Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The places I would go

In celebration of Talli Roland's newest book launch, WATCHING WILLOW WATTS, she's asked bloggers 'If I could be anyone, I'd be...'. A number of people chose J.K. Rowling for good reason, but I'm going venture a bit back in time and say Diana Wynne Jones for her extraordinary children's books. The list of her titles is longer than a snuggly house scarf and every bit as yummy as a chocolate frog.

I'd love to have lived inside her expansive imagination, to have her wit and skills at laying out compelling stories with twists and depth of content. And, oh, her sense of humor, how much fun that would be. But silly and wacky as her stories can be, they're dead-on serious, as well.

Her tales are never preachy but there's no doubt that even in her magical worlds there are consequences for bullying, intolerance, bigotry or other nasty behavior. Her characters are ordinary kids shoved into extraordinary circumstances, which they figure out how to handle. Sometimes even small acts of bravery are heroic and important is a message that comes through.

When she died of cancer in March at age 76, The Guardian wrote: "Her intelligent and beautifully written fantasies are of seminal importance for their bridging of the gap between "traditional" children's fantasy, as written by CS Lewis or E Nesbit, and the more politically and socially aware children's literature of the modern period, where authors such as Jacqueline Wilson or Melvyn Burgess explicitly confront problems of divorce, drugs and delinquency. "

She started writing as a child, and as a college student at St. Anne's at Oxford, she soaked up lectures from J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S . Lewis. How I'd love to time travel and drop in on one of those sessions.

If you haven't read her, treat yourself. Here's a partial list of her more than 40 titles: HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE, DARK LORD OF DERKHOLM, YEAR OF THE GRIFFIN, FIRE AND HEMLOCK, THE HOMEWARD BOUNDERS, HEXWOOD, POWER OF THREE, THE CHRONICLES OF CHRESTOMANCI, THE DALEMARK QUARTET, ARCHER'S GOON.
*
Um, I have to add that if I were to pick a fictional character I'd like to be it would be Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Just sayin'.

16 comments:

Tere Kirkland said...

I hope I can someday be as loved and as remembered for my work as DWJ. Loved her Chrestomanci Chronicles, but I still need to read Howl's Moving Castle.

Great post!

Corey Schwartz said...

Oh my gosh, I never even heard of her (how embarrassing!) When I saw your blog post title, I thought you were going to say Dr. Seuss! He'd certainly be high up on my list! :)

The Golden Eagle said...

I'm reading one of her anthologies right now: Unexpected Magic. She's one of my all-time favorite Fantasy authors. :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Tere: Wouldn't that be wonderful--to be loved for your stories? She had so many fantastic ones, too. The character of Hattie in Howl's is one my all-time faves.

Corey: I wouldn't mind being Dr. Seuss, either! :D
I think a lot of US readers may not know her that well, since she's English, but her books are worth exploring.

GoldenEagle: That one's on my shelf, too. In fact, most of one shelf is all her books. I may have to start re-reading soon. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Wonderful choice! And a lovely tribute :)

Stephanie Thornton said...

I haven't read any of her work, but this is such a rave review I might have to check it out.

Snuggly house scarf--lovely image!

Donna said...

Yes, I can see you as both grand storyteller and heroine who saves the world ... a lot.

Talli Roland said...

That's a fantastic choice. It's hard to write non-preachy children's novels, and she's obviously succeeded in doing so!

Thanks so much for taking part. I really appreciate it!

storyqueen said...

Howl's Moving Castle is on my TBR list...I have heard so much about it.

You would be an awesome Buffy.

Shelley

MG Higgins said...

I've never read any of her books, but I will now. I'm sure many of her titles are at the library. If you were to recommend one to get me started, which would it be?

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Jemi: Isn't she, though? :)

Stephanie: Oh yes, please do. I hope your daughter will grow to love her, too.

Donna: Ha! There are worlds to save. ;)

Talli: My pleasure. You deserve it totally.

Shelley: Aw, thank you! I'd love to try to be like Buffy, at least in my writing world.

Melissa: Oh, oh, oh! You really must. She's so fun. I'm partial to Howl's Moving Castle for its strong and hilarious MC, Hattie. It's nothing like the movie, by the way.

Hobo Annie said...

Please tell me that you loved Spike better than Angel. Right? Also, if you get to be Buffy, can I be Willow? (Um--the early years Willow, that is.)
Great Post!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Hi, Annie, my friend! I adore Spike but have to admit there were moments I could have put a stake in either of them--well, almost. Anyway, Spike is hilarious. Fave moments:
When he has to sit with Buffy's mom and make small talk. :D
"I'll Do It My Way"
Um, the time he and Buffy break down the abandoned house.
"First, I'll save her, then I'll kill her..."

Would you be Willow to my Buffy??? Oh, yes! We could save the world and have fun besides.

Bish Denham said...

Okay, here are a bunch more books I'm going to have read...darn it! (NOT)

Hobo Annie said...

Favorite Willow quote: "You're the Slayer and we're, like, the Slayerettes."

laughingwolf said...

excellent! :)