A Conversation With Chris Colfer

Mika with Chris Colfer in New York City

Chris Colfer has always been fascinated by space and the possibility of aliens. Now, the New York Times best-selling author is turning to science fiction in his writing. His latest novel for middle graders is called Roswell Johnson Saves the World! (Little, Brown Young Readers, 2024).

Roswell is an 11-year-old boy growing up in Cherokee Springs, Oklahoma. He inherited a keen interest in extraterrestrial life from his late father. Roswell is even named after the scene of a UFO crash said to have taken place in 1947. 

One night, Roswell spots one of his chickens running away from the coop and follows it. Roswell is stunned to see the chicken being abducted by aliens. Soon, he is accidentally abducted. He must work with the aliens to save the planet from a menacing invasion.

On June 4, I spoke with Colfer at the Barnes & Noble—Union Square in New York City. He was in town to celebrate the launch of Roswell Johnson. Colfer said that he often looks at the night sky with curiosity about what, and who, could be out there. This helps explain the inspiration for his new novel. 

“When I was your age, I loved science, and I couldn’t learn enough about it,” Colfer said. “Even as an adult, I really love learning more and more about science, especially the science about planets and space and galaxies. And I’ve always loved the idea of aliens, so I thought that a book about science and aliens would be a great middle-grade book.” 

Roswell Johnson emphasizes the power of kindness and community, despite our differences. “Prejudice is completely pointless and very primitive,” Colfer said. “We’re all equal. When Roswell goes on these adventures with aliens of different colors, shapes, and sizes, I hope that my readers learn that life is so much better when everyone works together.”


“I hope that my readers learn that life is so much better when everyone works together,” Colfer says. 


Colfer became famous in 2009, when he starred as Kurt Hummel in Glee. The long-running TV series is based on a fictional high school glee club. Colfer went on to write The Land of Stories (Little, Brown), a series of fantasy novels for young readers. The books instantly became best-sellers.

Colfer encourages aspiring authors to look to other artists for inspiration. “Try to expose yourself to as much art as possible—TV shows, movies, books, museums, and history,” he advised. “As much as you can soak in. The more your imagination grows, the better your writing will be.”  

He added that the story you want to tell is more important than your writing style. “Focus on the substance, and the style will come,” he said. “If you have a good story or something good to tell, that’s the most important thing.” 

Colfer already has plans for a sequel to Roswell Johnson and envisions the tale as a series. If you haven’t read the first book yet, you’re in for a wild ride. 

Top photo courtesy of the author; bottom photo: Amazon