INTERVIEW: Rae Carson & C.C. Finlay, Authors of “The Great Zeppelin Heist of Oz”

Rae Carson is the author of the Fire and Thorns trilogy. Her debut novel was a finalist for the Morris, Norton, and Cybils awards and won the Ohioana Book Award for young adult fiction. C.C. Finlay is the author of the Traitor to the Crown trilogy. His short stories have been finalists for the Hugo, Nebula, Sidewise, and Sturgeon awards. Carson and Finlay are married. They live in Ohio, where they are working on their next collaboration.

Tell us a bit about your story.  What’s it about?

C.C. Finlay:  We were very interested in the Wizard’s arrival in Oz, this man from a patriarchal country and time coming to a place that is ruled by four powerful women.

Rae Carson:  No matter how brilliant or powerful he was, we figured his first attempt at gaining power would go wrong just because he would naturally underestimate the women he was trying to steal power from.

What was the genesis of the story–what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

Rae Carson: Zeppelins.

C.C. Finlay: Winged Monkeys.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

Rae Carson:  We bounce ideas off each other when we’re working on our own stories and books, so this was just an extension of what we do all the time anyway.

C.C. Finlay:  It was a lot of fun to write!

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

C.C. Finlay:  I went back and reread all the Oz stories.  It was great.

Rae Carson:  I made him go back and reread all the Oz stories.  It was great.

What is the appeal of Oz? Why do you think readers/viewers love it so much?

C.C. Finlay:  Oz is fun and imaginative in a really domestic way.  The Land of Oz takes all of these things that were part of the ordinary household or farm and mixes them with the extraordinary.  Life without television or the internet didn’t have to be boring if the scarecrow in the garden could come to life.  That mixture of imagination and whimsy has a lasting appeal.

Rae Carson:  Confession: I loathe the Oz stories. I find them to be random and senseless. I simply cannot accept Winged Monkeys, for instance.

C.C. Finlay: What’s wrong with the Winged Monkeys?

Rae Carson:  They’re not aerodynamic! Their bones aren’t hollow! They make no sense! Oz, obviously, is not about “sense.”  The fact that my husband and I have such different views was one of the reasons it fascinated us from a reinvention perspective. And in working on this story with him, I did come to appreciate the source material a lot more. Baum’s touches of whimsy and humor are masterful.

What do you think about the new Oz movie coming out in March,
Oz: The Great and Powerful? Excited? Dubious? Some combination of both?

C.C. Finlay:  Rachel Weisz playing a smart and powerful woman?  Sure, it’s typecasting, but I’ll go see that any day.

Rae Carson:  Oz is ripe for reimagination, but the trailers make it look frenetic and plot-lean. So I’m dubious–but hopeful.