Interview: Frank Beddor
by Katherine Bittner
Review by Kat Bittner
SFRevu.com Interview ISBN/ITEM#: INTFBEDDOR
Date: 06 September 2007
Links: Looking Glass Wars / Seeing Red Review /
Frank Beddor: The Looking Glass Wars is volume 1 of the trilogy of novels telling the true story of Alyss of Wonderland. 'Alice' was not a little girl in Victorian England who tumbled down a rabbit hole and discovered a confusing place called Wonderland, in fact, Alyss was a child born in Wonderland and destined to be Queen. But on her 7th birthday Alyss' Aunt Redd staged a bloody coup on the palace in an attempt to take what she considered her rightful place as Queen. In the coup, Alyss' mother Queen Genevieve and her father King Nolan were both killed. Queen Genevieve's last order to Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan was to take Alyss and flee Wonderland to escape Redd's slaughter until she was old enough to return and fight for her rightful place on the throne. But as Alyss and Hatter Madigan traveled through the Pool of Tears (the portal that connects our world to Wonderland) they were separated and Alyss Heart, the Princess and future Queen of Wonderland, was lost. Alyss exited through a portal and found herself alone on the streets of 1859 London while Hatter Madigan exited a different portal to arrive in Paris. Alyss was eventually adopted by the Liddell family and met the young mathematics don, amateur photographer and future author, Lewis Carroll. She told him her harrowing tale hoping he would write a book so that those searching for her could find her and bring her home. Well Lewis Carroll did write a book but he got it all wrong! He even spelled her name wrong! The Looking Glass Wars is actually the book Alyss had wanted Lewis Carroll to write.
SFRevu: What's the most interesting reaction to Looking Glass Wars that you've come across?
Frank: There have been so many unexpected and surprising reactions. You can never really predict how a reader will interpret what you have written and what will be triggered in their own imagination. My favorite so far is the middle-aged woman at the San Diego Comic Con this year who became very intense when I asked her why she thought so many people had responded in such a personal way to LGW. She said, "It's because Alyss is a survivor. She lost everything, even her memory. And when she finally found her way home everything had changed and she had to fight to get it back. And yet, she survived." So that's one reaction.
SFRevu: There is the Lewis Carroll version and Disney version of Alice in Wonderland. How does your version of Alyss distinguish itself from these two?
Frank: Well the Disney version loosely followed the false stance that Lewis Carroll had taken while LGW kicks both to the curb and says "Hey. Wait a minute. Neither of you even got her name right. Let's get into what really happened."
SFRevu: Having just gotten kittens of our own I was struck by how well you portrayed feline characteristics in the Cat. Were there any particular feline inspiration?
Frank: While I love dogs I consider myself a Cat Man. Much of my inspiration and insight into the workings of the feline mind and their capacity for mischief came from my own two cats, brother and sister, Truman and Phia. Taking this insight I added herculean doses of Black Imagination and came up with the übercruelty, vanity and appalling anti-social quality of The Cat.
SFRevu: In Seeing Redd we are introduced to lots of new characters. Which one do you find the most interesting?
Frank: In Seeing Redd readers will get to know King Arch who was mentioned as the ruler of Boarderland in LGW but not fully introduced. Boarderland is the nation next door to Wonderland and while Wonderland is a Queendom ruled by the power of Imagination, Boarderland has a King who is an adamant chauvinist made nauseous by the thought of a woman ruling anything. He loathes imagination and focuses entirely on Machiavellian gamesmanship as his super power. Boarderland is a nation of gamblers and incessant gamers with King Arch the ultimate player as he constantly plots and manipulates his every move in the game to dominate Alyss and Wonderland. For fans of anagrams, closely inspect the map included in Seeing Redd and see if you can decode the names of each of the 21 nomadic tribes Boarderland. Hint: Each name is an anagram of a card or board game. Good luck!
SFRevu: Despite the latest title we also see the rise of another villain, King Arch. How does he compare to Redd?
Frank: Both are grandiose and egotistical. Both share a love of power and domination. They differ in that Redd is ruled by Black Imagination and King Arch relies solely on his calculating, mechanistic mind. So ultimately Redd has style and flair while Arch has a practical grasp of reality.
SFRevu: Any great historical or dynastic family feuds (War of the Roses) that Looking Glass Wars is like?
Frank: The War of the Roses is a good model while the Wonderland setting and the matriarchal line of the rulers give LGW a significant twist. SFRevu: In the first book leadership was obtained by overthrowing one faction against another, White vs. Black imagination. In the second book equality is shown as an increasingly important aspect of leadership. Tell us more about this.
Frank: As an increasingly enlightened ruler Alyss cannot help but come to see the uselessness of war. Her personal experiences coupled with the unceasing opposition must eventually guide her to more evolved solutions if Wonderland is to survive.
SFRevu: Tell us more about Hatter M and his family?
Frank: When Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan escapes Wonderland with Alyss he has no idea that he even has a family. But when he returns he reunites with the alchemist Weaver and their by now 13-year-old daughter, Homburg Molly. The small family faces many hurdles, conflicts and heartbreaks as the machinations of King Arch plunge them into the center of the struggle for Wonderland's Imagination. With Molly appointed by Alyss as her personal bodyguard, Hatter must also come to terms with the new generation of Wonderland that may view him as somewhat obsolete. Of course, Hatter Madigan, his Hat, his myriad of blades and his boundless loyalty could never become obsolete.
SFRevu: The weapons (e.g. Hatter M's hat) are integral to the action scenes. Where do you come up with different ideas weapons?
Frank: I depend on research uncovered and verified by the Hatter M Institute for Paranormal Travel. The institute is a highly motivated band of deep travel enthusiasts who have come together to assist me in filling in the maps and adventures of Hatter's 13 year search for the lost princess in our world.
SFRevu: When will the next issue of Hatter M come out? Will we get to see the evil monkey again?
Frank: Plans for the next comic mini-series of Hatter M adventures are in place with a release date sometime in early 2008. Curious George's evil twin Furious is still at large and may be turning up to try and exact payback from Hatter M for that bone cracking, full body slam he took in Issue #2.
SFRevu: One of the characters from Hatter M Baroness Dvonna appears in seeing Redd. Will we see any more of her in the future?
Frank: By the end of Seeing Redd readers will discover that Baroness Dvonna has not had her fill of Black Imagination or her desire for mayhem. Book 3 may afford her further opportunities to assist Redd in draining the imagination of children for their own vile use. But Baroness Dvonna isn't the only villain from the Hatter M series to appear in Seeing Redd, the black magician Sacrénoir also joins forces with Her Imperial Viciousness.
SFRevu: Will there be any stand alone stories of Alyss during her exile in London or of Redd during her years in Mount Isolation?
Frank: The lost journals, artwork and letters of the exiled Princess have been collected into a beautiful volume titled Princess Alyss of Wonderland by the British Historian Agnes MacKenzie and will be released by Penguin in November 2007. Her discovery of the journals (compiled during Alyss' 13 year exile in London) led to our collaboration in verifying and annotating the text and artwork. Redd's 13 year rule from Mount Isolation is a fascinating period in Wonderland history and Redd's psychology. Given enough time, energy and documentation I would consider doing a graphic novel depicting this cataclysmic era in both Wonderland and our own history when Black Imagination ruled the spheres.
SFRevu: The Looking Glass Wars books have a cinematic quality with action oriented pacing. How has your background as a movie producer (There's Something About Mary) and stuntman influenced your writing? Any plans for a screen adaptation?
Frank: From my work in film I think I have gained a good visual sense and an ability to translate images from my mind's eye onto the page. As for screen adaptations, I have completed the screenplay for LGW and the parallel adventure of Hatter Madigan's search on earth based in part on the comic book series. These two screenplays are companion pieces and while either can work as a standalone film the goal is to produce them both to create an enhanced and expanded experience for filmgoers. I am currently working on the screenplay for Seeing Redd and finishing Book 3 of the trilogy, these two films would also ideally work as companion pieces. Also, because of my background in film I thought it would be fun to produce 'trailers' for my books much like trailers are done for films. If anyone would like to view the trailer for Seeing Redd please go to my website lookingglasswars.com and check it out.
SFRevu: Thanks for talking with us.