When I first got my hands on advanced reader's copy of Danielle Paige's debut YA novel, Dorothy Must Die, I was overjoyed. An avid fan of Fables, and Once Upon a Time, I'm a sucker for revisiting the mythologies of classic characters and sending them on all new adventures. I was ever more pleasantly surprised to discover that the more I read, the more vital a role fashion played in this book. If you're like me, you've fallen love, are eagerly awaiting the next volume in this trilogy, and desperately need to know more. To satiate this need I got the opportunity to talk storytelling and style with the author herself.
"You don't need wheels on your house to get somewhere better. All you need is that extra push." At your lowest point (in life? In writing this series?) What was your extra push?
DP: My family has always been there for me! And I have a couple of friends who are seriously on call. They know who they are! I have been very lucky, but I think choosing a creative life does mean a certain amount of rejection, projects that don’t come to fruition, scripts that stall somewhere in the process, etc... I think the thing that gets me “over the rainbow” is knowing that as a writer and as a person there is so much more out there. Every time something hasn’t worked I have been free to go after something I never would have tried before.
How much of this character is you?
I never had pink hair like Amy. And I never had a tough family life or a Madison Pendelton to torture me at school. But I do understand what it’s like coming to another world (Atlanta to New York for college), and learning how to make new friends and make my way. I have never fought any Wicked Witches, but being a writer has it’s own share of battles. There are defeats and victories, but what I think Amy and I have in common is our ability to get back up and dust our selves off and keep moving on down the Road. Sorry, I cannot stop the Oz puns, they write themselves.
Is Amy Gumm's name a ref to Judy Garland's real name?
Absolutely! Who I worship at the altar of Judy Garland! I love her Dorothy.
Where there alternative titles? How did this one come about?
Only this one! Once Dorothy was evil, there was only one option!
Heels and cleavage... What inspired The redesign of Dorothy's iconic gingham dress? Who were you thinking about when you envisioned this as being what evil Dorothy would wear?
I have to say I have this image of Lindsay Lohan dancing in my head. I seriously am rooting for Lindsay’s second act. I loved her in Mean Girls and I could see her rocking the Dorothy’s corset and eating Oz alive.
Dorothy wears a gingham printed leather dress. Firstly, I'm in love with this idea. Second: who designed it?
I love clothes and fashion. In another life I wanted to be Anna Wintour. First thought, Alexander Mcqueen! I’d seen the retrospective of his work at the Metropolitan Museum here right before I started writing and those clothes were pure architecture. But there was also this sense of whimsy. He could say so much with a dress. They were so sexy and beautiful. And if you read No Place Like Oz, the prequel to Dorothy which takes you on the journey from sweet to evil Dorothy, you can see how much she wanted a new dress. Dorothy wants her clothes to say that she is definitely not in Kansas any more.
"....the training uniform . It felt more like lingerie than athletic wear, with a silky tank top and pajama bottoms... Say what you will about these witches, but they valued style." Were you aware of the pajama dressing trend when you wrote that, and what were you wearing throughout the course of writing this book?
I was totally aware of that trend. But it wasn’t a conscious choice. I figured that witches in training wouldn’t wear witchy robes. (I am absolutely in love with those Equipment silk pajamas in that charcoal camouflage!)
I live in Jbrand and Current Elliot jeggings.* (I have every color and print imaginable.) And Rag and Bone sweaters, Splendid t-shirt, and James Perse button downs. And Steve Alan plaid shirts. And on tougher days I still pull out the Juicy for comfort. Tory Burch flats and yes, sometimes, still Uggs! Gucci equestrian boots. And in spring and summer - it’s all about shirt and sundresses.
[*Yes! Score one for jeggings!]
So much of what the characters are is what they wear. Tell us about our Salvation Army heroine and her evolving style.
I liked that she started out rooting through vintage clothing stores. And she looks at her fellow classmates' new sparkly clothes with a touch of envy and disdain. I like that when she gets to Oz she has to change everything including her clothes. When Glamora gives her a makeover it is probably the first time she's had something new in a very long time. And it's the first time she begins to see herself as someone who can sparkle.
Did Glamora ever go shopping, or does she magic her wardrobe into existence? And how much fun was it to write her?! What does she represent?
I liked the idea of this person who seems so entrenched in her looks and manners and her clothes and her magical makeup. But on another level she is teaching her about human nature. How to use those things as a kind of armor because Amy is so used to showing everything she is right on her face. And on another level, how to look beneath the faces that others choose to show the world.
The element of destroying the heart, brain and courage to destroy Dorothy sounds like horcruxes, from the Harry Potter series. Was the parallel intentional?
I thought about Harry after I started writing and actually hoped it wasn’t too close. But in the end I decided to go for it because it made sense with the universe I was building. It actually came from considering the original books and the MGM movie. I wanted the things that Dorothy helped her friends obtain in the first book to be the things that bind their friendship together. The Tin man’s Heart, The Scarecrow’s Brains, and the The Lion’s courage are now just as twisted Dorothy herself. But that bond is no less strong, only now it’s cemented with Wickedness. So I liked that Amy has to go through Dorothy’s friends to get to Dorothy.
Describe your personal style.
My uniform for writing is pretty single (see above.) But I like dressing up when I actually go out. I am still a little in love with peplum and a lot of leather and that coated faux leather this year. I think it’s Dorothy’s fault. But my go-to brands right now are a lot of Rebecca Taylor and Nanette Lepore- really feminine yet book-tour appropriate dresses. (And my screenwriting partner and I actually met over the same Nanette dress so I have another reason to love her.) And I just saw this Rodarte gingham dress that I am stalking in honor of my Dorothy.
What are your fashion/ beauty must haves ?
Chanel lipstick and eyeliner. La Mer moisturizer.
What's in your bag right now?
A Rhodia notebook for wiring down thoughts and sometimes sketching out pictures of what my characters look like. A lot of pens. I just discovered papermate flair pens. I am a little in love with them. A Gucci makeup case that fits everything. My iPhone.
Anything you'd like to add?
That this interview got me thinking about a lot of new outfits for Dorothy and for me. Thanks so much!