Farewell, Dorothy

Danielle Paige shares her thoughts on com­plet­ing her se­ries on a darker, mod­ern-day reimag­in­ing of The Won­der­ful Wizard of Oz.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Reads - By TAN SHIOW CHIN star2@thes­tar.com.my

FOUR books and nine novel­las later, young adult (YA) fic­tion au­thor Danielle Paige is fi­nally step­ping away from her mod­ern-day retelling of the fan­tasy tale, The Wizard Of Oz.

“I can’t be­lieve it’s the end,” she says via e-mail. “The books have meant so much to me per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally.

“To get to tell a story in Oz and to have kids (and some adults) em­brace it in such a huge way has been such a phe­nom­e­nal ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Her jour­ney down the Yel­low Brick Road – and into the world of YA fic­tion – started as an ob­ses­sion with the 1939 movie, The Wizard Of Oz, which stars Amer­i­can ac­tress Judy Gar­land as Dorothy; the film is an adap­ta­tion of L. Frank Baum’s book se­ries that be­gins with The Won­der­ful Wizard Of Oz, pub­lished in 1900.

“I watched The Wizard Of Oz movie with Judy Gar­land lit­er­ally ev­ery time I knew it was on tele­vi­sion when I was a kid.

“My mother gave me a lit­tle set of the first 13 Oz books af­ter she re­alised how much I loved it,” shares Paige.

“I think I was drawn to it for the same rea­son ev­ery­one is – who doesn’t imag­ine be­ing whisked away from their real­ity into a world filled with magic, ad­ven­ture, and new friends?” she says.

The for­mer TV writer adds that although she didn’t re­alise it at the time, the movie also turned out to be the first story she had seen with fe­males in both the heroic and vil­lain­ous roles. “The story was em­pow­er­ing and mag­i­cal, and it stuck with me.” But Paige’s Dorothy Must Die se­ries – as can be in­ti­mated from the ti­tle – is no plain retelling of that chil­dren’s story.

In th­ese nov­els set af­ter the events in the orig­i­nal book, Dorothy is no longer a sweet, in­no­cent child, but a grownup, power-hun­gry despot.

Her beloved com­pan­ions, the Scare­crow, Tin Man, and

Cow­ardly Lion, are equally vil­lain­ous, us­ing their gifts of a brain, heart and courage re­spec­tively to evil ends un­der Dorothy’s com­mands.

Sim­i­larly, Glinda the Good is not so good, and the re­main­ing Wicked Witches are not so wicked af­ter all.

Mean­while, his­tory re­peats it­self when Amy Gumm, a mod­ern-day girl from Kansas, is swept up in her trailer home by a tor­nado and trans­ported to Oz. There, she dis­cov­ers that ev­ery­one seems the op­powhat site of she has read about, and soon gets sucked into a war for the very sur­vival of Oz it­self.

“I al­ways won­dered what hap­pened when Dorothy went home for the first time and imag­ined that she might not be com­pletely happy there,” Paige says.

“What if Dorothy missed Oz and its magic and her friends, and wanted to des­per­ately get back there?

“And what if, in that mo­ment of des­pera­some tion, dark­ness grew in her?

“Out of that dark­ness, Dorothy Must Die was born.”

While orig­i­nally meant to be a tril­ogy, the se­ries grew when Paige and her ed­i­tor de­cidthat ed they wanted to do “an ex­tra chap­ter back in Kansas”. The “chap­ter” turned out to be half of the third book, Yel­low Brick War.

And Paige had so much ma­te­rial left over that she man­aged to pro­duce nine ad­di­tional novel­las, each fo­cus­ing on spe­cific se­condary char­ac­ters, as well as fill­ing in some of Dorothy’s jour­ney from sweet child to evil tyrant.

“Mak­ing ev­ery­thing that was Good in Oz Wicked (and vice-versa) was quite the un­der­tak­ing.

“And ev­ery char­ac­ter had his or her own arc in get­ting there. So there was just so much story to tell.”

With the fi­nal book in the se­ries, The End Of Oz, out ear­lier this year, Paige has said her farewells to Dorothy, Amy, and Oz.

“There is a part of me that could, and will, stay in Oz for­ever, but as a writer I am al­ways hun­gry for the next ad­ven­ture.

“In so many ways, Dorothy taught me that I had more brains, heart, and courage than I’d imag­ined, and I am so grate­ful for that as I click my heels and head off to Al­gid (where her next book, Steal­ing Snow, takes place) and beyond.”

In fact, Paige was jug­gling com­plet­ing her Dorothy Must Die se­ries with writ­ing the first book of Steal­ing Snow, her take on Hans Chris­tian An­der­sen’s fairytale The Snow Queen; Steal­ing Snow was pub­lished last Septem­ber.

“Since I got my start in soap op­eras, I am used to jug­gling a lot of char­ac­ters and a lot of dif­fer­ent sto­ry­lines,” she ex­plains.

“I had to work hard at mak­ing sure that Snow, my Snow Queen-in-the-mak­ing, was a very dif­fer­ent hero­ine than Amy, though.”

Paige started out her writ­ing ca­reer as part of the scriptwrit­ing teams of two of Amer­ica’s long­est-run­ning soap op­eras, Guid­ing Light and Days Of Our Lives, and won a Writ­ers Guild of Amer­ica Day­time Se­ri­als Award as part of the Guid­ing Light writ­ing team.

She lives in New York City and is cur­rently work­ing on an­other fairytale retelling, which will fea­ture Cin­derella’s fairy god­mother.

“The ti­tle isn’t de­cided yet but the story has been with me even be­fore Dorothy Must Die.

“I al­ways won­dered about who the fairy god­mother was in Cin­derella.

“She is the cat­a­lyst for the ‘hap­pily ever af­ter’, but what do we re­ally know about her?

“I imag­ine a darker, twistier past for her that brought her to the story we know and love so well.”

Won­der­ing about the back­sto­ries of well­known fairytale char­ac­ters is what got Paige started on her se­ries of books that re-tell old sto­ries. — LAURA HANFIN

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.