Reflections: On the Magic of Writing


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 ...

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Reflections: On the Magic of Writing

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Stacey Hayman
After receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis, Diana Wynne Jones decided it was time to sort and organize the manuscripts, lectures, articles, and reviews saved from over forty years of writing. With the help of her longtime editor, the author selected papers for donation to the Seven Stories archives and pieces on a variety of topics, from personal to professional, to share in this collection. In total, there are thirty-four selections, including items offered by two of her three children, forewords by Neil Gaiman and Charlie Butler, and a preface by the author herself. Each piece has an introduction that nicely sets the time, place, and reason why it was written. Within each chapter there are end-note citations that most would expect to find at the end of the written piece but are, somewhat confusingly, at the end of the book. Personal photographs enhancing the “Something About the Author” essay; a Q&A conversation held near the end of Jones’s life; and “Two Kinds of Writing?” which is an example of the author’s thoughts about why she approached writing for children so differently than her adult audience are examples of what makes this collection more than just a final gift from the author to her legion of fans. Readers who desire a stronger understanding of history, language, and the influence of personal experience on the narrative will discover plenty to mull over, and writers, particularly those who want to write fantasy novels or novels for children, will be inspired to consider--and reconsider--how they can put their pen to paper most effectively. Ages 12 to 18.
Children's Literature - Toni Jourdan
Just as a story should deliver a happy ending of wrongs being righted for its reader, this reader applauds Dianne Wynn Jones for stepping forward in response to a writer's ultimate responsibility to its audience. She is an avid reader and delivers a wonderful orchestration of Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," even though he may leave a lot to be desired as a lecturer. She chastises writers who are irresponsible when using imagination. There should be no "what if" cut off, the joy should be boundary-less. We hear of school visit horror stories, a look back at her childhood, and how truth finds its way from her storybooks into her real life. Think tall, thin house, worms in custard.... Writing is a complex endeavor and each essay, letter, or speech stands tall for what Jones believed in. Why fantasy? Fantasy was not allowed in her home as she grew up, in fact, warmth, food and love were not allowed either. Her parents forbade the "sentimental nonsense" of fantasy. She championed the belief of "moving goalposts and changing rules" in her writing. She held steadfast to the responsibility of writing a book that may be a readers "one" that sticks in their memory banks. She begs agoraphobic writers to get outside of their self-imposed boxes. The beginning of the book has a bit of a textbook feel. No characters or situations that one can grab onto to build a through story. Then you realize that Jones is as interesting of a character as any mystical fairy or talking cabinet could ever be. As a reader you will find yourself reading every chapter as if you have just sat down with your favorite aunt as she reminiscences. Reviewer: Toni Jourdan
School Library Journal
Putting her papers together in the face of her impending death, Jones chose and arranged these lectures, articles, and reviews written between 1978 and 2008 to encapsulate her beliefs about writing, writing for children, and fantasy. Ranging from literary criticism to autobiography, the 28 pieces illustrate her insight, her humor, and the mastery of her craft. She describes how magic and humor work, discusses the nature of heroes, the uses of mythology, and the value of learning Anglo-Saxon. Other selections reflect on the magic of the "Narnia" books, the nature of "Real Books," and the orchestration of a narrative. Because this volume is a gathering of pieces written over many years, topics and episodes are repeated, like recurring melodies in a long piece of music. One of the most important themes is that humans-children and adults-need fantasy. In some ways, her entire oeuvre is a reaction to a childhood in which fantasy literature was denied, as revealed in the long essay she wrote for Something About the Author and included here. An interview with the book's editor, Charlie Butler, and reminiscences by two of her sons wrap up the collection. Readers who have known and loved the author's vast body of work will nod and laugh, rejoice that they can return to works like the "Chrestomanci" series, and mourn the fact that there will be no more.—Kathleen Isaacs, Children's Literature Specialist, Pasadena, MD
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062219893
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/25/2012
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 505,395
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.32 (h) x 1.31 (d)

Meet the Author

In a career spanning four decades, award-winning author Diana Wynne Jones (1934-2011) wrote more than forty books of fantasy for young readers. Characterized by magic, multiple universes, witches and wizards—and a charismatic nine-lived enchanter—her books were filled with unlimited imagination, dazzling plots, and an effervescent sense of humor that earned her legendary status in the world of fantasy. In addition to being translated into more than twenty languages, her books have earned a wide array of honors—including two Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honors and the Guardian Award—and appeared on countless best-of-the-year lists. Her best-selling Howl's Moving Castle was made into an animated film by Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki and was nominated for an Academy Award. Diana Wynne Jones was also honored with many prestigious awards for the body of her work. She was given the British Fantasy Society's Karl Edward Wagner Award in 1999 for having made a significant impact on fantasy, and she won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the World Fantasy Convention in 2007.

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