You know it’s going to be a cool conference when the first person you spot standing outside of McCormick Place is Jason Segel. I’d just hopped off the bus and there he was, hanging out before his talk! Way cool.
Segel, an actor and writer, was this morning’s interviewee during the Auditorium Speaker Series. He talked about how his own childhood experiences with night terrors inspired his children’s book, Nightmares! (co-written with Kirsten Miller). “I dreamed witches were eating my toes.” Sounds kind of adorable? “It’s adorable if you’re the eater, not the eatee,” he quipped.
He’s been writing since age 22, and is heavily influenced by Roald Dahl, Tim Burton, Goonies, and Labyrinth. While writing The Muppets screenplay, Segel re-read A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh for inspiration and to get in “kid brain” mode.
Segel’s primary interest is exploring the human condition of always wanting to be something more, of finding that “golden ticket” that will push one into an extraordinary life. His goal with writing Nightmares! was to show kids that it’s okay to make mistakes and that taking risks and trying for new experiences is what makes one special.
His three fundamentals for a good life: be kind, exercise, and pursue dreams. His next book in the Nightmares! series will be about the dangers of numbing oneself to nightmares: if we don’t have nightmares, we are also in danger of losing dreams.