An Interview With...
Roger S. Baum
What were your favorite activities as a child?
Sports and student government. I grew up in Southern California but I must admit I did go to Oz in my daydreams, on occasion. My great grandfather was L. Frank Baum. He wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and 13 other books about the wonderful land of Oz. I did not know my great grandfather since he passed away in 1919, before I was born. I knew my great grandmother as a wonderful and stern lady. She was great grandfather's love of his life and, in many ways, an inspiration for his books.
Did you read the entire series of 14 Oz books when you were a child?
Yes, it was a long, long time ago.
What did you dream you would grow up to be?
A positive example.
When did you start writing Oz stories? What inspired you to do so?
I was challenged by a friend to continue the Oz stories. I began in 1988.
What turned your response to a friend’s challenge into a career?
The success of my first Oz book: Dorothy of Oz.
Your grandfather was 40 years old when he found his true calling to be writing. Do you see other similarities in your lives?
I hope imagination and dreams.
What is the biggest challenge in following in your great grandfather's footsteps? Did other members of your family inherit the talent for writing?
The biggest challenge is to be true to the Oz fans and true to the Oz mosaic. I know of no other family members who have a talent for writing, although many our quiet talented in other areas.
What were your favorite subjects in school?
My favorite subjects in school were history, art and sports. I did not have a particular fascination with any subject. It just depended upon the teacher to help make any subject enjoyable and honest. It is of course, the teacher's responsibility and the attention of the student. I always enjoyed communication. I think it is very important for the student to have a good solid dose of government, geography and history along with the much publicized math and science courses. It is important to stress history, geography and government because it is the glue that keeps our country together.
What were your least favorite or most difficult subjects? How did you cope with any classes that you did not do well in?
Probably higher math. I suppose I just tried to do my best.
Doesn’t investment banking require a strong math background? What led you to pursue a career in that field?
A background in math helps but, it is a position that requires the ability to learn, work with others, some intuitive skills. Today's banking is more computerized and departmentalized than ever.
What path did you take to your career in finance and banking?
My financing and banking career was as an Account Executive and Branch Manager. My education path was Liberal Arts with a minor in Business. I worked as a box boy in a grocery store, credit card service, and account executive. My first job was extremely interesting and with variety. My first real job was financial sales.
What kind of work do investment bankers and stockbrokers do?
Generally, investment bankers and stockbrokers are considered under the same moniker. They generate financial sales and act upon the customers' objectives.
What qualities are necessary for this type of job? What did you like best about the work?
Analytical, imagination, people skills and financial training are good for this type of job. I enjoyed the challenge. What I liked least was the structure.
What did you do in the Navy?
I spent most of my time aboard the USS Toledo in the Far East.
Where have you traveled to share Oz?
I have traveled around the United States (Indiana, New York, Tennessee, California, Missouri, Illinois, Florida, Georgia, Texas, North & South Carolina, North Dakota, Washington and Washington D.C. to name a few). I still remember the Riverside Children's Theatre presentation of The Wizard of Oz 10 years ago. It was such a memorable experience. I am looking forward to this year's production from such a fine organization. [This is the 50th Anniversary of Riverside Children’s Theatre. Approximately 100 children from Kindergarten through 8th grade perform in two productions each year (Winter and Spring) in Riverside, California.]
If you could relive your life, would you choose your career path or would you like to try something different?
I suppose there is always something that seems attractive. I thought about a military career and considered politics. The advantage is exposure to life and circumstances. I think all careers require imagination, anticipation to help become successful.
What words of wisdom would you like to share with those who read this interview? Do you have any advice for aspiring young writers?
I only hope that all will enjoy my books and all of Oz as the first true American fairy tale with its Love, Heart, Wisdom and Courage. I hope that you will question things that do not seem honest and that you will concentrate to some degree about what made this country so great and to learn about some of its heroes. Heroes are the glue that helps keep our country identity. We should be careful of wishing others to take care of our needs when it comes to things that we should have planned for. For young writers, please write from the heart and honestly. Do not get discouraged. Keep an open mind.
Do you have any heroes who serve as inspiration to you?
President Ronald Regan for his independence and courage. Professor Albert Einstein for his imagination and President Lincoln who was among many who envisioned our young country's path.
Do you have a favorite quote?
"Imagination has brought mankind through the Dark Ages to its present state of civilization. Imagination led Columbus to discover America. Imagination led Franklin to discover electricity. Imagination has given us the steam engine, the telephone, the talking-machine and the automobile, for these things had to be dreamed of before they became realities. So I believe that dreams - day dreams, you know, with your eyes wide open and your brain-machinery whizzing -- are likely to lead to the betterment of the world. The imaginative child will become the imaginative man or woman most apt to create, to invent, and therefore to foster civilization".
- 9 March 2007
9 March 2007
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