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The angelic-voiced Chris Colfer may have broken through to TV stardom as Kurt Hummel on Glee when he sang “Defying Gravity,” but these days he’s smashing sales records in the publishing industry as well.

His series of four volumes of revisionist fairy tales, under the umbrella title The Land of Stories, has been No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list, while the first picture book inspired by the series, The Curvy Tree, debuted last month to strong sales. Fans of Colfer’s fabulous fables are waiting for the boxed set, Adventures From the Land of Stories, to hit the streets on Nov. 24.

It’s quite a lot for the 25-year-old from Clovis, Calif., to have on his plate, but on the phone from New York he seems just about the nicest young guy you’d ever want to chat with, lacking all of his alter-ego Kurt’s sometimes abrasive fashionista baggage.

“Thank you for recognizing that Kurt and I are two different people,” he says. “Don’t get me wrong, I loved playing him, but we’re not the same in so many ways. When I walked into my audition for Glee, I was a small-town kid wearing scruffy jeans and a shirt from Target.”

In fact, when Colfer auditioned for the show, he was originally brought in to try out for the role of Artie. But the show’s creator, Ryan Murphy, sensed something in Colfer and created Kurt for him.

“That was fantastic, sure, but I had to do a lot of homework really quick. I used to keep watching The Devil Wears Prada on repeat to soak up all the gestures and mannerisms. I don’t think anybody ever guessed that I was channelling Meryl Streep’s judgmental looks as Kurt.”

Colfer made a big impression from the start when Glee hit the air in 2009, but it was the ninth episode that season, “Wheels,” that really did the trick. Colfer and Lea Michele’s character Rachel battled over who would sing “Defying Gravity” from the musical Wicked.

“That came from my own life,” says Colfer. “I always wanted to sing it in high school, but the teachers wouldn’t let me because they said it was a girl’s song. My grandmother finally let me sing it in the church where she was a reverend.

“That song meant the world to me. Wicked was about someone who nobody paid attention to and who had a sister with special needs.”

Colfer’s voice gets husky as he explains the next part of his story.

“When I was a kid, my sister, who was five years younger, was diagnosed with epilepsy. Sometimes she would have 50 seizures in an hour. It was a very, very difficult period for the whole family. That’s when I started creating fairy tales in my head and writing them down. I just couldn’t write enough and my grandmother persuaded me to wait.

“She said, ‘Christopher, I think you should wait until you’ve done with elementary school before worrying about being a failed writer.’”

But when Colfer got to middle school he had other problems to deal with.

“That’s when the bullying started. My voice may have matured over the years, but it’s never changed. So there I was, a sensitive kid with an effeminate voice. I wasn’t feminine in any of my mannerisms, but I was growing up in a very, very conservative place, so that was enough.

“I’d get shoved into walls, pushed into lockers, my things would get vandalized. My parents finally had to take me out and home-school me for a while. It got a bit better in high school. I discovered musical theatre and could be with people like me. I produced a gender-reversed version of Sweeney Todd called Shirley Todd. I did it so that I could sing all the songs Angela Lansbury did.”

An agent had signed Colfer at 14 because of his amazing voice, “but I never got any work. I was always auditioning for the nerd trying to get laid or the jock with a heart of gold, and you can see why I didn’t get any of those parts.”

But then, two weeks into his first year at college, came the audition for Glee and the world shifted on its axis for Colfer and many other young people.

“I think having someone like Kurt on the show changed things for a lot of kids. There I was, a gay guy who wasn’t written to be a punching bag. Someone who had a soul behind the eyes. Someone who people were rooting for.

“I’m a little bitter that there was no one like that on TV when I was growing up. I was so terrified of being gay. I was so far in the closet that I was in the garage. That was the worst part of it.”

What kind of advice would Colfer offer to the kids out there struggling to define themselves?

“I’d probably say hormones are not your fault. Don’t be upset by them. There were so many times as a kid when I was so down; I felt I was never meant for this world. But it wasn’t true. I’d say get out there and see the world. It’s much bigger than your high school.”

And then he thinks of a line he wrote in The Curvy Tree that sums it all up.

“Being different may have been difficult, but it’s what saved me.”

Five fave influences

J.K. Rowling
“She was the author whose footsteps I first wanted to follow in. Just like her, I wanted to write a book that captivated book lovers.”

Gregory Maguire
“I was too young to read him at first, but I’ve come to love the depth he brings to fairy tales. Wicked is still the most amazing, especially for the depth he gave to everyone’s back stories.”

Whoopi Goldberg
“I admire her so much! If there was a musical of The Land of Stories, I’d want her to produce it.”

Kristin Chenoweth
“She was my first celebrity crush. There’s just this glow that comes off of her. She’s simply amazing.”

Robin Williams
“I was so sad when he died. I still can’t believe it. He was my hero when I was growing up.”

Source: thestar.com

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Stranger Than Fanfiction
Written by Chris Colfer
Release: February 28, 2017

Cash Carter is the young, world famous lead actor of the hit television Wiz Kids. When four fans jokingly invite him on a cross-country road trip, they are shocked that he actually takes them up on it. Chased by paparazzi and hounded by reporters, this unlikely crew takes off on a journey of a lifetime–but along the way they discover that the star they love has deep secrets he’s been keeping. What they come to learn about the life of the mysterious person they thought they knew will teach them about the power of empathy and the unbreakable bond of true friendship.
 
Julie's Greenroom
Chris as himself (episode 2)
Release: March 17, 2017 on Netflix

Ms. Julie and her assistant Gus (Giullian Yao Gioiello) will bring the performing arts to a new generation of kids known as the “Greenies,” played by original puppet characters built by the renowned Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.
 
Trollbella Throws a Party:
A Tale from the Land of Stories

Written by Chris Colfer
Release: July 11, 2017

It's Queen Trollbella's birthday and she's throwing herself an epic celebration. She has everything a troll girl would want: musicians, magical creatures, carnival rides, a gigantic cake, and more. So why isn't she having any fun? Trollbella knows something is missing, until she meets a goblin boy sneaking into her party. It's his birthday too! When Trollbella decides to share her party, she knows she's finally figured out what is missing. A happy kingdom and learning to give back is the best gift she could've ever received.
 
The Land of Stories: Worlds Collide
Written by Chris Colfer
Release: July 11, 2017

In the highly anticipated conclusion to the Land of Stories series, Conner and Alex must brave the impossible. All of the Land of Stories fairy tale characters--heroes and villains--are no longer confined within their world! With mayhem brewing in the Big Apple, Conner and Alex will have to win their biggest battle yet. Can the twins restore order between the human and fairy tale world?
 
Since My Life Began
Chris as Noel Coward
Release: tba

A story focused on the early life of flamboyant playwright Noel Coward.
 
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