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Paradox in Oz
An Interview with the Author of
PARADOX IN OZ,
Conducted in late 1999 as the book was going to press
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Q. How did you decide to write PARADOX IN OZ?
EINHORN: I met David Maxine, the publisher, about three years ago,
through a mutual friend. We are both involved in theater--I write and
direct, and he designs. He even helped with one of my projects, a play
I wrote called THE LIVING METHUSELAH. I don't remember whether
it was he or Eric Shanower who first suggested that I write a short
story for OZ-STORY, but I had certainly talked with both of
them about our mutual love of the Oz series. In any event, that led to
my writing "Ozma Sees Herself" for OZ-STORY #3. At the
publishing party for that magazine, Eric, David and I started talking
about the idea of a new Oz novel. I was quite excited about it, because
the Oz books were what first brought me to the decision to be an author
when I was a child. When Eric said he would be interested in
illustrating the book, I knew that I couldn't let the opportunity go to
waste. So I wrote up an outline, and I sent it to them. They seemed
enthusiastic, so I continued from there.
Edward Einhorn, Eric Shanower, Rachel Cosgrove Payes, and David Maxine
Oz-story No. 3 Publication Party (1997)
Q. When did you read the original Oz books and what was their influence
on you, if any, both in your life and in writing PARADOX IN OZ?
EINHORN: As I say in my introduction to PARADOX, I don't know if I would
have become a writer if not for the Oz series--and my brother, who
deserves credit for introducing them to me. For a while, he had three
options for me when we would play together--read Oz, play chess, or play
with his castle. Now I've written an Oz book with logical puzzles and a
couple of castles. Be careful of what you say to children.
When David Maxine first asked me to write the book, I was working on a
play in which I had thrown a few allusions to Oz--so I definitely still
had Oz on the brain. When I actually wrote the book, I tried to be
faithful to the things that had led me to love the series in the first
place. I wanted to keep the tone, while still inserting my own mark in
the style. I'm simultaneously a traditionalist and someone who loves
innovation. Thus, much of the book is much like the old Oz books, yet it
also has some twists that, I hope, are very uniquely my own.
Q. PARADOX IN OZ deals with time travel paradoxes and alternate
worlds. Tell us about your interest in these subjects and how you
incorporated them into the story.
EINHORN: I've always been both fascinated and frustrated with time travel
stories. On the one hand, I love them conceptually. On the other, I almost
am never satisfied with the way they resolve the inevitable paradoxes
that arise out of any time travel novel. So my first idea was to parody
that--write a novel that deliberately doesn't make sense if you put it
all together. The character of Tempus seemed perfect for that, because he
allowed me to deliberately play with all the paradoxes.
Eventually, however, I got stuck in my own trap. The truth is, every book
has to have its own internal logic, and even if I was making up my own
rules, the rules needed to be consistent. And since it was a book dealing
with time travel, the rules were insanely complex. On the one hand, that
gave me an opportunity to finally write the time travel story that really
works. On the other hand, it meant I had to write a time travel story
that really works. I began to understand the problem all those other
writers had been having. Eric and David were very helpful to me during
the first drafts, because they would point out when I got the internal
Mostly, I want all that to be in the background while you read the book,
accessible if it's the sort of thing that interests you (as it would me),
but not necessary in order to appreciate the book.
Q. Why did you choose Ozma as a main character?
EINHORN: Ozma had been the protagonist of an earlier story I wrote,
and I had developed a strong affinity for her as I was writing.
Although she is a major figure in the Oz series, I felt that she was
more of an enigma than most of the Oz characters. After LAND OF OZ,
she becomes almost too perfect and distant. I wanted to write an Ozma
that people could identify with-still the ruler of Oz, but also
capable of more human (well, in her case, fairy) emotions. So my Ozma
becomes frightened sometimes and even occasionally makes a mistake.
Yet she is still able to serve her people by saving them from a major
crisis--not that I want to give away the ending. Perhaps she doesn't
save them. Perhaps she fails totally, and Oz can never recover from
her terrible, terrible errors. I'm not saying.
Q. Where did the character of Tempus the Parrot-Ox come from?
EINHORN: I needed a way for Ozma to travel through time, and I wanted
her to have a companion who was unique to my book. Suddenly, the idea
of combining the two occurred to me. I was a little sheepish about the
Parrot-Ox pun at first, but now I think it really works, especially in
the title. He's both a fantastical creature and a play on words, which
underlines the sort of game playing one can expect from him in the
Q. Explain Dr. Majestico's background before PARADOX IN OZ.
EINHORN: Dr. Majestico began as a character I created for an experimental
play entitled MY HEAD WAS A SLEDGEHAMMER by Richard Foreman. The
play was written with just lines, no characters or stage directions, and I
had to create the full scenario for the production. In the play, Dr.
Majestico is a mad scientist/magician who creates his assistant during
a magic act, only to find that she refuses to act in any way he
desires. The character proved to be very popular, and I started
incorporating him into a number of things I was working on, at the time.
He popped somewhat unexpectedly into Oz when I was writing the outline.
As soon as he put him in, I thought that this where he belonged all the
Right now I'm writing a play entitled "Dr. Majestico's Magic Box" that
brings him back to the stage from which he originated. And he appeared
again in "Unauthorized Magic," my most recent short story in OZ-STORY #5.
It's all the same character, though I think the stage version is from an
alternate, even weirder universe.
Q. Tell us about the logic puzzles you incorporated into PARADOX.
How did you translate them into Oz? How did you choose which puzzles
EINHORN: I've always been a fan of logic puzzles, since I was a child.
I think my interest may have started when my brother first read the
Alice books to me. There is a lot of Alice in the tone of PARADOX IN OZ.
Yet logic puzzles can be found in many good children's books, including
the original Oz series. I remember enjoying the discussion about the
wishing pills Tip ate in LAND OF OZ as being particularly fun when
I first read that book. I think, as a child, so many things don't make sense
that it's enjoyable to have a book which points out all the nonsense
around you. When you're older, of course, you understand everything.
Q. The original Oz books often are contradictory in their details,
yet you've implied a solution to such contradictions in your story.
Can you elaborate on that?
EINHORN: One of the things I wanted to do, since I was writing about
paradoxes, was to incorporate the existing paradoxes in the Oz series.
I was strongly confronted with them first while I was writing "Ozma Sees
Herself." I described Ozma as a blonde, forgetting that in later books
she was described as a brunette. Then, when re-reading all the Oz books,
I was struck by how many times they contradicted each other. So at first
I was just going to make that part of the theme, without solving the
contradictions. Then my urge to have a book that would both use the
paradoxes and solve them grew, and I came up with a solution--they're
all correct. Once I created alternate Ozes, it became easy to decide
that there was an Oz in which each of the contractions was true. Ozma's
hair was both blonde and brunette, depending on which universe you were
in. There was also an Oz that corresponded to every incarnation of the
books, from the original stage musical to the movies. They all exist.
Another advantage of using those paradoxes is that they served as a
sort of in-joke to the experienced Oz reader. You pass right by them
if you're not in the know, but if you are, there's something special
for you. Also, it gives Martin Gardner [the author of THE ANNOTATED
ALICE] something extra, in case he wants to annotate the book.
All right, he hasn't exactly offered. But see how much fun you would
have, Martin, if you did?
Thank you, Mr. Einhorn.
Copyright © 1999 Hungry Tiger Press. All rights reserved.