My Summary (Long)

Paul Andinach pandinac at
Tue Mar 19 18:41:09 EST 2002

On Sat, 16 Mar 2002, Kyra Jucovy wrote:

> She explained that she was going to talk about the way that
> writing a book worked for her.

Writing a book is like building a bicycle...


> Anyway, the way that DWJ described it was by saying that she tends
> to think that her characters who aren't based on real people seem
> very real to her.  They also don't come with the book - they tend
> to wander around in her head waiting for the right book to come
> along.

"This sounds familiar," said Paul, with a nod in the direction of the
sinister figures lurking at the back of his head.


> Rather like me, actually, she tends to make up stories without
> knowing the characters' names, but having a sort of idea, and then
> having to pull that idea through.

"And so does this," he added.


> She told a story about a woman who writes her every once in a
> while. This woman has nine children, to whom she and her husband
> read DWJ novels to at bedtime, so she always writes to explain how
> each new batch is getting on with them. The husband is a
> businessman who has to do a lot of travelling. At one point, the
> woman wrote in one of her letters, he was in a lounge in an
> airport, where they have all sorts of nice things for the business
> passengers, but they aren't allowed to take any of the things out.  
> There was a bottle of some sort of alcohol - I forget what - on a
> table, and the husband noticed a large man in a neat business-suit
> sort of sneaking out of the lounge with the bottle. Under his
> breath, the husband muttered to himself, "I belong to Chrestomanci
> Castle." To his shock, the large man turned around, said, "Yes,
> but under this suit I'm wearing an elaborately brocaded
> dressing-gown," and walked out with the bottle. This story made
> everyone laugh hysterically.

Yep, me too.  :)


> She doesn't know where Chrestomanci's title or Throgmorten's name
> come from.

On a whim, I spent a couple of minutes this morning deriving an
etymology for "Chrestomanci".

The end of the word was easy: I think it can reasonably be assumed
that its etymology is similar to the ends of words like "necromancy"
and "cartomancy". "-mancy" comes originally from the Greek for
"divination", so necromancy is divination using dead people and
cartomancy is divination using cards; but there's a tradition of
fantasy authors who use it in a more general way to refer to all magic
of a particular type (so that "necromancy", for instance, refers to
all death magic, and not just the divination).

As for the beginning, there are a number of words in the OED beginning
with "chresto-"; the OED says it comes from the Greek for "useful".


> However, she's always felt that if one of her books should be
> filmed, it should be Charmed Life.  She has no idea why no one's
> ever tried.

Because I have no money and no showbiz rep, that's why.  :)

(I wonder if it would be possible to trick the BBC's lavish literary
costume drama department into making it as a miniseries or


>           When someone asked her if she read children's books and
> which ones she recommended, she said that she tended to do so on
> and off, and now was a more off time.  The only name she mentioned
> was Robin McKinley, which only makes me _more_ certain that
> there's something deeply wrong with me for not particularly liking
> her. . .

FWIW, my limited experience with Robin McKinley has so far been of the
"I'm sure that was well-written, but I just don't get it" type.

"Hold fast to the one noble thing."

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