K.D. Hays and Meg Weidman are a mother-daughter team who aspire to be professional roller coaster riders and who can tell you exactly what not to put in your pockets when you ride El Toro at Six Flags. Meg is studying art in a middle school magnet program. For fun, she jumps on a precision jump rope team and reads anything not associated with school work. K.D. Hays, who writes historical fiction under the name Kate Dolan, has been writing professionally since 1992. She holds a law degree from the University of Richmond and consequently hopes that her children will pursue studies in more prestigious fields such as plumbing or waste management. They live in a suburb of Baltimore where the weather is ideally suited for the four major seasons: riding roller coasters in the spring and fall, waterslides in the summer and snow tubes in the winter. Although Meg resents the fact that her mother has dragged her to every historical site within a 200-mile radius, she will consent to dress in colonial garb and participate in living history demonstrations if she is allowed to be a laundry thief.
Their latest collaboration is a wonderful book titled Toto’s Tale.
You can visit their website at www.totostale.com.
Meg: It’s the Wizard of Oz from Toto’s point of view.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?
Kate: Most people know our main characters, Toto and his pet girl, Dorothy. In addition to the scarecrow, tin man, lion and witch, we introduce some new characters including Happy the wolf and Lomen the lickloe.
Meg: A lickloe is a creature we made up that has the body of a cheetah, tiger stripes, a lion’s mane, the head of a penguin, and human hands.
Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
Kate: In this case, most of our characters were from someone else’s imagination – L Frank Baum, the creator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. But we also added some from our own imagination.
Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?
Meg (shrugs) I don’t know.
Kate: Then I think you’d have to say you’re not very aware of it, are you? This is my eighth book. I’ve written some where I had every scene outlined in advance and others where I had no idea how the story was going to end, much less how I was going to get there. The second method is more fun when it works. But when it doesn’t….ouch!
Meg: That’s where the wizard was. Not that Toto needed him to get home, but people will expect a wizard in there somewhere.
Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?
Kate: Much more so than in any book I’ve written before. If Toto stays in Kansas, we’d just have 150 pages of Aunt Em yelling at him for chasing the chickens.
Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?
Kate: The scarecrow and tin man are pushing open the gate to enter the city of Oz.
Meg: Toto first noticed the gate because it was round like a pie – he’s a little obsessed with food.
Kate: And as the gate opens, Toto can smell pork chops and green beans. But he also smells unknown things, too. So either the desire for the pork chops or the fear of being left behind is enough to convince him to go through into the great unknown.
Meg: It was pork chops, after all. He has this thing for pork chops.
Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
“After being attacked by bees and wolves, you’d think that Dorothy and her friends would take the hint and turn around. The witch was trying to kill us—her own wolves told us so. Plus, she was a witch, with fierce powers, mighty armies, a castle fortress and probably really bad breath. We, on the other hand, had no powers, no army, and a small wooden house that had suffered considerable wind damage and that, anyway, we’d left behind somewhere near a cornfield.
Our breath might have been as bad as hers.
Even so, though, we were still no match for her. We needed to keep as far away from this witch as possible.
Instead, we were walking closer to her castle.”
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Kate and Meg. We wish you much success!
Thank you for giving us a chance to tell the world a little bit about what really happened in Oz!