Transcript of page 2 of DWJ Article

Dorian E. Gray israfel at eircom.net
Thu Jul 28 17:25:12 EDT 2005


(As Ania said in her original post, half (length-ways) of the first column 
on the second page is missing.  I've used "[...]" to indicate those gaps. 
And I've included the last paragraph of the first page again, for 
continuity's sake.)

Now a book is another form of this enchanted circle. Any book, whether 
realistic or fantasy, is a self-contained world with the reader in control 
(if you do not like the game the writer is playing, you can always stop 
reading). My feeling is that children get most from books which work along 
the same lines as they do - in other words, by "Let's
[part of the article appears to be missing; "[...]" indicates lost bits]
[...] saying that a fantasy [...] children's games, but I do [...] unlike 
them in a [...] nt respects. Above all, [...] exciting and engrossing [...] 
e wood. I aim to be as [...] book I am writing as I [...] will be. I want to 
know [...] If it bores me, I stop [...] an additional asset: it [...] you 
say a thing is real [...] that book it *is* real. This [...] can also be a 
snare. I [...] ol any fantasy I write [...] embering the sort of [...] n 
their games.
[...] that the children in [...] wisely not pretending [...] at once. They 
say [...] queens," or "Pretend [...] d part of the point of [...] find out 
what this [...] e way, I find it works [...] one thing "Pretend you are a 
ghost," or "Pretend your chemistry set works magic," or "Pretend this dog is 
the Dog Star". Then I go on to explore the implications of this supposition. 
Quite often, I am totally surprised by the result.
I also bear constantly in mind the fact that pretending is a thing most 
usefully done in groups. It is done to show you how to get on with one 
another. When I write a book, it seems useful to extend the group to include 
both sexes, so that both girls and boys can enjoy it, but I do not find I 
can completely ignore the one-sex nature of the games in the wood. Oddly 
enough, this means that if I want a neutral character, not particularly 
girlish or boyish, I have to use a boy. A neutral girl would strike most 
girl readers as a tomboy. Otherwise, it is obvious that all other characters 
in a fantasy ought to be very real and clear and individual, and to interact 
profoundly - real colourful people, behaving as people do. The three girls, 
for instance, in "The Time of the Ghost", strange as they are, are all drawn 
from life. One of them was me.
The third thing I bear in mind is the peculiar happiness of the children 
wandering in the wood. They are killing one another, terrifying one another 
and (as queens) despising one another and everybody else too. And they are 
loving it. This mixture of nastiness and happiness is typical of most 
children and makes wonderful opportunities for a writer. Your story can be 
violent, serious and funny, all at once - indeed I think it *should* be - 
and the stronger in all three the better. Fantasy can deal with death, 
malice and violence in the same way that the children in the wood are doing. 
You make clear that it is make-believe. And by showing it applies to nobody, 
you show that it applies to everyone. It is the way all fairy tales work.
But when all is said and done, there is an aspect to fantasy which defies 
description. Those children in the wood are going to grow up and remember 
that they played there. They will not remember what they were playing or who 
pretended what. But they will remember the wood, with the big city all round 
it, in a special, vivid way. It does seem that a fantasy, working out in its 
own terms, stretching you beyond the normal concerns of your own life, gains 
you a peculiar charge of energy which inexplicably enriches you. At least, 
this is my ideal of a fantasy, and I am always trying to write it.
Books for Older Children
Diana Wynne Jones
Dogsbody
Wilkin's Tooth
Ogre Downstairs
Eight Days of Luke
Cart and Cwidder
Charmed Life (1978 Guardian Award)
Power of Three
Magician [sic] of Caprona
Homeward Bounders
The Spellcoats
Drowned Ammet
The Time of the Ghost
All published by Macmillan and the first 9 books in Puffin Paperbacks.

--
Dorian. 

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