Inspiration From My Favorite Author by Eric Bower



By Eric Bower, author of The Magnificent Flying Baron Estate


            When I was three years old, I was introduced to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. And for close to a decade, I spent all my time reading the books, watching the various incarnations of the films, and walking around with a funnel on my head.


            I still enjoy the books and the movies (I’ve since retired the funnel, as it’s difficult to find a good one in my size), but now I find myself devoting quite a bit of time towards learning about the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum.


            I’ve always felt a kinship with the man, which I suppose is the natural delusion of a devoted fan, though, I still believe it to be true. We’re both originally from the Tri-state area, with German ancestry, and a love for the theater that inspired us to write and perform our own original pieces.


Like Baum, my love of literature and writing was fostered by my parents; his father bought him a printing press, mine bought me my first computer when I went off to college. We both worked clerical jobs in our youth and wrote short stories about the experience. We both married strong, independent, well-educated women. We were both first published in our early 30s, having written books about the mating and rearing of various types of Hamburg chickens—alright, the last part is a lie, but I’ve run out of similarities sooner than I thought I would.


What inspires me most about the man is the childlike wonder that’s apparent in everything he writes. He never lost his curiosity about the impossible, and he never forgot what it was like to search for the world’s magic through the eyes of a child. When I read his books, I feel as though I’m reading the personal manifesto of a starry-eyed explorer—a person who doesn’t fear tornados, or witches, or solitude, or being lost, because it might just be the first step towards a magical adventure that will change your life forever. He paints a fantastic picture of a world that’s as foreign and wild as Lewis Carroll's, and yet it’s dusted with a bit of confectioner’s sugar, making the story sweet and palatable, without becoming sappy or saccharine. It’s an interesting balancing act, and I can think of very few authors who have walked that line as well as L. Frank Baum.


His whimsicality, irreverence, originality, oblique humor, and immutable gentleness inspire me to be better every time I sit in front of a computer to write. And I can’t thank him enough for that.


Even though I still can’t walk through a hardware store without feeling tempted by every natty funnel I see . . .