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Author Talk: November 2006

November 2006

Freestyle skiing champion, stuntman, actor and producer Frank Beddor can now add "author" to his repertoire with the publication of THE LOOKING GLASS WARS, the first installment of an ALICE IN WONDERLAND-based trilogy.

In this interview, Beddor describes his less-than-pleasant introduction to the works of Lewis Carroll and the "what ifs" that inspired him to write the book. He also explains what he likes the most about his protagonist, Alyss, speculates on how the trilogy will be received by readers and discusses some of the preliminary plans to adapt the novel for the big screen.

Question: Did you read ALICE IN WONDERLAND when you were a child? What did you think of it?

Frank Beddor: My grandmother's name was Alice and the book was a favorite of both her and my mother. When I was 10 years old and it was 90 degrees outside and everyone else was swimming, my mother decided she and I should read the book together. Not the best introduction to Wonderland and I did not enjoy the experience --- little did I know what the future held.

Q: Why rework a classic story?

FB: I do not consider THE LOOKING GLASS WARS to be a re-working of ALICE IN WONDERLAND but rather a valid 'what if?". A creative act inspired by a chance visit to the British Museum and a meeting with antiquities dealer Mr. Doogan Buffington. When I asked myself "What if Alice were actually from Wonderland and what if Wonderland were the source of our imagination?" that was a big, original 'what-if' that contained a lot of energy and possibilities --- enough to inspire my book and Egmont to publish it. It was never a conscious decision on my part to "re-work" theAlice books, but this discovery that led me to uncover the truth.

Q: Are you worried about what fans of the original books will think?

FB: Actually I'm more curious than worried.

I really don't know how many kids that are reading Harry Potteretc. today have read ALICE IN WONDERLAND. I think the issue is more about traditionalists being put off. Most readers have open minds, especially kids --- after all, isn't a good story what most readers long for?

Q: What do you think Lewis Carroll would say about your story?

FB: "Curiouser and curiouser"

Q: What do you think of Charles Dodgson --- the man?

FB: Shy, aloof, intelligent. A man who's only real freedom was in his own imagination.

Q: It took a long time to research THE LOOKING GLASS WARS. Have you enjoyed it?

FB: Yes. I enjoyed every second of it so much that I plan to write a book detailing the gathering of evidence, the blind alleys, the intrigues and late night phone calls, espionage, assassination attempts...all of it will be in the book accompanying the trilogy.

Q: Who is your favorite character in the novel and why?

FB: Alyss.

First, for all she suffered and endured. For her spirit. Her strength. For her determination to hold onto her imagination despite society's insistence that flowers do not sing, that Wonderland does not exist, that she fit in and be like everyone else and that her name is spelled Alice --- not Alyss.

Q: Who did you enjoy writing about most, the good characters or the villains?

FB: As in life --- it's usually more fun to be bad and very hard to be good. Writing villains allows a certain amount of repressed fantasies of retribution, revenge and all around anti-social behavior to act out. Redd and the Cat were always up to something 'fun' so I have to admit to enjoying the villains the most. I think what really makes for successful villains is when in their mind they are the hero of the story. Redd is a fascinating character who sees herself as wronged by her family and her imagination as superior to Alyss's. Her assassin, the Cat --- half feline and half man --- is a scary, vicious beast who happens to be very articulate, which made the dialogue wickedly fun to write.

Q: Is there a particular scene or episode that you particularly enjoyed writing?

FB: Redd's initial attack on heart palace ending with Alyss's escape and exile. Writing this I felt swept up in the energy and emotion --- as though I were witnessing it firsthand. This gave me the momentum I would need for not only Alyss's journey but for mine as well. Our journeys came together at this point and I was locked in.

Q: Where and when do you write? 

FB: When I committed myself to writing this I rented a small one room office in an old art deco building in Los Angeles. Since I get so much inspiration from visuals I commissioned 'Looking Glass War' conceptual art pieces and then 'cocooned' myself within by covering the walls and ceiling with all of these images. And each day I went there and stayed till the sun went down, drank endless cups of tea and wrote in longhand.

Q: Is it true that THE LOOKING GLASS WARS is going to be made into a film?

FB: Yes...with the right director. In order to bring the book to the screen the director will need to be a visionary --- someone able to create sweeping romance, great visual style and be able to capture the vibrance of this world of Wonderland never seen on film before. The grandeur of the Chessboard Desert, the saturated colors of Mushroom Valley. Definitely a 'director's film'.

Q: Who would you like to play Alyss?

FB: We will launch a worldwide search for Alyss. Not since Scarlett O'Hara was cast in Gone With The Wind will there be such an exhaustive event. There is a very high probability the actress cast will be English, so to all those interested I suggest you buy the book and begin preparing now.

Q: Are there any similarities to working on a film and working on a book?

FB: Thinking in visual terms....searching for the moments...feels very similar. But otherwise a book is a solo experience while working on a film you are surrounded by people. Virtually never alone. In both cases you are just hoping people will like it.

Q: This must be an exciting moment in your varied career?

FB: Exciting? Yes...but also anxious. I feel like I have a 'little secret' that I have been keeping but dying to tell, because no one likes to keep secrets for very long. And now it's time to tell the secret. Which makes me very excited but nervous. I had a similar feeling with my film There's Something About Mary, a little secret that was about to be shared with the world. So let's see how readers like this secret.

Q: Can you tell us anything about the next book in the trilogy?

FB: The only detail I am willing to divulge is that Homburg Molly plays a much bigger part...

Q: What made you want to write?

FB: Having a great story to tell --- I didn't want to forget anything so I started writing it down.

Q: Did you read a lot as a child?

FB: I read a lot but nothing like my neighbour Margaret Whistleby --- I wish I could have read as fast as she did.

Q: Where do you live?

FB: Below the Hollywood sign.

Q: What are your extravagances?

FB: Traveling and collecting rare maps.

Q: Your next ambition?

FB: To build the Looking Glass Maze roller coaster.

Copyright © 2006, Automatic Pictures, Inc. All rights reserved.