JCW: I have found that my style of writing best suits the 10 – 12 year old audience. Given my background working for the world’s largest children’s museum, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, that age group allows me to make my greatest impact, be it in writing stories of Oz or planetarium shows, educational curriculum and outreach programs which teach various science concepts. It also helps that I have raised 5 children into adulthood and now they have returned the favor with 12 grandchildren. Having that perspective allows me to more effectively tailor my work and get the necessary, real-time feedback as I’m writing. Having a built-in, readily available audience makes the process so much more productive.
Into which genre would you say your work falls and why?
JCW: Oz, by definition, is considered children’s fantasy fiction as it was done by the original author, L. Frank Baum. Many have followed and most adhere to that genre, although in more recent times, I’ve witnessed the “adultification” of Oz. I believe this has been done in order to appeal to a slightly older audience which happens to have more access to cash. This is especially apparent with the advent of the graphic novel, which is basically an advanced form of the comic book and which appeals to the late teen audience. For myself, I tend to stick with the original vision of Baum and, as such, my work is defined as children’s fantasy fiction.
Tell us a little about your book.
JCW: In actuality, what I’ve chosen to write is a three volume storyline which focuses on the great grandson of the original Wizard of Oz, named O.Z. Diggs. I call it the Royal Magician of Oz Trilogy. Volume One, Magician of Oz, which was released last Summer Solstice begins the story and establishes the character of Jamie Diggs, the great grandson of O.Z. Diggs. He is called by Princess Ozma to come to Oz and accept her proclamation of him as the new Royal Magician, replacing his great grandfather, who recently retired after 100 years of service. Shadow Demon of Oz, due out by May 1 of this year, continues the storyline and expands Jamie and Buddy’s relationship, both in and out of Oz. By the time Family of Oz comes out next year, their relationship becomes the focal point of the story, as well as the relationship both with Jamie’s parents, Buddy’s father and Jamie’s great grandfather, O.Z. Diggs. One of the unique features of my work is the predominance of food as a story element. I use it as a commonality for the audience. After all, everyone eats. In volume one, its Potato Soup. In volume two, it’s the Reuben Samich and in volume three, Blackberry Cobbler takes center stage. By the time you’ve read all three stories, you’ve got soup, sandwich and dessert. One other element which was included within my stories is what I term the Hoosier Factor. This is a Hoosier tale and includes many Hoosier concepts, such as covered bridges, morel mushrooms, rural farms, cemeteries and the like. I also use a Hoosier dialect, which tends to annoy some English teachers, but no one else, best I can tell.
Who is your favorite character in your book(s) and why?
JCW: I actually have two favorite characters. The Queen of the Field Mice, I feel, has always been one of the most over-looked and ignored characters in the original Wizard of Oz story by Baum. She and her subjects play a crucial role in saving the Cowardly Lion in the Field of Poppies but in the MGM movie and almost every condensed reprint of the original Wizard of Oz, she is always left out. I give her a more pronounced role early on and by the time the story plays out in Family of Oz, Her Majesty should have a major impact in the story. The other character I favor is Polychrome, the Daughter of the Rainbow. For some reason, as a child reading these stories, her character always spoke to me and I have chosen to give her more prominence as a character.
What other writers would you say have influenced your work and why? What are some of your favorite books in the genre?
JCW: Of course, L. Frank Baum, the original author of 14 Oz books played a major role in my early childhood as a source of reading within the fantasy realm. As I have grown older, I have allowed the works of Lewis Carroll, H. G. Wells, Mark Twain, Gene Wolfe and David Brin to influence my writings. I have always found the fantasy realm to be a very seductive place to escape to and lose myself to other worlds. In addition, growing older seems to have drawn me towards the science fiction realm, although I have an extensive background as a scientist. Trying to bridge the gap between sci-fi and sci-fact has become a fond hobby of mine as I watch technology catch up with fiction. My favorite books are any of Baum’s original 14 books of Oz, especially Magic of Oz, as well as Alice in Wonderland, First Men on the Moon, The Claw of the Concillator, Letters From the Earth and Heart of the Comet.
What is your writing process like?
JCW: I tend to write late at night when all is quiet and calm. I also set a goal of a chapter a night, which I can usually achieve. This results in my writing upwards of 45,000 – 63,000 words in a month. Both Magician of Oz and Shadow Demon of Oz were completed in 30 days. I expect Family of Oz will follow the same course. Once the muse strikes, it’s generally best not to get in my way.
Do you do a lot of background research?
JCW: In writing of Oz, I research only from the original 14 books of Oz by Baum. For me, his vision is the original and only vision from which to draw upon. Despite this, I do occasionally make errors in Ozian continuity, to which my fellow Ozites hold me accountable. I am grateful for their input as I want to be as accurate as possible without compromising my story.
Do you plot every detail or do you prefer the characters to move the story in new directions, or a combination of both?
JCW: I generally outline each book, chapter by chapter with a general storyline. While this works for the early process, once the muse strikes, I become like a possessed animal and instinct takes over. The story I outlined rarely looks much like the story I end up with.
Do you belong to a critique group and do you find this helpful?
JCW: No, I do not. I’d prefer not to as Oz rarely is critiqued well by those outside of Oz. Those inside Oz tend to run the gamut of critiques and thus make it difficult to know which opinion works best. The only group whose opinion matters to me is my target audience, and their feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
Do you have any advice for young or beginning writers?
JCW: I always advice kids to start out by reading as much as possible is as short a time as possible. If they can do a book a day for a month, they will have a more comprehensive understanding of various styles, wordsmith and content. Once they have done this, many kids find they have better stories within themselves than anything they may have just read. Doing this also instills in them the discipline of the writers world.
Who is your publisher and where are your books available? Are there e-books and hard copies available?
JCW: I chose self-publishing when I began this project as Oz is regarded in the publishing community as a niche market with little financial incentive for anything other than reprints of original Baum stories, graphic novels and Oz books which have been subjected to “adultification,” such as Wicked. I have my own publishing company entitled “Scientia Est Vox Press.” I utilize CreateSpace as the POD printer due to their access to Amazon.com, their much lower cost-per-book investment and the overall market acceptance of their business model. All my books will be available on Kindle, as well as paperback. There is a plan to go for a fully illustrated hardback series when the final book has had a chance to ferment.
What is your website and/or blog where readers can learn more?
JCW: For general book info and blog updates on my various comings and goings in and out of Oz, the following website is the best place to visit:
If ordering/purchasing is your goal, Amazon.com has my book, Magician of Oz at this location:
Barnes & Noble also can serve this need nicely:
And I even offer my book on Ebay, where autographed copies are possible:
Can we friend you on Facebook or other sites?
JCW: Yes. Magician of Oz is on Facebook at:
I will admit that it’s been a bit of a struggle getting acclimated to the FaceBook way of thinking and marketing. At my age, I’m lucky to even be able to turn on the computer, let alone use it to its fullest potential. It’s a good thing I’ve got kids who can school the old man on the new ways.
Are there any upcoming signings or appearances you'd like to mention?
JCW: I will be appearing at the Oz-Stravaganza 2010 Festival in Chittenango, New York on June 4-6, 2010. L. Frank Baum's home town honors their favorite son with this annual festival (formerly known as Oz Fest). This year the festival will honor the centennial of The Emerald City of Oz (1910), and its dedicatee, Baum's niece, Cynthia Baum Tassini, who was from the area and died in 2004. Special guest appearance by Jerry Maren, the middle member of the Lollipop Guild and myself, James C. Wallace II, author of the Royal Magician of Oz Trilogy. I can be found in the Author's Alley, a new attraction at the festival, located near the Munchkins! I will be featuring my newest book, Volume Two, Shadow Demon of Oz as well as Volume One, Magician of Oz. For more information, see the festival's website at oz-stravaganza.com, or the town's website at www.chittenango.org
I will also be attending the 29th annual Wizard of Oz festival in Chesterton, Indiana, September 17, 18, and 19, 2010. Once again, I will be featuring my newest book, Volume Two, Shadow Demon of Oz as well as Volume One, Magician of Oz. The Duneland Business Initiative Group had a fantastic time bringing the Wizard of Oz Festival back to Chesterton, Indiana in 2009. For 2010, the group promises more fabulous fun! They invite the young and young of heart to Chesterton's historical downtown streets of Broadway and Calumet as they are transformed into the Land of Oz. Details are in the making for the 2010 fest, however festival goers can anticipate Saturday's festival favorite, this year named the Horse of a Different Color Parade. Festival goers will also enjoy the collections and excitement of the auction at the Oz Collectors Exchange and Auction. Again, don't step on the Ruby Slippers of the teens at the Oz-mopolitan Teen Dance; sing along with the Oz Idol contestants both days of the festival. Brunch with the Munchkins, visit the many contests; enjoy browsing through the specially selected vendor booths featuring everything from hand-crafted artisan wares to the ever-popular Oz memorabilia. http://www.ozfestivalchesterton.com/
Mr.Wallace, I want to thank you for stopping by to tell us about you work. Please become a follower of this blog for more updates on the Authors Promoting Authors Virtual Book Tour and other interviews and giveaways.