What's this list for?

Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk
Mon Apr 2 13:09:26 EDT 2001

> One of the things that struck me when I went to the page and read the Q & A
> with DWJ was how many people only discovered her with Charmed Life.
> Now, I know that Charmed Life was quite some time ago, but she had been
> getting books published for at least a decade previously. Was there some sort
> of "critical mass" built up by then before the publishers started giving her
> an extra "push" or was there something else going on? I do recall that
> Charmed Life was about the first of her books that I actually saw in
> bookstores in hardback. (Was it her first that was by Greenwillow? Was a
> change of imprint the deciding factor?)

Goodness knows about Greenwillow.  They did a lot of US editions, but I think
MacMillan got most of her early works over here.  In fact, I think I've never
seen Greenwillow in the UK (aren't they owned by the same lot that owns Collins
over here?)...

Charmed Life got the BBC's "Jackanory" treatment - read out on telly by a
celebrity.  This could have been a major influence.  My mother assures me that
Cart and Cwidder was also Jackanoried, but I don't remember that at all.

Incidentally, are you sure about "at least a decade"?  If my memory serves me
correctly, her first book was Changeover, in 1970, and her first children's
book, "Wilkins' Tooth" in 1971; Charmed life was around 1977, I think.


I find it very confusing when people on this list refer to "Changeover" with no
qualifiers, to mean "The Changeover" (Mahy) rather than "Changeover" (DWJ).  One
day I'll find a copy of the Mahy, whereupon I'll read it....

Oh, and while I'm ranting, I've been wincing every time I've seen someone's
having typed "Wilkin's Tooth" for "Wilkins' Tooth" :-)


> I was also interested in her explanation of what she was exploring when she
> wrote Homeward Bounders. (Possibly the most unhappy of her stories, although
> the setting is not anywhere so ugly as Time of the Ghost.) It turns out that
> her direction seems to have been on the double-edged nature of hope. Yes that
> is certainly the point all right, but at the time, there were cultural
> connections which gave it an additional spin, and tended to cast a long
> shadow of their own. Or at least on this side of the pond, anyway.
> Anybody else remember that particular time? Dungeons & Dragons and general
> role-playing wargames had just surfaced big from wherever suchlike cultural
> phenomena incubate and were all over the news. And as might be predicted, the
> same crowd which is now trying to get Harry Potter exorcised from the school
> library was carrying on, absolutely bound and determined to have D&D
> classified as demonic possession. It seemed somehow wonderfully appropriate
> that right at that particular moment DWJ should drop into the middle of all
> this a book about demon wargamners.

Bother.  I replied to that bit in an earlier post.  Careless of me!


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