“Diana Wynne Jones is that kind of writer, some one who makes her characters real, and the family situations are always funny and very realistic, and the magic is of the kind that everyone wishes they had when they are young.”
Kate Coombs counts DWJ as one of her top three best children’s fantasy writers, and shares some of her favorite titles, including The Tough Guide to Fantasyland.
“If you’re going to write fantasy, you should read this book. And if you’re a fantasy reader, you should, too.”
Auras and Dragons and Single Malt: Meeting Diana Wynne Jones in Edinburgh
I only met Diana Wynne Jones in person once, at the Edinburgh Book Festival in 2003. I was fortunate enough to share several dinners with her over the course of a week or so, along with other authors and publishers, and also to drink whisky with her late one night in the hotel (I never drink whisky. I made an exception.). She told me then that she could see something akin to auras around people. I can’t remember what my aura was like, in terms of colour and so on, but I recall my relief when she pronounced it to be a positive and creative manifestation.
Before that Edinburgh book festival, I had known Diana for a long time through her work. Authors aren’t always what you expect, and sometimes they are very different from their books, and far less appealing. But Diana was more like one of her own characters than almost any other author I can think of, both kindly funny and sharp at the same time, apparently erratic but actually totally in control, and perhaps most importantly, full of the kind of mythic energy that made it very easy to believe that she could indeed see auras. And see dragons, though I can’t remember exactly where the dragons came in to the conversation, other than that she said some people were in fact dragons in disguise. Possibly metaphorical dragons, or indeed even “pull the leg of an Australian author” dragons. It’s very difficult to joke and be serious about mythical or spiritual things at the same time, but Diana could manage it.
I was prepared to be disappointed by the real Diana Wynne Jones, because I loved her books so much, and had done so since I was about 11 or 12 and read Power of Three, followed shortly thereafter by every single DWJ book I could get my hands on. But I wasn’t disappointed.