Without Alice: A Novella More-or-less of Wonderland

…and a story of second editions and new covers.

Without Alice is a novella set in post-Alice Wonderland, where things have gone drastically wrong. In an effort to return Wonderland to its previous glory, the reigning queen sends a pick-pocket named Axford Barrel to retrieve Alice and bring her back. Unfortunately, time passes differently in our world, and the original Alice is long gone. Rather than return empty-handed, Axford convinces a girl named Breca to accompany him and pretend to be the legendary Alice. Breca has problems of her own, namely that Death has inexplicably fallen in love with her. The moody force of nature hijacks the body of an undertaker named Fred and follows the object of his affection down the rabbit hole, with occasionally disastrous consequences. Without Alice is a story about otherworldly love triangles, improbable names, whimsical humor, and saving the world.

The novella was the subject of an early experiment with formatting and cover design, and as such has been tweaked a few times. (You may see it around Amazon with its original cover, though that version is out of print.) Re-edited and with a shiny new cover, we’re happy to announce it as the second title published by Leeftail Press. The author, Random da Shea, has also written a number of short stories based on Lewis Carroll’s classic works. One of these, Alice’s Adventures in a Demi-Hell, appears as bonus story in this edition of Without Alice.

Though da Shea appreciated Carroll’s style from an early age, the original title of the novella was Without Dorothy, and it was going to be based on the Oz books. (Early notes from before the first draft also include extensive quotations from Paul McCartney’s Flaming Pie album; “I was going through a phase,” says da Shea.) When it comes to switching gears, the story didn’t stop there. “Axford was originally a satyr named Cadio,” says the author. “And Breca was named Elvey. Actually, I don’t think the story was meant to be about them at all, so I’m a little baffled at what I ended up with, to be honest.” One thing that remained constant was the inspiration for the character of Death. “His face is Rik Mayall’s face,” says da Shea frankly. “Remember that phase I said I was going through? There was more than one.”

The first draft, she says, was written in about a six week period in 2000, and went through an aging process and several permutations before arriving in its current form. One of the more important internal changes was the addition of several Lewis Carroll-inspired pieces of poetry. “That was one of my favorite aspects of the original books, and I wanted to pay homage to that,” says da Shea. “I’m glad that Without Alice sat around marinating for ten years, because they certainly weren’t in the original, and the book needed that extra something.”

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