Hey there, kiddies. A while back I e-mailed Frank Beddor, author of the amazing Looking Glass Wars series, and asked if he would be interested in an interview. He had said sure and to send him questions. I did so and never received word. That is, until two weeks ago. He contacted me to let me know that my request was buried beneath everything on his desk. Truly, an amazing man. He could have ignored it and not cared. For those of you unfamiliar with his work, the Looking Glass Wars series follows the progress of Alyss, the rightful queen of Wonderland. The story told by Lewis Carroll is not quite the truth. There is much more than what we think we know. These books are Beddor’s attempt to enlighten the public on the truth. They are written with a punchy style and quirky attitude. Alyss is a heroine I would personally follow into battle at a moment’s notice. It is definitely a must read for all young adults, especially if you loved Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
KML: When the story began to take shape, did you think that it would go as far as it did? Or were you planning it as a stand alone novel at first?
FB: The old cliche´ for writers to write what they know has an intense resonance for me. Over 10 years ago, when this literary adventure and excavation first began, I only knew what the lost deck of cards and the mysterious, erudite antiquities dealer had revealed to me about Wonderland and Princess Alyss Heart. I knew she had been exiled from Wonderland and lost in our world. I knew she had told her harrowing tale to Lewis Carroll hoping he would write a book so her bodyguard (Hatter Madigan) would find her and bring her home. And I knew that Lewis Carroll had betrayed her and changed everything….even the name of her bodyguard! So armed with what I KNEW of this much darker tale in a much darker Wonderland, I began writing the first book which in my mind would be THE BOOK. But as I wrote I discovered more and more and more about Wonderland, its heros and villains and its history. So the more I came to KNOW, the more I had to write and that’s how the ever mushrooming Looking Glass Wars and Hatter M graphic novels grew and expanded and continue to expand. Knowledge.
KML: How much of your story telling was pulled from real history and already established literature?
FB: ‘Real history’ and ‘established literature’ provided a pattern of invaluable clues. While much of the accepted history and established literature proved merely smokescreens for the truth they unwittingly laid out a backdrop — a sort of chronological grid — that I could use to track and verify the information provided to me by the deck of cards discovered in the British Museum. I have told the story of how I discovered the cards and ultimately the truth of Wonderland in the museum in many interviews but for the sake of any of your readers who are unfamiliar with the history of the Looking Glass Wars I will gladly recount it again here.
At the tail end of the 20th century, I was in London and visited the British Museum where I saw an exhibit of ancient cards. For instance, Napoleon hired artists to hand paint depictions of his many victories in battle. But what caught my attention, at the very end of the exhibit, was an incomplete deck of cards illuminated by an unusual glow, almost as though they were alive. I was intrigued by the exhibit and captivated by the images on the cards. This was a very, very different version of Wonderland. For the remainder of my trip I was preoccupied with the images and told several friends, one of whom suggested I meet with an antiquities dealer he knew who specialized in collecting all sorts of ancient playing cards. When I met the dealer I told him about the unusual exhibit, he revealed that he in fact owned the cards missing from the deck and brought out this old, worn leather box filled with cards and told me the story as he flipped one card over at a time, revealing the saga of THE LOOKING GLASS WARS. When I returned to Los Angeles, I began putting all the pieces together and weaving the revelations of just how different the real Wonderland and its inhabitants were compared to the children’s lit version the world had known and accepted for nearly 150 years. Carroll’s choices in how he changed Alyss’s story were so fascinating (he even changed her name!) – the monsters and heroes of her lost world became these cheery reinventions. It was such a betrayal on Carroll’s part and was in fact, the reason for the rift that eventually occurred between the writer and his muse. For instance – the characters we know as the White Rabbit, the Red Queen, the Cheshire Cat and of course, the Mad Hatter all appear in The Looking Glass Wars as they were intended to by Alyss when she told Carroll her harrowing tale. The White Rabbit was in fact Bibwit Harte, the six foot tall albino royal tutor for all Wonderland Queens (Carroll had anagrammed his name to create the White Rabbit), while the Red Queen was in truth Alyss’s aunt Redd, the revenge maddened usurper to the throne ably assisted by her top assassin, The Cat, a man size feline who morphs from adorable kitten to giant mutant feline when called upon to kill. So you see, there was a lot of truth to be uncovered from its shroud of ‘real history’ and ‘established literature’.
KML: Do you plan on recruiting musicians to create soundtracks for the other titles?
FB: The soundtrack for Book 1 was truly a seminal soundtrack that opened the door and invited readers to ‘aurally travel’ to Wonderland. I’m not sure how much more additional soundtracks would assist in this journey. For anyone who hasn’t heard the soundtrack I invite you to visit my website and sample some of these realm jumping tracks.
KML: Has anyone optioned the rights to create a Looking Glass Wars film? Who are some casting choices you’d consider if it was ever a possibility?
FB: The rights have not been optioned by a film studio, but I have made a deal with Chuck Roven who produced The Dark Knight. Regarding our plans for the films, I have the option of starting with the Looking Glass Wars or with my Hatter M graphic novel series. Hatter’s 13 year quest in our world to find the lost princess is a natural entry point because he is such a cool action hero figure. Right now I have scripts for both the Looking Glass Wars and the Hatter film and am in discussions with some high profile directors.
I’m going to turn questions regarding casting choices over to some of LGW’s ardent fans who have been writing in with their opinions…
Nicole Kidman, Angelina Jolie or Tilda Swinton as Her Imperial Viciousness Queen Redd.
Emily Mortimer, Cate Blanchett as Queen Genevieve
Mila Kunis as Homburg Molly
And then there is Alyss…though I have had suggestions for actresses I am holding this one back and not putting out any preconceptions because my plan is to do a search for an unknown to star as Alyss.
I reserve the right to my opinion for who best to play Hatter and I choose Clive Owen. I think he would be brilliant.
KML: Why did you decide to tell Hatter M as a graphic novel? Will there be LGW graphic novels?
FB: Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan’s 13 year quest in our world to find the lost Princess was introduced and followed in a few chapters in book one of the Looking Glass Wars. It was an exciting overview and arc of Hatter’s mad search and caught the Imagination of one small boy in London who told me I absolutely must do a comic book about Hatter. Absolutely must! Following this visionary’s advice I was able to interest artist Ben Templesmith in illustrating a limited series of comic books. And the boy was right! The first 4 issue mini-series proved very popular and was nominated for an Eisner Award. Rather than continue with single issues we moved to doing full books and have so far completed a second and third volume. Volume 1 – Far From Wonder (illustrated by Ben Templesmith), Volume 2 – Mad With Wonder (illustrated by Sami Makkonen), and our latest …. Volume 3 – The Nature of Wonder, (Illustrated by Sami Makkonen) The re-issue of Volume 1 in hardback and the newest Volume 3 – The Nature of Wonder in both hardback and paperback will be available October 15, 2010. We are currently working on Volume 4 – The Zen of Wonder – and plan to debut this as a special hardback edition at the 2011 San Diego Comic Con.
I would love to do more graphic novels based on other LGW characters and stories but this will have to remain on my ‘to do list’ for awhile since the list is quite long at present.
KML: Do you plan on continuing any of the characters’ stories?
FB: I am currently researching information that has come to me with regard to Redd having an heir. And on the reverse end of time I am in possession of the unexpurgated school records of Cadet Hatter Madigan from his boyhood days at Wonderland’s Millinery academy. With regard to Hatter’s academy adventures, I am planning to do a series of 5 (prose) books that will take readers from his first year initiations into the mystery of the Hat straight through, year by year, to his graduation to full Milliner.
KML: Are there new marketing strategies we can look forward to from this series?
FB: Yes and I would love to share them with you but they are under lock and key in a box marked ‘top secret’. However, I will brazenly say this much, once the Young Hatter series is finished I plan to introduce a new publishing paradigm.
KML: Why did you choose to make the web site so interactive?
FB: For fun! Most of us would agree there just isn’t enough fun in this world so whenever I have an opportunity to add some I take full advantage. In addition to my main site at lookingglasswars.com I built the destination site cardsoldierwars.com to extend the universe of my books and create an environment that offered ongoing interaction and community. Rather than merely being a promotional site, it is a society of Looking Glass Wars enthusiasts who get to share an imagined world. This online society of wonder allows readers to express themselves, interact with friends, play games and hopefully, have fun.
KML: How do you feel about the concept of e-books vs. bound books?
FB: I love my bound books on bookshelves, but I can’t bring them all on the plane, with e-readers I can, so they’re here to stay.
KML: Did you always plan for this series to fall into the Young Adult category?
FB: No. I wrote the book I wanted to write and the publishers chose the marketing and age parameters. For example, in England my book was published as a children’s book, in Germany it was published as an adult book and in the US as Young Adult. Since I didn’t mentally limit the age of the readers when I was writing the books, the ‘happy accident’ is the fact they have a multi-generational appeal. Because of this parents, aunts, uncles, teens and children can all enjoy the series and save on the family book budget. I’ve heard this again and again at book conventions and comic cons as entire families gather around my booth to recount the trials and tribulations of sharing the books and how kooky aunt rosemary left it on the bus or somebody is waiting for somebody else to finish it and pass it on. I must admit to feeling a little shiver of glee at the thought that my books have brought everyone together around the family hearth to wrestle and compete for the Looking Glass Wars.
KML: Is there anything you would like to share with your fans?
FB: I invite everyone to visit my free online game cardsoldierwars.com., come be my friend on Facebook and follow myself and the Glow on Twitter.
There you have it folks! One of the nicest guys you’ll ever encounter. So go, check out his web site! Check out his books! I guarantee a library has them. Better yet, check out your local Borders book store.