To take the most obvious first: I found myself thinking as I wrote, “These poor adults are never going to understand this; I must explain it to them twice more and then remind them again later in different terms.” Now this is something I never have to think when I write for younger readers. Children are used to making an effort to understand. They are asked for this effort every hour of every school day, and though they may not make the effort willingly, they at least expect it. In addition, nearly everyone between the ages of nine and fifteen is amazingly good at solving puzzles and following complicated plots - this being the happy results of many hours spent at computer games and watching television. I can rely on this. I can make my plots for them as complex as I please, and yet I know I never have to explain them more than once (or twice at the very most). And here I was, writing for people of fifteen and over, assuming that the people who read, say, Fire and Hemlock last year have now given up using their brains.
This is back-to-front to what one usually assumes, if one only looks on the surface, but I found it went much deeper than that. At first I thought it was my own assumption, based on personal experiences. Once when I was doing a signing, a mother came in with her nine-year-old son and berated me for making The Homeward Bounders so difficult. So I turned to the boy to ask him what he didn’t understand. “Oh, don’t listen to her,” he said. “I understood everything. It was just her that didn’t.” It was clear to both of us that his poor mother had given up using her brain when she read. Likewise, a schoolmaster who was supposed to be interviewing me for a magazine explained to me that he had tried to read Charmed Life and couldn’t understand a word, which meant, he said, that it was much too difficult for children. So he didn’t interview me. He was making the surface assumption that children need things easy. But since I have never come across a child that didn’t understand Charmed Life, it occurred to me that he was making the assumption about himself. But it was a hidden one, and when I came to write for adults, I realized that it was something all adults assumed. I grew tender of their brains and kept explaining.
This makes an absurd situation. Here we have books for children, which a host of adults dismiss as puerile, overeasy, and are no such thing; and there we have books for adults, who might be supposed to need something more advanced and difficult, which we have to write as if the readers were simpleminded.
It dawned on me that tennis stars were perfect models of heroes – all kinds of heroes – folk tale, myth, comicbook, and above all modern fantasy. And I found myself attending closely and thinking very hard indeed.
For a start, they all had that larger-than-life quality. They stood out among…
Chrestomanci in one of his dressing gowns. And yes, I did post an earlier version of this drawing in the beginning of my tumblr career but this one is (if I may say so) greatly improved! :)
Books more people should read
» A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones «
Time City - built far in the future on a patch of space outside time - holds the formidable task of overseeing history, yet it’s starting to decay, crumble …. What does that say for the future of the world … for the past … for the present? Two Time City boys, determined to save it all, think they have the answer in Vivian Smith, a young Twenty Century girl whom they pluck from a British train station at the start of World War II. But not only have they broken every rule in the book by traveling back in time - they have the wrong person! Unable to return safely, Vivian’s only choice is to help the boys restore Time City or risk being stuck outside time forever.
Recommended by likealittlechild
“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.”
Diana Wynne Jones Now this edition of Author You Should Be Reading is as much for myself as it is for you, dear reader. This is because, though I’ve read and re-read and re-read HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE (read our review here), THE GAME, and FIRE AND HEMLOCK, I have yet to delve into her other books! Of which there are 40! So may this edition of AYSBR serve as a reminder to all of us to get our butts in gear! First, a bit on Diana Wynne Jones, plucked from her website: Diana Wynne Jones was born in London, where…
Cressida Cowell on books to make children laugh out loud, cry on the pages and want to be a hero.
Three guesses who one of her favorite authors might be, and the first two do not count.