My favorite Diiana Wynne Jones series is the Dalemark quartet. Of all her works I’ve read it was the most grown up and tackled some very important subjects in such an ingenious way.
I am 32 and not ashamed to say she is one of my favorite authors. I never ran into any of her works as a child and didn’t read anything by her until after I had seen Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle. I liked the movie but absolutely loved the book.
I am working on getting through all of her books. I am glad she was such a prolific write because I will be able to enjoy works by her that I haven’t read yet for quite a while.
I wish I could have met her in person and thanked her for sharing her wonderful sense of humor and imagination.
“Othertees dot com has a Howl’s Moving Castle shirt up for sale for approx. 8 more hours. Just thought you guys would like to know.”
Note from sdn: This is not on sale any more — I didn’t get the message until today. I am very sad.
Instead of mourning Diana in March, the month we lost her, we’ve decided to celebrate her life and books. Come join us in our 2nd Annual DWJ March! We’ve got guest posts, read-alongs, giveaways and more. Anyone who loves Diana is welcome to join in! Our kick-off post is up today.
NPR’s “Best-Ever Teen Novels” poll is up and running at NPR.org. You cah choose up to ten books, and here are the DWJ books you should select:
You might also consider Garth Nix’s Abhorsen Trilogy, Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown, Tamora Pierce’s books, The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner .… just choose Diana first!
From just-published “Earwig and the Witch,” Earwig and Thomas, the witch’s unwilling familiar, apply a protective potion against the witch’s threat: to give them worms! Diana Wynne Jones never got to see my drawings for her book, to my great sadness.
“One of my favourite books ever is A Tale of Time City. It may even be the first DWJ I read, although I can’t remember. My favourite aspect, apart from the time-travel (which I love), was the butter-pies! I would give anything to try one, and I always hoped someone somewhere would come up with a recipe. I imagine them as something close to creme brulee, but much much better…. maybe one day I’ll try and make one myself, although I don’t think it would be possible to create anything like what she described! She is much missed… x”
A NOTE TO LEONIE: Watch this space. Soon your wish will come true!
Following in Diana’s Footsteps
I can’t remember the first Diana Wynne Jones book I read. I suspect, from the age of the book and its well-thumbed aspect, that it was Cart and Cwidder. But The Magicians of Caprona is almost as decrepit. As for Fire and Hemlock, the words have been practically read off the page, but then I taught it, and that’s always hard on a book.
In any event, it was a clear case of Love At First Read. Diana’s prose is deceptively simple, like a mill pond whose clear, brown water hides depths teeming with fish and lily-roots and water witches and things with far too many teeth. Her characters are instantly memorable, and her invention never flags as she explores plot twists like Christopher Chant exploring parallel realities.
I wished I could write like that.
Then, some time in the mid-80’s I met her, and decided that I wanted to BE like that. Which is to say, wry, warm, generous, and attentive to everything that was going on around her, because (properly viewed) it was Bound To Be Useful.
Both wishes, of course, are functionally impossible. We are who we are, and cannot be otherwise. But we can certainly choose our influences, and Diana is definitely one of mine (along with C.S. Lewis, George Eliot, Georgette Heyer, and Kenneth Grahame). I spent many happy hours studying the underlying structure of Fire and Hemlock, the characterization of the Chrestomanci books, the complex card-tricks that are Howl’s Moving Castle and The Time of the Ghost. No matter how many times I read one of her books, I am always, always astonished anew at her way with a sentence, her wit, and the generosity of heart that allowed her to clearly love even the most evil and limited of her characters. Her stamp is on Changeling and The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen, but is even more strongly on my current WIP, The Evil Wizard’s Apprentice which (like many of her most beloved books) is about a boy learning about magic and its responsibilities.
And now I think I’ll go re-read The Pinhoe Egg.
I was so sad when I heard that Diana Wynne Jones had died, because there wouldn’t be any more of her wonderful books. I first read her books when I was in my 40s, and regret that I didn’t discover her as a child. I read the Chrestomanci books and was hooked — since then, I’ve read everything I could get my hands on. My favorite is Dogsbody.