 16 different languages and, in the United States, more than 3 million book have been sold. Book 1 in the series, “Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell,” will soon be adapted to film by 20th Century Fox and Colfer is posed to not only write the screenplay, but to make his first directorial debut.
While the multi-talented Clovis native continues to expand his repertoire, it was clear from his hometown visit that he’s remained humble and still has a nostalgic soft spot for the place he grew up.
“I cannot believe I’m standing on the stage where I did so many school plays,” were Colfer’s first words to the packed audience after he took an Ellen-at-the-Oscars style selfie with the crowd. “Perhaps you remember my riveting portrayal as Chip in ‘Beauty and the Beast.’”
In between reading excerpts from his newest book, Colfer answered questions from his adoring fans and judged a costume contest—a task which proved surprisingly difficult.
The ultimate winner of the contest was a fan dressed as Mother Goose with a big caboose (and a fun flask she snuck into the theater!) reminiscent of Colfer’s laugh-out-loud version of the fairytale character. The runner-up was a young boy portraying the man in the mirror.
Colfer’s wit was quick and he made several quips referencing his upbringing in Clovis as he joked with the audience during the contest. At one point, he asked a kindergarten teacher dressed as Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” what district she taught in. Knowing he was a Clovis East alum she cringed and said Fresno Unified, but he joked, “Oh, of course, because they let you do this in Fresno, not Clovis!”
During a Q&A portion of the event, many locals asked Colfer is any of his Clovis experiences were reflected in the books.
“The series definitely affected my grades because I was always too busy writing it to do my homework,” he told one of his former teacher’s aides. “I had some incredible teachers at Clovis East and there is a lot of them in Mrs. Peters, who in the first book is the twin’s sixth grade teacher and by the end of the books is principal. She’s based on a lot of teachers I had in Clovis.”
Others simply asked Colfer is he remembered so-and-so and after some pondering, Colfer often did. “It’s like a reunion!,” he exclaimed at one point.
Throughout the Q&A Colfer revealed tidbits about the book—his favorite characters to write, for instance, are Mother Goose and Red Riding Hood—as well as gave his fans a glimpse into what it’s like to be an actor/author.
While many assume being on “Glee” has been the highlight of his career, Colfer said his biggest sense of accomplishment comes from being a published author.
“I get so much credit for being on “Glee” and saying words that were given to me, but I’m really happy to be contributing to the literary world and inspiring kids to read and write,” Colfer said.
When it came to who inspired him to write, Colfer gave props to his favorite author J.K. Rowling, and to his first editor—his grandmother.
“My grandmother was a huge champion and cheerleader for me and when I was a little boy, about seven or eight, and I tried writing the ‘Land of Stories’ for the first time, I would ride my bike over to her house, give her what I had written and she would spell check it. She would grammar check it and if she liked it, she’d keep it in a stack but if she didn’t like it she would crumple it up in front of me and throw it away,” Colfer said. “She would say ‘you’re smart, you can do better’ and she was right. She really helped me get prepared for the writing world.”
Looking ahead to directing “Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell,” Colfer said he is most excited to see the stories come to life on set.
“I think the set pieces are what I’m most excited for because I started writing the series when I was a kid, or I tried to at least, so the designs of the castle are all going to be the exact same designs I had as a kid,” Colfer said. “I’m very excited to bring those to life and I think the first time I walk onto a set, whether it is Cinderella’s Palace or the Evil Queen’s lair, I think I’m going to break down into tears.”