After completing 12 books for "The Land of Stories" fantasy series, Chris Colfer is back with a brand new adventure – and this one, he reveals, was the "toughest book" he's ever had to write.
The author, known for his role as Kurt Hummel in the Fox musical show "Glee," has captured a huge fan following from his best-selling middle-grade series. "A Tale of Magic" will be a sequel to that series.
"A Tale of Magic" (Little, Brown and Co., 496 pp.), out Oct. 1, is special for a variety of reasons.
The tale follows 14-year-old Brystal Evergreen, as she tries to survive the oppressive Southern Kingdom where it is illegal for women to read books. While working as a maid at her local library and having to sneak out titles, she discovers a secret section with a book about magic, which is also outlawed throughout the world, leading her down a complicated path.
The book, which tackles powerful issues, was more difficult to write than Colfer imagined.
"At its core, 'Tale of Magic' is a story about overcoming prejudice and oppression and more than anything I hope it inspires and encourages anyone out there who is fighting their own battles of injustice or inequality," he told USA TODAY.
"When I first started, I was not expecting it to be as difficult as it was, but the world changed so significantly since I agreed to do it, to when I started writing it… I knew I had to tell a story that I thought would help kids and families out there who are having a difficult time with the times we live in," he continued.
Colfer is embarking on a tour for the book, he shared exclusively with USA TODAY. But unlike Colfer's previous book tours for "Stories," which transformed into auditorium-sized events with costume contests, readings and games, the format for his new tale will be much more traditional, beginning with the tour's first stop in New York City on the day of the book's release.
"Since this is a brand-new series I’m going to be doing a traditional book signing this time around," Colfer revealed. "As soon as the readers are familiar with the new story, the new characters, we’ll go back to the town hall-style because it was a big hit with the kids – and their parents because they didn’t have to wait in a line with their kids," he laughed.
What the New York Times bestselling author is most looking forward to, however, is the fan reaction to the meaningful storyline behind the book.
"One of the biggest motivations for this book was actually for parents and teachers, and for all the parents and teachers out there who are having a difficult time talking to their children about the troubling things they see on the news every day," he said. "I really hope that 'A Tale of Magic' acts as a point of reference to make those conversations a lot easier."
Colfer explained that writing has always been a therapeutic activity for him, and helped him get through some of his own toughest times.
"As a kid, I had a sister with special needs, which was very difficult for my family, so whenever times got tough I would just whip out my computer or a pad of paper. … That tool came in later when I grew up as a closeted gay kid in a public high school, and also being a gay teenager on public television," he said.
As a vocal member of the LGBTQ community, the author shared he has received appreciation from LGBTQ fans who connected with his books.
"My books are sold in places and do very well in places where LGBT people are discriminated against quite brutally and I do hear from those kids a lot," Colfer said. "If you look at my Twitter you might find some pictures of LGBT kids holding my books up by the Kremlin and other landmarks. That means a lot to me."
Colfer even admitted to having a whole room in his house dedicated to letters, fan art and fan creations, adding "that's my favorite part because I get to see my characters through someone else's eyes."
@chriscolfer it's been again a privilege to portrait another of your characters from #TheLandOfStories ❤️ Hope you always know the happiness creating costumes from #TLOS gives me! Here's the #SnowQueen! 🤗 pic.twitter.com/hhbYZGUCUD— Arianna :) (@MyLifeIsAthread) February 23, 2019
The author added that although "A Tale of Magic" acts as a prequel, it is a "completely independent story, and you don't need to read 'Land of Stories' to enjoy it."
Fans might want to get reading soon because Colfer announced his next literary focus: writing the sequel.
See the full book tour schedule:
Oct. 1, 7 p.m. EDT
Barnes & Noble Union Square, New York
Oct. 2, 7 p.m. EDT
Books & Greetings, Northvale, New Jersey
Oct. 3, 7 p.m. CDT
Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, Illinois
Oct. 4, 7 p.m. EDT
A Likely Story Bookstore, Sykesville, Maryland
Oct. 5, 3 p.m. EDT
Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, Georgia
Oct. 6, 2 p.m. CDT
Barnes & Noble Stonebriar Mall, Frisco, Texas
Oct. 7, 7 p.m. MST
Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, Arizona
Oct. 8, 7 p.m. PDT
Barnes & Noble at the Grove, Los Angeles
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chris Colfer talks 'A Tale of Magic,' new book tour, being LGBTQ icon