My guest blogger and friend Mark Hunter loves L.Frank Baum. A creative genius who inspired both of us with his amazing imagination. Mark Hunter wrote a romance about a twister and now a collection of stories based on his first book. My manuscript has a lost young lady who is seeing some beautiful places while yearning for home. I remember reading the "other" Oz books as a child, but I never knew anyone else who read them until meeting Mark in a writer's group online. Besides writing, Mark is also a fireman in Indiana and a newlywed.
To coincide with the release of my short story collection, Storm Chaser Shorts, my friend Eve Gaal asked for a piece about the Oz books: A series of children’s novels by L. Frank Baum that led to the famous Judy Garland movie, The Wizard of Oz.
Not only did my love of reading and writing begin with receiving Baum’s 14 Oz books as a child, but the original Storm Chaser also begins with a twister … and one of the stories in Storm Chaser Shorts actually features an appearance by an Oz character.
There are several dozen Baum books – official and unofficial – but fourteen were written by Baum himself. In fact, he wrote at least 55 books, and as an early occupant of the little village of Hollywood produced movies based on Oz.
Baum, who for a time lived in Chicago and vacationed in Indiana (an hour or so from my Indiana home, and near a little burg named Toto) already had some literary success when The Wonderful Wizard of Oz came out in 1900, with a first edition of 10,000 copies.
You all know the story of that first book: A tornado carries Dorothy (and her little dog, too) to Oz, where she meets icons of Americana: A Scarecrow, a Woodman (who happens to be made of tin), and a Lion. Okay, not all icons of Americana.
They march from the Munchkin Country to the Emerald City, get dispatched on foot to kill the Wicked Witch who rules the Winkie country, are carried back via flying monkeys to collect their reward, then discover The Wizard is a good man … but a bad wizard.
Then Dorothy and friends take off again, walking through the Quadling Country, where the Good Witch Glinda reveals Dorothy had the power to go home all along. Yeah, a whole other journey, not covered in the 1939 movie.
If I was Dorothy, I’d have looked for someone to kick with what must have been well-worn silver (not ruby) slippers. She just took three long trips by foot, and nobody told her she was wearing magic shoes that could take her home in three giant steps! Not to mention almost getting murdered by vicious Kalidahs (trust me, they’re vicious), deadly poppies, 40 wolves, eye pecking crows, killer bees (probably imported from Africa), Hammer-Heads, and my favorite, a giant spider.
And it all really happened, too. No “it was all a dream” lameness.
The other Oz books include:
The Marvelous Land of Oz
Ozma of Oz
Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz
The Road to Oz
The Emerald City of Oz
The Patchwork Girl of Oz
Tik-Tok of Oz
The Scarecrow of Oz
Rinkitink of Oz
The Lost Princess of Oz
The Tin Woodman of Oz
The Magic of Oz
Glinda of Oz
Mark Hunter's first novel, Storm Chaser, was published in June, 2011 by Whiskey Creek Press. WCP also published his collection of short stories, based on the same characters, in June, 2012. Mark has also appeared in My Funny Valentine, a humor collection by various writers and artists.
In addition to his full time job as a Noble County Sheriff's Department dispatcher, Mark is a newspaper writer whose humor column is carried in three local newspapers; a 30 year veteran volunteer firefighter; and a volunteer writer for a few local non-profits. When asked if there's any stress in his life he laughs hysterically.
Mark can be reached through his website, www.markrhunter.com, and his works can be purchased on Amazon athttp://www.amazon.com/Mark-R-
Was there a book or author you remember from your childhood that influenced your writing today?