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First Person/Gregory Maguire

Something Wicked

Concord author Gregory Maguire talks about Out of Oz, the fourth and final volume in his best-selling series.

Photograph by Joanne Rathe/Globe staff

You’ve written more than two dozen other books, most of them for children. But the Wicked series is such a smash. Does it make you sad to finish? Oh, yes. I feel like a 19th-century immigrant on a boat as the shore recedes, knowing I will never be able to afford to come home. My life – my writing life – is ahead of me in another land.

> Still, you leave the door open that we’ll hear from Glinda and Dorothy again. Yes, I have left some ragged ends in order that it can be like life. Even if you’re 103 [and] on your deathbed, you still don’t know what’s going to happen to your great-grandchild. It can continue in the readers’ imagination. Ursula Le Guin followed the Earthsea trilogy [18] years later with book four. And she didn’t scrape and bow and apologize. So I suppose if the muse flies down on a broom and raps at my door in the middle of the night and says: “You haven’t looked in recently. What’s going on with the cowardly lion?” – I am not proud enough to say that will never happen.

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> In Out of Oz, you bring back Dorothy. Why? I thought we had enough of her. I wasn’t the only one. L. Frank Baum brought her back a number of times and marooned her there – and she’s still there to this day, as far as we know. But I had had fun revisiting the scene of Dorothy in the witch’s castle. I wrote it three different times:  from the witch’s experience, her son’s, and the lion’s. I thought, let’s get the girl back on the stand and see what she has to say for herself.

>Out of Oz opens with war and occupation. One of the impulses in writing Wickedis to consider the roots of evil – public and political, as well as moral. War and genocide are pretty public examples of humankind behaving badly.

> You and your husband, the painter Andy Newman, have three kids. Do they dress up for Halloween? Every year we buy a witch costume for my daughter.

> Which witch? She goes for the traditional witch garb. Although I often wonder what kind of therapy the kids are going to need when they watch The Wizard of Oz on TV and see Margaret Hamilton turn Elphaba into a nightmare.

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