Hidden History of Oz-specific questions answered by author Tarl Telford.
Why did you choose Oz?
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the quintessential American fairy tale. Everyone knows the story, thanks to the 1939 movie. It is part of our cultural heritage. The story is part of a common language we speak. “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” “Follow the yellow brick road.” “The man behind the curtain.” All of these are understood, thanks to The Wizard of Oz.
When I was in school, I wanted to do a project that would be universally understood. I thought that creating a game based on Oz would be a good start. From there, I got involved temporarily with a project to make an interactive picture book on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The project moved on without me, but the ideas generated from all of my background work were coming together to create a story.
What types of ideas?
The original creator of Oz, L. Frank Baum, said that this story (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) wrote itself. His was just the hand that held the pencil. As I went through his story, line by line, I found many hanging plot threads. For example, the Winged Monkeys were enslaved to the Golden Cap, which was created by a sorceress named Gayelette, who lived in a Ruby Palace. At the end of the story, when Dorothy goes south to the sorceress, Glinda sits on a throne of rubies. Glinda was very eager to get the Golden Cap. I drew connections between the Ruby Palace and the Ruby Throne. What if Glinda was the daughter of Gayelette? If Glinda was young when the Wizard first came to Oz, maybe they met and had adventures together. Then the Wicked Witches played a role. It all came together into a fun story.
The Hidden History of Oz is a series. How many books do you have planned?
Glinda’s story is the framework that holds everything together. At this time, I have twelve Glinda stories planned. There are other stories that feature supporting characters and explore their stories. There are a number of other projects I would like to do to explore the Hidden History of Oz. For example, a graphic novel, 3D printed miniatures and busts, posters, tee shirts, story anthologies, a picture book, children’s books, and more. All of these things build on and enrich this world. But Glinda is the central figure in these Oz stories. Her actions affect everything else.
It sounds like you have a lot of projects in the works. What is your plan to get it all done?
Luckily I have an excellent example to follow for a successful rollout of stories and merchandise. Marvel Studios rolls out their projects in phases. They have planned the next phase while they are working on the current phase. That’s what I’m doing. Phase One includes four books, plus some merchandise and other media. Phase Two is in the planning stages. The later phases are works in progress. No spoilers here, but there is a definite end to Glinda’s character story.
What can you tell me about the phases you have planned?
Here’s an overview of the first three phases:
- Phase One introduces The Hidden History of Oz, Glinda, the Land of Oz, and the supporting characters and history that make this land unique. It establishes Glinda as the central figure in this storyline, giving her story, her struggles, her triumphs, and her responsibility as a sorceress. She has to learn how to grow from a rebellious teenager into Glinda the Good.
- Phase Two explores more of the supporting characters in the Hidden History.
- Phase Three joins the Hidden History storyline to Baum’s original story, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
How about people who don’t know the story of Oz?
This story is for everyone. Any reader can jump on board at any time. If they like one story, they can read the stories that come before to get a richer view of the Land of Oz. Every detail builds a bigger and more exciting world, but it is not important to see and understand all the details at once.
How is your story different from other Oz stories?
Baum wrote fourteen Oz stories. His successors wrote dozens more stories. These stories are based in greater or lesser degree on the whimsy and wonder that Baum created. He wanted a “modern fairy tale…where the heartaches and nightmares are left out.”
The Hidden History of Oz embraces the shadows of Oz. Stories that get into the heart of the characters and explore their successes and their failures are more interesting to me as a writer than simply taking a cast of characters on a magical journey. It is the journey within the human soul that interests me.
What about L. Frank Baum’s other stories? Do those fit in with your stories?
Baum was not a big stickler for continuity. He didn’t stay consistent in his history with the characters. Part of this is because he never intended for Oz to get as big as it did. He had other stories that he wanted to tell, but the publisher kept commissioning more Oz stories. He tried several times to end the series, but it didn’t work.
The Hidden History of Oz takes the original work, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, as its fixed point. Everything in the Hidden History stories must lead up to the events in Baum’s original story. All of the other stories are used as suggestions for characters and events. There are some events, such as the birth of Ozma, that are pivotal to the history of Oz, that will be included. However, this does not mean that those entire stories become canon in the Hidden History. The only canonical work is The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
The plan is to build the context and framework around The Wonderful Wizard of Oz so that Baum’s original words have a greater meaning.