The Globe and Mail: Through Alice’s Looking Glass Darkly 

This article now wears a banner at the top—“This article was published more than 17 years ago. Some information may no longer be current.” As much as it makes me marvel at the passing of time, the things that have indeed changed—it also draws my attention to how much is still “the same”.

The one thing I know is that: The Story of Alice in Wonderland will always endure, not by staying the same, but by growing along with us.

From pop culture to politics, she permeates our language and our creativity. Influencing and being remixed, sometimes sprinkled across the top so thinly you must look twice to notice a White Rabbit or Mad Hatter tucked into the milieu.

As a member in the ever-expanding army of Alice-aficionados, this sense of community has colored decades of my life. It’s amazing how many of the familiar names in this article I’ve bumped into over the years.

I watched my children play soccer, sitting on the sidelines with Gwen Stefani as she did the same for her own—all the while admiring her utilization of the Mad Tea Party in her music video. I couldn’t help but wonder, what would she use Alice to do next?

A similar sense of excitedly thinking “what next?” follows me as I comb my memories along with this article—American McGee is in the midst of developing a TV show for his Alice series of (gothic) games. Undoubtably it will be a daring take sure to turn heads, earning both excitement and ire— a phenomena I remember well.

Once I ended up debating Alice in pop culture on a BBC talk show with Sir Michael Morpurgo—who I discovered was not a fan of my book… but then again, he hadn’t read it yet! After checking it out himself, he liked it so much he gave me a quote for the jacket. (Check out the full interview transcript at the bottom of this page for more of Morpurgo’s take on LGW.)

Though not everyone fell in love with my Alyss, I must admit. Will Brooker, the author of Alice’s Adventures: Lewis Carroll in Pop Culture never did come around to The Looking Glass Wars because he didn’t like my writing style. (This is exactly “Alice’s magic” of which we speak—there’s a version of her for everyone!)

This community is both insular and inclusive— we all work together, but the barrier to entry is almost nonexistent, because “everyone knows Alice”. Terry Gilliam, for example, was onboard to make The Looking Glass Wars movie with me in negotiations long since passed. While I’m never bitter about roads not taken (especially in Hollywood)—I will eternally be curious what that film would have looked like.

When Quentin Tarantino was rumored to be taking on a Star Trek project, I contemplated the value of stories and properties so large that they have room for decentralized iterations. What would Wonderland look like if created by the pulp stylings of the director that gave us Django and Inglorious Bastards? We can only wonder…

Reality has become stranger than fiction. I suspect the debate between what is Illusion and what is Truth will be the defining question of the decade. I rest content knowing the network of Alice fans will undoubtably endure and enrich this debate with their creativity—all thanks to the girl who fell down the rabbit hole.

For the original text of the article that inspired this trip down the rabbit hole of memories check out Alexandra Gill’s original post: Through Alice's looking glass darkly

London Radio Interviews

Today Programme BBC Radio 4 with Michael Morpurgo

BBC: Michael Morpurgo what do you make of it [The Looking Glass Wars]? 

MM: Well, I think you said it right. It's really brave, it's daring, but then it would be. I mean Frank Beddor is a man who likes taking risks. He skies down slopes at terrifying speeds. You know, why should he be scared of Alice? I mean I think the remarkable thing about the book it's very vibrant, it's imaginative, it's visual, it's very well researched. The question is, I guess, is whether you should tamper with something almost as holy as "Alice in Wonderland", and I don't know about that. I don't think any book is holy. I think we have a right to use - any writer has got a right to go to sources. I go to history, I go to legend, and this is just taking it one step further, but I do think he's been very brave. 

BBC: Michael Morpurgo there's a very long tradition of writers returning to other people’s work isn't there? 

MM: Yes, there is. Certainly. I've done it myself. The way I've done it is to adapt it. What Frank has done is to do a great deal more than to adapt it. He's interwoven the history, the new history, this newly found history of Alice and then told his own extraordinary, and believably visual and fast-moving tale. 

BBC: Do you accept the new history? 

MM: I don’t know really. It’s a jolly good story. I haven’t done the research so I don’t know. I’m afraid I’m a pretty old Father William and this for me is standing a story on its head, but it works. I don’t mind this at all. I don’t think we should be— we shouldn’t stand back and say you shouldn’t do stuff like this, because it seems to me a very interesting new way of looking at it. My problem is that I’m not a great fan of Alice in the first place. I’m a “Treasure Island” person. The world is divided into Treasure Island people and Alice people. I don’t want you to do it with “Treasure Island” please.

Woman’s Hour BBC Radio 4 with host Jenni Murray

interviewing Michael Bakewell author of “Lewis Carroll: A Biography”

BBC: Were the original Alice Books "girly", or what makes a book "girly" in the first place? Well, early this morning I spoke to Michael Bakewell the author of "Lewis Carroll: A Biography". He was in Culchester, Frank Beddor was in London. 

BBC: Now Michael you read the books I think at eight or nine. Did you find all these cuddly animals and tea parties girly? 

MB: No, not in the least. I don't think I'd read any girly books…The Alice books came something as a shock to me I think. I found them rather terrifying, because I got worried about all those transformations she has to go through, but "Through the Looking Glass" seemed to be an easier ride. I didn't realize then that in fact it's by far the more sinister book of the two. 

BBC: How did you find Frank's version, Michael, with its fighting and its battles and its knives? 

MB: I came to it rather cautiously I must admit. At first I couldn't see my way through it, then eventually I liked it a lot. I think it stands absolutely on its own two feet rather like Alice herself. I loved the world that was created. I love the use that was made of all the Wonderland and Looking Glass creatures, who I must admit, go through a total transformation in the book. I don't want to give away the ending, but in fact it emerges as a very moral story, which is really rather refreshing. Although, a lot of the atmosphere is like a terrifying child's video game. 

BBC: So, Michael would it have been for a man like Lewis Carroll to choose a girl like Alice as the lead character, because she is quite boisterous, she does have adventure, she's not the Victorian ideal.

MB: She’s very far from being the Victorian ideal. I think that this is where I rather disagree with Frank. She’s pursuing her own process of self-discovery, and she learns to cope with all these dreadful things that are hurled at her. All these weird, and often quite frightening characters. And in both books, she emerges triumphant, you know putting everybody down, putting everybody down, putting everybody in their place, and as you say, she’s not in the least the little well-brought-up Victorian miss. She won’t stand any nonsense. She’s quite rude, and quite a lot of the text is frankly subversive considering t was written by a man in holy ordinance.  

BBC: Michael just to go back briefly on what we were discussing earlier whether boys are alienated by having a female lead character. Is that still the case do you think, when we consider that novels like the trilogy Pullman "Dark Materials" has had a female lead in it. Are boys finding that more acceptable now? 

MB: Yes, I think they are. I know quite a lot of boys who read the Pullman trilogy with enormous enjoyment, but also the honors are shared out of it, you know that it isn't only Lara all the way through, you do get Will as an alternative protagonist. This has been something that has occurred to me writing children's literature for years and years and years. After all “The Railway Children” kind of shares the honors out between girls and boys rather carefully.

Tinkering With Mad Hatters and March Hares

With every passing year more and more of our cultural touchstones tumble into the public domain, becoming available to the evolutionary process of “re-telling”. Spin-offs and re-imaginings can illicit delight or despair. They might give us more of what we crave from our favorite characters —or they might dash our previous conceptions of something we thought familiar.

Deeply embedded stories and fantasies are precious to us. They can invoke righteous passions if someone dare alter that which we hold as “truth”. For an example just look at the responses to Blood and Honey, an off-color horror comedy take on A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh after it entered the public domain in January 2022.

“Who is allowed to tinker with classic works of literature?” might read as a somewhat odd question to those who don’t have a dog in the fight—but for die-hard fans of the classics, it’s an unsettled battlefield of ideologies.

Brian Viner, of the Independent, did a fantastic job digging into the proud tradition of playing with classic literature while analyzing if Frank Beddor “had the right” to embark on his bold retelling of Britain’s beloved classic Alice in Wonderland.

For the full story, read Brain’s article: Tinkering with Mad Hatters and March Hares.

Rabbit hole revisited: Beddor finishes Wonderland trilogy

The first step may have been the hardest—but “finishing” was a tight contender as Frank Beddor found out while battling to satisfy his fans in ArchEnemy the conclusion to his main Looking Glass Wars trilogy. The series has garnered attention from fans of all demographics, just as its inspiration Alice in Wonderland has done for over a century.

Beddor shared the inception of his works, the unexpected demands for more Alyss, and his future plans with Louis B. Parks of the Houston Chronicle. Detailing the unlikely avenues that graphic novels opened to his storytelling, the first-time author turned New York Times Bestselling world creator was candid about the ups and downs of a decade spent crafting the Wonderverse.

To learn more, read the full article: Rabbit hole revisited: Beddor finishes Wonderland trilogy

Beddor is his own wonderland

The Minnesotan responsible for "There's Something About Mary" is now a fantasy-book mogul with dreams of being the next J.K. Rowling.

By TOM HORGEN, Star Tribune

Frank Beddor has known many heights in his career: world-champion skier, stuntman, actor, Hollywood producer and, most recently, New York Times best-selling fantasy author. (In that order, too.) Beddor couldn't have imagined a better story line had he written it himself.

"All I've been doing my whole life is rolling the dice," he said by phone recently from Los Angeles. 

Beddor, 51, lives under the Hollywood sign in the Hollywood Hills. But he grew up in Minnesota, a lake kid who still comes back to his childhood home in Chanhassen.

While his life has taken many twists and turns since he left Minnesota, it is this role as a fantasy writer that has turned out to be his calling.

Beddor is the author of "The Looking Glass Wars," a trilogy of young-adult novels that has spawned two graphic novels, an online video game, weekly school readings and talks of a big-budget movie. The books are an action-packed reimagining of "Alice in Wonderland" that heightens the darker tones of Lewis Carroll's classic and flips the 1951 Disney film on its head.

In Beddor's novels, the familiar tale of Alice's journey down the rabbit hole is all wrong. The truth is this: Princess Alyss and her allies are locked in a bloody civil war with the evil Aunt Redd for control of Wonderland.

But this Wonderland is not full of Mad Hatter tea parties and singing white rabbits. Many of the beloved characters seem to have taken on action-movie roles. Cheshire Cat, for example, is reimagined as an assassin tasked with hunting down Alyss.

On Oct. 15, Beddor released the trilogy's final installment, "ArchEnemy," as well as a second graphic novel based on the series. The first two novels ("The Looking Glass Wars" and "Seeing Redd") spent a combined 31 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list for "children's chapter" books.

Minnesota roots

Beddor, who grew up in Excelsior, is actually Frank Beddor III. His father, who died in 2007 at age 83, was Frank Beddor Jr., a well-known businessman who followed his own father (also Frank) into the printing business. At one time, Beddor Jr. owned a multimillion-dollar printing empire that stretched across the Midwest.

As a young man, Beddor's father was also a showman of sorts -- something he definitely passed on to his children. Topping his many exploits was the time he water-skied 1,800 miles down the Mississippi River in 1953 while wearing a Paul Bunyan costume (it was publicity for his Brainerd-based ski show).

Beddor learned how to water-ski when he was 6 years old. He won the world championship in freestyle snow skiing in 1981 and 1982. He retired from professional skiing at 23, but later landed stunt roles in several Hollywood movies. While a full-time transition into acting never took off, he kept his Hollywood connections. In the mid-1990s, Beddor wrote a script he called "Whiteout," about the World War II army unit he described as "The Dirty Dozen" on skis. It was never made.

But skiing would eventually pay off big time. On a chairlift during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, Beddor pitched his friends' idea for "There's Something About Mary" to a highpowered movie executive. The movie's release in 1998 made bigger stars out of Cameron Diaz and Ben Stiller, while its mix of romance and crude humor made it the highest-grossing comedy of the year. More important to Beddor's financial future, it went on to gross $370 million globally.

A producer role was fine, but Beddor was itching to get in on the creative process. That's when (as Beddor tells it), "destiny" happened. While in London for the premiere of "There's Something About Mary," he visited the British Museum and became fascinated with a partial set of playing cards that were adorned with bizarre versions of the "Alice in Wonderland" characters. A chance encounter with an Oxford collector who owned the rest of the set led Beddor down his own rabbit hole. It was all the inspiration he needed to start writing "The Looking Glass Wars." Five years later, the Minnesotan who grew up on Jack London adventure novels had a fully realized fantasy epic, brimming with magic, violence and, of course, a love story.

The book was rejected by every major publisher in the United States. "It was painful," Beddor said. However, a British publisher, Egmont, found it intriguing and released the first installment in the U.K. in 2004. British readers and media types ate up the idea of a Yankee author reworking their classic into a fantasy-action yarn. The purists hated it even more.

"Members of the Lewis Carroll Society met me at Heathrow Airport, chanting 'Off with Frank Beddor's head,'" he said. "They had placards. I thought it was a joke. Then I realized they were really, really upset with me."

Comic books and beyond

With the novel's U.K. success, U.S. publishers that had passed on Beddor came calling. Penguin gave the novel its first U.S. printing in 2006 (under its Dial imprint). Beddor expanded the "Looking Glass Wars" universe with a hit comic book called "Hatter M," which focused on a warrior version of the Mad Hatter.

Like all his pop-culture heroes -- George Lucas ("Star Wars"), Frank Herbert ("Dune") and Philip Pullman ("His Dark Materials") -- Beddor has spread his story's mythology across many platforms (books, online, CDs). Obviously, movies are next.

Beddor has written a screenplay for "The Looking Glass Wars" and is working with producer Charles Roven ("The Dark Knight") on finding a director. One problem may be Disney's live-action version of "Alice in Wonderland" (directed by Tim Burton), which opens in March 2010. Beddor is unsure if Burton's film will help or hurt interest in "The Looking Glass Wars." For now, he's content to wait and see.

"It's really important to me to take my time," Beddor said. "The last thing I want to have happen is to do a subpar [movie] that kills off the franchise and the stories."

Beddor said he's been thinking a lot about his dad lately -- about his business ventures and how Beddor's own career choices stack up.

"The hardest thing -- absolutely -- was to walk away from any connection to the family business," he said.

But from his home in Los Angeles, Beddor reaffirmed his commitment to the world he's created. He said he has more stories to write, more characters to explore, more ways to delve into "The Looking Glass Wars."

"It's really just a part of me now. It's part of my DNA. There's not a moment when I'm not thinking about it. It really is my life's work -- or my life, I suppose."

A Curiouser 'Alice'

Alice In Wonderland looms as a story known the world over. Creative greats and producing titans have long taken Lewis Carroll’s work as the clay from which to mold their own retellings. However, in the sea of diverse renditions—few have taken Alice far from her roots… that is, until Frank Beddor wrote The Looking Glass Wars.

Transmuting a lost and mild little girl into a modern heroine drove Beddor’s quest to create his Looking Glass Wars novel trilogy and spin-off series of Hatter M. graphic novels. However, the radical shift from Carroll’s original text into a sprawling world of epic fantasy and realm bending battles threatened to bring the whole house of cards down on the ski champ turned author's head!

In his LA Time’s Hero Complex column, Geoff Boucher probes the depths of resistance author Frank Beddor faced when he dared “tell the truth” about Wonderland.

For more, read the full article: A Curiouser ‘Alice’

Looking Glass Wars fantasy author comes to O.C.

Appearing at the Orange County Children’s Book Festival, Frank Beddor shared his fantastical journey to bring his “Wonderverse” into being.  After tapping into one of the most well-known properties in the world, the skier turned producer turned author did not stop at novels. Explaining the insatiable need to expand and create, and how it carried him into new mediums, Beddor sat down with The Orange County Register’s Peter Larsen.

Read the full story: Author of the Looking Glass Wars series comes to O.C.

Taking Alice, er Alyss, to the dark side

The unlikely history of the little girl that tumbled down the rabbit hole is unknown to some but treasured by many more. Lewis Carroll originally wrote his masterwork Alice In Wonderland for the daughter of a colleague, the Dean of Christ Church in Oxford. Alice Liddell (as she was known) became forever remembered as the muse that inspired Carroll’s fantastical tale.

Who would have suspected that this “child’s story” would endure, and grow to become a global touchstone of culture? An improbable (though well deserved) accomplishment.

As it would happen, one unlikelihood tends to give birth to the next. This was certainly the case for re-tellings of Alice’s adventure. While some iterations of the tale have been faithful to the source material and palatable to eager audience, other more far-flung versions of Wonderland have been met with fervent rejection.

The upward battle of bringing an “alternate” Alice (or is it Alyss?) into being was fraught with publisher refusals and even protestors for author Frank Beddor, a story which deserves to be read with all its unbelievable details.

Scott Timberg of the Los Angeles Times dove into what it took to reimagine the story of the girl in the blue dress. Read the full story: Taking Alice, er Alyss, to the Dark Side