Today I woke and it was 4 degrees. That’s cold for Australia so I made the rational decision not to get out of bed, after running through my timetable for the day. Did I have time to huddle under the covers for another hour? Yes, yes I did.
I put one hand out far enough to read on my phone. I downloaded a sample of Reflections, a compilation of the writings of Dianna Wynn Jones on her creative process. She wrote Howl’s Moving castle (and forty other books.) **
Later, while I ate lunch I watched a YouTube lecture from Susan Cooper; a contemporary of Jones. $$
She wrote the Dark is Rising sequence (and thirty other books). She described growing up in WWII and she said the bombs that brought the war to an end were dropped by the Light, not the Dark.
Besides me being interested in how each writer got their ideas, both women are linked by their attendance at Oxford where their world collided with both CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien.
Cooper remembers that Tolkien mumbled; mumbled in English but spoke clearly in Norse. He declaimed Beowulf; shouted it, and made all the students in the lecture sit up straighter.
The idea for this famous fantasy started when she saw a thousand pound prize was offered for a family adventure story. It was more than she earnt in a year as a reporter. Once Uncle Merriman had made an appearance, she forgot about the competition and just wrote the story.
It took her ten years to understand there were more books she hadn’t written yet in the series.
She laughed as she recounted how readers always told her that they saw themselves as Will in the second book.
At the 41:29 mark of the lecture she finished with this:
Whatever may be going on in the real world, fantasy takes you back to the universal, the things that don’t change; the things that are at heart. The mystery. It’s a window onto truth as beautiful as that moon; as bright as that sun.
And it will always be there no matter what. All you have to do is look and read.
My copy of the Dark is Rising is a combined paperback and is falling apart. I read it aloud to my children. The first book is Over Sea, Under Stone and features the three Drew children.
Maybe it’s time for a re-read.
**Note to self: buy ALL those books