Fate’s Not in Kansas Anymore
I’m a sucker for abandoned places. They feel suspended in time, as though they’re just waiting to pick up where they left off. Abandoned amusement parks are especially interesting to me. When places that were so full of life and joy go silent and are left to rot, it seems especially poignant.
The Land of Oz theme park in Beech Mountain, NC is one such place. It wasn’t a theme park in the sense that we think of them today. It didn’t have huge rides, for one thing. It was more of a themed hike through the woods with opportunities to visit locations from the film and interact with the characters. It was only open for ten years before it closed, the victim of larger parks, economics, and changing tourism patterns, among other things.
After it closed, everything was left to rot. As you’d expect, it became a target for vandalism and theft. What the vandals didn’t destroy, nature did. But then something wonderful happened: In the 1990’s, a development group decided to build houses on the property and, as part of that development, resurrect some of the park. Reopening it as a theme park wasn’t feasible, but neither did it have to suffer such pitiful neglect.
The developers, with the help of former employees and visitors, have since restored parts of the park. My favorite part of the restoration story is the official “brick amnesty.” The developers asked anyone who had any bricks from the Yellow Brick Road to please return them. No questions would be asked. All they wanted were the bricks. They received a surprisingly large number of them back.
Today Oz opens for one day every October and welcomes visitors, former employees, and Oz fanatics for a celebration of the park. Proceeds help with further restorations. You can also rent Dorothy’s house for short stays, have a birthday celebration in the park, or even get married in Oz. Here’s a short video that shows a bit of the park:
When I needed a location for some of the most significant scenes in Broken Fate, the idea of using the park popped into my head. It was especially appropriate for Alex and Atropos, both avid readers and lovers of the original Oz books. It’s fitting that some of their happiest and saddest moments happen in a place that saw much joy, but also its share of sadness.
I took some liberties with Oz in Broken Fate. For one thing, the characters experience some locations that were destroyed and no longer exist. For another, the scenes in the book are written as though the park is still an abandoned ruin, not the improved version that exists today. I used the park as a metaphor for the idea that everything, no matter how awesome, dies eventually. I hope I captured the tension that exists between remembering what was, accepting what is, and finding beauty in the difference.
If you want to learn more about the park and see some great archival photos, you can visit the developer’s website. http://www.emeraldmtn.com/LandofOz/landofoz.html
Jennifer is a freelance writer and novelist. As a freelancer, she writes everything from technical manuals to articles on personal finance and European-style board games. Her interest in storytelling began when she was six and her parents gave her a typewriter for Christmas and agreed to pay her $.01 per page for any stories she churned out. Such a loose payment system naturally led to a lot of story padding. Broken Fate, her first novel, earned her $2.80 from her parents.
Jennifer lives in North Carolina and, when not writing, can often be found reading, trawling the shelves at the library, playing board games, watching sports, camping, running marathons, and playing with her dog. You can visit her at her official website:www.JenniferDerrick.com.
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: April 18th 2016
Genres: Mythology, Romance, Young Adult
Zeus gave her one simple job: Kill every human. Atropos—daughter of Zeus and the third goddess of Fate from Greek mythology —spends her eternal life snipping human lifelines when their mortal lives are over. As if being a killer doesn’t make life miserable enough, she and her Fate-wielding sisters must live amongst the humans on Earth thanks to a long-running feud between their mother and Zeus. Living on Earth means they must mingle with the mortals, attend the local high school, and attempt to fit in—or at least not stand out too much.
Killing and mingling don’t mix, which is why Atropos’ number-one rule is to avoid all relationships with the humans. Caring for the people she has to kill is a fast track to insanity. However, when Alex Morgan walks into her first-period English class, she knows she’s in for trouble. He’s the worst kind of human for her to like—one with a rapidly approaching expiration date. And he makes Atropos want to break all the rules.
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