What does "From Oz to Oz" mean? Well, I don't remember exactly when I
started to read, but the earliest I really do remember is Oz books. Not
only the original L. Frank Baum books, but those by Ruth Plumly
Thompson, John R. Neill, and maybe others. I had dozens of Oz books.
Every birthday, and every Christmas, there were Oz books in my presents,
and I was very happy with that. I'm sure this is what started me on the
path to Speculative Fiction--Sci-Fi and Fantasy--so that when I started
writing, that is where I went. As I got older, the books changed, and I
got Asimov and Heinlein as presents ... still on the same path, right?
I wish I still had those Oz books, but as I got to high school and
college age, my mother and father twisted my arm. "Those are children's
books," they said, and persuaded me to give them to some younger
cousins. A lot of the later Oz books are hard to get, only as very
expensive used collectibles.
Sometime later, I found a bunch of the original Baum Oz books in some
bookstore and bought them. This time it was my wife who twisted my arm
and we gave them to my daughter, for our granddaughters.
But if you read my stories, you'll find a lot of things that hark back
to Oz. Especially witches, lots of witches. My Muse book, "The Ghost of
Grover's Ridge," has lots of witches. Ken Parker, a paranormal
researcher, finds out that his girl friend Jinny is a witch. And then
he finds out that he is a witch! In "A Fork in the Road," due out in
August, Phil's girlfriend Mary was a successful fantasy writer
(influenced, as I was, by Oz and similar books), but then she got
sucked into one of her own stories.
Over the past couple of years I found that the early Oz books are
available from Gutenberg, and I went back and read what I could find.
Hey, they were written as children's books, but they are still worth
re-reading! And now I find I just can't give it up. In "Magic Is Faster
Than Light," due out in May, a spaceship full of witches colonizes an
alien planet, and when they choose a name for their new world, what do
you think they call it? Oz of course!
So there we have it. From my earliest reading to my latest writing, I
can't get away from Oz. And, in truth, I don't want to. Oh, I like other
books, too. Tolkien. "Doc" Smith's Lensman series. Jim Butcher's
"Harry Dresden" books, And I have most recently been going through the
Sookie Stackhouse books. All good stuff. But I will never forget Oz.