Frank Beddor ('Looking Glass Wars' / 'Hatter M')
'Can I Play With Madness?!'
'Hatter M, Vol. 2: Mad With Wonder'
It's a mad, mad, mad world as Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan's maniacal quest to find Alyss continues! In Volume 2, Mad With Wonder, Hatter follows the Glow from London to the battlefields of America's Civil War in search of the Princess who must some day be Queen.
The America that Hatter encounters is a sprawling, wounded, boiling landscape of innocence and energy run amok. The war is tearing the country apart, yet Hatter must maintain his sanity in this maelstrom of holy rollers, child healers, prophetic snake handlers, deranged outlaws, and passionate southern belles.
'The Looking Glass Wars: ArchEnemy'
The war for Wonderland has become a war for Imagination! King Arch has declared himself King of Wonderland as Alyss searches wildly for the solution to the metaphysical disaster that has engulfed her Queendom. The power of Imagination has been lost!
Alyss's search for answers takes her to London where Arch's assassins threaten Alice Liddell and her family. But after coming to her adopted family's assistance, Alyss discovers herself trapped in a conundrum of evaporating puddles. The shimmering portals that exist to transport her home through the Pool of Tears are disappearing!
What is happening in Wonderland? Deep within the Valley of Mushrooms the Caterpillar Oracles issue this prophecy: "Action shall be taken to ensure the safety of the Heart Crystal. For Everqueen."
But who is Everqueen?
Exclusive Magazine had the recent opportunity to speak with Frank Beddor about both these brand new projects - and boy, did he have a lot to say!
Taking it from the top, and just how does someone go from a World Champion Freestyle Skier, to a successful film producer, to a world-renowned writer of re-imagined 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' novels? "It all began when I was suddenly, shockingly, irrevocably confronted with the TRUTH! A number of years ago I was in London for the European premiere of THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY. I went to the British Museum and saw an exhibit of ancient cards. For instance, Napoleon hired artists to hand paint depictions of his many victories in battle."
"But what caught my attention, at the very end of the exhibit, was an incomplete deck of cards illuminated by an unusual glow, almost as though they 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 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!"
Wow, yes indeed! Well, just what was it, when you started out writing these novels that enticed you into the Lewis Carroll world so much that you became eager to re-imagine them through your own eyes? "I was enticed by the MYSTERY of the deck of illuminated cards. This led to volumes of research, tantalizing leads, fascinating literary subtext and a trunk full of annotated maps. When I was confident I had enough to unravel the mystery and set it down in Book 1, I began to write."
"But the completion of Book 1 left both me and my readers in the dark as to what happened to Redd after she escaped Wonderland through the Heart Crystal. This cliffhanger lead me to ever more circuitous research and literary sleuthing not to mention inter-dimensional fact finding trips which finally revealed Book 2, Seeing Redd and most recently, the third book in the trilogy, ArchEnemy."
'The Looking Glass Wars: ArchEnemy' is your new novel in which King Arch has declared himself King of Wonderland as Alyss searches wildly for the solution to the metaphysical disaster that has engulfed her Queendom. So, as this concludes the best-selling series, please tell us what to expect from this 3rd book and how long it took to bring together everything you finally wanted to say/reveal within it? "It has been over 10 years since I discovered the deck of illuminated cards. One by one, the cards have revealed this majestic parallel world, the source of all Imagination. In the final volume of the trilogy the war for Wonderland has become the war for Imagination. ArchEnemy begins as the Pool of Tears is being drained, closing the only portal between Wonderland and our world."
"Alyss faces the loss of not one world but two as she realizes that both Wonderland and the world she called home for 13 years are equally vulnerable to the epic consequences of the end of Imagination. As Alyss and her loyalists search for answers they turn to the Caterpillar Oracles deep within the Valley of Mushrooms who reveal their enigmatic prophecy: “Action shall be taken to ensure the safety of the Heart Crystal. For Everqueen.” But who is Everqueen? Who indeed? No spoilers here!"
"Obviously, Imagination is very important not only to the LGW trilogy but also uppermost in my own philosophy. I suppose my hope is that for all of our sakes, readers will appreciate the intrinsic, baseline power of their own Imaginations and tap into them as fully and creatively as Alyss. As Bibwit Harte says in ArchEnemy, “What is imagination if not the potential for betterment?”
Indeed, with that regard, how easy is it for you, when writing these novels to get back to creative imagination, to get back to your inner child, which is all part of acting, one way or another? "Surprisingly easy to access (especially now that I have a four year old son and two year old daughter who never fail to blow open my own inner child portal). What’s tough is the articulation and transference of Imagination to the page. This phase ranges from challenging to frustrating to maddening…depending on how the work is going."
You commissioned Doug Chiang to help you write the novels by creating artwork of some of the places and people in the novels (based on your own descriptions). So was he also used in this latest book in any way, perhaps? "No. Doug’s had other commitments. He started a company with Director Bob Zemeckis and recently art directed A Christmas Carol, which should be out in November. But I have continued working with great artists such as Vance Kouvacs who did a lot of work on the Narnia films. He did the cover art for both Seeing Redd and ArchEnemy and just seems to get the perfect tone of fantasy and sci-fi that I strive for."
There's also now a 'Looking Glass Wars' online multiplayer card game that enacts a battle of imagination with an ever-expanding universe of Wondernation character cards. So, please tell us more about how this game came to be and the depth of your creative involvement in it therein "The game evolved from the mind of a master GO player. I was a novice player and had met with him for an afternoon lesson in strategy. I was deep into writing the Looking Glass Wars and the characters were on my mind as the master was explaining the higher state of awareness I would need to win at GO."
"Somehow it all merged in my head and right then I saw the tactical card game I wanted to create using the LGW mythos. Using a deck comprised of battle cards (creatures), source cards ( glow ), and join cards ( enchantments ) the object of this one-on-one card battle is to garner the most points by covering spots with a pile of “dead” cards, or cards that have been defeated on either your or your opponent’s side."
"The more cards that have been defeated on a particular spot, the more points that spot are worth. So not only is battling necessary for winning, but where you place cards and which cards you place is also important."
You also have upcoming the graphic novel, 'Hatter M, Vol. 2: Mad With Wonder.' In this story Hatter follows the Glow from London to the battlefields of America's Civil War in search of the Princess. So, how much studying of said War did you have to undertake to ensure your creative backdrop was perfect? "I was already a motivated student of the Civil War so it was more about specific timelines and battles and interesting characters such as Lt. General Jubal Early that I needed to research for the period (late 1864 – April 1865) when Hatter Madigan was in the American South."
"I’m not sure if you are familiar with the Hatter M Institute for Paranormal Travel, but even as we speak this devout assemblage of radical cartographers, geographic theorists and astral historians are working non-stop to piece together the arc and historical veracity of Hatter’s travels. So, giving credit where credit is due, I am not working alone."
Indeed, in this day and age, how easy (or hard) is it to create a new, vibrant, wanted-by-the-public novel / 'comic book' that both builds on and surpasses the written wonderments and accomplishments that preceded - whether they be yours or others within the industry? "If you have 10 years of your life to invest…. a one track mind…boundless enthusiasm…Cally Poplak as your editor … and are incredibly lucky…it’s really not so hard."
Can you see a big screen movie being spawned from your 'Looking Glass Wars' trilogy and/or 'Hatter M' books, perhaps? "I have always felt the Looking Glass Wars had profound cinematic scope and quality. Film is my first ‘creative language’ and the one I rely on to envision, communicate and entertain. I think that in part, this has been why the story and characters have caught the imagination of the reading public – it is easy to SEE these bigger than life characters, Alyss, Dodge, Redd, Hatter Madigan, Homburg Molly, ..."
Being that you are also a successful film producer with one of the highest-grossing comedies of all time on your resume in 'There's Something About Mary,' why haven't we seen you undertake more high-profile producing jobs since then? "Well as I think most people realize, the process of bringing a film to the screen is often long and slow. Sometimes it can happen fast, but that is more the exception than the rule. As a producer you are constantly nudging projects along from one-step or level to the next."
"For instance a couple years ago, I was approached by Hasbro to develop Monopoly the game into the Monopoly the movie. They had enjoyed LGW and knew I had brought what is termed ‘world creating’ skills to that and wanted the same for Monopoly. Time passed and I came up with a story everyone liked and then my job as a producer was to go out and find a director. I found Ridley Scott who asked, “What do I have to do to be part of this?” He was that enthusiastic."
"So Ridley Scott was attached and now the movie is at a certain waiting stage for everyone’s schedules to click. This is called producing. I have to add that writing and overseeing the day to day care and feeding of the Looking Glass Wars also uses a lot of what would be termed ‘producing skills’. Essentially, I have been in pre-production on the films for the last 10 years so I am well prepared when the cameras finally start to roll."
Do you have a new set of characters lurking in the background somewhere to suddenly spring to graphic life once the time has passed for the 'Wars' and 'Hatter' to be out of the spotlight, perhaps? "What if I told you Redd has an heir who feels very cheated? Or that I have access to Hatter Madigan’s training records and journals from his years as a cadet at the Millinery Academy?"
"Both the future and the past hold many untold stories that I would love to share with fans of LGW."
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine loves Penguins...do you? "Love???? I like and respect Penguins…is that enough?!"
Interview: Russell A. Trunk
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