The Millions: There is a deep melancholy in The Lost Thing’s conclusion that feels even stronger in the book than in your film. It sounds like a meditation on the pain of growing older. I wonder if that pain is particularly acute in childhood, during which so much changes so quickly and so much is quickly lost.
Shaun Tan: That’s a good point: yes, I think that’s true. For adults, personal childhood objects tend to evoke a mixture of joy and sadness, which is a combined feeling that I really like, it feels very “full” and well-rounded. I don’t think you can really have one without a bit of the other, they define each other like complementary colors.
TM: How much are your books about adults? How much are they about children? Is there a difference?
ST: They are about both, given that every adult was once a child, and every child is heading, unavoidably, towards adulthood. I think too much is often made about the differences between age groups. For me the ideal state is to take the best of both worlds, something that every artist tries to do I think: the open-mindedness and innocent eye of a child, combined with the wisdom and experience of an adult. I think art and literature are such a great means of examining that intersection, and getting us to pay attention to all “lost things,” whatever that might mean.
**Also, my friend Julie is competing for the chance to fly to New York to be in the audiobook cast for Neil Gaiman's American Gods. If you love fantasy, check out her entry and consider voting for her! You can do so here.**