Reflections On The Magic Of Writing by Diana Wynne Jones
Nonfiction by Jones. There’s a foreword by Neil Gaiman, and a sort-of post-foreword, pre-preface by someone named Charlie Butler so it’s almost 20 pages before we get to any actual Jonesiness and it is by that point a real pleasure to stop reading about how great Jones is and get to Jones being great. I swear, if Gaiman gets his nose any further up there it’s going to be her nose.
Anyway, the rest of the book is a collection of essays and talks by Jones, written and given over the course of many years, about fantasy reading, writing, and the life of a writer. Of course, since these were for many different locations over many different years, there is a tendency towards repetition of information and many stories are told over again (she studied under Lewis and Tolkien. Lewis was a great lecturer, but Tolkien mumbled). On the other hand, some of it was really informative–I had no idea that The Time Of The Ghost was autobiographical (the family dynamics stuff, not the ghost (oh, there was a ghost; it just wasn’t Diana or any of her sisters). She says that, if anything, she reduced the family weirdness). She also talks a fair bit in a couple of the essays/talks about her Tough Guide to Fantasyland, which, though I found it amusing, I always kind of thought was unfair because most of the fantasy I read is nothing like what she talks about, but it seems that, well, she was a World Fantasy Award judge . . . nuff said (Terry Goodkind!)(I did like that she listed the companions on the journey in one of these books and one of them was “The Unknown Warrior” to which it helpfully appends, “a warrior”. Now I want to write a story featuring, “The Unknown Warrior. A wizard”).
Anyway, this is interesting if you are at all interested in Jones and her work, and occasionally thought-provoking. And frequently repetitious. And Neil Gaiman thinks DWJ was the bee’s-knees. Which makes one of the last pieces, which are views of her by her family, all the more interesting.