William Joyce

William Joyce: A sucker for books

"The library is where I first saw 'Where the Wild Things Are' and it changed my life."

Well, the first library I encountered was this rural library out in the country in Louisiana, and it was kind of almost hysterically picturesque in that it was a log cabin and it had a wood floor and no air conditioning.

I'm not even sure it had electricity, come to think of it. It was right up against a bayou, there were alligators that we had to be wary of. And that's where I first saw "Where the Wild Things Are," and it changed my life.

When we travel we've gone to a number of libraries, in like Paris biblioteca whatever, things like that.

Went to a library in Prague, about a month ago, that was amazing. Ancient books, all hand-illuminated by monks. You know, I'm just a sucker for books, so I'm going to go where there are piles of them. That's where libraries usually fit the bill.

[Do libraries play an important role in the creative process?]

Well, I keep writing books that have libraries in them, so I suppose they do. It's... I'm still working on... "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" is all about a librarian, a man who gives his life to books and they return the favor, actually.

And then another book I'm working on after that is [about] a man who has this amazing personal library that follows him everywhere.

[On budget cuts]

Library budget cuts, when I hear about that kind of stuff, I turn into black and white and become a villager from Transylvania bearing a torch. I want to hunt down the monsters that are doing that.

[On censorship]

OK, so like a book's going to jump out and strangle you or kill you, or ruin your kid's morality or something. Give me a break.

You've got to give kids and people just a little more credit to think that they should be able to read something on their own and draw their own conclusion. It's not like the book sears its words into your syntax, or whatever, your ganglions, and you're suddenly changed. You have an open mind. If there are ideas in a book that appeal to your intellect or your emotions, or whatever, you should be able to experience that one way or the other.

If you're going to try to ban books, then you're trying to ban thought, you're trying to ban emotion, you're trying to ban things that make the country what it's supposed to be, which is open for discussion.

So it drives me crazy when I hear about... like especially "Huck Finn," that just drives me nuts. The best book... the best American book ever written. The best book about race ever written, and you ban it because of a word that is offensive, but it is the very use of that word that makes it, that gives it its power, and the renouncing of that word in the course of the text in that book is what makes it great.

So you know, if you go you can't read this book because it has this one word in it, then you're missing the whole point of the book and you're missing why the books' been around for so long. So that's just dumb.

[On his latest projects] I'm working on... I'm thinking of books as a sort of app and combining them... with what you can do with an iPad or any of those pads, and it's very exciting and I think it's going to augment what a book can be. It isn't going to destroy a book. It's just going to be another venue, another method of telling a story. So I'm playing around with that whole lot.

My first app came out two weeks ago, and it's based on a book 'to be' called "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore." And then I'm working on my Guardians of Childhood series, which is ten picture books, and how many novels, six novels that chronicle the origins, formations and how do their jobs of the icons of childhood, The Man in the Moon, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, Jack Frost, Mother Goose and eventually probably like... the Sand Man's in there... Father Time... a couple of those other folks, and I'm working on movies of that and a movie of another book called "The Leaf Men," that's a book I did a few years ago.

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