Q&A with the Authors of the New Anthology “Oz Reimagined: New Tales from the Emerald City and Beyond”

Edited by John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen, Oz Reimagined: New Tales from the Emerald City and Beyond brings together leading fantasy writers such as Jane Yolen, Tad Williams and Seanan McGuire to create the ultimate anthology for Oz fans—and, really, any reader with an appetite for richly imagined worlds.

Here is the book’s description:

When L. Frank Baum introduced Dorothy and friends to the American public in 1900, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz became an instant, bestselling hit. Today the whimsical tale remains a cultural phenomenon that continues to spawn wildly popular books, movies, and musicals.

We asked a few of the authors a couple of questions…


Q: What are some of your favorite Oz memories (whether from the books or the various movies, or other “reimaginings”), and what makes them your favorites?

Ken Liu: My favorite part of the book is the origin of the Tin Woodman — it’s so dark and evocative, and doesn’t fit the image some of us have of the more innocent world from the movie at all.

Dale Bailey: I remember when Del Rey re-released the Oz books.  I was just a kid and I asked for them for Christmas.  But I didn’t have anything to read over the holiday, so my mother doled them out, reluctantly, one by one, and I had finished all of them I was able to lay hands on–six or seven of them, I think–before Christmas day.  By the time I found the others, I had outgrown them.  But those early ones made a real impression.

David Farland: My favorite Oz memories actually came from watching it as a child.  The Flying Monkeys really creeped me out, giving me nightmares for weeks.  It didn’t help that the Wicked Witch looked like our sixth grade teacher at my school, a woman with the promising name of Mrs. Gully.

Jeffery Ford: It’s difficult to gauge the importance of seeing The Wizard of Oz when I was a kid. It’s one of the great movies of all time. Oh, those Flyin’ Monkeys. In college I sat in on a film class given by the underground director Ken Jacobs. He superimposed the first half of The Wizard of Oz over the second half — film showing over film. I forgot what it was supposed to prove, but it enmeshed me even more in the film. I also very much liked Gregory Maguire’s novel, Wicked. The thought of writing about Oz and writing about Oz are two different things. Maguire really makes the world his own and I have to admire that. I’m also fond of a lot of Return to Oz, the 1985 flick with Fairuza Balk as Dorothy. It’s a lot more sinister, sort of noir Oz, and it’s got Tik Tok, the awesome clockwork automaton, and Jack Pumpkinhead.

Theodora Goss: I love it when Dorothy finally gets to stay in Oz.  I always hated that she had to go back to Kansas.  But when she and Uncle Henry and Aunt Em finally get to stay–that’s the ultimate wish-fulfillment.  Baum contradicts the original lesson of the series, which is that you always have to go home: the magic doesn’t last.  In the end, he tells us, it can.  The magical country can become home.  The strangest moment of the series is when Tip turns into Ozma–how disconcerting, to be a freely wandering boy and then suddenly turn into a girl with responsibilities, the supreme ruler of Oz.  Part of what makes the books so effective is that they contain some of the same ingredients as fairy tales: they show us psychological processes externalized.  A young girl may well feel and behave like a boy, until she gets to a certain age.  And then she has to behave like a girl, at least in the era when the books were written.  But at least she can still be the ruler of a fairyland.  Baum called the Oz story an American fairy tale, and you really can see those fairy tale elements in the books.  They show us children grappling with the same issues as we find in the classic fairy tales by Perrault and the Grimms.  Also, for some reason I’ve always liked the Glass Cat.  Go figure . . .

Simon R. Green: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Is there a better song?

Kat Howard: The movie version of The Wizard of Oz scared me silly when I was a kid – the Flying Monkeys! (also, when I was very young, I was afraid a mean lady would try and steal my little dog), but I still get chills whenever I hear Judy Garland sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” It’s just so beautiful, such a terrific expression of longing. And clearly my Oz is a very musical place, because my other favorite Oz-related thing is the wonderful song from Wicked, “Defying Gravity.”

Jonathan Maberry: I saw the movie before I read the books, and when I started in on the books I found it fun and fascinating to identify all of the similarities and all of the differences.  It was in discussions of those differences that I encouraged a lot of my boyhood friends to read those books.

Seanan McGuire: My little sister was a huge Oz fan as a child, and I was able to take her to see Wicked for her twenty-first birthday.  When the Monkeys started to swarm, she started to cry.  It was just an amazing moment for the two of us as sisters, and it was a great example of Oz bringing people together.  I love it so.

Rachel Swirsky: I really like Mombi. I had quite an enthusiasm for Return to Oz when I was a kid, and lots of the imagery in that was neat — early Steampunk? — but I especially liked creepy, powerful Mombi. As an adult, looking back through the books, I find myself intrigued by Mombi again. I think there are some really interesting stories there.

Jane Yolen: I loved the Judy Garland movie, though the Flying Monkeys scared the pants off of me. The books that I galloped through as a child made me a fantasy reader for the rest of my life.


More to come in Part 2! Stay tuned…

One thought on “Q&A with the Authors of the New Anthology “Oz Reimagined: New Tales from the Emerald City and Beyond””

  1. The original novel was a political and economic parable about the dangers facing the US population when Baum was writing the novel. Control of the economy by banks and the over-reliance and abuse of a fiat based currency over real money such as silver (which was why Dorthy’s shoes were silver in the novel).

    Shame you aren’t mentioning those issues as they seem to be very relevant to the issues we are facing today.

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