Reflections: On the Magic of Writing
Diana Wynne Jones
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This collection of more than twenty-five critical essays, speeches, and biographical pieces chosen by Diana Wynne Jones before her death in 2011 is essential reading for the author's many fans and for students and teachers of the fantasy genre and creative writing in general. The volume includes insightful literary criticism alongside autobiographical anecdotes, revelations about the origins of the author's books, and reflections about the life of an author and the value of writing for young people.
Reflections features the author's final interview, a foreword by award-winning author Neil Gaiman, and an introduction by Charlie Butler, a senior lecturer in English at the University of West England in Bristol.
there was this fellow, lying on his side on his bicycle, with brown, trickly blood having come out of his head, but that had stopped quite a while ago. And it seemed to me fairly evident that he was dead. What do you do when you’re thirteen, and on a bicycle and all alone? I had no idea. The only thing I could think of was to cycle madly to my friend’s house. Her parents were very nice, very ordinary people—theirs was an ordinary life in a way, if you like, except that they were market gardeners
and had greenhouses, which made them unordinary. And I arrived there, and immediately the father phoned friends, leaped in his van, roared off, and I thought, “Oh good, somebody’s taking care of it.” But what I really couldn’t handle was my friend’s mother, who sat me down and gave me strong, sweet tea and generally fussed over me. I thought, “Nobody does this kind of thing!” And at home nobody would. I almost couldn’t handle it really: I thought, “What’s going on here?” Then the father came back
Witch and the Wardrobe, Lewis said, started with his vision of a faun walking in the snow beside an old-fashioned streetlight. It begins a little stiffly (and this stiffness never leaves his child protagonists) because he is feeling his way, and does not really take off until the advent of the lion, Aslan, with whom Lewis discovered he could tap in to deeper tragedy and triumph. For me, this was his major discovery: that you can invoke the whole range of human thought and feeling by beginning
at least part of the reason for this is Penelope, who, as I said before, is in her way as tricksy as her husband: she clearly has a mind. And Odysseus is a thinking hero. I knew my story was going to be a journey of the mind to some extent, both for Polly and for Tom. Now you must understand that I came to writing Fire and Hemlock not only with the Odyssey in mind. My head was awash with myths and legends, hundreds of them, and they all contribute, but there are three which underlie it
might be stuck indeed. But take care: there is no need to go on about a character and put in all you know. This is another way to produce a cardboard effect. The fact is, you need to know, but the reader doesn’t. Long descriptions of someone’s appearance and lifestyle are a total turn-off. But if you know, it will come over without your having to tell it. We come now to a thing you have to know best of all, and that is a character’s inward life. Again, you do not have to go into it in detail