My story ‘The Wayfinder & His Sister’ is now live at Cast of Wonders! It is part of Banned Books Week, and I wrote it specifically for this year’s theme, Text Against Tyranny: “the stories some would silence, and the power of literature, in all its forms, to enlighten humanity’s darkest hours.” I was so happy when it was accepted, and listening to the narration by Leigh Wallace and Christiana Ellis is making me all misty-eyed – it’s pretty amazing to hear your words read so beautifully.
This story is special to me for many reasons. One of those reasons is that Titus and Lizzie in the story are in part inspired by my own kids. I am so grateful to the team at Cast of Wonders for their thoughtful feedback, because there were some things that I was trying to do in this story that made narrating it somewhat of a challenge. Like my son, Titus is a non-neurotypical child and also has issues with speech. How to portray this in a realistic and effective way required great thought and care. Working together with narrator Leigh Wallace, editor Marguerite Kenner and assistant editor Dani Daly was a dream: they helped make the story better, and in the end, helped Titus’s voice come to life beautifully.
I spent a good part of the spring working on this story. For a while, it resisted my attempts to string it together, until I hit on the idea to twist it into something slightly steam-punkish/apocalyptic/weird western-ish. Once I hit on that idea, the pieces came together much easier. The main inspiration for that “twist”, was that I had just read Cat Rambo’s short story collection ‘Neither Here Nor There‘. I haven’t written steampunk or weird western before, but I love the feel and flavour of those kinds of stories, and there are several excellent examples of that genre in ‘Neither Here Nor There’. Turned out a pinch of that genre was the missing ingredient I needed to make the story really click in my head.
The reason ‘The Wizard of Oz’ is featured in the story is, first of all, because it’s one of my son’s favourite books. The second reason I wanted to feature this beloved book, is that it has been banned in the past:
…in 1928, when the Chicago Public Library banned The Wizard of Oz…“arguing that the story was ungodly for ‘depicting women in strong leadership roles.’” —-
Various libraries used similar excuses to ban the books throughout the 50s and 60s. The Detroit public library banned the Oz books in 1957, stating they had “no value for children of today.” The ban remained in place until 1972. One Florida librarian circulated a memo to her colleagues calling the books “unwholesome,” among other things….
Banned Books Week has been full of excellent stories at Cast of Wonders. Listen to them all!
- Sandra Odell’s ‘For’
- Kelsey Dean’s ‘Below the Serapeum’
- Holly Schofield’s ‘The Scent That Treason Brings’
- Danielle Atkinson’s ‘Bibliopothecary’
- Katherine Inskip’s ‘The Lives Beneath’
- Andrew K Hoe’s ‘The Forbidden Books of Da Lin Monastery’