This morning I was psyched to see an unexpected deal on Publisher's Marketplace—Colin Meloy, the lead singer/songwriter for Portland-based indie rock band The Decemberists, has signed a three-book deal with HarperCollins. He's writing a middle-grade series called "Wildwood," and according to a press release it's "a classic tale of adventure, magic, and danger, set in an alternate version of modern-day Portland, Oregon." Meloy said the books will be his "humble paean to that grand tradition of epic adventure stories" by the likes of Lloyd Alexander, Roald Dahl and Tolkien.
The first book will come out in Fall 2011. Donna Bray, who in the past has worked on Newbery winner Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi and National Book Award Finalist The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich, among many others, bought the book.
The Decemberists are one of my favorite contemporary bands—and they put on an incredible live show. At first I thought it was odd that Meloy is writing novels, but when I think about the storytelling nature of his songs, it makes perfect sense ("The Mariner's Revenge Song" in itself could be a book!)
Carson Ellis—Meloy's wife, and the artist behind The Decemberists' memorable album covers—will illustrate the books. You may also be familiar with her work on Trenton Lee Stewart's The Mysterious Benedict Society; she designed the cover and the interior illustrations in book one of the series.
Do you listen to The Decemberists? Will you check out the Wildwood books? The Decemberists have such a dedicated fan base that I suspect these books might reach beyond the typical middle-grade audience and become collector's items for music fans!