In addition to the many albums he’s released with the Decemberists, Colin Meloy has found quite a bit of success as a children’s book author since his first one, Wildwood, came out back in 2011. That kicked off a series which included two additional books, all illustrated by Meloy’s wife Carson Ellis. Wildwood is becoming an animated film, due out for release in 2025, and in addition to the Wildwood series, Meloy has published two more books aimed at younger audience, The Whiz Mob And The Grenadine Kid and The Stars Did Wander Darkling.
Now, Meloy is gearing up to release his first novel for adults. As Associated Press reports, the Decemberists frontman is working on a new book that has the working title of Cascadia and is set to come out in 2025, as his publisher G.P. Putnam’s Sons revealed. “This story, the story of Barnaby Chambers in a near-future Oregon wrecked by climate crises and hypercapitalism, is one I’ve wanted to tell for a very long time now,” Meloy said in a statement.
“This one’s got swears in it, guys,” he added over on his Instagram.
Meloy wrote more about the project over on his Substack:
I’ve been sitting on the news of this project for a while now; I started the first pages some time in the depths of pandemic. I’d been reflecting on the first few pages of David Copperfield for whatever reason. It’d always fascinated me, this story of how David was born in-caul, meaning that he’d been born covered in an amniotic membrane. In the novel, the family immediately puts the caul up for sale by putting an ad in the paper. They receive a single offer from an attorney connected to a bill broking service. The Copperfields pass on the offer (which involved a certain amount of sherry as part of the bargain) and the caul is only eventually moved ten years later in a raffle. Dickens doesn’t go into much in those pages about why people wanted cauls so much, but he hints at it: they were believed, and I suppose still believed in some parts, to ward off death by drowning.
The thing that really got me, though, was the offer from the bill-broker. What was he going to do with a caul? Being in the bill-broker service, I assumed he’d probably sell it off himself to another buyer at a higher rate. And I imagined a world in which the buying and selling of cauls and other cast-off human tissue was a kind of business unto itself. And then I imagined this guy, this caul-broker, existing in a world where there was greater demand for remnants of birth because of a cratering birth rate and an increased draw to superstition. This world would inevitably be suffering under the constraints of a climate crisis and an unchecked growth of capitalism, right? I mean, aren’t we already? And so Barnaby Chambers, bio-broker, was hatched in the transformed pacific northwest of post-Cascadian secession 2057. In-caul, you might say.
There’s lots more to say and tell about the book, but I’m going to hold off on that for now. I’m just excited to announce that it has a home, and that home is the fine publishers at Putnam. Sally Kim is my editor there and was the person who reached out, quite a few years ago, and planted the seed of me possibly writing a book for adults.
What makes a book for adults versus kids? I’m not entirely sure; the books I’ve written so far have been read by adults and kids alike. I like to think that I don’t “write down” to my kid readers and I may have received some guff for that in the past. I’ve kept the audience in mind as I’ve written all of my books, but not so much that my creativity feels hampered. All this to say: I don’t want to put any age-requirements on my books, be they for adults or middle-readers. But this one’s going to live in the grown-up section of your bookstore or library, how’s that.
Thanks for your support and readership all these years, readers, I could not do it without you. This one’s out in 2025; I’ll talk more about it once the pub date approaches.