Author Talks: Gregory Maguire, Author of Wicked

Saturday's Gala in Chelmsford
Saturday’s Gala in Chelmsford
Christopher Lydon from NPR led the discussion with Gregory Maguire

Most Broadway fans know what Wicked is.  Many book lovers read the book before the musical became popular.  On Saturday night I got to attend an event that featured a conversation with Maguire, who is promoting his current book After Alice. I have read almost all his books, have a number of them autographed, and have seen him speak a couple times as well.  I will tell those stories in another entry.

This was a local event with NPR host Christopher Lydon led the discussion.  Maguire spoke about growing up with a large family.  His mother passed away in childbirth (with him) and his stepmother was the woman who raised him like a mother.  He and his siblings were only allowed 1/2 hour of television a week (remember, this is the 50s and 60s when there were 4 channels: PBS, CBS, NBC, and ABC).  The only time it was different was the annual airing of The Wizard of Oz and The Sound of Music.

I think my generation may be the last who remember those viewings.  In the days before VCRs, you had to wait for a movie to be in a theater or on television to see it again.  You could not own a copy to watch when you wanted.  These airings would be family events.  I remember sitting with my parents and Katie to watch them.  The Wizard of Oz was our favorite movie for a while because we saw it every year.  I even remember the first movie we ever watched on a VCR (a rented one from the video store): Babes in Toyland.

What Maguire’s parents never denied them was a library card and pencils & paper.  He had a sense of shared ownership over works.  The original work belonged to the others, but in his versions he could change anything he wanted by adding characters, taking them away, or changing things around.  For Maguire, fan fiction is clearly something that started earlier of him.  It made me think about modern fan fiction.  It clearly isn’t a new thing beyond that the internet allows us to share them with others instead of keeping them to ourselves.  Maguire said he still has his childhood notebooks full of stories.

Maguire read a bit from After Alice and it made me wish he did the readings for his audiobooks.  I imagine he is an amazing reader for children.  He did voices and gestures.  I could have listened to him read the entire book.  It made me have a new appreciation for a book I didn’t love as much as I thought I would.  It actually made me want to re-read it to see if I could understand it differently.

Have you ever had that experience?  You hear an author talk about their book or writing process and want to read the book because of that alone?  Tell me about it in the comments!



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