Interview: James Pyles on “No Place Like Home”

What would have happened if Dorothy hadn’t wanted to leave Oz and return to Kansas? What if the “good witch” Glinda had craved the ruby slippers for her own? What would the transformed Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman, and Cowardly Lion really have been like with their new attributes?

You’ll never think of Dorothy and her friends the same way again…

No Place Like Home” is one of the 15 tales in the Magicks & Enchantments anthology, which is available for a limited time in the Wild Magic bundle.

There’s the real world…
…and then there are our worlds, secret, wild, and free.

The Wild Magic bundle holds ten volumes of the magic. Ten books about what we find after we have passed through the illusion that we can live without wonder in the world, and come out the other side.

Pack your bags, put on your good walking shoes, and make sure you bring plenty of water. We’re going out into the wilderness, and who knows when we’ll be back?

The Wild Magic bundle is available through July 14th, 2021.


After all their adventures, the dangers, the terrors…after the Yellow Brick Road, the poppy field, the witch’s castle—and most importantly, confronting the wizard—Dorothy regarded her closest friends, the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Woodsman, and her dearest friend, the Scarecrow. Each had received their heart’s desire (though no one was sure co-ruling Oz was part of that). Now, in the throne room of the Wizard of Oz in the palace at the center of the Emerald City, it was her turn—she was supposed to finally get her wish and return home.


The Wizard would have taken her home in the same hot air balloon that had brought him to Oz. But just as they were about to climb aboard Toto had wriggled out of her arms, and when she ran after him the balloon took off with the Wizard—and without the two of them.

The large, chamber they all stood within was green, the citizens of Oz were dressed in green, and even the munchkins wore green little hats and jackets. Everything was green in keeping with the city’s name except for Dorothy, her friends, and her ruby slippers. Then a soft, shimmering crimson glow warmed the room, and as it vanished, Glinda the Good Witch of the North appeared.

How like an angel she appeared, albeit one with a very long wand and very tall crown. All the subjects present bowed toward her. Glinda gently ascended the platform where Dorothy and her companions had stood and watched the Wizard ascend heavenward.

Dorothy, though trembling, gave a polite curtsey, and then wailed, “The Wizard’s gone, Glinda, flown off in his balloon! How am I supposed to get back home?” The witch was powerful, but even she couldn’t conjure up another big balloon and make it sail to Kansas.

Dorothy expected to cry, but the tears didn’t come—which frankly, was quite a surprise. She stood shivering in the center of the jade throne room, her tiny black terrier held tightly in her arms, along with Wicked’s captured golden cap. Her three friends no longer seemed outlandish, or even foolish.

“You’ve had the power to return to your cherished aunt and uncle all this while, Dorothy.” Glinda, the good witch, dressed in an overbearingly fluffy white-and-pink dress made out of clouds, smiled kindly down at Dorothy. The tall, cotton candy crown on her head, magically held in place, didn’t even wiggle. She spoke precisely, as if her every word was part of a prepared speech to be presented before royalty.

“I have?”

“Then why didn’t you tell her about it?” the Scarecrow asked, a hint of suspicion in his voice.

Dorothy saw a twinkle in Glinda’s eyes, just for an instant, an unpleasant glint she had never seen before. The Wizard said he needed Wicked’s broomstick, but it turned out he didn’t really want it at all—it was just an excuse to get Dorothy and her friends to kill the witch. Except for her three friends, Dorothy wondered if she could trust anyone in Oz.

—from “No Place Like Home” by James Pyles

The Interview

“No Place Like Home” is an interesting twist based on the world and characters of Wizard of Oz. What inspired you to write this story?

Originally, I wrote a version of the short story for an anthology submission call involving phobias. I chose koinophobia which is the irrational fear of being normal. I imagined that after all of her fantastic adventures in Oz, Dorothy might regret or even dread going back to being a 1930s farm girl. After that, it was just a matter of leveraging the endings of both the film version of the Wizard of Oz and the novel by L. Frank Baum to create an alternate outcome for Dorothy.

Do you plan to write other stories in this version of Oz?

No plans for a sequel or other version. My whole point was describing how not only Dorothy, but her friends the Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman, and Lion as well as the White Witch were never really what they seemed. If Dorothy never returned to Kansas, all of those concealed traits would come tumbling out. Dorothy changes most of all, filling the only open niche (besides the Wizard) in Oz. In her case, she really did end up becoming what she had fought hardest against.

You regularly post book and film reviews. What do you enjoy most about this?

I like being able to put my own, unique thumbprint on these reviews. Many book and film reviews get pretty repetitive or focus on the same elements of the work. I like to think that I possess an alternate perspective and can bring a more refreshing angle in how to regard even classic movies and novels.

Your first science fiction novella, Time’s Abyss, will come out in October, and is up for pre-order now! Tell us about it!

The official blurb is: It starts in the present with eccentric billionaire Theodore Falkon commissioning and using what he thought was a timespace projector. He wanted to bring extinct life and ancient treasures from the distant past to his personal island for the amusement of his internationally famous guests. It starts with a 3,000 year old alien starship being discovered by the Soviet military under the Siberian wastes in 1965. It starts with the projector’s inventor, brilliant physicist Carson Everett leading a covert military and scientific team aboard a submarine to Falkon’s island chain to shut down the most dangerous experiment in the history of humanity. Where it ends will depend on which versions of reality take over the Earth, if it’s possible to end it at all.

It was written for a series with the theme “Underground.” A much shorter version of “Abyss” was one of my first SciFi stories, written for a submission to an Australian military-scifi action periodical. They didn’t accept it, but a significant portion of the action happens underground. I leveraged that for this story (I was tempted to call it “The Time Tunnel,” but that was already taken). I had to extend the adventure quite a bit, actually resolving the cliffhanger I’d originally created. It’s also something of a homage piece (at least the ancient alien spaceship part) to one of my favorite authors Andre Norton (Alice Norton). When I was in junior high, I read her novel “The Time Traders” and became hooked on the series and the underlying concept of modern people attempting to retrieve ancient technology to achieve space travel.

Imagine if a time experiment went wrong and began temporally fracturing parts of the Earth into different points of actual and alternate history. Too many fractures and time itself might end. Then imagine that it wasn’t really an accident and there’s some intelligence behind these occurrences, manipulating them for an unknown purpose. Are Dr. Carson Everett and his team of time lost specialists merely pawns, or can they seize control of a world being thrown into chaos, saving the planet and all of history? The conclusion is nothing that anyone, including Everett or Falkon could have imagined.

Is there something from a legend, fairy or folk tale, or myth that you haven’t yet used in your writing, but would like to?

I’m always interested in ancient gods, legends and such, but not the ones we tend to think of in western culture. How many tales are there of mermaids from different cultures across history? What if you wrote a story based on a mermaid fable almost none of your readers had ever heard of before? That’s just an example, but I like taking human lore that is all but unknown to readers in North America and Europe, and making something new.

What are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

A publisher I’ve worked with before extended a personal invitation to work on a “secret” project. A number of authors are crafting a series of short stories and novellas based on a shared world. Without giving too much away, for centuries a series of extraterrestrial events have been shaping people and objects, altering the nature of their existence and their effect on the world around them. For that same amount of time, a secret organization has been suppressing all knowledge of these events. In the present, the hidden truth is explosively released in a global event. With their presence exposed, these “agents” are in a race to find and conceal a growing group of extraordinary people and artifacts before governments, wealthy magnates, and others use them to take power over nations or even the world.

I’m working on my second story for the anthology right now and I’m having a blast. Although I use some of the “pre-created” characters, I’ve been given the opportunity to expand their histories, introduce new characters, and even to change the past.

About James

James Pyles is a science fiction and fantasy writer. He is also an Information Technology textbook author and editor, and technical writer for the IT department of a multi-state corporation located in the U.S. northwest. He currently has over 30 short stories published in various anthologies and periodicals and has just sold his first novella. He won the 2021 Helicon Short Story Award for his science fiction tale “The Three Billion Year Love,” which appears in the Tuscany Bay Books Planetary Anthology Mars.

Find James

Website ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads ~ BookBub

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