What actor would play your main character in a movie?
My friend Ajai.
What is it about?
In Bungle of Oz, Igi transitions from a passive and gentle character who thinks he’s a munchkin despite all evidence to the contrary into a more decisive savior of the Plumly’s gravel men who are under the enchantment of a magic dinner bell.
It draws on many events in the The Silver Princess of Oz where Igi’s people are described by the author, Ruth Plumly, as having dark skin, but the other characteristics and clothing, turbans and such, don’t imply a specific ethnicity. They’re made from gravel.
It’s a common misconception about the book that the characters are African Americans who are enslaved by the Red Jinn as the story is written for an American audience. And the illustrations by John R. Neill confirm that assumption. However, it was documented that Plumly intended to create a Jinn, a genie, who in Arabic literature was normally a slave. She wanted to turn the tables giving him control over his traditional masters.
Both slavery and immortal beings feature prominently in my later novels.
My interest in Jinn started when a my Kuwaiti boyfriend during college was on vacation sending me photos of tabloid covers from his travels. He couldn’t cope with the claims about people marrying Jinn, being Jinn or seeing them. Most of us know stories about genies and these are much the same. In my immortal coffee novels, people evolve into jinn or genies by drinking a genetically modified strain of coffee. Only they are called ishim after the man-like beings on the lowest rung of the Jewish angelic hierarchy.
Did you self-publish or were you represented by an agency?
I self-published. The Wizard of Oz and most of the books written by Frank L. Baum are in the public domain. Essentially, Bungle of Oz is fan fiction. For me, it was an opportunity to practice writing and publishing a novella before I moved onto my science fiction series.
I didn’t write Bungle of Oz, because I thought had potential to be picked up by a major or even a small publisher. I wrote it for the love of that glass cat, the experience and the chance to illustrate a book in a traditional I already loved. And I just love self-publishing.
I’m also not the first author to write a book with Bungle as the protagonist. There have been at least two books published so far where the glass cat from The Patchwork Girl of OZ has an adventure.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
When I’m writing, always somewhere in the back of my mind I ask myself whether my sister, Winonah Drake who is also a writer, or my son would enjoy it. If they wouldn’t, it’s all pointless and I need to write something else.
They inspire me in everything.
I grew up with the OZ books. I loved Bungle. She is a pure crystal cat, vain and proud, with pink marble brains that rotated around in her head. With a few sprinklings of The Powder of Life, she was brought into existence to catch mice, which she refused to do
Anything else you’d like to share about your book?
I started writing the story in November 2012 and finished by February 2013.
The characters in this book are all disabled in one way or another and each process their limitations differently. The glass cat, being
the vain and arrogant creature she is, finds herself immobilized by a chip on her paw, while Igi has a clockwork arm that never gets mentioned, because he doesn’t let it affect him.
As an adult, I developed Meniere’s Disease, which has affected my equilibrium and caused some hearing loss. Most of the time since I started having symptoms, I’ve been like Bungle and struggled with my vanity more than my actual limitations. I wish I’d connected with other people who’d suffered similar problems sooner, because it makes all the difference in the world seeing what other people achieve.