11 February 2013

Interview: The Next Big Thing

Ajai Terraszas-Tripathi and me. I mean "and I?"
Thank you Julie McArthur for inviting me to 
What is the working title of your book?
It is a children's fantasy book the same as the other Oz classics although Bungle of Oz does have content that may also interest YA readers.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

In the The Silver Princess of Oz, Igi's people are described by Ruth Plumly inas having dark skin, but the other characteristics and clothing, turbans and such, don't imply a specific ethnicity. They're made from gravel. 

It's a common misconception about the book that the characters are African Americans who are enslaved by the Red Jinn in an ugly early American way.* And sure enough, the illustrations by John R. Neill are fairly racist looking. However, Plumly intended to create a Jinn, a genie, who in Arabic literature was normally a slave and to turn the tables around and give him the slaves for once. Nothing in her writing indicates that they are anything other than the JInn's otherwise would-be Arab masters.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It will be self-published. Even though a lot of the content is in the public domain, Oz books border on fan fiction. It doesn't mean the books aren't a worthwhile and entertaining read, but they lack potential to be the next big thing.

I didn't write Bungle of Oz, because I thought had potential to be picked up by a major or even a small publisher. I wrote it for the love of that glass cat, the experience and the chance to illustrate a book in a traditional I already loved.
I'm not even the first author to write a book with Bungle as the protagonist. There's been at least two books published so far where the glass cat has an adventure of her own.

Illustration of Jellia Jamb and Bungle
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Primarily? The Patchwork Girl of Oz. It borrows a lot of personality from that book and it was the first one I read when I started writing. I tried bring out as much of Baum's playful and light-hearted style in my own writing as I could while still lending my own quirky descriptions.

Who or what inspired you to write this book? 

When I'm writing, always somewhere in the back of my mind I ask myself whether my sister, Winonah Drake who is also a writer, or my son would enjoy it. If they wouldn't, it's all pointless and I need to write something else.
They inspire me in everything.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Oz books have been in the public domain for a while. Not all of them, but some. I remember Frank. L. Baum's character, the glass cat, from when I was a kid and my mother used to read the Oz books to my sister and I, she was unforgettable. Bungle is a pure crystal kitty, vain and proud, with pink marble brains that rotated around in her head. With a few sprinklings of The Powder of Life, she was brought into existence to catch mice, which she refused to do.

What genre does your book fall under?

Bungle would have to be a CG character or else it would look like the 1914 Patchwork of Oz movie where they bring in a man in a donkey suit for no reason. Incidentally, Bungle was first introduced in Baum's book by the same title.

Probably, only Ajai Terraszas-Tripathi from Teatro Milagro in Portland, Oregon, would be a perfect fit to play Igi, because 1. he's a good looking guy and 2. he's talented enough to play a complicated character like Igi and 3. repeat number one. 

In Bungle of Oz, Igi transitions from a passive and gentle character who thinks he's a munchkin despite all evidence to the contrary into a more decisive savior of the Plumly's gravel men who are under the enchantment of a magic dinner bell. Tripathi has the uncommon ability to transition between gentle and assertive qualities. 

When the vain glass cat of Oz gets hit with the Paradox Potion, Igi the way-too-tall munchkin from the palace kitchen in the Emerald City wants to help her reverse the damage before Ozma's protective enchantment wears off.   

At 25,000 words, Bungle of Oz is a novella. At times I was writing 2000 words per day, but on other days, I did a lot of research into the characters, as they appeared in previous novels. I started writing the story in November 2012 and finished by February 2013. 

The characters in this book are all disabled in one way or another and each process their limitations differently. The glass cat, being the vain and arrogant creature she is, finds herself immobilized by a chip on her paw, while Igi has a clockwork arm that never gets mentioned, because he doesn't let it affect him. 

My greatest hope for this book is that it gets into the hands of kids who have developed a disability while they are still in the process of learning to cope with it. As an adult, I developed Meniere's Disease, which has affected my equilibrium and caused some hearing loss. Most of the time since I started having symptoms, I've been like Bungle and struggled with my vanity more than my actual limitations. I wish I'd connected with other people who'd suffered similar problems sooner, because it makes all the difference in the world seeing what other people achieve.

Please visit the following author's websites to discover the real "Next Big Thing"

*Baum, on the other hand, was an outspoken supporter of killing all Indians on the plains, in the hills, wherever they may be.   

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