'Wicked' Author Gregory Maguire

Jim Fischer

Before "Wicked" was a blockbuster Broadway musical, it was a novel by Gregory Maguire, a little violent, a little dirty, a lot tragic and a lot popular.

The book established Maguire as a novelist with a predilection for revisionist tales based on existing stories and fairy tales ("Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister," "Mirror, Mirror"), a modus operandi the author employs again for his latest work (released Oct. 27), "After Alice," a Maguire-ian take on Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."

"I've been pegged as a grown-up author who re-tells favorite children's stories for adults," Maguire said. "In some ways I don't mind, but I hope maybe there's something a little bit more, maybe shedding some light on what makes a beloved story.

"I think the book that most impressed me when I was a teenager was T.H. White's 'The Once and Future King.' It had the audacity to tell the story of King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot and Merlin as if it had never been told before. 'Wicked' does the same thing. The pleasure is when you recognize something but also see it anew."

Maguire admitted some additional trepidation in tackling Carroll's characters.

"'Alice' is quixotic and perfect, in the way of a Shakespeare sonnet or a Mozart sonata. To take it on requires a lot of cojones, moxie, brass balls," Maguire said.

"After Alice" centers on Ada, an apparent friend of Alice's who is mentioned only in passing in the original work.

"There's just this one paragraph that's about anything she left behind, where she wonders what has happened to not just herself but 'maybe Mabel, maybe Ada,'" Maguire said. "So I thought 'Alice' is not complete until we get Ada down that rabbit hole."

His past successes have bought him a little credibility, a little leeway, Maguire said.

"I'm fortunate in that, when people come to buy a book or hear me read, they're willing to meet me halfway. They already feel like they know a little bit of what it's about, what I'm about."

Columbus Museum of Art

7:30 p.m. Oct 29

480 E. Broad St., Downtown