Frank Beddor (The Looking Glass Wars)

Frank Beddor: The Interview (The Looking Glass Wars)
"I loathed the book."

Beddor on his lack of interest in Carrol's classic book from which he drew his inspiration.

Literary sleuth and world creator Frank Beddor dared to expose the true story of Wonderland in his novels The Looking Glass Wars and Seeing Redd, volumes one and two in the trilogy. Fascinated by the ancient, illuminated cards first sighted at the British Museum, Beddor has spent ten years collecting and interpreting the scattered and elusive Wonderland decks. With Imagination deadlocked at the start of book 3, two cards were key in solving the mystery, the Caterpillar Oracles and the enigmatic card that lay buried and waiting at the bottom of the deck, known only as Everqueen. Even with the trilogy completed, Beddor is still searching and finding cards he believes will reveal more of the lost history of Wonderland.

To further satisfy the awakened curiosity of his readers Beddor has created the parallel adventures of Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan in the Hatter M graphic novel series and the online RPG, the Card Soldier Wars available at cardsoldierwars.com.

We sit down with the author to talk about his series, the looming controversy over the parallels with his books and Tim Burton's recent movie and a slew of other topics...

: I have to start off asking what your feelings are towards Tim Burton’s movie “Alice In Wonderland” that is coming out and based off of the trailers, synopsis, and images the similarities that there seem to be between his story and your books?

FRANK BEDDOR: The incidental similarities are that she’s the same age as my lead character, she’s going to marry a man she is not in love with, she returns to Wonderland not remembering that, in my case, she’s from there or in Tim Burton’s case that she had been there at an earlier time. She’s destined to banish the Red Queen, in my case Her Imperial Viciousness aka her aunt Queen Redd.  And it takes place in Wonderland with lots of big mushrooms. What’s different in my story is that Alyss did not go to Wonderland…she was born in Wonderland and Lewis Carroll chose to change her harrowing adventure into a whimsical, nonsensical fairytale.  As I said, I haven’t seen the film but my sense is that Burton was dealing with the issue that everyone has had with the book – Lewis Carroll’s story is very episodic with a passive protagonist which does not make for big cinematic films so he had to find a way to make the book into a movie.

SF: I know that you are working on getting “The Looking Glass Wars” made into a movie, is there any time frame we may be seeing that and is anyone attached at this stage yet?

FB: Even if I started production today it would be 3-4 years before the Looking Glass Wars came to the big screen.  Unfortunately I did not start production today so make that 3-4 years plus one day.  No one has been attached to the project but I do have a screenplay and am talking to directors

SF: How difficult do you believe it will be to bring to the screen your imaginative creations from the book and which one do you think will be the hardest?

FB: There have been a number of great artists working on the various elements of the LGW and Hatter series. As I often mention, art has been a big part of the process of writing the Looking Glass Wars trilogy.  From the very beginning I have engaged artists to visualize what I am writing. This has resulted in the project generating a continuous stream of amazing art that is used in everything from bookcovers to a scrapbook containing the lost art of Princes Alyss.  For the film I would try to follow the same methodology of creation as I have with artists. My influence begins when I call an artist and ask if they would like to work on a particular piece.  I try to explain the concept I have in mind and inspire the artist as much as I can – and then I let go – fully expecting to love what they do.  My choice of artist, the inspiration and art direction I pass on and the expectation of the ‘marvelous’ occurring has worked quite a few wonders over the years.

SF: Were you a fan of Lewis Carol’s “Alice In Wonderland” growing up?

FB: In fact, I loathed the book.  My grandmother (named Alice by the way) insisted we read it together one hot summer day when I was 10-years-old and everybody else was in the pool doing cannonballs.  The memory was not a cherished one.

SF: What inspired you to give Wonderland the twist you did?

FB: A number of years ago I was in London on business and had a free afternoon so I went to the British Museum where I discovered an intriguing exhibit of ancient cards.  For instance, Napoleon had hired artists to hand paint cards with depictions of his many victories in battle.  But what ultimately caught my attention, at the very end of the exhibit, was an incomplete deck of cards illuminated by an unusual glow, almost as though the images 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.

The next morning, on the way to the airport, I stopped at the dealer's shop.  When I told him about the unusual exhibit, he revealed that he in fact owned the cards missing from the deck.  I was stunned.  He 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.  It was a darker Alyss from a darker world and I knew I was meant to tell the story. Once I discovered the truth behind the deck of playing cards it soon became clear that Lewis Carroll had changed everything.

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 and you might say, I felt the CALLING!.

SF: When writing the characters such as Dodge and Hatter did you have anyone in mind?

FB: Not really.  Both characters grew directly out of the material.

SF: Do you have a dream cast in mind or anyone you would love to see in the movie?

FB: Over the years I have gotten excited at the thought of one great actor after another bringing LGW’s characters to the screen but at this point that has become an empty exercise and I am just open to being amazed when the exactly perfect person assumes each role when the time comes to make the film.

SF: You brought the original story to a close in the third book, is there any plans to start another saga or are you just going to leave the story as it is?

FB: The Hatter M series continues with Volume 2 MAD WITH WONDER available now.
I plan to complete  a total of 5 Hatter M geo-graphic novels to document his 13 years searching our world for Alyss.  I’m not sure if you are familiar with the Hatter M Institute for Paranormal Travel, but even as we speak this group of radical cartographers and astral historians are working non-stop to piece together the arc of Hatter’s travels.  Through the Institute’s work and communiqués from readers around the world new evidence of Wonderland’s existence and effect on our world continues to mount so you never really know where the portals will take you.

Since the beginning of this journey I have repeatedly uncovered lost and hidden evidence of Wonderland.  It seems the more I write the more I discover which naturally leads to additional material to be written.  Through a series of fortunate discoveries I released  Princess Alyss of Wonderland which features the lost art and journals of Princess Alyss Heart while she was exiled here in our world.  In turn, the information uncovered in these journals opened several fascinating pathways which lead me to deduce Alyss was not the only princess to have been exiled, in fact, evidence suggests that there is actually a league of exiled princesses spread across our world right NOW. 

If anyone would like more info, they can contact me at http://facebook.com/frankbeddor and http://twitter.com/frankbeddor or visit http://www.lookingglasswars.com.

Interview by Pandora
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