OZ cover 2

My new ebook, The Dark Witch Of Oz, is now available at Amazon’s Kindle Store worldwide.
See below for the links to the different Amazon territories.

It is a screenplay without a film (yet) and I’d like to tell you why…

I wrote this script a few years ago after reading the original book by L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz. Most people have seen the 1939 MGM movie with Judy Garland. It’s a masterpiece and if you haven’t seen it or shown your children, here’s me telling you to do so.

So spectacular is the movie that more than 70 years later it has become entrenched in popular culture. It’s a timeless story and has hardly aged. An Andrew Lloyd Webber stage production based on the movie was launched in Toronto recently and the casting process for that live show was itself made into a TV series, titled Over The Rainbow. The novel Wicked, by Gregory Maquire, was a huge success and spawned a popular stage musical of its own. in 2013, Disney released a prequel to the 1939 film, Oz The Great And Powerful.

The affect of that film enormous and far reaching, there is no doubt about it. It deserves the accolades and attention.

For many readers, though, there is one weakness (if that’s the right word) in all of the attention the 1939 film gets: It’s so very different from the original book!

The basic story is the same. A twister carries Dorothy and Toto to Oz, her house crushes the Witch of the East, she meets a good witch and travels to Emerald City to meet the Wizard, she makes friends with the Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman and the Lion and they defeat the Witch of the  West, and the story ends with Dorothy and Toto returning home. However, the differences in how these events play out, the addition of other characters and perils make the differences between the 1900  book and the 1939 film rather enormous. A big difference is that the film version plays the entire story off as a dream. Baum’s book has the events actually happen. The entire series of Oz books Baum wrote is based on the premise that Oz is an actual magical place on earth. Getting there is difficult, of course, but the subsequent adventures of Dorothy and other visitors do have them finding ways of getting back.

When I read the original novel, I was surprised by just how different it was from the movie. Those differences made me think, “I want to see this movie!” At the same time, a colleague had suggested a site called InkTip, where he’d sold a script of his to a major studio. So with those two thoughts in mind, I decided to see where my re-imagining of the original tale would take me. It was a challenge, in some ways, because there are a lot things the 1939 film introduced into Oz pop culture mythos that MGM actually owns. The Baum books are public domain, but the film is not. The film introduced the ruby slippers, for example, which are simply silver shoes in the books. The reason was to show off the rich Technicolor process. Obviously, I had to avoid elements exclusive to the films, but I was free to introduce my own elements and spins on familiar things in the book, in the same tradition as other writers of new and different Oz stories have done.

After Baum died, stories from Oz did not. Ruth Plumly Thompson continued the series and her book are recognized as canon by the International Wizard Of Oz Club, along with various other writers. And, of course, there are the many re-imaginings and non-canon works (like Wicked) that tell different tales of Oz in their own, separate realities. So, my venture into a different Land of Oz was far from unprecedented. As I wrote the screenplay, it became it’s own story, loosely following the structure of the novel, but taking on a life of its own. When it was finished, I listed it on InkTip and hoped it would be picked up by a major studio who would pay me millions for the rights.

That didn’t happen. I wasn’t too disappointed, though, because I knew it was a long shot, but I had nothing really to lose in the attempt. After a time, I became aware of the Amazon Kindle Self-Publishing feature and used it to publish a non-fiction reference book call The Queen Chronology (which you can learn more about here and here) and as I was preparing that book’s launch, I was thinking about what to do with the Oz script. Could I publish it as a script ebook? The screenplay format is rather dry, even with what I feel is a good amount of description throughout my piece, so I started thinking of how I could add some flavour and colour it. I’d just completed a wonderful collaborative effort between my alma mater, Ryerson, and my artwork before turning my attention to the Chronology and getting it published, so illustrating the screenplay began to fascinate me as a way to go. Certainly, existing movies are known to release illustrated versions of their screenplays, complete with concept art, storyboards and production photos. Could it work to create these elements as if the screenplay was a film? I had no production photos, but the artwork was well within my means. I’d written and drawn a comic book series years ago and had done storyboards as part of a script for my thesis in university, so narrative artwork was something I was quite familiar with!

It was settled then, I’d illustrate the screenplay and try to bring the story to life, and in doing so, present the entire work as both a piece of art in itself and an exhibit or art collection based on the screenplay. Because there is no film (yet), it is a story told in a different, uncommon way, but equally legitimate way.

So, if your dare, return to an Oz that is familiar, yet very different.

You can find the book here: