Dear Inquiring Minds...

What if I told you that a titan of IP slumbers largely untapped? That while only a fraction of its potential has been realized, it’s already a worldwide cultural phenomenon? What if I told you that I was talking about Lewis Carroll’s ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND?

Immediately, from the title alone, you probably envision the blonde little girl in her powder blue dress (major props to Disney!). She’s etched into our collective brain. The story of her adventures has sold more than 150 million copies and been translated into 176 languages; adapted countless times for film, TV, and every other corner of pop culture. Not bad for two books written a century and a half ago by a scholar inspired by a real little girl.

The problem? Not one of these adaptions and spin-offs has exposed the truth about that little girl; not one has hinted at the expansive, multi-cultural, multi-generational saga from which Carroll borrowed his material. There is unparalleled potential here. The insane success of Carroll’s story and all of its subsequent iterations, along with the feeding frenzy I have personally witnessed when Wonderland fans get a taste of what actually happened, convince me that the time is ripe to bring the truth to the screen.

My trilogy, THE LOOKING GLASS WARS, chronicles the dark yet empowering reality behind Lewis Carroll’s fantasies. It has amassed an audience of millions of eager readers— vocal readers who reach out to me every day, clamoring for the books to be turned into a film or tv series.

In my research for the trilogy, I teased out the connections between historical fact and Carroll’s wondrous fiction, and I discovered a universe of content that, though at odds with Carroll’s books, is unique in its ability to captivate a new generation of Wonderland fans. Even more, I discovered that the passive female “Alice” has represented for over a century was actually a confident, powerful, norm-busting heroine perfectly suited to anchor an epic in the 21st century.

Alice Liddell (née Alyss Heart) tipped the political and social apple carts of her time. Orphaned with an outlandish history no one believed, she grew up to become Lewis Carroll’s muse, rising to the highest echelons of Oxford society and even gaining the love of Queen Victoria's youngest son, Prince Leopold. She fought against social injustice in all its guises, contending with a criminal enterprise à la PEAKY BLINDERS while simultaneously rebelling against monarchical customs à la THE CROWN, earning the ire of Queen Victoria herself.

THE LOOKING GLASS WARS, is much more than a coming-of-age tale featuring a single remarkable woman. It speaks to the human need for creativity, imagination, and story— a need that transcends time and cultural divides. It’s a show driven by universal questions of identity, self-expression, and self-determination.

When we stare into a looking glass, what do we see? What are the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves? By rewriting such stories, to what extent do we change? In a world dominated by social media, where false autobiographies in the form of tweets and Instagram feeds lead many into existential doubt— these are particularly resonant questions.

The show offers a panoramic cast of characters with emotional depth, navigating morally ambiguous situations; characters who seem to represent us yet are wholly themselves—individual, unique; characters with whom we stumble through heart-rending dramas familiar to modern audiences. Love, betrayal, political scheming, fraternal and familial bonds stretched to their breaking points, a war for imagination raging in two worlds…we lean in, gasp, needing to know more.

THE LOOKING GLASS WARS— no less fantastic for being grounded in reality, complete with all of the magical elements so beloved by Lewis Carroll fans— expands the geographical and psychological borders of one of the most recognizable franchises in entertainment.

But that’s marketing-speak and absolutely not the point.

Why do we need to make THE LOOKING GLASS WARS? Why now? For one very important reason:

Because this is a story about the defense of creativity. About the defense of imagination.

We’re living in a world where nothing makes sense anymore. The fake has become real. And the real fake. Our society has lost its identity; it’s been disrupted and distorted. In media. In culture. In politics. In everything.

What work is more relevant that this one?

Alice in Wonderland is the archetypal story of distortion and disruption.

So, you’re not buying into a property. You’re tapping into one of the touchstones of our culture.

But you need a way in. A way that would connect the dots for a new generation. For decades to come.

And THE LOOKING GLASS WARS is that story brought to life today.

Madly yours,

Frank Beddor

Alice Revealed

There is no "What If?" only "What is."

You may have heard the story. One summer afternoon in July 1862, Charles Dodgson, a young Oxford don, took a boat trip up the River Isis with Dean Henry Liddell’s three daughters, one of whom was named Alice.

Dodgson and the Liddells stopped for a picnic along the riverbank, and to amuse Alice, who was rather bored with the outing, Dodgson told her about a girl, very much like herself, who fell down a rabbit-hole into a magical realm of mad tea parties, disappearing cats, absurd queens, and tardy rabbits worrying over pocket-watches.

Three years later, under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll, Dodgson published his whimsical tale as ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, whose characters and conceits have since taken up permanent residence in humankind’s imagination.

So goes the story— the lie, the myth.

But that day on the riverbank, Charles Dodgson did not invent a yarn for Alice’s entertainment. It was she who did the talking, and not for diversion, but out of desperation. She told him the harrowing history of her life as Princess Alyss Heart of Wonderland.

Dodgson, for well-intentioned but misguided reasons, decided to alter Alyss’s story in his published novel, and the truth has lain hidden from the world for more than 150 years.

Until now.

THE WAR FOR IMAGINATION

Forget everything you know about Wonderland— the fanciful, childish nonsense depicted by Lewis Carroll, the whimsical creatures featured in Disney’s animated series and films. Forget even graphic novel adaptions that tend toward the gothic but still rely heavily on Carroll’s books. And the prim young girl in the blue dress? Forget her, too. She’s pure fiction.

The truth is much darker, more psychologically complex, more sophisticated, teeming with plot and intrigue, bigger and broader in scope. And more threatening…to us.

Alyss Heart’s birthplace, the real Wonderland, is a parallel world and the seedbed of imagination throughout the cosmos. All of humankind’s scientific advancements, masterpieces of art and engineering, and cultural shifts are manifestations of creativity inherited from Wonderland, where imagination is capable of creating tangible things. Sometimes, such tangibles are created in an instant, while other times an imaginatively gifted Wonderlander is more like an inventor at her desk, experimenting, working through trial and error to bring a vision to actuality. In short, imagination is the magic of our show. Another way to think of it: THE LOOKING GLASS WARS has imagination; STAR WARS has the force.

Imagination itself—which flows constantly from Wonderland to our world, influencing creation and behavior everywhere— is a neutral energy, given shape and character by those channeling it. As this energy is articulated, it can be an instrument for beauty (Light Imagination) or a tool of terror and destruction (Dark Imagination).

As in Wonderland, so too on Earth: Light and Dark Imagination are at war.

Light Imagination is guided by love, justice, a sense of duty to the well-being of others. Everything good in Wonderland and on Earth comes from Light Imagination

Dark Imagination is the product of rage, fear, selfishness, and pain; spurred by hate and revenge. Everything evil in Wonderland and on Earth comes from Dark Imagination.

Lewis Carroll knows all of this because Alyss Heart— princess of Wonderland, rightful heir to its throne, forced by circumstance into playing the part of an adoptee in Victorian London— tells him. How she had to escape Wonderland by jumping into The Pool of Tears the night her aunt Redd, a ruthless practitioner of Dark Imagination, murdered her mother Queen Genevieve during a bloody coup. How The Pool of Tears is a portal that brought her to Earth— a poor, homeless, orphaned exile, eventually adopted by Dean Liddell and his family.

Carroll is charmed by Alyss but disturbed by what he presumes to be her make-believe story (he supposes her emotionally scarred from her time on the streets). He wants to render the demons that haunt her into silly things, humorous things, and so he writes Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, omitting every syllable of truth.

Hurt by this betrayal, distracted by the life around her, Alyss Heart (now Alice Liddell) eventually forgets herself. Her Wonderland memories fade to dreams and then to nothing, and she’s now grown into a plucky, strong-willed twenty-year-old elbowing her way through a man’s society.

But if Alyss doesn’t remember her true past soon, if she doesn’t reclaim Wonderland’s throne in the service of Light Imagination, the realm will descend further into a hellscape from which it may never recover.

While for us…

An overflow of Dark Imagination will spill over the entire globe—influencing, corrupting, poisoning everything everywhere. As long as Redd Heart remains Wonderland’s queen, our future will be in doubt, the advancements of the coming centuries in dire jeopardy.

What’s at stake, then, is nothing less than imagination itself—Dark threatening to eclipse Light for all time, and without Light Imagination, no world is worth living in. But for Alyss to remember who she is, for her to successfully battle Redd and ensure Wonderland’s future, as well as our own, she’s going to need the help of some old friends, including one very badass HATTER MADIGAN.

Worlds of Wonder

THE LOOKING GLASS WARS series, is a science-fantasy with a modern-informed aesthetic, dramatizes an epic both profoundly new and yet—evolved from mythic archetypes as it is—deeply familiar.

The story spans two worlds connected by the flow of imagination—Wonderland and 19th century Earth. We begin in Victorian England, where, with ALYSS HEART, we witness the lows of society— the muck and grime, workhouses, debtor’s prisons, gangs, street urchins. We also witness the highs— the ostentatious wealth and privilege, including that of the royal family. With Alyss, we are buffeted by classism and the flare-ups of social unrest that result. All of this is presented in a very grounded style, true to life.

But THE LOOKING GLASS WARS isn’t strictly a period piece. Over the course of the story, as more of Wonderland encroaches upon Earth, the more that realm’s fantastic elements—its characters, creatures, colors, and textures—impede on our gray-by-comparison reality. In this way, with an increasing intermingling of the Victorian and Wonderlandian until they become one, the look of the show echoes the internal changes wrought in Alyss Heart as she remembers who she truly is and questions where her destiny lies.

But again, this not your mother’s Wonderland, populated with eccentric cartoonish characters who speak in riddles and behave nonsensically. No, as sci-fi as our Wonderland seems, with its cityscapes akin to glittering precious stones, technology that far outstrips our own, beasts like the ferocious jabberwocky, battalions of living chessmen and card soldiers— despite all of this, our Wonderland is a place of intrigue, political machinations, violence, deception, sex, thwarted ambitions, and hopeful aspirations. Our Wonderland is home to characters ranging from the naively good to the thoroughly corrupt. A lot like Victorian London. A lot like our world now.

Accordingly, our show treats Wonderland in the same, matter-of-fact style it does the patently realistic London. For as colorful, lush, and incredible as Wonderland is to us, the world is real for its citizens— a world where imagination is a palpable, magical force, where the extraordinary is ordinary and what we would call impossible is an everyday occurrence.

As different as our Wonderland is from Lewis Carroll’s version, or anyone else’s, fans of the original novel will be able to puzzle out familiar names and faces. Carroll’s white rabbit is BIBWIT HARTE, the anxious albino tutor employed by the ruling Heart family. The Cheshire Cat, in our show, is known simply as THE CAT, a shape-shifting feline assassin, who, it turns out, is anything but simple. Tweedledee and Tweedledum are recognizable as GENERAL DOPPELGÄNGER, who commands Wonderland’s military and is capable of splitting into separate but identical individuals—General Doppel and General Gänger. And Lewis Carroll’s hookah-smoking caterpillar? In THE LOOKING GLASS WARS there is more than one, and these hippo-sized larvae are ancient oracles, masters of imaginative power, and loyal only to the Heart Crystal from which all imagination emanates. Then there’s the Mad Hatter, whom viewers will come to see as an absurd representation of our charismatic anti-hero HATTER MADIGAN (think Han Solo or Jack Sparrow).

Doubles abound. Because of Wonderland’s influence in all thing’s imagination, the inhabitants and doings of Earth often seem a reflection of that other world. Main Wonderland characters have counterparts on Earth, who are loosely similar in temperament; actors can portray dual roles.

Events are also mirrored. We’ll see plenty of parallels between Wonderland during Redd Heart’s tyranny and the UK under Queen Victoria. For example, the Industrial Revolution, which Victoria rides herd over as queen, and in which people are valued only so much as they can be cogs in some behemoth monopoly machine, is a direct result of mass “dehumanization” taking place in Wonderland under Redd.

At times historically accurate, other times futuristic, kinetic in pace, grounded in character, THE LOOKING GLASS WARS is a wonder-verse unto itself, a mash-up of timeless elements in which not only Alyss Heart but many others find that character is destiny, and destiny is legacy.

Great Characters

Great shows, the most successful films, need great characters—ones founded in archetypes that represent the most fundamental human experiences; characters who partake of the universal, making them easy to identify with, and whose successes and failures evoke deep emotions. The chosen one, the hero and anti-hero, the rebel, the sage— THE LOOKING GLASS WARS, a timely story with timeless appeal, has them all.

For a more intimate acquaintance with our lead characters, please check out our upcoming blogs.

The Mad Hatter prevails! Author Frank Beddor sizes up an icon

Bestselling author Frank Beddor knows the landscape of Wonderland as the creator of the "Looking Glass Wars" series of novels and the "Hatter M" graphic novels. Today, as Disney basks in the glow of a $210-million opening weekend of Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland," Beddor considers the pop-culture persistence of the Mad Hatter.

Riddle: When is a Hatter NOT Mad?

Shatterpated! Barmy! Raving! Amok! Berserk!

I love the smell of madness in the morning. The popularity of "Alice in Wonderland" has endured for nearly 150 years and been read by generations, so it understandably captures a large part of our shared imaginative history. And it’s not just books, film and television that riff on Alice and Wonderland, but music, clothing lines, nightclubs, games, toys etc. etc. etc.

Across the pop culture spectrum, from artists and musicians to ad agencies and Internet moguls, tastemakers are tapping into our shared imaginative history of the Alice iconography to capture their audience. Although Alice certainly gets top billing, there would be a strong argument for an even deeper psychic attachment to … the Mad Hatter.

It seems Alice gets the girls, the dreamers and the fairy-tale fanatics, but the Mad Hatter attracts a more raffish contingency of nose-thumbing social heretics who see the character as an icon of anti-authoritarianism and sartorial splendor.

Despite his moonstruck popularity, history is somewhat bent on the origin of the Hatter and his infamous mental state. The Hatter was a fictional character introduced at a tea party in Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." And although he was almost immediately referred to as the "Mad Hatter," he was never called by this name in Carroll's book.

The Hatter is introduced in Chapter VII, "A Mad Tea-Party," in which he asks Alice the famous riddle: "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" When Alice gives up, the Hatter admits he does not have an answer himself. How mad!

Minstrel outlaw Tom Petty donned the Wonderland madman’s costume for his 1985 music video "Don’t Come Around Here No More" and Tom Waits sings ”mad as a hatter/thin as a dime.” Bars and pubs and watering holes around the globe proclaim themselves to be an outpost of madness by adopting the name of (arguably) history’s most mad character. Racehorses and restaurants … a certain inmate of Arkham Asylum … all mad as hatters.

It seems from all this that the general populace is actually quite dazzled by all things MAD.

s it the social freedom that the Mad appear to enjoy? Freedom from petty constraints, the herd state and dress codes can be a lure to many individuals. But not to the timid. The timid seem to me to be anything but mad, which is why I so vehemently disagree with the consensus by some that the Mad Hatter’s mental state was induced by inhaling the mercury fumes that were part of the trade of 19th century hat makers.

Symptoms of mercury poisoning include excessive timidity, diffidence, increasing shyness, loss of self-confidence, anxiety, and a desire to remain unobserved and unobtrusive. WHAT? Nothing MAD about all that. So then… when is a Hatter NOT Mad?

When he is FURIOUS.

With full disclosure I must admit to a strong alliance with a Hatter whose "madness" manifests as an obsessive, single-minded, all-consuming mania to traverse our world in search of Wonderland’s lost princess. Many of those he meets along the way certainly consider him to be mad. What is this man in the Hat babbling about? A lost princess named Alyss? His loyalty to White Imagination? A puddle where no puddle should be! Lock him up!

But in between the timid, the toe-the-liners and the practical observers of life, he meets those who dare to believe him, who sense the truth of his mission and the beauty of his cause. And to all of those … I must tip my hat. One last riddle: Why must individuality be labeled a disease? Answer: Because it is dangerous.

Madly yours,

Frank Beddor

Q&A with Frank Beddor and Gregory Maguire

Welcome to Ask 5 Answer 5, where I ask 5 questions of a writer I would love to have a conversation with.  In return, they ask me 5 questions and we mash it all up here for your reading pleasure.

My inaugural guest is author Gregory Maguire, perhaps best known for Wicked.

Q: FB

First off. I am always curious as to how writers prepare themselves to write. What do you do to help settle yourself down to writing? For instance, I like to dust with a feather duster.

A: GM

Well I do three things to settle down and write. I walk. I read poetry (the more incomprehensible the better—Wallace Stevens does wonders for my mental constipation). And I ask myself questions before I go to bed, I mean questions about the work at hand. So often I find when I wake up my subconscious has been busy all night working out useful answers, like the Elves who made shoes for the

Shoemaker.

Q: FB

Your latest novel, After Alice, while re-visiting much of the world of Victorian London and Lewis Carroll's original work, is not intended for children.  What did you discover about Wonderland that inspired you to write for adult readers?

A: GM

I had always known Wonderland was anarchic and unreliable; I had not realized until I was grownup that it was yet another iteration of Hell. The punishments milder, of course—no burning flames, no remorse—but the endless circling and transmutations with no possibility escape of escape: oh! Bergman’s Seventh Seal: there’s a chess game played with Death, no? And my joke of the season is “Kafka for Kindergartners.” I think Kafka’s The Trial seriously owes something to the nonsense of Lewis Carroll. (And perhaps he owes something to the dread labyrinths of the law portrayed by Dickens in Bleak House.) .

Q: FB

When do you show what you are writing to other 'privileged' eyes?  How far in?  For instance, rough first draft?   And who is your preferred 'first reader'?

A: GM

I wait until I have a draft that could go into print as a “as found” edition in case I stepped on the third rail of a subway line when trying to retrieve my dropped MetroRail pass. It’s usually third or fourth draft. My first reader is my husband, Andy Newman, who gets the mss. with a strict set of instructions: note factual errors, grammatical errors, places where you didn’t understand the prose or what was going on, sentences that seemed unclear or clumsy. But in no instance comment on the validity of the ambition or even on its execution. I have to live and die on my own sense of that as it is.

Q: FB

You have said that Wonderland as written by Lewis Carroll gave you your first experience of Dadaism. Do you have a particular piece of Wonderland art from any era/medium that captures your mind's eye vision best?

A: GM

Oh, my, do you know the edition of Alice with art by Lassen Ghiuselev? Though interspersed with line drawings in conte crayon, its main pages are all drawn from a single painting done on a panel of twenty by forty inches, as I understand it.  The painting shows episodes and characters from the entire book. Greatly influenced by Escher, and done in tones of rose and burnt sienna. I took this fine book out and had it on my viewing stand for months last year, and only recently put it away. Looking through it now, I think perhaps the sketch of the Dodo and the Mouse on p. 20—in which the Mouse is wearing a cap—perhaps inspired my cap-headed mouse that Ada finds in her own long drop down the rabbit hole.

Q: FB

Wonderland, Neverland or Disneyland?  Where would you prefer to spend the night? Alone. And why?

A: GM

Oh, my, none of them would be be very restful, would they?  Neverland has all those ticking clocks and crocodiles and pirates and such creeping about. Disneyland—who could sleep? Fireworks every hour on the hour! So I suppose my answer about be Wonderland, but only provisionally: only if I could spend the night in the home of the Duchess and the Cook and the baby who turns into a pig. As the pig has run off, it won’t be crying all night, and though I imagine the Duchess will snore, at least any establishment that can boast a Cook probably has a guest bedroom, and maybe

far enough away that the smell of pepper from the cooking exercises will have dissipated some.

And Now the Tables Turn

Gregory is asking the questions and I am answering. Questions posed often reveal as

much or more than answers given.

So, what's Gregory curious about?

Q: GM

I am a novice in the great fields of Wonderland, but you have been an emigrant to that foreign landscape for some time now. Lewis Carroll’s dreamscape is perhaps the most recognizable literary landscape in history. Can you tell me what gave you the initial fortitude even to apply for a passport? Or, in other words, were you pushed or did you jump?

A: FB

I cannot take credit for any sort of fortitude when the fact of the matter is I was pushed to the edge of credibility and forced to jump!  My temerity was inspired by an afternoon spent inside the British Museum over 15 years ago where I came across a strange deck of cards that seemed to be telling a story.  The images summoned a place that as a boy I was far from enamored of, Wonderland. The deck was incomplete. Driven by some persistent muse I tracked the remaining cards to a London antiquities dealer who revealed another story of Wonderland, a story of an exiled Princess Alyss finding her way to London where she met a young author. Bolstered and emboldened, I began writing the Looking Glass Wars. 

Q: GM

Do you, as I do, dream in narrative? Do you remember your dreams at all? Some people only dream in images, others in emotional states—or all they can remember is nearly beyond words. “It was so—and then there was this—and I was so—oh, I can’t put it into words!” I have a theory that born storytellers dream in plots, or at least scraps of plots. Or maybe all I really mean is we all do that, and born storytellers are better at remembering them.

A: FB

I do remember my dreams.  In fact, they are often the most interesting events of my 'day'.  The narratives are generally a mash up – seemingly disconnected episodes – quite mad at times – much like being in Wonderland.  But as the night continues the episodes find connections and the narrative continues picking up people/events/places where they had stopped earlier.  I find that if I remember the most vivid image of the dream – and I often make an almost lucid attempt to do this – then the next day when I am trying to remember the rest of the dream, it unfolds, as though cued. Usually if I can wake up enough to write my dreams down I only need write one word, and that word will trigger a cascade of dreaming.  Quite efficient!

Q: GM

It takes a great hubris—or a great modesty and sense of admiration at the feet of a master—to dare to trespass into someone else’s created world. Of course, Shakespeare and Milton and Homer did it. (To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, “The Odyssey was written by Homer, or someone else of the same name.”) Is it possible to suppose that some portion of your own inventions is tribute and what is challenge to the status quo of genius? If so, does that cause you sleepless nights?

A: FB

Many things cause me sleepless nights but I cannot include my relationship with Lewis Carroll.  His genius, the certifiable existence of it, actually comforts me in a world where so little exists.  My initial underlying effort in writing LGW was to examine how and why 'Wonderland' has remained such a powerful icon of creativity for so many generations.  My hubris in meddling with Carroll's inspired accomplishment was to investigate Wonderland as the source of ALL Imagination.  And at the center of Wonderland, I 'found' the Heart Crystal, emanating the creative energy that is sent to our world as a gift to artists, children, dreamers, and all those who remain open to the possibility of 'wonder'. I wove adventures around this centerpiece as a way for readers to believe they too can access what Lewis Carroll accessed, Wonderland's great gift of Imagination.

Q: GM

Leaving Alice aside, who really is your favorite character from the two famous books? Or maybe I don’t even need to begin with that condition—maybe little Alice never was your favorite.

A: FB

Well my favorite character from both books, if I may bend the definition of character, is Wonderland.  Other realms, other worlds, whether inside, above, below or encircling this world fascinate me.  The crack in consensus reality is my favorite place to wander.

Q: GM

If Lewis Carroll were writing today, he might still be able to use a mirror to get Alice into the world of her dreams, but he might not use a rabbit-hole for a portal. How do you think he might arrange transport in this day and age?

A: FB Excellent question to ponder! Lewis Carroll's choice of transport in this age to Wonderland.  Hmmm.  I chose puddles where no puddles should be as the most direct route, but what would Lewis choose?  What might he invent to assist a small girl in believing she can travel from this world to another.  I imagine he would have her watch the sun through half closed eyes, examining the sunbeams that fall to earth, until she spots the one that has been sent for her.   She must then point a decisive finger towards her beam to claim it. And at that moment it will begin to lift her skyward, sending her towards the stars and not down, down, down into the mad anarchy of Wonderland. Maybe something like that.  But, of course, better!

Thank you Gregory Maguire for this mind merging conversation!

About Gregory Maguire

Time for another trip down the rabbit hole!  Gregory takes you on his unique exploration of Wonderland in After Alice. In stores now.

Read all the latest news and information about Gregory at gregorymaguire.com. 

Also find him on Facebook!

facebook.com/GregoryMaguire

About Frank Beddor

For more adventures in Wonderland discover the prequel AND the sequel to the New York Times best-selling Looking Glass Wars trilogy. Frank’s new prose novel, Hatter Madigan: Ghost in the Hatbox, and graphic novel, Looking Glass Wars: Crossfire, available now wherever books are sold.

Find Frank on the web at FrankBeddor.com.

Connect with Frank on Facebook!

facebook.com/thelookingglasswars

The Mantra of Interconnectivity Meets the Mandala of The Looking Glass Wars

Curated By Michelle F. Bayuk for publication in Knowledge Quest

To understand the full extent of the storytelling success of The Looking Glass Wars, one must understand all the components of the LGW world. Here, author and creator Frank Beddor discusses how the “beyond the book” activity affects the story and success of the books. In addition to the two books already released in the trilogy, there are comic books, card games, an online game, and more associated with the world created for the book series. This interactivity between the written word and its extended life that results from the original storytelling is the focus of this article. –Michelle F. Bayuk, Editor

When I was asked to write this column for KQ, I flashed on the iconic librarians of my youth, card catalogues, and the special class we had to attend to learn the Dewey Decimal System. We were quizzed at the end of the class and I like to think I passed. While I have met many twenty-first century librarians since publishing The Looking Glass Wars (LGW), I still felt a twinge of stage fright in terms of how to write for a journal for librarians, so I went online and started reading some librarians’ blogs. Very quickly I learned that not only do librarians read, but they also write and are funny and post-modern and concerned and hopeful and at the end of the day like everyone else, tired and looking forward to a cocktail. So now I knew my audience on a more personal level and cast about for a possible topic. The suggested choices were my life, my writing process and philosophy, my influences, or “anything else of interest to school librarians and media specialists.”

I have selected anything else and titled it “The Mantra of Interconnectivity Meets the Mandala of The Looking Glass Wars Universe.” In the beginning, there was the word. In fact there were many, many words. I spent five years writing the first book of the trilogy inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. But in between the words, I also discovered the images and the artists who could visually manifest what I was seeing in my mind’s eye as I wrote. My decision to engage artists early on in creating the characters and environments of LGW was a major step toward the interconnectivity that would eventually lead to the Web site, comic books, graphic novel, soundtrack, card game, and online game that have all sprung from the source work. This was not initiated as an overtly calculated plan but rather as an organic, creative, spontaneous progression that led to a very basic discovery: the bigger the universe and the more interconnected, the more likely it was that someone, somewhere would get interested and begin to read.

The multiplatform expression of the themes, art, and storytelling of LGW, whether in the parallel story of Hatter M’s comic book adventures as he searches for the lost princess, in the online game, or as a song from the soundtrack sent as a link by a friend, are all an open invitation to further adventures with characters and environments that have caught a potential reader’s imagination. To get someone to read, you do not necessarily have to hand them a book. You can show them a piece of art that inspires them to want to know more about its origins and meanings or you can provide the opportunity for them to create their own card soldier army in an online game or you can play a song from a soundtrack to create an aural world that beckons them in for further exploration.

Because The Looking Glass Wars is a novel set in two dimensions, our world and Wonderland, I wanted to do as much as possible to help the reader fully experience what I’d envisioned, so I decided to go beyond the confines of the written page. In the spirit of a graphic novel I created an aural novel by producing a soundtrack much the same as a director would for a film. Because readers will be confronting unknown dimensions in the book, I wanted to extend the mental dimension of the page to the auditory––hoping that the world of Wonderland and its’ denizens would become that much more sensory and real. I didn’t predict that booksellers would play the soundtrack in their stores to catch the ear of potential readers. To me this is exciting evidence of the value of interconnectivity.

All of the above brings me circuitously to the basic concept of the LGW universe that states all imagination flows from Wonderland to our world as a gift to be used as we will. I believe there is a powerful energy to words, particularly the written word. Words that flow from the font that is LGW have stimulated other imaginations, inspiring not only me, but other artists, musicians, game designers, publishers, reviewers, and especially readers. But while artists and professionals are career inspired, the readers and fans who search me out at comic book conventions and readings to show me their art or tell me how they are designing a costume to wear as their wedding gown based on the garb of Her Imperial Viciousness Queen Redd, are responding purely to the flow of imagination inspiring them to create their own part of the mandala that is the LGW universe.

Wonderland constantly projects upon our world––in what we have come to call inspiration, creativity, and dreams. These invisible influences come mostly to people who are open to receiving them: artists, dreamers, inventors, and of course, children. How open you are to Wonderland’s unseen influences will determine your level of imagination. Children are wide open until they are told to grow up and be like everyone else. This societal pressure leaves only a small percentage of the adult population still believing in the unseen world and open to its endless gifts. How long could this world continue to turn if not for the heroic efforts of a select, literate few?

At the beginning of the Hatter M graphic novel I thank the scholars, antiquarians, reasoners, logicians, rationalists, and knights errant who have made this book possible. I hope it is clear that I am referring, of course, to librarians. Thank you for your heroic efforts to keep the gates of consciousness open so that imagination can continue to flow to all who enter your realm in search of the unknown.

Frank Beddor runs Automatic Pictures and was the producer of the hit comedy There’s Something About Mary. Before that, Beddor was the first International Ski Federation World Cup Champion in combined freestyle skiing. His risky skills on the slopes led to a job performing the ski stunts in the cult classic John Cusack film, Better Off Dead. The author of the New York Times bestseller The Looking Glass Wars and its sequel Seeing Redd, Beddor lives in Los Angeles, California.

Michelle F. Bayuk is the Marketing Director for The Children’s Book Council, Inc. The Children’s Book Council is a nonprofit trade association of U.S. publishers of books for children and young adults and is the official sponsor of Children’s Book Week and the Children’s Choice Book Awards. For more information, please visit www.cbcbooks.org and www.bookweekonline.com.

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