Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Classic Authors Challenge: "The Curse of Oz"--Mara A.

Our first story for the Classic Authors Challenge is by Mara! Enjoy!

The Curse of Oz

A Story about L. Frank Baum

Author’s Note

This story is entirely a work of fiction, extremely loosely based off of L. Frank Baum’s life and circumstances. A few things are very true: L. Frank Baum never did intend to write so many Oz books (15 in total). He wrote them because his fans kept demanding more Oz, and he did start to refer to them as his “little tyrants.” He tried to break away from Oz and write other books, but they didn’t do very well because it wasn’t what his fans wanted. About two years ago, I set myself the challenge to read all 15 original Oz books; how hard could it be? After 5 books, it became torture, and I hate Oz with a passion now. So I thought: “What if, deep down, Baum grew to hate Oz as much as I did? What if he faked his death so he could stop writing them?” Hence, I give you this very short story.


To whomever this may concern-----

The world believes me to be dead. I would like to keep it that way. But you who have found this journal, you should know what happened.
            My name will be familiar to you. I am heralded as one of the most famous, most imaginative, most brilliant children’s authors of America. I had no aspirations for fame when I set out to chronicle the adventures of one lonely Kansas girl and her bright-eyed dog in a world very much unlike our own. But the world fell in love with the land of Oz and its fantastic creatures. They wanted more, so I gave them more. I labored over a sequel, and then a third book, and a fourth. I had never intended for this story to go on for so long. I at last intended to end it, despite what my wonderful little tyrants demanded, and I closed Oz off forever in the fifth – and I hoped, the final – book.
            I then turned my attention to other ideas, other projects. You will not have heard of any of these books, for my little tyrants received my new books and new characters with scorn. They wanted more Oz, and they would not give me a penny more until I did as they asked. When one bright girl asked why Dorothy did not communicate to me through a telegraph wire, I could think of no good answer, and anyway, my pocket-book demanded that I give in to my tyrants’ demands.
            I returned to Oz.
            A world that had once held so much appeal and magic had turned bitter for me, its creator. I dreaded every word of it, felt my stomach tighten with nausea at every completed paragraph. Oz had made me famous and popular, but it had come at a terrible price. I was its slave. And it cannot be denied that my joy in creating Dorothy’s adventures no longer existed in my later stories. I pedaled the same ideas, answered whatever burning questions my tyrants sent me, reused old nemeses until they were as worn out as myself.
            The world of Oz fed off of my blood, my life force, and I became very ill. I knew that I could not die having written Oz until my very days ended. It was late at night, when I sat before blank pages, preparing to write more Oz, that I suddenly hit upon an idea. It was absurd, farfetched, but I had become a desperate man. I was near my end the way it was; could I not fake it?
            The world believes me to be dead.
            I would like to keep it that way.
            But you, dear soul, deserve to know the truth about L. Frank Baum.

©Copyright 2014 by Mara A.

(Find out more about Mara and her stories on the Writer's page)


  1. I really liked this story a lot! I definitely feel poor Baum's pain. I can only imagine how hard it would be to keep writing something you can't stand. It would make one hate writing, and hate the fans and everything. I too might have been driven to fake my death in similar circumstances :)

    1. I know I would have. Especially if it were Oz I was stuck writing for the rest of my life. . . . .I think we just hit upon the worst torture one could subject me to. ;)

  2. It's strange how authors tend to detest their most popular settings and characters.

    Mr. Baum comes across as a gentle, likeable man. I admire how you depicted a character in such a short story without saying that his personality was thus and so.

    Abigail Leskey

    1. As soon as someone is forced to continue to write something - due to popularity or another factor - it becomes detestable. You're no longer doing it for the story. And then there's strange cases like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. . . .

      Why, thank you! I wasn't even trying, to be honest; I just wrote how the voice in my head said it. :) But I imagine that Baum was in reality rather like that. Reading the Author Notes at the beginning of his Oz books, he always referred to his little tyrants in gentle tones - as if he didn't want to hurt any of his fans' feelings, even if he wished they would stop asking for Oz. And from all accounts, Baum was a very likable person and always very attentive to his fans. If I was stuck writing Oz for the rest of my life, I don't think I could keep such good humor about it. ;)

    2. It seems like he might have thought of his fans as rather annoying children, perhaps ;)


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